Savvy buyers know they must hire a buyer’s agent to help them make the best decisions possible. I am meeting more and more buyers who are demanding a buyer agency contract because they understand it is in their best interest.
In choosing a buyer’s agent, though, it is important to ask the right questions and ensure that whoever you hire represents you well. Even though hiring a buyer’s agent almost always bears no added cost to the purchase, it is still a binding contract for several months. Since you’ll be spending a lot of time with your agent, I’ve compiled to top questions to ask a buyer’s agent before you sign the dotted line. Don’t be shy!
- “What’s your experience working with buyers?” It’s not that your agent has to have oodles of experience, but he or she must have some, especially recent experience. In the past few years, many things changed in the home buying world, due to both new mortgage regulations and economic realities.
- “Do you have testimonials from past clients?” If a friend recommends an agent, great. But don’t simply work with agents because your friend or cousin knows them. Find an agent who has a history of satisfied customers with similar needs to yours.
- “Can you explain the process of home buying?” This is a great way to see how well the agent is versed with the process of home buying. This is an especially critical question you are a first time home buyer and this is all new. A qualified agent will have a thorough understanding of the home buying process, from home search to closing. You may not want to hear all the details up-front in an interview, but you should get the sense the agent is on top of things.
- “What’s the most important part of your job?” This is a great question to ask anyone you hire for anything. It is a nice way of asking, “What is that you’ll do for me?” Wrong answers include: “To show you homes,” or “To point out defects in the house.” A buyer’s agent work really kicks in when you’ve already chosen a home. Negotiation, home valuation, managing all the parts of the process. The buyer’s agent is there to prevent you from overpaying for your home, and to ensure your escrow deposit is never in jeopardy!
- “Do you have a mortgage calculator?” In the iPhone / Android world, if your agent doesn’t have some sort of mortgage calculator, run fast. No, your buyer’s agent doesn’t have to be a mortgage expert, but she must know the cost of borrowing and what it means to you. A real estate agent who is not in tune to the mortgage market is like a home decorator unfamiliar with paint.
Your take away from this list is when interviewing an agent to represent you, the agent must demonstrate value. A qualified buyer’s agent will save you money, time, effort and a lot of frustration. So go arm yourself with a great buyer’s agent that you like and trust! It will likely cost you nothing and you’ll be a stronger, smarter and happier buyer.