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How to Hire a Real Estate Agent — and Be Their Best Client Ever

How to Hire a Real Estate Agent — and Be Their Best Client Ever

When you buy a home, your agent is effectively a business partner. You’re both working toward the same goal: Closing a real estate deal. That’s why it’s in your best interest to to know both how to hire a real estate agent and how to build a good relationship with them.

Because the better an ally you are, the better an ally your agent will be. Here’s how to pick a real estate agent and work well with them.

1. Know What You Want

A lot of home buyers dive into the house hunt with no idea what
they want, so the first and best way to be a good client is to know exactly
what you’re looking for in a house.

Ask yourself a couple of basic questions. What’s my budget? What type of house do I want, single family or town home? Is there a design style I must have? A neighborhood I need to be in?  

Knowing these specifics – and telling them to your agent – will help him find homes that match your criteria. Because neither you nor your agent wants to waste time looking at dozens of houses that aren’t even close to what you have in mind.

“Over-communicating your intentions and goals is a really good
idea,” says Ashton Gustafson, an agent with the Bishop Group in Wichita Falls,
Texas. 

Knowing exactly what you want can help you know how to pick a real estate agent, too. Some agents specialize in certain neighborhoods, and some specialize in old houses or particular architectural styles.

2. Meet Agents In Person

It’s fine to start off your relationship with an agent via email, text, and phone, but before you hire him to work with you, set up a meeting. Yep, do a face-to-face interview.

It’s a good idea to interview three agents before picking one. Here
are some questions you should ask:

  • How long have
    they been an agent?
  • What
    neighborhoods do they specialize in?
  • How many
    homes they’ve helped people buy in the last year?
  • How many clients are they’re currently working with?

Meeting in person can help both sides determine compatibility and establish
trust. To the agent, meeting them IRL is a sign you’re serious about buying.

“When I ask a question of a buyer, if I can’t see their face
(then) I can’t see their reaction, and I have no idea if I’m really getting the
emotions that are behind their answers,” says Jackie Leavenworth, an agent and
real estate industry coach in Cleveland, Ohio.

3. Set Up Expectations for Communication

Tell your agent how you’d like to stay in touch during the buying process.  Do you do prefer texts? Facebook messenger? Or do you like old-fashioned phone calls (Telephone calls: Still a thing!)

Tell them how often you expect to hear from them, too. Daily? Weekly?
And tell them the best times of day to reach you, too.

“My successful buyers ask what kind of communication they’ll have
with me,” says Thai Hung Nguyen, an agent with Better Homes and Gardens Real
Estate Premier in Washington, D.C. “My answer to them is always, ‘It’s totally
up to you.’” 

4. Be Respectful

Be mindful of an agent’s time. Don’t flake on showings. Be
prompt.

If you disagree with your agent, respectfully tell them why. 

Resist the urge to freak out if the agent doesn’t immediately respond to a text or phone call. “People hire me because I jump through hoops, but I also need buyers to know that I have a life, too,” says Leavenworth, the Cleveland agent.

5. Get Organized

We told you communicating your wants to your agent was key. Here’s a good way to do it: Write them down. We recommend filling out our first-time buyer’s worksheet.

Give a copy to the agent. He’ll be better able to find homes that match your criteria. 

You should also have your financial records in order. This means getting pre-approved for a loan. Pre-approval for a mortgage says you’re serious about buying a house and not just window shopping.

“Anything we do without a loan approval letter is pure
speculation,” says Marki Lemons-Ryhal, an agent and social media strategist for
real estate in Chicago. 

6. Admit What You Don’t Know

Real estate transactions are complicated. Don’t be embarrassed if
you don’t know what all the terms mean, or what to expect from each step of the
process.

If you don’t know what escrow means, ask. If you’re confused about
the terms of an offer, say so. It’s totally normal to ask an agent for a little
hand-holding — that’s what they’re there for. 

Part of knowing how to hire a real estate agent is finding one you trust enough to tell you things you don’t know.

7. Don’t Play The Field With Other Agents

If you’re working with an agent who is hustling for you, don’t dally around with another agent. In real estate, just as in romance, that’s cheating. It can backfire by damaging your relationship with your agent.

If your agent finds out you’ve got other agents showing you houses, he may prioritize other clients. So a big part of knowing how to pick a real estate agent is knowing that you need to stand by your agent once you hire him.

In fact, it’s in both your interest and the agent’s to sign a buyer’s broker agreement for a set period of time. The agreements spell out the rights and duties of both parties, including exclusivity.

