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How a Real Estate Agent Can Help Buyers Choose a First Home, Mortgage, and More

home-buying-guide-find-the-right-realtor
By Jamie Wiebe kali9/iStock

Wondering how to choose a Realtor®? Purchasing a new home takes some serious prep work—from cleaning up your credit score to amassing a down payment. But, hey, we’re just getting started! You also need a comrade in arms: a close ally to help steer you toward homes you’ll love more than life itself, find the best possible mortgage, and all in all help you through this emotionally and financially taxing process. That’s where a good real estate agent can make a world of difference.

How to choose a Realtor®

The first thing you might notice while trying to find home-buying help is all the different titles: agent, broker, Realtor®, etc. Are they all the same thing? Not exactly.

Realtor® is either an agent or broker who is a member of the National Association of Realtors®. Realtors adhere to a detailed code of ethics to treat their clients honestly and fairly. Consider it added insurance that they’re committed to you.

real estate agent is anyone who’s earned a license to sell property, which typically entails taking 100+ hours of course work and then passing a state exam. A broker is someone who’s continued his studies and can hire agents to work under him. 

Ask questions

Ask all of these questions. This is no time for being shy:

  • Are you a Realtor®
  • How long have you lived in this area? One noteworthy exception to the previous question is if she’s lived in the area for a long time. “A newly licensed agent shouldn’t be automatically removed from consideration,” says Mindy Jensen, a Realtor with Equity Colorado Real Estate. “If they’ve lived in the area their entire life, they likely know more about it than an agent who has been in the business for years but only recently moved to the region.” Weigh overall experience against local experience when making your decision.
  • Do you have a team, or do you work alone? Many standalone agents are excellent, but don’t ignore the value of a team. “Working with a team is important,” says Angelo Puma, a real estate agent in Keller, TX. “It increases response time and availability. Often, solo-run agents are double-booked when you need their attention, and you may lose that perfect property.” 
  • What is your schedule? If they’re not a full-time agent, you need to know when they’ll be available. “If the only time you can see houses is in direct conflict with times they have to be working their other jobs, you could miss out on a lot of properties,” says Jensen.
  • Do you have any vacations planned? If they’re heading out of the city anytime soon, make sure they have a back-up in case you find the perfect home while they’re out of the country. Murphy’s Law rules vacations, so make sure you have a power of attorney in place before you leave town.

Found your special someone and ready to create a home? It’s time to move to the fun part: Shopping around and finding your fantasy, dream home—but in the real world.

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