The most important thing to remember when you buy a home is that it is completely different to selling a home! This may sound obvious, but it is surprising how many clients don’t realize the differences. The process when you buy a home is unique and the feelings that come with it as well as your emotional journey are different. As the buying process is so different from the selling process, the qualities that you need to look out for when you hire a Real Estate Agent are also different.
A Real Estate Agent who works for a buyer is known in the Real Estate Business as a buyer’s agent. A Real Estate Agent who works with a seller is more commonly known as a listing agent. One of the most important things you need to know when you sell, or, buy, a home is how to interview an agent.
In most areas, there will be more buyers’ agents than listing agents. Usually, you will find that there is an 80/20 rule in place that is also the same when it comes to listing agents. This just means that 80% of buyers are represented by 20% of buyer’s agents who are operating in the market. Depending on the area, this ratio may actually be even higher.
So the big question is…how will you know that you are being represented by a realtor in the top 20% when you buy a home? Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee this, but if you interview realtors properly when you are ready to purchase a home then you have a good chance of finding a great buyer’s agent.
When you interview a buyer’s agent, the process and questions will usually be similar to when you interview a listing agent although there will still be a few things that are different.
In this article, I will take you through the questions that you need to ask and give you some tips on how to find the best buyer’s agent possible so that you will have an easy and enjoyable buying experience! Also note, when you see agents (selling or buying) on a page Zillow for example, next to a home you may want to view that agent maybe the listing agent or perhaps not, Real Estate Agents pay to be on that page, it’s true! Rather they are new in the business or not, all agents have the opportunity to pay for that spot! Buyer/Seller, beware! Does not matter their selling volume in the real estate market! They are paying Zillow, or, another company to be on that website as if they are a Top Producing Agent. I have & at times still, do pay to have my picture there saying I”m a top selling agent, but I do feel I’ve already earned that title, but, still have to pay to be there, even if its my own listing on what-ever website, I would still have to pay to be on that page!! It’s common, I wanted to point that out to you, I find it deceiving to see commercials on TV telling folks only Top Producing Real Estate Agents are selected when in truth, any agent can pay to be on that website.
One more detail you want to be aware of, a listing agent who has listed the home you may be interested in for sale, is working for the seller, be stingy, get your own buyer’s agent to represent your needs, to work on your behave only during the process! That is very good advice!
Finances and Mortgage:
The main question to ask is ‘Do you need a pre-qualification or pre-approval before you start to look at properties?’
Finances and mortgage are one of the most important issues when you buy a home, particularly if you are buying for the first time, so the above question is very important. The answers that you get will usually differ widely but a professional Real Estate Agent will usually say ‘yes’ without hesitating. The reason for this is that it is essential to get pre-approval before you start to look at homes so Agents & sellers know you are serious & able to buy when you write a contract.
A buyer’s agent who agrees to show you a wide variety of homes before you are pre-approved or pre-qualified is actually doing nothing to help a buyer. It is so important that a buyer understands what kind of financing they are qualified for and how much this is going to be, down to the bottom line and within a specific time frame. This means that a buyer will save a lot of time and will have realistic expectations when it comes to their housing options.
Another great question to ask is ‘Can you recommend other trusted professionals to work with me?’ A professional buyer’s agent will always have a number of contacts who work in the mortgage industry who they will be able to recommend to you. Remember that all real estate agents are not equal in terms of their skills and this also applies to mortgage companies and consultants. If you get a skilled professional, then the likelihood of a smooth buying process is also greatly improved as they will offer you a high-quality service, & save you a ton of headaches!!
As well as asking for a buyer’s agent to recommend a mortgage lender, you should also ask about different professionals that they are used to working with. When you buy a home you will need to work with an attorney, a home inspector, and insurance carriers, just to name a few, so a good buyer’s agent will have a list of people that they can recommend to you.
Real Estate Experience:
An obvious question to ask a buyer’s agent is ‘How long have you been working as a licensed real estate agent?’ This is really the first question that you should ask as experience is extremely important and generally the longer an agent has been working, the more transactions they will have worked on. It is of course also possible that even if they have only been working for a few years, they may have completed so many transactions that they are part of the 20% group.
You also need to ask ‘Is Real Estate Your Full Time or Part Time Job?’ This may sound invasive but buying a home actually takes up a lot of time. Buyers have families, jobs and other responsibilities and so it is important that you find a buyer’s agent who is available to work with you around your schedule. If you choose a part-time Real Estate Agent then they may not be available to fit around your schedule. If you want to view homes during the week around 2 pm, then your buyer’s agent should be in a position to make this happen, but someone who works part-time may not be able to do so if they have another job or other responsibilities.
Real Estate Record:
It is so important that you ask a buyer’s agent about their Real Estate track record so make sure you ask them how many homes they sold as a buyer’s agent in their career. When an agent works as a buyer’s agent, there are a huge number of tasks that they need to deal with as part of the transaction so it is important to know how many homes a buyer’s agent has sold within their career.
You also need to ask ‘How many buyers are you working with at the moment?’ This is a big issue and you need to remember that buyer’s agents are people just like everyone else. They also have families and responsibilities and buyers need to understand this.
With that in mind, it is still important to know how many buyers an agent has on the books as an agent should also make sure that they have time to make you feel like you are their single most important client. A good buyer’s agent will be able to work with several buyers at a time as they will have a streamlined buying process and will be efficient and organized.