Related: Here’s How You’ll Know You Found the Right Agent

Published at Sun, 26 Jan 2020 15:47:42 +0000

5 Questions To Ask When Buying A House

Home buying seems simple enough: Find a house you like that’s close to work or school, tell someone you want to buy it, and move in.

But there’s more to it than that. You’ll have to find and get approved by a lender who will let you borrow a few hundred thousand dollars, lock in a mortgage rate, figure out how much house you can afford, put in an offer that will entice the seller, get an inspection and an appraisal, pay closing costs and sign a whole bunch of paperwork.

Phew! We need a break just thinking about all the questions to ask when buying a house.

Your real estate agent can help you understand the process. But if you don’t ask questions or get your agent to clarify something you don’t understand, they’re not going to know you’re confused. And you won’t learn anything.

“There are no such things as stupid questions,” says REALTOR® Ryan Fitzgerald in Raleigh, N.C. “If you have a question, ask it, no matter how foolish it sounds in your own head.” 

Don’t be afraid. Ask away. You’re making one of the biggest financial transactions of your life, so it’s a good idea to tap into your agent’s expertise.

Here are some questions to ask a real estate agent when buying a house.

1. How Many Clients Have You Helped Purchase Homes?

Before you pick a real estate professional, ask them how many clients they’ve worked with to find a home. Your real estate agent is supposed to be an expert, so one with a lot of experience will be a big help to a newbie home buyer like you.

That’s not to say a newly licensed agent can’t be a good one. But agents learn on the job. The more sales they’ve completed, and the more people they’ve helped buy a home, the more wisdom they have to share with you.

Related: The 14 Best Questions to Ask An Agent

2. How Old Is The HVAC, Water Heater, And Roof Of This Home?

It’s easy to be dazzled by 12-foot ceilings, crown molding, and other aesthetic features, but you need to pay attention to the nuts and bolts of the house. We’re talking the unsexy stuff like the HVAC system, water heater, roof, electrical system, and plumbing.

“Knowing the age and condition of the major items will help you
gauge how much your home could potentially cost once you move in,”
Fitzgerald says. “The older the home, the more likely you are to have
higher maintenance costs.”

These items could have more impact on a home’s value than quartz countertops or hardwood floors, because it’s expensive when they malfunction. A leaking hot water heater can do thousands of dollars of damage. And replacing an aging HVAC system can start at more than $5,000, putting it in the major expense category.

3. What If The Home Inspection Reveals Major Issues?

We won’t lie: The home inspection is one of the most nerve-wracking days of the homebuying process. It’s when you find out about every wart on the place you fell in love with at the showing. 

Most of the time the inspection goes as expected. But if you aren’t expecting a major issue and the inspector discovers something awful like a rusting sewer main or walls full of termites, it can be panic attack time.

Breathe. “What should I do when the inspector has bad news?” is one of the most common questions to ask when buying a house. Talk to your agent.

Your agent can calm you down so you can plan your next move, whether it’s “Let’s kiss this money pit of a house goodbye” or “Let’s negotiate with the seller and get those repairs done so you can close on time.” 

4. What Happens If The Appraisal Comes Back Low? 

In competitive markets where there are more buyers than sellers,
it’s possible to end up in a bidding war over a house. This can drive the sales
price higher than the appraised value of the home. Lenders balk when the price
is higher than the value, and this can jam up the deal.

Ask your agent what you should do if the appraisal comes in low. An experienced agent will have been in the situation before and have good advice. You’ll have a couple of options, including ordering a second appraisal, covering the difference in cash, or walking away from the deal. 

No matter what happens, keep your cool. Just because the
appraisal is low doesn’t mean the deal will fall through. 

“When things don’t go as expected, it’s important to remain level-headed. You never want to allow your emotions to be too up or too down when buying a home,” Fitzgerald says.

Related: How to Make the Appraisal Work, and When to Walk Away

5. What Do We Need To Do To Prepare For Closing?

Closing day is essentially the transfer of ownership, but it’s not just a formality. It needs to go well. This is when you sign the final paperwork and get the keys to the house.

One of the most important questions to ask a real estate agent is exactly what you need to bring for the big day. You’ll probably need your ID, a check for the closing costs, and proof of homeowner’s insurance.

Asking in advance will keep you organized and help your first big real estate transaction run smoothly. You don’t want to get there and realize you forgot a key piece of paperwork that keeps the deal from closing. Fewer things are as disappointing than not going home from a closing with keys to your new house.

So ask questions. Knowledge is power, so there are no silly questions to ask when buying a house.

Related: Closing — How to Seal The Deal

Published at Wed, 08 Jan 2020 17:33:58 +0000