You’re buying a home: Why use a realtor?
First and foremost, you need to remember that the seller pays all the agent fees. So, really the question should be, “you’re buying a home, why wouldn’t you use a real estate agent?”
Here’s what an agent can do for you as a buyer:
Help you determine how much house you can afford
Find homes through the MLS
Recommend a reputable mortgage broker
Help you with preapproval
Assist with the mortgage process
Conduct market research before making offers
Give advice in a bidding war
Prepare and submit your offers
Protect your interests with contract contingencies
Negotiate with the seller’s agent
Oversee the appraisal process
Address your questions about the closing
As you can see, it just makes sense to tap into the experience, knowledge, and skills of an agent when you’re buying a home. There are other valuable and intangible assets agents bring to the table: Years of experience in a specific market; connections and relationships with other agents, mortgage brokers, appraisers, and even contractors who might do home improvement work.
When choosing an agent to help you find a home, make sure they’re responsive. This is very important in a seller’s market when houses are moving quickly. It’s also important that you are equally as responsive. Clear communication between agents and clients is key. Experienced agents are great to have, especially if they have the time to devote to you as a client. You may also find that a less experienced agent is a great option. They are eager to work, have the time, and usually they have access to experienced agents in their brokerage. Buying a home is personal, and it’s a big deal. In this industry, a trusted agent referral goes a long way.
Why should you use a listing agent to sell your home?
You might assume that all it takes to sell your house is to put up a for sale sign and get it listed, especially when homes are selling within a few days after they’ve been on the market. It’s important to know that it’s the behind-the-scenes legwork that you don’t see that makes the process of selling a home smooth sailing.
Before you put the sign up your yard you may want to consider these questions:
Here's a summary of what a qualified listing agent will do for you:
Create and publicize listing on MLS (Multiple Listing Services)
Help you set a competitive asking price
Offer guidance when staging your home
Create marketing materials
Organize open houses
Prepare your counteroffers
Answer questions about disclosures
Guide you through the inspection and closing
Pick an agent, any agent?
In an ideal world you could pick up the phone and call any agent and trust that you’ll receive the services listed above. If you don’t have a solid or trusted referral, it’s a good idea to vet the agent you choose. Here are some questions you can ask a listing agent:
- What experience do you have in this market?
- How many houses have you sold in the last year?
- What’s the average price of the homes you’ve sold?
- How do you market the homes you’re selling? (This is especially important in buyer’s market or economic downturn when homes are not moving quickly.)
Buyer’s market, seller’s market: Why the market matters?
We’ve touched on it a little, but the market in which you buy or sell makes a difference. If it’s seller’s market, make sure to find an agent who is willing to do the legwork with you and show you homes before they are snatched up. If you’re selling in a buyer’s market, make sure your agent is willing to put the time in to marketing your home.
What is your commitment in this process?
When you sign with a listing agent, you’re typically committing to working with them for three to six months. If you haven’t sold the house after the agreed upon time period, you can either renew your agreement or find another agent.
When you start working with an agent to find a house, you’ll likely sign a buyer’s agent agreement. Similar to signing with a listing agent, you’re committing to working with them for a period of time. Why the contract? Agents don’t get paid for all the work they do before a sale or purchase. They’re basically working for free. They’re trusting that if they do this work for you, they will be paid in the end. It’s important to read the contract beforehand and know your rights and responsibilities.
Ultimately, working with a real estate agent is a partnership. Communicate your plans and expectations clearly. If you aren’t sure you’re going to work with an agent, let them know you haven’t decided yet. Mutual trust and respect for their efforts and your goals goes a long way in the process.