how to define a good agent? (the first time home buyer)

Asked by Alice, San Francisco, CA Wed Jan 4, 2012

1. how to find a good agent?
2. how can an agent help me to find a house?
3. do I have to have an agent to find a house?
thanks.

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14
Dan Tabit, Agent, Issaquah, WA
Wed Jan 4, 2012
BEST ANSWER
Alice,
Start with an agent with experience. You need someone with a proven track record of helping buyers. You need someone with patience. You will have a lot of questions that deserve to be answered until you fully understand. Ask for some referrals from friends & family members. Before you commit to an agent read the agents website, blog posts and answers on boards like this to understand them.
A good agent will listen to what you hope to find in your first house and tell you the truth. Most buyers want what is just out of their price range and you may need to see a few homes to realize this A good agent will again be patient with you, will preview homes for you and will send you the new listings that come on the market right away so you can see them quickly.
Do you have to have an agent? Only if you want to have a successful and rewarding experience. Buying a home can be stressful, especially if you are unfamiliar with the process. Your agent will negotiate on your behalf throughout the transaction, and not just on price. There are so many details to bring a buyer and seller together you really shouldn't try this on your own.
1 vote
Annette Law…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Thu Jan 5, 2012
Debbie has shared critical data regarding working with two agents. The real benefit for using a real estate professional is the 'specialized knowledge' we have regarding local real estate. If you are looking at two communities that are miles and miles apart, two agents may be practical.

Few things are more demoralizing to a real estate professional than getting a call from Agent A to inform me that Agent B was escorting the same buyer I showed the same home to two days ago. As Debbie pointed out, we will work with enthusiasm and into the darkest hours of the night on your behalf, we only expect loyalty.

Best of success in finding your new home.
1 vote
Annette Law…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Thu Jan 5, 2012
Alice,
As you have just read, 'finding an agent' can become a full time job. The reality is, if you have to set up appointments to interview three agents, get their credit reports, obtain references, and chat with the boss, the excitement to buy a home will have long passed.

Finding a good agent is like finding a good professional in any trade. They tend go out of business because they self destruct. This is accomplished before the end of the second year. An agent with 3 or more years in the business is a good indicator. The other most important indicator is, "Are they listening to you? Are the questions the ask revealing more about your objectives or do their questions mostly enable them to talk about themselves. You want an agent pre-occupied with meeting your home buying need and objective.

How can an agent help you? ReMax agents average nationally over 13 transactions a year. This would suggest a real estate professional who are actively involved in the buying and selling of homes knows what is happening today, the challenges and obstacles that plague home buyers in this market, and will be able to navigate in intricacies that so complicate the process. Real estate PROS bring with them the EASY button. They do the work, you pack.

Agent to find a house? No, you don't. However, most home owners are wise to not let anyone into their home unless they are represented by a real estate professional. These homeowner what to sell their home, not become an entertainment service.

Now, pick up the phone and call as San Francisco agent.
Test #1, if your call goes to voice mail, be aware making quick contact may be difficult as the home buying process advances
Test #2. Did they ask sufficient questions to know what you are looking for? Did they ask if you have been prequalified by a mortgage lender, defined the home you seek, your timeline for moving, special needs?. This is an attribute of organization. You may benefit from working with a organized professional.
Test #3. Do they respect your schedule. The greatest sign of disrepect is being late. Being on time is only one minute away from being late. Some agents believe the world operates on real estate agent time. Make effort to evaluate if your time is respected.

Three easily staged tests and the ability to listen...will go far in your selection process.

Best of success in finding your new home.
Annette Lawrence
Broker Associate
ReMax Realtec Group
Palm Harbor, FL
1 vote
Debra (Debbi…, Agent, Livingston, NJ
Wed Jan 4, 2012
HI again

I agree with Dan - the size of the office isn't as important as the specific agent you may work with.
However, when you first walk into an office - see how you are greeted - see if you, as a visitor, are treated in a professional, polite manner. Feel free to check out large, or small offices in your area.

I also suggested speaking with the manager, as it's kind of like a blind date - the manager has the ability to "match" you to an agent who he or she thinks would work well with you, and whose personality would be a good fit.
Sit down - have a list of questions ready....then invertview the agent.
If you don't feel comfortable - don't be afraid to let the manager know.

Now, in my area, we do not work with signed buyer broker agreements...........in your area, you may be asked to sign this kind of agreement.
Make sure to READ all of it. Question whatever you don't understand!
Make sure you have an "out" if you are not happy with the service you receive, so that you CAN switch to a new agent if needed.
No one can force you to work with someone with whom you are not happy .

Now that youare armed with all this information......continue to do your due dilligence, ask questions and eductate yourself on sites like this....

