Buying a home?
Let a real estate agent guide you to your destination. By Susan Straight January 29, 2018, Buying a home is complicated, expensive and time-consuming.
Most buyers and sellers welcome help from a real estate agent to walk them through the process, handle the paperwork and fight any battles that may arise. “How often does a buyer go through the home-buying process? Maybe two or three times in a lifetime. How many times does a good agent go through the process? Twenty or 30 times a year.
Why would anyone buy a home without an agent?” said Sara Rubida, a Long & Foster agent. Since the commission for the buyer’s agent is typically paid by the seller, “it’s penny-wise and pound-foolish for a buyer not to use an agent,” Rubida said. But in an age of Redfin, Zestimates and online contracts, isn’t all the information you need on the Internet? Seriously, why use an agent? Time, for one thing. “While people are at work, we’re working: coordinating with lenders, title companies, insurance companies, surveyors, home inspectors, etc.
Those things take an exorbitant amount of time,” said Mark Middendorf, also a Long & Foster agent. As real estate has become more complicated, the value of using an agent has grown. “The hard part is not finding the property, it’s getting through the transaction without a major financial, emotional or procedural error,” Rubida said. “There are 101 things that can go wrong in a real estate transaction, and it’s your agent’s job to fix them,” said Middendorf. “People are so lawsuit-happy these days. Your agent is the person who protects you through the whole transaction.” Experience and ability vary among agents. How do you find the best one for you? Talk to friends. Ask whether they would recommend their agent and why. Specific examples help you to know the agent’s strengths. Some agents love working with first-time buyers. Others connect especially well with those prioritizing good schools or military relocations.
An agent who is ideal for some people may not be best for you. Interview agents. Meet with your top choices in your home, at the real estate office or a coffee shop. Buying a home is such a personal decision that the better you and your agent know each other, the better she can help you find the exact home you want. “Sadly, some buyers’ interviews consist of basically one question: How much of a rebate will I get if I use your services? Ouch. Really bad idea,” Rubida said. Ask how many years of full-time experience she has, why she chose real estate as a career and what are her three strongest attributes when representing a client. Pay attention to credentials. Check the agent’s website or business card for his or her license. Search your state’s website for licensing or professional and occupational regulation.