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Don’t Get Duped: A Guide to Finding the Right Agent for First Time Home Buyers

find agent first time home buyer

Most first-time home buyers soon discover there’s much more to buying property than just skimming through beautiful listings. Home-buying starts with great enthusiasm, but you soon become overwhelmed as the tasks pile up and get more complicated. You must work with the right professionals to avoid such burnout in a home search. An experienced and licensed local real estate agent is one such expert to guarantee a successful home purchase

The right real estate agent is invaluable in your home search to help you navigate the complex home-buying process. There are over 3 million active real estate licensees in the country, and they are not all equal. So, how do you find the right one and avoid getting duped? 

This guide offers simple but effective tips on how to find the right agent for first-time home buyers.

But Do I Really Need a Real Estate Agent?

A reliable real estate agent can make all the difference in home buying. As a first-time home buyer, there’s a lot you need to learn about how property markets work. But, for such a considerable investment, you want to make sure everything runs smoothly, and this is a good reason to hire an expert in real estate to work with you. 

Some roles your agent will play in the home-buying process include:

  1. Assisting you in finding the right property
  2. Negotiate an offer’s price and terms
  3. Providing you with valuable insights into the local market, including comparables, sales data, crime, best neighborhoods 
  4. Giving an objective set of eyes in negotiations and contracts 
  5. Helping you navigate any legal or financial issues that may arise
  6. Helping in making an offer, counter-offers, and closing the deal
  7. Ensuring that you are making an informed decision
  8. Helping with financing and closing cost preparation
  9. Providing a comparative market analysis (CMA) which includes market trends to help you determine what price to offer.
  10. Ensuring all necessary documents are in order and that you understand the terms of the sale
  11. Reviewing the property disclosure statement 
  12. Looking for properties and booking showings
  13. Recommending other professionals in their Network, such as attorneys and mortgage lenders

This could be your first significant investment, and you want to ensure everything runs smoothly. Even with dedicated research, your real estate agent provides you with the information you might not get. They represent your interest in complex negotiations, and you enjoy peace of mind knowing someone is looking out for you. 

How to Find the Right Real Estate Agent

  1. Ask for Referrals 

Every real estate market has several potential agents to help you get that first home. To narrow your search, look for referrals from friends and family. An online search for the best real estate agents in the target area can give you an idea of who to talk to first. If you already have a mortgage lender, ask if they have local agents they can recommend. 

  1. Look for Experience & Credibility

The best real estate agent is one who has experience working with first-time home buyers. More importantly, find an agent fully knowledgeable about the local market. Check their credentials and reviews from past clients to ensure that they have a good track record. 

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is an excellent place to start for reliable sources of information about businesses, including real estate agents. Another way to query reputation is by checking the agent’s credibility through certifications of memberships to state bodies or industry organizations such as the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). 

  1. Ask the Right Questions 

As you continue your search, create a short list of real estate agents you can start interviewing. Some of the important questions for your real estate agent include: 

  • What’s your experience working with first-time home buyers?
  • How well do you know this market?
  • Are you available to show your properties? How many clients do you have now?
  • Do you specialize in a specific type of home/price point?
  • How many homes do you help buyers purchase each year?
  • Can you provide client references?
  • Are you a full-time or part-time agent?
  • Do you work with both buyers and sellers? 
  • Will I be working with you individually or with a team?
  • How much is your commission, and are there additional fees?
  • Do you have professional contacts such as moving companies, mortgage agents, appraisers, inspectors, real estate lawyers, and general contractors? 

During the initial contact, ensure you feel comfortable with the agent’s approach and communication style. Is the real estate agent responsive to your needs, or do they have a fixed way of helping home buyers? A reputable real estate agent is ready to offer references in the area for a homebuyer to verify any information provided. 

  1. Personality

What’s the personality of the real estate agent you want to hire? Many first-time home buyers overlook this crucial factor when choosing a real estate agent and regret it months down the line; choose a real estate agent with whom your personality fits because you’ll be working together for months. You must build a relationship with the agent and spend a lot of time together. Ensure you are comfortable around your agent and find someone who understands your needs and goals.

  1. Leverage Social Media 

Today, everything happens online. Consumers spend so much time online, and social media apps are among the most preferred online platforms. You can check reviews, testimonials, complaints, and everything else you need about a real estate agent on Facebook and other media.

A report by The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) says half of their members use social media daily, and you can easily find them here. You can interview different real estate agents online without leaving your office and then find out what past clients say about the services provided. 

Red Flags to Look Out for in a Real Estate Agent

While there are many good agents out there, there are also some bad apples in the basket. To protect yourself, here are some warning signs that the agent is not the right one:

  • The agent is pushy or aggressive in approach
  • The agent doesn’t listen to your needs
  • The agent is uninformed about local real estate or the neighborhood
  • The real estate agent has a poor track record of working with clients
  • The agent asks for a hefty upfront fee or a very low figure 
  • The agent isn’t flexible enough to work within your budget
  • The agent does real estate part-time
  • The agent doesn’t ask about your goals or plans
  • The agent is a poor communicator 

Only hire them if you feel comfortable during or after interviewing a real estate agent. Then, trust your instincts and continue your search. After all, this is a huge financial investment you’re making, and you want to avoid taking risks by hiring the wrong people for your team.

Common Mistakes When Hiring a Real Estate Agent

As a first-time home buyer, you want the process to move fast and this might inadvertently lead to mistakes including hiring the wrong real estate agent. Some common pitfalls to avoid when hiring your agent include:

  • Hiring a part-time agent
  • Hiring a relative to save money 
  • Choosing the agent with the lowest fees
  • Hiring an unlicensed agent 
  • Choosing an agent with poor negotiation skills.
  • Choosing an agent with poor knowledge of the local real estate market 
  • Choosing an inexperienced agent
  • Hiring an agent without looking for references and credential

A real estate agent is often overlooked by first time home buyers yet they bring in invaluable expertise. While the internet offers lots of information on the local market, you need someone on the ground with your interests at heart to help you out.

Final Thoughts

For every successful journey, there’s a good guide. In the long-winding and complicated home buying process, a real estate agent is your guide. A credible agent ensures as a first-time home buyer, you don’t make mistakes and that the process runs smoothly. The professional gives you insight on the local real estate market to help you make informed decisions. For such a significant investment such as a home, you need the best real estate agent. To hire the right agent, ask for referrals, take your time to interview potential agents, ask the right questions, look for any red flags, and always trust your instincts. With the right real estate professionals, the path to that dream home just got clearer. 

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