If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you may be a little nervous and feeling overwhelmed. One of the most important choices you’ll make is your realtor, which can make or break your homebuyer experience. To pick the right one, there are a few tips you can use to vet potential realtors, to make sure yours will work for you and get the best results possible.
First, it’s important to understand the difference between a real estate agent and a realtor. While all realtors are real estate agents, not all real estate agents are realtors. To become a realtor, you must pass some more difficult hurdles to join the NAR, the National Association of Realtors, involving extra paperwork, experience, and accreditation. For example, a San Pedro realtor will be a real estate agent working in the San Pedro area that was able to pass and qualify for the NAR in California, and obtain the prestigious title of realtor.
When you go to set up your first meeting, hopefully you’ve done some consideration for the basic plans you’ll need. Try to figure out an estimated price range you are willing to offer or accept, talk to a financial institution about a pre-approved mortgage, and take care of any necessary repairs or maintenance around the house. This will put you in the best spot possible when you go to find the right realtor for you.
Finding a Realtor
Realtors are high-demand professionals, so first, you’ll have to locate them and reach out to them. You can always visit Realtor.com, which has over 1,000,000 realtors available on the site. You can also use Facebook, search Google, ask friends or family for referrals, or see if your mortgage lender has any recommendations.
Once you find someone, go ahead and reach out to them. Try to keep your email short and sweet, with some basic and pertinent information. Your email should include:
- Your name and contact information
- When you will be available to talk
- Your location
- Your price range
- How large your pre-approval amount is for the mortgage
- Specifics on the house you are looking for, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms
Once you’ve done this, you should have at least a few responses from realtors in your area that will be happy to help you. Don’t just settle for the first one that gets back to you unless you’re desperate, go ahead and try to find someone that you feel comfortable talking to and that you can share a connection with. Finding your dream home, or selling the home you love, is a surprisingly personal experience, so it’s worth it to take a little extra time to find someone you can click with and relate to.
What to Ask the Realtor
Once you find the right person or set up a meeting, you’ll want to prepare the questions you will ask them. Just like when you go to the doctor, you may forget questions you thought of while in the moment, so it’s a smart idea to write them down beforehand. Some questions you may want to consider are:
What is their experience?
This is likely the most important question to ask. It’s critical to find a realtor that has experience with the type of properties you are looking into, at the price ranges you are asking or offering, and in the right location. This means they’ll know what to look out for and how to save you more money than others.
How do negotiations work?
The negotiations are a key part of buying a house, and you’ll want to know how they will work. You will want a realtor that knows how to negotiate, so make sure they will handle this aspect of the purchase.
How will I stay informed?
Communication is key for realtors, as their schedule is largely self-set, but very flexible and things can come up or change at a moment’s notice. You’ll definitely want to make sure your realtor makes you feel comfortable in the sense that they will be available when needed and will keep you up to date on any changes or developments.
Are they more of a buyer’s agent or a listing agent?
While most realtors work with both home buyers and those looking to sell their homes, they will usually specialize in either buying or selling homes, called a buyer’s agent or a listing agent. If you’re looking to buy a house, try and make sure that their ratio of buying versus listing is at least 7:3, and vice versa when looking to sell. This will ensure that they will be optimally able to help you and get you the best deals possible.
By following these tips, you’ll have no problem finding the right realtor for you. They’re professional and dedicated to their work, so you can relax and let them handle the complicated paperwork aspects of a transaction this complicated.