Steps to Home Ownership- #3: Hire a Realtor

Once you have your Prequalification Certificate, it is time to interview potential realtors (real estate agents) and hire the one that fits your needs best. It is very important to have a good working relationship with a real estate agent to guide you throughout the buying process from looking at houses to the closing. They are going to help view homes that meet your current and future needs: style of house,  geographical location, and the type of neighborhood (city, suburban, or rural). In addition, they will also discuss school and property taxes, benefits/potential issues with your homing needs, and the current trends of the real estate market.

Some questions to ask potential realtors are:

  • Are you primarily a buyer’s agent or a listing agent? For home buyers, it is beneficial to work with a realtor that focuses more on home buyers than home listers.
  • What neighborhoods/counties do you specialize in? An agent must be knowledgeable the type of area you wish to live. If you want to live in a rural area are they knowledgeable in testing well water and the history of area? Some rural areas may have been exposed to chemicals from farming or industrial industries.
  • How long have you been a realtor? Experience matters in finding the perfect home for you.
  • Do they work alone or are they part of real estate team? One benefit of working with team is in case your realtor is not available, they may be able to have someone on their team to show you homes in their absence.
  • What is your preferred communication process (Text, email, phone, in-person)? A realtor who prefers phone calls may be irritating if you think a text or email can accomplish the same.
  • What is your availability for viewing house and can they accommodate it?

Once you find the realtor is a right fit for you, you will be asked to sign a contract called an “exclusive buyer agency agreement.” This document outlines the realtors services and their compensation.  You, as a home buyer, don’t pay for a realtors work because the home seller pays the commission for both the seller’s and buyer’s agents. The contract states the realtor will be your sole representative and that you won’t work with other real estate agents. Please read the agreement in full to understand what it is stating. For example, how long the agreement is enforceable and if you can terminate the agreement early.

When you have hired a real estate agent, you should give them the following:

  • Prequalification Certificate, which conveys your budget.
  • Area you’d like to live in:
    •  County
    • City, suburban, or rural
    • School District
  • Type of home you’d prefer (Ranch, Split Level, Colonial, etc.). This may change over time due to:
    • The type of home you initially liked doesn’t meet your needs.
    • A particular type of home is outside your budget or there is limited inventory.

The Realtor should show you as many homes as it takes to find the one to suit your needs and within your budget.