(This post is part of our Free First Time HomeBuyers’ course. For more information and/or to sign up, click on this link, or select ‘Education’ under the ‘Buy’ drop-down menu above.)
Have you ever used WebMD to diagnose yourself? Every time I do, a simple headache is immediately some rare, incurable disease and I have three days left to live. It’s kind of like that with real estate agents (just wait, I’ll explain why). Sure- a real estate agent is another expense, your mortgage company has the finances taken care of, and there are hundreds of real estate websites on which you can hunt down homes- but let’s be real: real estate agents wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a need for them.
If you want that headache diagnosed in a much easier and way less stressful way, you go see a doctor, who looks at your particular case, knowing your history and other factors. Same goes for an agent- it isn’t one size fits all. Agents do make commission, but the pricing of homes is adjusted to account for this- and it’s well worth the money. Often, first time home buyers make the mistake of calling the listing agent, and just letting them represent you. But here’s the thing. First and foremost, they represent the buyer- meaning they’d love to get the most money possible for that listing. Sure, they’re on your team, but they’re also playing for both sides. This is why you want to find your own agent- a buyer’s agent, whose goal is to get you the most for the money, make the process as easy as possible, and advocate for you. They’re on your team, and your team only.
There’s a number of other reasons you’ll want an agent, too:
- Is your full-time job to sift through thousands of homes online? Real estate agents do this all day, and have contacts all over. Meaning, they’re privy to the market you want to be in, and might know things that Trulia or Zillow don’t (including hundreds of listings that haven’t been put up yet). They sort through everything you need and want, and find homes that are well-suited to you, so you don’t waste your time going to a hundred open houses that weren’t worth it.
- Do you want to play a perpetual game of telephone tag? While real estate agents know exactly who to reach in order to set up an appointment to view a listing, as a buyer you would have to find the agent, the broker, possibly another agent, and then make an appointment. Real estate agent cut out the middle-man, and make it possible for you to continue living as usual during the whole process. (Imagine that!)
- Do you want to have to deal with the seller and/or their agent? If you find a personality conflict between the seller and yourself, there goes your dream house. If they have an agent, and you don’t, you’re at a major disadvantage. In this way, a real estate agent is a welcome middle-man. You can’t exactly have an open conversation about how horrible the seller’s taste is if they’re the one showing you around. It’s nice to have a buffer to keep everything professional and simple.
- Do you really trust that seller to tell you the truth? By law, real estate agents are held much more accountable- and are very careful to give out the proper information, because they can be held liable for false representation.
- Do you really think you’re going to save money? Sellers adjust their home’s pricing depending on the situation- and often, without proper representation, you’ll be suffering more than you’ll be saving.
- Do you know the market temperature? Can you tell whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market? Can you pull property profiles to find out exactly what you’re dealing with? Can you calculate the trends in the area to forecast the best time to buy? Are you a master of pricing strategy? List-price and sales-price ratios? Historical documents of homes?
You get it. Especially as a first time home buyer, you need someone in your corner who knows what they’re doing and has your best interests at heart.
Alright so I need a realtor. How do I find one? Actually, how do I find a good one?
- Look for the realtors who are ahead of the game. They’re not just checking listings when they’re released; they know what’s going to come on the market before it ever does.
- Look at their references. People who have worked with this agent in the past will be able to give you the most honest opinion, from personal experience. Check their reviews on Zillow. Like a Yelp for real estate (on top of a million other features), Zillow allows buyers and sellers who have worked with that agent to leave reviews about their time working with them.
- Don’t settle for the first person. Do some shopping around, and interview a few agents
- Look to the agents you already know (*cough, cough*).
NextHome Element Realty can help. We invite you to come in and sit down with us, talk about what you’re looking for, and we’ll introduce you to the best agent for your needs.