When you are in the market for a new home, you need the assistance of someone who knows the market well. Let’s be honest, the market is flooded with realtors, isn’t it? So it sure is critical that you make the right choice. A good agent or broker will help you curtail a lot of the stress that comes with buying a home. They will help you make the best decision for your budget and your needs.
There really is no proven method or a process to choosing the best realtor for you. Most times, people follow their gut and they go with the person that they like, or have a good rapport and chemistry with. And this makes sense. Purchasing a house can be a tedious process and you definitely want to spend all that time interacting with someone you get along with.
With this article, we are here to give you, or rather, your gut, that added leverage to make an informed decision on how to choose a realtor to buy a house.
Who Is A Realtor?
Well that’s easy! They work in the real estate industry and help buy and sell houses. Right? Not really. Most people do not realize that a real estate agent or a real estate broker is not the same as a realtor. Anyone can be a real estate agent. Study up, take a test, get your license, affiliate yourself with a broker and you are ready to make a sale on your first home.
A real estate broker follows the same steps as an agent, but they have to take more classes and take more tests. They are licensed to open their own office and are not required to affiliate themselves with anyone else.
To be a realtor, one must be a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). They have a very strict code of ethics that you have to follow and take violations seriously. You know what other violations they take seriously? Anyone who isn’t a member of NAR, using the REALTOR® trademark, is bound to face consequences.
So long story short, don’t just decide on any Tom, Dick or Harry, simply because they have a license to be in the real estate industry. Make sure that the agent or broker you are dealing with is a certified realtor.
How To Find A Realtor?
Now that you are clear on what a realtor is, it makes your search so much easier. You can knock people off your list by literally enquiring if they are a realtor or a member of the NAR.
That can still leave you with a whole number of potential realtors that you could work with. So you have to narrow the list down further.
This is the step that you build off of. With this step, you will get to know your potential real estate candidate before you even meet them. So you can just weed out those agents that don’t leave a positive impression on you.
We advise that you begin your research well before you get approved for a mortgage. When you have everything approved and are ready to step out and shop for houses, you should already have a realtor ready to guide you. There are a couple of ways to approach this step, so let’s go over them.
- Online Presence: Online research is the most self reliant method of research. The internet is a treasure trove of information that will help shape your decision. You can quickly scope out realtors in your area, or who specialize in the type of home you are looking to purchase. From there you can check out their website and social media, giving you a glimpse into the kind of person and realtor that they are.
You also have the option of looking up reviews. See what other buyers had to say about their experience with the realtor. These reviews are important, as it helps you construct an idea of what your experience with the realtor could be like.
That being said, take these online reviews or testimonials with a grain of salt. Especially the ones that you find on a realtors website. There is really no way to confirm if these are by any means true or genuine.
- Referrals: Friends and family are there for a reason – to network and enquire about real estate and realtors. Chances are that someone that you know was a recent home buyer, or at least knows someone who is. They can suggest realtors they worked with and also possibly tell you which realtors to stay away from.
Who better to tell you about what not to do and what you should look out for when buying a home? Their experiences will most certainly make that check list of what you want and do not want from your realtor.
You are going to purchase a home to live in, so don’t be afraid to ask the recent buyers detailed questions about the realtor they had. Get into what they enjoyed and hated about their experience and take down those referrals and names.
- Do the legwork: This may not be a viable option for everyone, but if you live fairly close to the new neighbourhood or localities you are considering moving into, go for a drive in those areas, and keep an eye out for ‘for sale’ signs. Take down the realtor information from these signs as these realtors would be better suited to helping you out in these localities, as opposed to an outsider to the area. A well known realtor in an area might get you better prices in that locality.
The main goal of research is to find the right realtor for you. So combine the online research with the referrals you have, to help narrow down your search. Your goal is to have a few names of potential realtors. Don’t just immediately settle for a realtor, or have a list 10 names long. Keep that list to a moderate 3 potential realtors and maybe have 2 more as a backup. But 3 is a good number.
You have your top 3 candidates, now is the time to interview them. Go out there, meet with each one. From your research phase, you probably have gathered an idea of what you want from your realtor.
Talk to them and get to know them. Enquire about how long they have been a realtor as experience is very important in this finicky industry. Granted, sometimes the new kid on the block is the one with the insight and charm that will get you that perfect home. But you won’t know unless you have a conversation.
