So, what’s in it for me?
It’s not an uncommon question when considering an offer for any kind of service.
If you are considering hiring a real estate agent, setting clear expectations and anticipated results should be part of the conversation well before you sign the dotted line. Gone are the days of relying on word of mouth, a TV ad or flyer in the mail when it comes to making the important decision of buying a house. With the internet impacting our daily lives 24 hours a day, most people have become diligent about researching and educating themselves on the home buying process, and having a trusted person by their side.
Whether you are a first-time home buyer or going on your eighth real estate purchase, it’s important to understand exactly what you will be receiving from your agent. Typically, a home buyer’s agent will be paid a commission from the home sale so there is no out of pocket expense for the buyer. Regardless, it is important for a home buyer to set reasonable expectations of the agent
Millennials, in particular, are interested in the home buying “experience” and use a slate of tools in finding a potential home, according to a Zillow Group report. The 2016 study found that millennials see their real estate agent as a trusted advisor or partner in the search, rather than just someone who is searching for information on houses.
As a result, there are more expectations of today’s real estate agent and often, that involves an interviewing process. Younger buyers are more likely to interview at least two agents, before deciding on who will represent them.
Some of the questions you may consider asking during an agent interview are:
- How well do you know a particular neighborhood or part of town?
- How does the brokerage support the agents and what benefits will I see as a result?
- If you have a family member or friend who has used the agent, find out what their experience was like.
- If there are online reviews of the agent, read them and try to get a picture of what the agent is like,
- During the interview, you may want to ask about their history, both as a buyer and seller agent. This may include number of sales and number of homes they have found for buyers.
- Ask specifics of what the agent will do for you.
The majority of people considering buying a home have also dabbled into some research on current properties, and have laid out some personal financial scenarios (qualifying for a mortgage) before even jumping into a full blown search. This will actually benefit the real estate agent as she or he will get an idea of what type of homes appeal to you and will help streamline the process. The agent should be willing to go beyond some of the parameters (price, location, style, etc.) to broaden the search, something you may not have considered. By doing so, some properties that might not have been included in the original search will show up and you may change the criteria as a result. The agent becomes another set of eyes and serve as a frank and forthright advocate.
Beyond searching and finding potential homes, buyers expect the following:
- Lining up a private home tour. Even though a typical home listing includes a variety of photos, videos and loads of information, it’s imperative to actually go and see the home. The real estate agent will communicate with the seller’s agent, and determine an appropriate time to view the home. The agent is likely to have gained additional information on the house before the showing that will hopefully answer any questions that arise during the onsite visit.
- Any time a new listing comes up that fits your criteria, you should be notified. In a hot market, it’s important to act quickly, especially when there might be multiple offers and offers above the asking price.
- Once an offer has been tendered, the buyer often seeks advice from the broker on home inspectors. The home buyer typically pays for a home inspector to provide a report on the condition of the home and all its operating (and broken) parts. The real estate agent should have a comprehensive list of home inspectors whom they trust and with whom they have a good relationship.
- Finally, but certainly not last, the agent should be representing you all the way, especially at the negotiating table. Hammering out a price that is agreeable to you as the buyer and is in line with the appraisal and home inspection is key to a smooth home buying experience. Make sure your agent is comfortable bargaining with the seller, and having the research and data to back up the arguments.