Real estate agents play a vital role in the homebuying process, serving as trusted advisors and skilled negotiators.
The right one can help you find the perfect home for your needs and budget, navigate the complex real estate market, and ensure that your transaction goes smoothly. However, it can be difficult to assess the agents available and determine which one stands above the rest. That’s why you should meet or do virtual interviews with at least three agents before hiring one. By weighing the following considerations, you can select the one who demonstrates the expertise, knowledge, and professionalism required to meet and surpass your expectations.
1. Do they provide you with a buyer questionnaire or profile worksheet?
Establishing a solid foundation with your real estate agent is the key to having a successful homebuying journey. This begins with the agent giving you a buyer questionnaire designed to gather comprehensive insights into your needs and preferences. It includes fundamental inquiries such as:
- Where is your current residence, and where would you like to relocate?
- What motivates your decision to move?
- What characteristics does your ideal home possess?
- Have you already obtained preapproval for a mortgage?
- What is your budget?
Completing this buyer profile lays the groundwork for a collaborative partnership between you and your agent throughout the homebuying process.
2. Do you like their communication style?
When considering hiring an agent, you’ll want to ensure that their communication style aligns with your preferences. For example, everyone has a preferred communication method, whether it’s text, email, or phone calls or a mix of these options. Additionally, inquire about how promptly they respond to questions and concerns and their availability. If you’re only free to meet and communicate during evenings and weekends, you’ll need someone who can commit to being flexible and working with you during that allotted time.
3. What is their market knowledge?
Selecting a real estate agent with extensive knowledge of your target area is crucial, especially when moving to an unfamiliar location. When meeting with them, be sure to ask essential questions about the quality of local school systems and the accessibility of desired amenities. Furthermore, the agent should be able to provide insights into the advantages and drawbacks of various neighborhoods. Above all, share your basic preferences for your future home, including its size, type, location, and general budget to see what initial recommendations or thoughts they may have. This can tell you a lot about how well-versed they are in the area and their ability to listen and cater to your specific needs.
4. Do your negotiating styles match?
When choosing an agent, assess how they like to negotiate to determine if it aligns with your objectives. Consider your style—are you a tough negotiator who’s willing to walk away from a deal, or do you prefer working toward a mutually agreeable solution? Negotiations can become complex, and deals might fall through if not handled skillfully. Therefore, seek an agent with a proven track record and who can adapt to your preferred style.
5. Do they engage in dual agency transactions?
In several states, dual agency transactions—when the same agent represents both the buyer and seller in a transaction—are illegal due to the risk of conflicts and ethical concerns. However, if you reside in a state where they are allowed (verify with your local real estate board), be sure to make clear to the agent that you’re looking for someone who would act as your representative only should such a situation arise.
6. Did you connect with them during the interview?
Meeting with agents is more than just assessing the tangibles; it’s also about determining who best matches your personality and aligns with your expectations. During these interactions, take note of their professional demeanor. Are they organized? Are they approachable, adaptable, and responsive to your inquiries and concerns? While an agent’s experience is undoubtedly valuable, the connection you establish with them will have an equally significant impact on how smooth the process goes.
7. Do they require you to sign a buyer’s agency agreement?
Many real estate agents will ask you to sign a buyer’s agency agreement before they start assisting you as a client. This agreement serves a dual purpose: it safeguards their ability to earn a commission from the home you eventually buy, and it locks you in to exclusively work with them for a specified duration (usually ninety days). Such an arrangement usually benefits both parties, as each can be assured of the other’s commitment to the partnership. However, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the terms, especially regarding contract termination, before signing on the dotted line.
In addition to your own research and evaluations, seek outside perspectives, especially when you discover the agent online rather than through a trusted friend or family member. Requesting references from previous clients is a good practice to help you make a more informed decision. And if you find that you click with a newer agent, don’t let their limited experience stop you from working with them—newbies have the support of their brokerage to provide assistance and guidance in case any challenges arise during the process.
Most of all, trust your instincts. Choose an agent you feel comfortable and confident with. A strong working relationship is the key to a successful real estate transaction. As long as you maintain open communication and speak up about your needs and expectations, together, you’ll be able to find the home of your dreams.