A good realtor can be your best friend.
I have been in the real estate business for some time as a sales person, as a manager, and as a customer, so I hope you can garner some “jewels” from my experience from the inside and from the outside of this industry.
Even though you now have a pretty good idea of what and where you will be looking for your dream home*, and you have done a great deal of research on the internet, a good realtor can be your best friend and save hours and days of your precious time, not to mention a ton of money both in your purchase and in future costs. An amateur realtor, whose primary interest is in a commission, will turn your hunt into a tedious bore unless you get extremely fortunate and find your dream home in spite of him or her.
Let’s approach this with all the care you took getting this far.
Why use a realtor? Whether looking for that ideal homesite to build on or buying an existing home, this is the first question to answer after you have defined your needs and search parameters. Are you familiar enough with the entire area to go on line and get the communities you want to look at? People that live year round in the town or village you have chosen are a wealth of information about the pluses and minuses of each area and development. A good realtor should be your greatest asset in your search for either a home or homesite.
How do you choose a realtor? If you have decided to use a realtor, how will you find a good one? Of course, personal recommendations are a great source for you and we recommend that as a starting point.
It has been our experience over many years that in each community there are a very small number of great realtors and a large number of people to whom real estate is a “hobby”. So it is important that you find the right partner for you in this search for your dream.
To us, a professional realtor is one who will spend a great deal of time with you before you ever get in a car and search. He or she will be most interested in finding out exactly what you want by asking about all the items we mentioned above. How can a realtor make the best use of your time, and narrow your search to only the homes or land that suits you best if all they have bothered to find out is your name, where you are from and what your price range is?
Too often a realtor will shake your hand, print out everything in your price range from MLS (Multiple Listing Service), put you in the car and spend one, two or three days seeing every home on the list. Not only does this waste your time, it leaves you confused about what you saw and when.
So first try to find a realtor who will talk with you on the phone before you even arrive and start to find out what will work for you. Ask the local real estate board or MLS who are the top five agents in terms of sales in your area year in and year out. If they cannot provide that information, often local builders or developers can tell you the same thing (be careful they don’t just recommend a spouse or relative).
Successful realtors are usually successful for a reason. Have your list of things that are important to you ready and maybe even email it or fax it to your realtor prior to your visit. With this information, your realtor can effectively guide your first meeting and help save your valuable time.
When you arrive in the area for your search, your realtor should spend additional time verifying what he or she has learned about your needs and what they are going to show you.
He or she should have an agenda for you that includes a tour of the general area before showing you homes or sites. If your realtor has done his or her homework, you should be shown no more than four homes or home sites and each of those should be pretty close to your requirements. This will further refine his search for the home of your dreams. Your realtor should not be showing you a particular home that does not meet your criteria, but happens to be a listing of theirs or the listing of a colleague.
Is the realtor your agent or the seller’s agent? Each realtor MUST identify themselves as representing the interest of either the seller or the buyer or both (called a dual agent).
In most locations you must acknowledge that you understand this and agree to this. You may be given a small brochure telling you about this and you will be asked to sign it, acknowledging your understanding of the arrangement you have with your realtor. If you are not told about this or do not get the written material, we would recommend that you do not use this realtor as it may be a violation of the license.
Most of the time the realtor will tell you that he or she will want to act as a dual agent, equally representing your interests and those of the seller (which I have never been able to justify or understand) . You can ask that the realtor represent only you and your interests (be a buyer’s agent) if you wish. When you do this, the realtor is only representing your interests and yours alone. In return, you are guaranteeing payment of the commission (usually not an issue if the property is listed) and this will also allow the realtor to show you local For Sale by Owner homes that you may not get to see otherwise. If you choose one of these, you will also be responsible for paying the realtor’s commission at closing.
How long has the realtor been selling in this setting? You don’t want a realtor to get his or her experience on you. There are plenty of realtors who have been selling in a particular setting or community for a number of years and know the reputation of builders and developers. Choose one of them because their experience and knowledge will be worth it.
Above all, be comfortable with the realtor you choose. A good realtor can and will make your choosing of a home enjoyable and effective. In the both the short and long run, a good realtor will save you money and help you enjoy your new setting.