Open discussions about the market and see how each one fares. Even if you do not know much about the market, comparing the 3 with each other will give you an idea of who knows what.
A new house is a whole package that comes with a new neighbourhood, school, job opportunities and community among other things that you may be looking for. Tell them what your expectations for the new home are and see how they handle their pitch. You will come to find that each of them have their own skill set and area of expertise.
Gauge how professional they sound and how savvy their approach is. You need someone who can not only convince you, but also the person looking to sell their house. If they put real effort in presenting to you, then chances are that they will put in effort when they work for you and represent you to sellers. Make sure they can communicate well and that you enjoy meeting them. The more approachable they are, the better your chances of getting the house at a good price.
Also Read: How To Find A Good Neighborhood?
Make sure that you request for references. Enquire about previous deals they have closed on and homes they have listed and purchased for clients. It doesn’t hurt to ask for contact information for their clients or previous customers who bought a home through them. These are all added sources of information that will make you more decisive in your decision.
Clients and new home buyers will be able to give you a first hand account on how your three candidates helped them find their home. Don’t be shy to push for information. Find out if the realtor was able to find them houses that checked every box on the clients list. This will tell you how adept the realtor will be in understanding your needs and giving you viable options. This is important, as time spent looking at a home that is nowhere near what you are looking for is time and money wasted.
Another area of importance is money. The realtors have their own fee or cost and commission. It’s the people who worked with the realtors previously, who will be able to give you an insight as to whether a realtor will be worth what you are paying him. But that’s not the only way you spend your money when shopping for your new home. You spend money on the house as well. A good realtor will get you a good price. These references will be the first people to tell you whether they are happy with what they paid for their new house.
Even if you skip the other steps, this is a step we advise that you do not skip. There is no better source of information than what a previous client or customer can provide. If they enjoyed their experience, then they will recommend the realtor to you. A recent client’s seal of approval is welcome assurance that you are on the right track. Even better if you managed to speak with multiple clients and they all had praises to sing.
On the flip side, if these recent clients advise you against a realtor, or have had a negative experience with the realtor, then that is something for you to be wary of. If multiple clients recall similar experiences, those are red flags that you should stay clear of this realtor, no matter how charming he is in person.
Related: How To Fire Your Realtor?
Trust Your Gut
Choosing a realtor is not something that you decide overnight. It will take time. Like we said earlier, start your search well in advance. We know how it sounds. You do all this research for weeks or months and at the end of it all we advise that you trust your gut. It may sound redundant, but honestly that’s the best advice.
Your research has not been for naught. It has helped you consciously narrow down the list of contenders. You made a series of conscious choices to end up with the best realtors, who you know are the perfect guide for you on your home shopping adventure. Now you need to pick one. That is, if you haven’t already.
Ask yourself who you want your point of contact to be over the duration of your house hunting quest. Don’t overthink or ponder over technicalities. This is the part where you go with your intuition and choose that realtor who you believe will do the right job. Honest truth? More often than not, your gut would have been indicating to this particular realtor, much earlier in the process.
What Should I Do After Picking A Realtor?
Once you have finalized on a realtor, it’s important that you go over this bit. No matter what, you have to make sure you read the contract. Go over it with a fine tooth comb, look closely at all the details and make sure that you and the realtor are on the same page.
The market is finicky and you may just find a home in a few months or less. However, if you do feel like you are not able to find a home in a respectable time frame, then you may want to switch realtors. So do not sign a contract that is more than 6 months long, or you may just end up stuck with a realtor who can’t seem to find you that house until that contract expires.
Like we said, there really isn’t a hard and fast rule on choosing your realtor. Either way, here is a quick recap.You have to make sure that you do your homework, narrow your list down to the last couple of choices and then go with the one that you feel is best suited to you. Oh! And make sure that this is a certified realtor. A member of the NRA.
With that, we hope you are better informed than when you came across this article and now know exactly how to choose a realtor to buy a house. If you’re looking for a realtor in a different city or a distant part of the city you currently reside in, you might need the services of a reliable moving company for when you relocate. So read our feature on the Best Long Distance Moving Companies to find one that can take care of your needs.