First-Time Homebuyers: How To Select A Real Estate Agent

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By: Karen Laurence Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers

In this day and age, getting access to a Real Estate Agent is easy. All agents have a fiduciary responsibility to treat their clients honestly and fairly, while keeping your best interests at heart. Finding the right agent who is ethical, honest, patient, and who will educate you is the task at hand. It is hardest for first time home buyers because the likely have little or no experience in selecting an agent. They don’t know what to expect and they think all agents are alike. They need some guidance to help them sort out the ones that are better suited to their real estate buying needs.

A real estate agent is someone who’s taken some basic training classes and then has applied for, and passed, a state licensing exam. Basically, most people can become a real estate agent and continue to practice as long as they place their sales license with a licensed broker. An Agent, a broker and a Realtor (a National Association of Realtors designation) are all required to take a set number of hours of continuing education courses in order to renew and keep their license. You can work with a real estate broker or a Realtor, who is licensed by the National Association of Realtors and who promises to stand by a more complex set of standards when assisting you with your real estate needs.

First time home buyers should first ask those in their personal circle of friends or acquaintances for a referral to an agent, based upon their experience with them.  This way, the agent is not an unknown quantity. If that is not possible, you can ask the local chamber of commerce, or the local board of realtors.

Finding a realtor is all about hiring someone to address your house situation, whether it be to buy or to sell. Treat it like a job interview. Maybe interview more than one. Some potential questions to ask can be:

How long have you been in the real estate business?

Do you primarily work with buyers or sellers?

What markets do you focus on?

How do you plan to communicate with me?

What if I find a house online? Can you take me to see it as well?

Do you have any personal references that I can view or call?

What is your marketing plan?

What are your expectations from a Realtor?

Buyers expect a professional that will put forth their best efforts in locating their home, within their financial boundaries and incorporating their preferences such a pool, or a large back yard. The agent should be able to provide two or three references for a loan, if that is what the buyers need. If not pre-approved when they come to you, agents should be able to aid them with this basic requirement, Buyers need to be educated as to what realistically they can afford for their price point, not what is their fantasy house that will cost double of what they are approved for.  They should be realistic in their offers and not expect a low ball or a cash offer to always get the deal.

When you have found the real estate agent that makes you feel comfortable, that you bond with, or when you find someone that seems to able to educate you and has patience to explain the processes to you, hire them. The other piece of the puzzle is that you, as the buyer, will cooperate to the fullest with your agent so that the transaction will get completed and you will be a happy home owner.

The National Association of Realtors, found that buyers want two things from an agent: a good reputation in the industry and honesty.

Karen Laurence is a sales associate with Keller Williams Company. She is a Technical Real Estate Instructor, Real Estate Agent and Certified Luxury Agent. 516-524-3953.