I wish you all the best and much success in your home search!!
1 vote
Debra (Debbi…, Agent, Livingston, NJ
Thu Jan 5, 2012
not really - espcially if there is a written agreement in place......the only way you might want hire 2 agents is if you are looking in 2 different areas and want an agent who is an expert in each of those areas. In that case, just make sure you're clear with each agent as to what you are doing.

You should develop a comfortable working, almost team-like, relationship with your agent. Once you begin working together, he or she will begin to know you, and what works for you.............a level of trust develops, as well.
Understand that the agent doesn't get paid anythig until you buy and close on a home. (As an agent, the only thing I ask from a buyer is that they be loyal to me...and I will work hard on their behalf.).

Working with 2 agents at the same time, in the same area, can only cause confusion and frustration.
Your agent will be spending time showing you homes...............helping you work throuigh the process and be there for you along the way..............all without getting paid for their time.............having a buyer who remains loyal is the only thing we ask for.

If you are not happy with the agent - that's an entirely different story. In that case, feel free to sit down, explain why you are unhappy....see if you can work it out, or then find a new agent. You can always turn to the Manager with your concerns, as well.
0 votes
Alice, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Thu Jan 5, 2012
can I hire two agents at the same time?
0 votes
Alice, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Thu Jan 5, 2012
Thanks all of you guys very much!!!
yes, buying the first home will be very stressful, and I really thanks for you guys kindly to answer my questions.
all you guys are giving good suggestions to me, but I can only pick one best answer. that is too bad because all of you guys are giving good information in some point.
Thanks again :)
0 votes
Scott Hulen, , 64068
Thu Jan 5, 2012
Picking a real estate agent; you should interview several realtors before making a decision. Do not solely rely on a referral! Do the work yourself and interview several. Here’s a short check list of questions to ask & things to consider:
1) The paperwork involved in this process is extremely complicated, having stated this It is important that a Realtor be “practiced at our trade” pick a Realtor which has completed 15+ transactions the previous year
2) Interview 3-5 full time realtors (very few part-time agents have the same skills as a person who works Real Estate on a full time basis)
3) Ask for a copy of the Realtors credit report before you hire them. This may sound bold but you would be surprised how many are below 600, and then ask yourself do you really want to accept consul on one of the biggest decisions of your life from someone who can’t manage their own financial future? (note: this is not common practice and may offend many, but you are about to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, do your homework gather information)
4) Once you have interviewed your potential Realtors and if you are still unsure and want a “trail run” sign an exclusive buyers agency for 48 hours with the Realtor and explain if all goes well in the beginning then you will be willing to commit for 3 months.
5) Work with a Realtor which is local to your area. Meaning a 10-20 mile radius, they will know the schools, shopping and the growth potential of the area without having to go look it up!


That’s your list! Good Luck!
0 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Thu Jan 5, 2012
1. Talk to some.
2. In many ways.
3. No, but a good agent will help you evaluate one better than you can on your own.

All the best,
0 votes
Dan Tabit, Agent, Issaquah, WA
Wed Jan 4, 2012
Alice,
Your question will take lots more than what we can do here. I started a blog series on home buying a while back. There will be some variables from WA to CA, but most of the steps will be similar. Let me know if it helps.
0 votes
Dan Tabit, Agent, Issaquah, WA
Wed Jan 4, 2012
Alice,
The company isn't as important as the individual agent. Any company can have good, mediocre or bad agents. I really encourage you to be a bit picky about which agent you select. Experience, recent success, local market knowledge are all important in who you select. Best of luck.
0 votes
Alice, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Wed Jan 4, 2012
THANKS for answer me, DebbIe and DAN :0
0 votes
Alice, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Wed Jan 4, 2012
1.When I find an agent, should I go to big company such as century 21 to ask the company to recommend some one to me?
2. Once I hire one agent, can I change him/her if I don't like him/her during looking for a house?
0 votes
Debra (Debbi…, Agent, Livingston, NJ
Wed Jan 4, 2012
Hi Alice
There are many parts involved in asnwering your question, and I could go on and on.....but.....I will be succinct!

1.ask friends for recommendations of agents they have used, and were happy with - that's, imo, the best way to start......then meet with, and invterview several of them...see with whom you feel most comfortable. You can also stop by local RE offices and speak with the manager.....ask him or her for suggestions .

2.agents have a number of sources to help you find a home, in addition to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)....know that buying a home is more involved than just "finding' it on the internet.
An agent will walk you through the steps necessary to make it to the closing table. These days, it can be challenging. They can help you secure financing.... and with inspections........and whole process of buying will be explained.
It's important to hold a first time buyer's hand throughout the process1

3. you can certainly find houses online, so , no, you don't "need" an agent to locate homes..............but as I said above.....that's just a small part of the home buying puzzle. Since most homes are on the MLS, they will be listed with an agent, so you will need to either have your own agent, or work with the seller's agent i order to preview them.

Hope this has helped!

Best wishes!
0 votes
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