Qualifying a Buyer’s Agent
(Finding Your Dream Home)
Buying a home is an emotionally challenging life-event for most people. It doesn't matter if it's your first home or your seventh, buying a home is a major undertaking. First time buyers always make up a significant portion of the market. That’s very true today with millennials being the lion’s share of first time buyers. Millennials, along with all homebuyers, have unique needs and requirements. Even in this age of information, most buyers will become a little lost in the buying process at some point.
Your Agent Should Always Have Your Needs and Wants in Mind
Your home buying experience is an exciting time when your agent has answers to your needs and wants. An experienced and skilled buyer’s agent provides an awareness and answers often even before you know a hurdle or concern exists. First time buyers and repeat buyers are not entirely different. One has never been through the process before and the other only goes through this life-changing process a few times in their entire life. It’s vitally important that the agent always keep your needs at the forefront of the process.
Typically, first time buyers are familiar with agreeing to and signing an apartment lease, which is much different than buying their own home. The types of questions these people would normally ask are something like – “can I have a pet?” or “what utilities will be paid for me?’ or “will I have an assigned parking space?” Obviously, these are very different from the questions that homebuyers need to have answered. A buyer’s agent should always help you understand the process.
Tips for Finding a Buyer’s Agent
Finding a buyer’s agent is a personal experience. You really should take the time to get it right. You’ll have your own preferences but these tips make a good starting point.
- Find your own real estate agent. If you call on a house being advertised online or go to an open house, you’re working with the seller's agent. You must understand the seller's agent has a fiduciary responsibility to the seller. Having your own agent flips that responsibility to focusing on you as the buyer. Your own agent will show you the house that you are first interested in as well as offer suggestions for similar homes or other homes that very easily could be a better personal match for you.
- You also want an agent specializing in the neighborhoods you are interested in and who can tell you about neighborhoods you that haven’t considered.
- Before deciding on an agent, come up with a list of what you want in an agent. It could be showing homes in the evenings, or in the way they communicate with you, or in their dedication to following through with the paperwork once you decide on a home to buy. The best buyer’s agent will be skilled at all of these but some will be a better fit with you than others are. You should make a few phone calls to create a list of possible buyer agents and then set up interviews with those you think will be your best match.
- Create a "must have" list. It's easy to be caught up in the time consuming process of looking at every house on the market. Instead, let your agent filter the showings down to your "must have list.” You also include a "wish list" for your ideal home. You want to look at all of the houses on your "must have" list to find the ones that also have much of what’s on your “wish list.” But there is little value in looking at houses that don't meet your minimum requirements.
- Be open to suggestions. Go over your "must have" list in detail with your agent. As a professional, he or she might point out that the amenities you're looking for aren’t typically found in the ranch style house that you said you want. Instead, it might be suggested you look at two story homes that have been remodeled within the past ten years.
- Learn about the neighborhood. Good buyer agents specialize in neighborhoods. Once you find your ideal home, take the time to learn about the neighborhood in-depth. Drive the streets during different times of the day and on the weekend. Try to talk to a few neighbors. Also, visit the local businesses where you are likely to be a customer. If you have kids, learn about the schools. This is going to be your new home, you want to make sure the entire neighborhood is a good fit.
A highly qualified buyer’s agent does much more than show you homes. He or she coaches you through the entire process from mortgage qualification, to finding the home, to writing the offer, to negotiating, to closing the deal, and much more.
Interviewing Buyer’s Agents
Besides your wish list, ask interview questions about these other important topics.
- Prequalifying for a loan.
- Current market conditions (buyers’ or sellers’ market and trends).
- Loan options that are available.
- The home viewing process – open houses, private tours, and giving you some background information about a home so that you can learn the more intimate details such as what might be motivating the seller.
- Earnest money and purchase offer (with contingency clauses).
- The typical negotiation process.
- Helping you understand HOA covenants.
- Home inspections.
- Buying and selling agency fees and who pays what.
- The closing process and the fees you’ll be expected to pay.
- The process of taking possession of the home.
There are certainly other buyer’s questions that you want answers to such as preferred school district, shopping convenience, commute times, entertainment, medical facilities, and much more. You don’t have to ask every question during an interview but you do want to come away comfortable that your agent will have answers when you have questions.
If you need more information or have questions, please contact us. You can also reach us by calling at (678) 570-8123. We'll be glad to help you!