Whether you’re buying your first home or your fifth, you’ll quickly recognize the value of your real estate agent. A buyer’s agent can make or break the entire home-buying process and can even play a role in getting you the home you want for the price you need. Choosing the right agent can be tricky. Here are 8 questions you should ask at your first meeting with a real estate agent, to ensure that they’re the right one for you.
How Long Have You Been a Real Estate Agent?
Knowing how long your real estate agent has been working is important. While being new to the industry doesn’t mean they’re not skilled, it can mean that they don’t have the experience or connections necessary to make this the best possible experience for you.
You should ask how long they’ve lived and/or worked in the particular area where you’re looking at buying. If they grew up in the area, they’ll be a wealth of knowledge regarding neighborhoods, schools, and city tidbits. If they’re new to town, you might miss out on some insider information.
Is This Your Only Job?
You should ask the agent if being a real estate agent is their full-time career. While there’s nothing wrong with having a real estate side hustle, it can make everything a bit more difficult for you as their client.
They might have trouble with scheduling property showings, researching listings, and handling time-sensitive negotiations during business hours. In a competitive seller’s market, this could mean losing the perfect property to someone else.
How Many Buyers Are You Working With?
You don’t need (or honestly, want) to be an agent’s only buyer. However, you don’t want to fight for attention among 20 eager home seekers either. Find an agent who has a steady workload of happy clients while also giving each individualized attention.
Also ask about their history, and how many home purchases they helped facilitate last year. Even better if they can provide you with references for recent, happy buyers.
Do You Require a Contract?
Some buyer’s agents will require you to sign an agreement or contract, requiring you to work with them even if you’re unhappy with the service. These contracts aren’t very common on the buyers’ side, but it’s still important to ask.
Do I Need Mortgage Pre-Approval?
Rather than waste everyone’s time only to have funding fall through, a good agent will often require mortgage pre-approval from the start. This not only reduces the chances of losing your dream home once you’ve found it, but also makes your purchase offer more enticing to the sellers.
Who Is Your Typical Client?
Most good agents have specialties. Some might specialize in finding investment properties for renovators or downtown penthouses for chic buyers. If you’re a family of five looking for a turnkey dream home, they probably aren’t a match. Find an agent who most often works with clients just like you, including certain areas of town, home types, and budgets.
How is the Market Right Now?
A great agent should be able to give the honest scoop on the market. They’ll let you know recent trends and what to expect from your home-buying experience, as well as give suggestions regarding specific neighborhoods and areas in town. They can also offer insight into pricing patterns, mortgage interest rates, and the closing process.
Can You Recommend Other Professionals?
A real estate agent isn’t the only professional you’ll need in your home-buying journey. You’ll also rely on the expertise of mortgage lenders, inspectors, real estate attorneys, and the like.
A respected and experienced buyer’s agent will be able to provide references for each of these, giving you a pool of recommended professionals that you can trust. This allows you to rest easy that the buying process will go as easily, and smoothly, as possible.
Buying a home is stressful no matter what. Having the right buyer’s agent on your side can make all the difference and ensures that get the home you want at the price you need but also that there are no surprises along the way.
Be sure to ask these eight questions the next time you’re shopping around for a buyer’s agent. That way, you’ll be sure to find the right professional for you and your family!