How to Choose a Real Estate Agent for Buying a Home

First Service Credit Union
7/25/2022 12:00:00 AM - 4 min. read

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Purchasing a home, especially in today's hot housing market, can be complex. That's why many potential homebuyers prefer to work with a real estate agent. A real estate agent is a licensed professional who can represent the needs of the buyer and advocate or negotiate on their behalf. A trusted real estate agent can be a valuable asset during the home-buying process. It's important to select the right agent to work with, so you feel confident when buying your home. Be sure to follow these tips to help you choose the right real estate agent for you.

1. Identify What's Important to You

Every individual is different. You have your own preferences and priorities when it comes to what you value in an agent. Consider all of these characteristics before you begin your search. For example, will you want an agent who is very hands-on, always available to answer questions, and sends you listings daily? Or would you prefer an agent who lets you take the lead by sending them properties you’re interested in first? Decide which qualities are most important to you and look for them in your candidates.

2. Go to Open Houses

One of the best ways to meet agents is to attend open houses. If you’re driving and see an open house sign, stop in for a bit to chat with the agent. They’ll likely be willing to speak with you, especially if you are in the market to purchase a home. Pay attention to how professional, friendly, and engaging the agent is. It’s good to observe how the agent interacts with other visitors as well. Is everybody given the same amount of attention? Is the agent answering their questions? Does the agent seem knowledgeable about the home they’re showing? And before you leave, be sure to grab the agent’s business card if you felt there was good chemistry between the two of you.

3. Ask for Referrals

If you have friends, family members, or colleagues who have recently purchased a home, tap into those resources. Ask them about their experience. Were they happy with their agent? If so, why? On the flip side, if they weren’t pleased with their agent, ask them why. They may also share potential challenges to look out for. Bear in mind though, their experience may not be your experience. Every homebuyer’s situation is different, so what worked for one may not always work for others. Use the referrals as another way to build your pool of candidates.

4. Research Online

Once you have a few agents as candidates, research them online. Many real estate pages will have an agent finder tool, and you can use First Service’s free resource, HomeAdvantage®, to find a real estate agent as well as get started on your home search. You can also search agents’ websites or their profiles on social media. When researching agents, seek out information that tells you about their specialties and experience. Be sure to read customer reviews and pay attention to how the agent responds – not only to positive reviews, but any negative ones, too!

5. Meet with Potential Agents

Before deciding on an agent, it’s a good idea to meet with any that you have been considering. Some people suggest meeting with at least three, but the number is really up to you. This is your time to really get specific and determine compatibility with your agent. Purchasing a home is probably the biggest investment you’ll make, so take your time with each agent and ask the right questions. Here are some questions you should ask:

  1. What areas or parts of town are you most familiar with, and where do you close the most homes? This is important because you’ll want to work with an agent who has a strong understanding of the local housing market.
  2. How do you typically communicate with clients (via email, text, phone call)? Be sure to express what your preferred method of communication is and how often you’d like to hear from your agent. If their approach doesn’t align with yours, it may not be a good fit.
  3. Will I be working directly with you or one of your assistants? Since your agent will be the person you vetted, you may prefer to work directly with them. Communicating that upfront will allow you to set clear expectations.
  4. Do you work as both a buyer and seller’s agent? Working with an agent who has experience as a buyer’s agent and a listing agent could be helpful because they’ll have a strong understanding of the market from both angles. However, an agent who represents both the buyer and seller in a single transaction is considered a “dual agent.” This practice is not incredibly common, and it could create a conflict of interest. It’s best to avoid working with a dual agent and instead work with an agent who is solely on your side.  
  5. When will you be available to show me houses? If the agent does real estate on the side rather than full time, they may not be able to show you houses as often as you’d like. Be sure to tell them what hours or time of day work best with your availability, and see if they can oblige.
  6. What challenges will I face in today’s housing market, and how are you equipped to help me navigate them? It’s currently a seller’s market, and you should be able to rely on the expertise of your agent to help you throughout your home journey, whether that’s pointing out cracks in a home’s foundation or letting you know when a home is priced too high. A good agent will be honest and realistic with you about the limited inventory and competition among buyers. They’ll also give you the confidence that you’re in the right hands.    

6. Select Your Agent

Once you’ve completed your interviews and compiled your research, compare your findings, and make your choice! Remember, you want a knowledgeable agent who you’re comfortable with. So reference your research and trust your gut. The home-buying process can be stressful, but by choosing the right real estate agent, you’re giving yourself a huge advantage in becoming a future homeowner.