Realtors have experience you and I as homebuyers don't have, mostly because they've gone through training and go through the home buying process regularly. They've worked with many homebuyers and while they may not have seen it all, they've seen a lot. Some of the things a realtor can do are
- Give you access to homes you can't access on your own
- Provide information about neighborhoods
- Help with the paperwork and closing
- Be an objective ear and can give objective advice
- Answer questions
Because a realtor plays such a large role in the home buying process I wanted to make sure I picked one that I liked and trusted. I wasn't sure where to go to find one so I started searching online for realtors in my area. I found a few that I contacted, but ended up selecting one a co-worker recommended. She had used him when she and her husband bought their first home.
Related post: How I Decided I was Ready to Buy a House
Since this process is still fresh in my mind, I wanted to share some tips for not just finding, but also selecting a realtor.
1. Narrow down your home search areaYou may not think this matters, but some realtors have more knowledge about certain neighborhoods than others. So knowing where you want to look fora home can be really helpful when talking to the realtor and asking them questions about their experience.
2. New home vs. existing homeJust like neighborhoods some realtors may have more experience buying newer homes than others. If the home is being built it's a different buying process than for an existing home. So having a realtor who's gone through the buying process for a new build can be very reassuring, especially if it's your first time as well.
3. Ask for recommendationsAs I mentioned I found my realtor through a co-worker. Having someone give a personal recommendation and tell you first hand what the realtor is like can be more telling than actually talking to the realtor. But that doesn't mean you'll have instant chemistry with the realtor like the person who recommended them may have had.
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4. Create a list of questionsThe realtor you select will be helping you make your home buying dreams come true. You'll also be spending a lot of one-on-one time with them when you're looking at homes. So ask questions before making your final decision on a realtor. You can never ask too many and if the realtor starts to get annoyed with your questions, that could be a sign they aren't the one for you.
Some question you can ask the realtor when you meet are
- How long have you been a realtor?
- Do you do this full-time?
- Are there any documents or disclosures I'll need to sign (It may be a good idea to see them beforehand as what the documents/disclosures include could impact your decision)
- Will you only be acting a the buyers agent? (Answers to this question will let you know if there could be instances where the realtor is representing both the seller and you. You most likely won't get a good deal on the home if that's the case.)
- What if I decide to not buy a house?
- What if I decide I want to use another realtor?
- What neighborhoods do you tend to work in?
- What is your commission rate?
- Do you typically work with first-time homebuyers?
5. Internet stalk themYep. Definitely Internet stalk them. Not in a scary way, but visit their social profiles. See if they have a website and/or blog. Do they regularly post helpful information on home buying and the local housing market? All of this can be indicative of how in tune they are to the area, their knowledge and experience level, and how helpful they will be during the process.
6. Meet with the realtorI met with my realtor on the phone before deciding to work together, but would meet in person if I did it all over again. By meeting with them you can tell whether the chemistry and comfort level is there.
What is your experience working with a realtor?