Choosing a Real Estate Agent to Help You Buy a Home
Most people who decide to climb Mt. Everest don’t go it alone; they hire a guide. Even the most seasoned mountaineers will hire someone who knows the routes, has a strong team in place and has a good track record.
Buying a home isn’t nearly as difficult as scaling the world’s tallest peak, but buyers will still want a good guide. So, how do you screen the good from the bad? Here are some tips on how to choose the right REALTOR to help you find the right home in Asheville, North Carolina.
Get a Referral
Start by asking friends, family, and colleagues if they recommend anyone. In particular, ask people who have a similar life situation – if you’re a first-time homebuyer, for example, ask someone who just bought their first home. If someone refers an agent, ask what they liked about that agent. Additionally, if someone warns against using an agent, ask them why. Make notes of these praises and concerns, and use them for questions in the interview process.
Browse the Internet, Use the Phone
Every legitimate agency has a website, and most have agent bios online for buyers to browse. If you’re still uncertain, call an agency and ask to speak with the “broker in charge,” who can refer you to the best match after asking just a few questions.
Interview the Candidates
A buyer doesn’t pick the first house she sees, and she doesn’t have to pick the first agent she meets either. Interview two or three agents, and feel free to ask them candid questions about their experience. Good agents should be wiling to provide you with references.
Try Before You Buy
Before showing homes, many agents insist a customer sign a “buyer agency agreement.” (See below). The reason for this is simple: brokers receive neither a wage nor a salary, and a buyer agency agreement is the only way to ensure they will receive a commission from the seller.
This doesn’t mean, however, that a prospective client can’t negotiation a “test run.” Insist on this as part of the interview process. Most agents will tour homes with a customer at least once before requiring a written agreement.
Don’t Share Confidential Information, at Least Not at First
Upon first meeting a real estate agent, always keep confidential any information the agent could use against you in future negotiations. For example, let’s pretend Susie the Buyer meets Bob the Agent, and tells him that she is expecting a big inheritance and will soon be able to pay anything for a log cabin with a view. What if Susie decides not to work with Bob, but she decides to buy one of his listings eventually – a nice cabin with a view, perhaps? Now Bob knows she will pay anything…
According to the Working With Real Estate Agents brochure published by the North Carolina Association of REALTORS, “you should avoid telling the agent anything you would not want a seller to know” until you have agreed for the agent to be you buyer’s agent.
Before Signing a Buyer Agency Agreement…
…ask the real estate agent to explain each component of the agreement and make sure you fully understand the implications. The Buyer Agency Agreement is a legally binding contract between a real estate agent and a buyer client. Like so many of the legal documents involved in real estate transactions, it can be difficult to understand for the average person.
A good agent should be willing to take the time to explain each of part of this contract, and should be able to discuss this document with ease and familiarity. Don’t sign anything you don’t understand!
Trust Your Instinct
Hopefully, each agent you interview will be of the highest caliber, and they will all look equally impressive. If this is the case and decision becomes difficult, trust your instinct. The agent and buyer work closely, possibly for several months, so the choice may boil down to compatibility.
About the Author - Mark Vanderhoff
Mark Vanderhoff is a real estate broker with Keller Williams Realty. He helps sellers stand out among the competition and helps buyers take advantage of the opportunities. He also devotes himself to consumer education through his writings in various publications and holds free first-time homebuyer seminars.
Mark offers buyer and seller consultations at no cost and no obligation. He is also a certified Environmental Consultant who specializes in green building.
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