Almost 80 percent of all home searches today begin on the Internet. With just a few clicks of the mouse, you can scan hundreds of online listings, experience virtual tours, and sort through dozens of photographs and aerial shots of neighborhoods and homes. Having begun with the end in mind, you have by now defined your goals so that you have a good idea of the type of home and neighborhood you want. By the time you reach your real estate agent's office, you are already on your way to home ownership. Bu it's what happens on the rest of the journey that determines whether things will go smoothly or if you're in for a rocky ride.
Finding the right real estate agent can make all the difference if you're a first-time home buyer who is new to the whole adventure. A good real estate agent can steer you through the buying process and help you avoid costly mistakes. This article will show you how to find the ideal real estate agent to help you buy a house successfully.
Qualities of a good real estate agent
- Stays with you - from your first phone call to the last signed paper, and beyond. There are many steps throughout the process of buying a home. An experienced agent who anticipates your questions ahead of time and stays by your side through every meeting and each document you sign will go a long way to quell your nerves or fears. Avoid working with anyone who is too busy to return your calls or spend as much time as it takes to answer your questions. If they're rushing you before you begin working with them, don't expect things to get better once you've signed on with them.
- Asks crucial questions to determine your needs. Your first meeting with an agent should involve a lengthy interview meeting. During this conversation, they will spend some personal time getting to know you and asking relevant questions to help you figure out the kind of house you want to buy, the type of neighborhood you're looking for, and what your budget will allow. A skilled, experienced agent will listen thoughtfully to your answers. They will not attempt to talk over you, or guide or influence your answers in any way.
- Is patient and answers all of your questions thoroughly. This is your first time buying a house - and it's one of the biggest purchases you will ever make in your life. It only makes sense that you will have lots of questions. Realize that there are no dumb questions! A good agent will anticipate a lot of your questions...but even if you hit them with something they've never heard before, they will have an answer or will promise to find one for you.
- Knows the market. Your real estate agent should be familiar with all the areas of the city or community you are considering. They should have their pulse on property values, school rankings, community environments, and other details. They will know instantly whether a particular neighborhood will work for your budget, with solid expertise about new homes as well as owner-occupied homes in their local first-time buyer market.
- Helps you navigate finance, inspections, home warranties, and escrow. You should hire your real estate agent because they are an expert at all the important aspects of your home purchase. An experienced agent will be able to walk you through the financing process, help you find a qualified inspector, explain the ins and outs of home warranties, and guide you through the escrow maze. If any of these pieces of the home-buying puzzle seems to cause confusion or agitation for your agent, take that as a red flag that they may not be the right agent for you!
- Is an experienced negotiator who will get you the home you want at a price you can afford. Negotiation is the name of the game when it comes to paying the right price for your first home. A qualified agent will know the value of the other homes in your area, as well as how to assess the value of the amenities on the home you're considering. She will have strong negotiating skills, and know when to play hardball with a seller, versus the time a kid-glove approach is more likely to work.
- Will go with you to visit new construction/new development homes.It's a really good idea to always take your real estate agent with you on your first visit to a new home community. It's quite easy to walk into a new development on a whim, fall in love with one of the model homes, and write an offer on the spot. In such a case, the developer's agent becomes your agent - meaning he or she is representing BOTH you and the developer. Not an ideal situation to make sure you're getting a fair deal. It's much wiser to wait to see the models the first time with your agent because as pretty as they are, models can be deceiving. They may look gorgeous and be beautifully decorated, but how sure are you that the floorplan is really workable? Are the lot size and location really the best ones for you? And how about those upgrades? Are they really a wise choice? Developers will also want you to use their "in-house" lenders. Taking your real estate agent with you will make sure you get the home you really want, and that your interests are protected in the process.
- Is someone you TRUST who will see your deal through to closing without ever dropping the ball. You're about to buy your first home - so more than anything, you need a real estate agent you can trust. You need someone who is a good communicator, who will be honest with you, even if the truth isn't necessarily what you want to hear at the moment. Your agent needs to be detail-oriented, and able to juggle multiple tasks at one time. You want someone who can guarantee that they will make sure every T is crossed and every I dotted, an agent who will get you from viewing your first property all the way through to moving in to your dream home. You deserve the best - DON'T settle for any less!