Working with a realtor should be a beneficial addition to your moving process, right? He or she should help you find the exact home you want, and guide you to negotiate the best price possible — especially if you are a first-time home buyer. But not all real estate agents are created equal, so here are a few tips and tricks that you need to keep in mind to make your experience a good one and avoid serious complications or frustrations.
Choose one agent and one agent only
Start by finding your agent through a referral if it’s possible. The best realtors get their business through word of mouth, so rather than looking through the ads in the papers, ask around first. Sites like Angie’s List can be a great reference point if you’re moving to a new city where you don’t know anyone. Then, if you sign a contract with an agent, be aware that they generally expect exclusivity. That means if you see a house that interests you, contact your contracted realtor, not the person listed on the sign. Your agent will take care of setting up an appointment to see the house by contacting the other agency, keeping you out of that end of the negotiations.
That said- don’t be afraid to move on
If you begin working with a realtor and find that you aren’t pleased, don’t be afraid to move on. That could mean that he or she isn’t holding up their end of the bargain, or you feel they have changed their expectations for their cut or hasn’t been clear about a portion of your work together. This person is playing a significant role in shaping the next chapter of your life. Make sure you feel comfortable working together.
Let your realtor know how you operate
If you prefer to communicate via text, or maybe email, he or she needs to know that so the two of you can communicate quickly and effectively when new houses are put on the market and action needs to be taken. If you’re someone who likes to have weekly face-to-face meetings, make sure you communicate that as well so your realtor knows what to expect from your partnership.
Go into the relationship knowing where you stand
The more prepared you can be prior to meeting with your new agent, the better. Get a good handle on your budget range, neighborhoods that interest you, and find out what kinds of loans and mortgages you are preapproved for. This sort of information gives your realtor a good frame of reference from the get-go on what potential houses are inside and outside the realm of possibility for you.
Know the difference between your Wants and your Needs — and make that clear
Your needs are the non-negotiable elements, price points, or features that you’re looking for in buying a home. Your wants are perks that would be nice but aren’t a breaking point for the purchase of your home. Your realtor needs to know the difference between the two so that he or she doesn’t end up running you around looking at homes that you’re not interested in — or conversely, break his or her neck looking for elements that aren’t needed, just perks that would be nice.
Ask questions — lots of them
Find a real estate agent that you feel comfortable asking a million questions – chances are you’ll need to ask quite a few, particularly if you are a first-time home buyer. Buying a house is no small endeavor so you want to be sure you understand the process inside and out, from the moment you sign a contract with the agent to the moment you sign the closing. If there are any first-time homebuyer classes in your area, take advantage of a nonbiased third party opinion on how the process goes. You may even get some insights into your local market that help you make the best decision you can before moving.
If you still aren’t sure whether you need to work with a realtor, take a look at this blog post for some pros and cons.