Did you know that you’re not required to use a real estate agent when buying a new home? While it’s not always necessary, a good homebuying tip is to use a real estate agent, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer dipping your toes in the market for the first time. Real estate agents typically have the most up-to-date market knowledge, proven negotiation tactics, and a network of professional connections.
Buying a house requires a lot of paperwork and knowledge of homebuyer jargon, and the process can be time-consuming if you’re in a tough market. Another perk of choosing a real estate agent is that they will handle all documentation and communication and guide you expertly through the process.
What are the differences between types of real estate professionals?
Before we dive into how to find a real estate agent, let’s cover the main differences between real estate professionals you may encounter during your home search.
REALTOR® vs. real estate agent. While they do many of the same things during the homebuying process, REALTORS® are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and must adhere to its standards and code of ethics. REALTORS® have access to a few more perks and housing insights than real estate agents.
Real estate broker vs. an agent. Brokers are real estate agents who have passed their state’s broker license exam and required training. The broker license typically offers more in-depth knowledge of the real estate market, taxes, and contracts than a real estate agent license. Sometimes brokers go on to open their own firms.
1. Find a real estate agent specializing in the type of home you're looking for.
Choosing a real estate agent who specializes in the type of home you’re looking for can set you up for success. Some agents specialize in foreclosure properties, short sales, new homes, or all of the above. When you meet with a potential real estate professional, discuss what types of properties they are most familiar with, find out which locations they focus on, and ask how many transactions per month they conduct. If the agent conducts only one transaction a month, you may want to consider finding another real estate agent.
2. Ask friends and family members for referrals.
Ask friends and family members for referrals of agents they have used in the past to find out if they were satisfied with the agent's performance. Nothing beats positive word of mouth.
3. Search online to find a REALTOR® or real estate agent with good reviews and experience.
The National Association of REALTORS® website allows you to find a REALTOR® in your area. You can also find information about commission rates, education requirements, and average annual production, among other things you should know when choosing a REALTOR®.
Another way to know how to choose a REALTOR® or a real estate agent is to search online using Google or Yelp to find someone with good reviews and experience. Visit the agent’s website or online profile to research how long they've been in business, whether they're a member of a local MLS service, and any listings they may have. Some real estate agent websites even allow you to schedule an appointment online. Ask the agent for references of homes they have helped people buy in your desired neighborhood. Try to get in touch with each reference to learn about their homebuying experience with that agent.
Finally, visit a potential agent’s social media accounts to get a feel for their personality, marketing style, area of expertise, and knowledge of your desired neighborhood.
Who pays the real estate agent commission?
When you’re looking for a REALTOR®, you typically don’t need to worry about paying their commission. The seller usually pays the real estate agent commission, but this fee is considered when the seller lists the house. Your real estate agent’s commission, plus the listing agent’s commission, is based on the home’s final sale price.
Although you can buy a house without a REALTOR®, choosing a real estate agent can give you peace of mind during a sometimes stressful homebuying process. Skilled real estate agents know how to find a new home, negotiate with the seller, and complete all necessary paperwork. Make sure you find a real estate agent that's a good fit for your budget and homebuying needs.
AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.