Are you trying to find a realtor to buy or sell a home? We’ve worked with many realtors as their employee benefits partner, and these tips will help you choose your real estate agent.
Searching for a new home can be daunting – this is a big decision, and if you’re buying for your family, it can affect their lives too. That’s why getting it right is vital, and one of the best things you can do during the process is find the right estate agent.
Real estate agents help clients to source, view, purchase and sell both residential and commercial properties, so having a great professional on board can help make your journey smooth sailing.
In this guide, we’ll be bringing you a six-step process to help you find a realtor.
- Be Prepared
- Identify Your Needs
- Search For Candidates
- Narrow Down Your Choices
- Make A Decision
- Check Your Contract
By following these steps, you can select the best real estate agent for your needs, and find your dream home in no time.
1) Be Prepared
Before you rush out to hire a real estate agent, it’s important that you take some time to prepare your proposal. If you’re buying a property, then key to this preparation should be getting pre-approved for a mortgage. This is where you’ll speak with potential mortgage lenders to discover how much you can borrow, and some real estate agents will require proof of funds before they support you in your buying journey.
Once you’ve finalized your offer with a lender, you’ll get confirmation of your pre-approval that you can show to your real estate agent, and then the fun part can begin – looking at properties!
2) Identify Your Needs
By identifying what you need from your real estate agent, you can choose the best candidate to support you. There are some specific questions that you should consider, such as:
- Are you a first time buyer?
- Do you need a mortgage, or will you be paying cash?
- Are you looking to upsize or downsize from a previous home?
- If you’re moving to a new city, do you know the local market?
- Do your family members have any unique needs, such as accessibility requirements?
- Are there any non-negotiables around the property you will buy, such as outdoor space?
With a clear understanding of your situation, and what you’re looking for in a property or buyer, you can speak with real estate agents who are experienced in working with clients just like yourself.
3) Search For Candidates
When looking for a real estate agent, you might be faced with a number of different candidates from a range of sources. In 2021, 95% of US home buyers across all age groups started their search for a property online, so it comes as no surprise that real estate agents often use online sources to advertise their services. However, this can make it difficult to choose the right candidate – not only is the internet a saturated market for real estate, but it also provides limited opportunities for agents to be personable with potential clients.
That’s why, as part of your search for the right agent, you should use a number of different sources that aren’t exclusively online. Consider asking family and friends for recommendations of reputable agents that they’ve used before, or approaching agents directly for a meeting to discuss suitability.
4) Narrow Down Your Choices
So once you’ve found a number of agents who might fit the bill, how do you narrow down your choices? One of the best ways to do this is by comparing how your needs identification from Step 2 aligns with what each agent is offering.
If you’re a first time buyer, then choosing a agent experienced with assisting clients new to the home buying process will help to take some of the pressure off.
Alternatively, if you’re trying to buy an investment property, then an agent who has a solid, demonstrable understanding of the legalities and regulations around rental property purchases will support your endeavor.
You should aim to narrow down your choices to a list of around 2 to 3 individual agents who might fit your needs, before making a final decision.
5) Make A Decision
When it comes to making a decision, it can be tough to know who to choose, especially if you’ve never bought or sold a property before. There are a number of ways that you can make this easier, though:
- Get References
Asking for references from previous clients is a great way to gain a first-hand account of other customers’ experience with an agent.
- Interview Your Top Three
Conducting short interviews with the agents who’ve made your top three allows you the opportunity to gain a clearer understanding of their experience and services. They shouldn’t mind answering any questions you have about working with them.
- Check Their Availability
Throughout your home buying or selling process, there might be instances where you need to contact your real estate agent outside of normal working hours, such as if your work commitments lead you to viewing a property on a weekend or in the evening. Check that any potential agents have the availability to be flexible with timings or scheduling demands.
Ultimately, the decision is in your hands, so follow your intuition and go with the person who you believe can do the best job for you. This is the best way to ensure that your journey will run as seamlessly as possible.
6) Check Your Contract
Whether you’re buying or selling a property, once you’ve selected a real estate agent you’ll need to sign a contract that outlines the terms of your partnership. There are several factors that can influence these terms, including:
- Contract Length
Most real estate contracts are short to medium term, and it’s a common rule of thumb that your contract should apply for a maximum of around 12 weeks. If the time frame is longer than this, speak to the agent to understand why this is – usually, there is a legitimate reason, but it’s best to be proactive.
- Commission Rates
When selling a home for you, your real estate agent will take commission from the final sale price. Typical fees vary between 5% and 6%, and some of this will be allocated to the buyer’s agent following the sale.
- Hidden Charges
Unfortunately, some estate agent contracts can come with hidden charges, so it’s important to carefully comb through your contract, consulting a legal professional if required. Such costs can include an energy assessment, or even professional photography, so understanding exactly what you’ll be expected to pay is crucial.
Finding a great real estate agent can be tricky, but it’s worth it. Having a strong advisor throughout the buying or selling process allows you to focus on other areas of the journey and rest easy knowing that the legal and professional side is taken care of. By following these six steps, you’ll find a realtor and be enjoying your dream home in no time!