Another great question to ask is ‘How many homes do you usually show your buyers on average?’ The reason this is important is that some buyers think that Real Estate Agents will only show them a few houses before they choose one and purchase a home. This is actually true and a good buyer’s agent will show around 5-10 homes to a client. Why? Well, a professional buyer’s agent will know what their client is looking for and they will assess their needs and preferences at the first meeting. They may also show you a couple of houses to test the waters and see exactly what it is that you are looking for. A buyer’s agent who shows you or other clients 25 houses and is not able to understand what you are looking for or what you need will be wasting your valuable time and theirs. That first meeting to discuss your needs is very important!
You should also make sure to ask ‘How much experience do you have selling homes in the area I want to purchase a home in?’ The reason for this is that each area has its own home values and real estate trends. In many communities, some homes will be listed and sold almost immediately and in others, it will take a little longer depending on the market. A professional buyer’s agent will be able to assess the differing property values and trends in your chosen purchase area. They should also be able to help you decide if the area you are looking at is the right one for you.
Previous Client Satisfaction:
One great question to ask a buyer’s agent is ‘Do you have any testimonials from past clients?’ Any agent should have testimonials that you can look at. Unless the Agent has neglected to ask former clients for testimonials, I have to admit, that is my weak point, but I’ve gotten better at it! I’ve been a Real Estate Agent since 2003, and you’d think since times have changed I’d be on that! I am anymore, I’ve always given my clients space after closing on their home, they have a lot going on after all! But with that said, noting something I’ve read lately ….if you have ever bought from Amazon, & have been asked from Amazon (or the seller on Amazon) to give an opinion on something you have bought, it’s highly noted that happy people just want to be left alone, but you get bugged to leave a review, many times! It’s when they are unhappy that people leave bad remarks/reviews in a flat second! Happy folks go on with their day! With that said, I do have testimonials, & you are more than welcome to view them on my website :), I’m on it like Amazon anymore getting my testimonials in a timely fashion!
Requirements and Agreements:
It is also paramount that you ask a buyer’s agent ‘Do you ask buyers to sign agreements or contracts?’ In many cases, buyers don’t even know that there are contracts that they may need to sign and these contracts are enforceable. (I personally have never had to enforce one, but I do know of agents who have) I do use contracts, & any good Agent will, it’s the difference between using your time wisely, & understanding what your needs are in a home. There is a lot of time & effort that goes into showing a buyer the right homes! It’s ensuring both the agent & buyer are compatible, after all, it’s your home we are discussing. This will be discussed on our first visit.
Communication and Technology:
Communication is a huge part of a successful buying process so make sure to ask your agent if they have their own website. It may not be clear why this is important, but put simply a website is a good way to find out information about the buyer’s agent as well as the local area, school districts, and former customer testimonials.
Also make sure to ask if the buyer’s agent has a blog as this will be the place where they share their experience and professional expertise. A real estate blog is a great way to check all of this information so if they give you a URL then absolutely have a look on their website and see the kinds of articles that they have posted there. Make sure you check out the different types of articles they have written for buyers and read the different advice they have given for first time clients such as things like home improvement articles.
You can also ask ‘How do you match a client with a home that fits their needs and preferences?’ If they are a good real estate agent then they will have some sort of process in place such as a questionnaire that they will use to match your needs with a property. Usually, they should ask about your budget, size requirements, number of bedrooms, heating requirements and other specific information that will then help them to match you to your ideal home.
Once they have matched you to a home you need to know how they will tell you about this, so ask ‘How will you give me the information about possible homes?’ This is very important as you need to know if they will just send you the address, or if they will send you extra information about the property. If you have a good buyer’s agent then they should send you the address, photographs and as much detailed information as possible.
It is also paramount that you ask ‘How will you communicate with me as a client?’ Often this can be one of the biggest problems for buyers as they feel that there is a lack of good communication with their agent, or they don’t like the communication method that the agent is using. By all means, explain to the agent up front what you would prefer, such as text messaging or email, and find out if the agent is comfortable communicating with you in that way. Be aware that if they do not usually communicate using your preferred method (like text messaging) then this could lead to problems later on.
There are a number of other questions you can ask an agent such as ‘Do you plan to attend inspections?’ These are a very important part of contracts when you buy a home and you need to know if your agent is going to attend the inspections or not. Some agents will not as that is between the buyer & their chosen home inspector. Real Estate Agents will be in on this when the report is given to them by the home inspector, & will know what it means. So please do not be disappointed when an agent steps aside & lets you & your chosen home inspector inspect your new home.
Further to this, you should also ask ‘How do you negotiate our requests from the inspections’ as many real estate transactions fail at the inspection part of the process. There can be many reasons for this and a good agent should be able to recommend a quality inspector to you and should also be able to negotiate the inspection report and any requests so that the seller understands the reasons behind these. Remember, when having a home inspection we are looking for structural issues, safety issues, not bringing a home up to code.
When you hire a buyer’s agent it is very important that you get a professional and experienced agent as they will be a crucial part of purchasing your home. Buying a property is one of the most important and complicated things that you can ever do but it doesn’t have to be difficult if you hire the right person to help you with all the tasks that need to be completed.
Hopefully, if you ask a buyer’s agent all the questions listed above and they are able to answer competently and clearly, then you can be confident that you are getting a great agent who will help you to purchase a home quickly and easily!
Please be sure to download my ebook on even more buyer tips! Also, you may be interested in reading: How to Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report
Please share this post if you found it of interest, others may also find it valuable when selling their home! Also, please consider reading “My Home Selling Marketing System” will tell you how I market your home to sell quickly & for the most amount of money! Please also consider reading my: Killer Marketing Tricks
If you’d like to find out how much your home is worth in today’s Real Estate Market, please go to Home Value Analysis What’s it Worth fill in your criteria & receive your FREE home analysis!
Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have!
Wendy Mundy Realtor