Finding and buying your dream home can be a long, complicated and potentially overwhelming process. That’s why a vast majority of home buyers opt to use a real estate agent during the home buying process.
For those who are buying a home for the first time, the duties and responsibilities of your agent might not be clear.
Some agents go way beyond the call of duty to make their clients get all the information they need and all the right appointments made plus find them the perfect house.
“Any experienced agent can find you a 3-bedroom, 2-bath house with a fireplace,” says Judy Stone, broker/realtor at The Buyer’s Agent of North Carolina in Asheville.
“That’s what we do. But my philosophy is when someone is purchasing a home, they are also purchasing the community as well. When you go to the grocery store or walking the dog, you want to feel like you fit and that you made a great choice. That’s where a realtor can help in many ways.”
Here are some of the things your agent can and should do for before, during and after buying a house:
Get To Know You And Your Home Buying Needs
Stone says that even though it is a digital world out there, she still likes the old-fashioned way of meeting with clients over coffee just to get to know what they like, who they are and what their expectations are of her and the experience.
Many people live far away and can only go through that process over the phone or by email. But having an agent ask you the right questions is important.
The first thing an agent needs to know is your timeline – are you starting a new job in a month and need to find something quickly, or are you moving in a year?
If you have children, then their interests and any particular school districts may require a home in a certain area. The answers to all those pertinent questions can give great insight into finding the right location.
Teach You What A Real Estate Agent Does
In some states, it is required that agencies share information explaining how everything works in the realtor/client partnership, including the differences between dual buyer and seller’s agents.
“The consumer needs to know the differences,” Stone says. “The information also should state how each type of agent gets paid.”
If you’re unclear with what a real estate agent is going to do, feel free to ask them. They should provide with all the specific details.
Search For The Right House
Yes, every agent has access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). But good agents, after interviewing you, should abide by your budget, wants, needs, interests and desired location to figure out some of the best choices.
Once you are out and about looking at houses, the agent can discuss a home’s selling points, what might need updating, the crime rate in the area, any disclosures that need to be talked about, proximity to entertainment and schools, and comparable priced houses in the area.
Your agent should also coordinate all the showings and talk with the seller’s agents and possibly even the sellers themselves about the house to give you more inside information.
Negotiate For You
One of the first questions you should ask an agent is if they are good at negotiations. Feel free to ask them how they save your time and money. They should be able to answer that, Stone adds. In her office, they document how much money they have saved their clients in negotiations.
“It can’t all be about money. When someone is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, they need to have someone negotiating the price down. But clients need to know that these agents are lowering their own commission when they negotiate the price down,” she says.
But if an agent does well for a client, that client usually gives referrals to friends and family about the quality of the agent
Help After The Offer Is Accepted
This is where most people don’t realize how much an agent can do for them, Stone explains. They schedule the home inspection and work with the lender, attorney and other parties to coordinate activities for the closing.
“Once you are under contract, the clock starts clicking. Things have to get done,” she says. “Our company policy is that we go to the home inspections. The buyers need another set of eyes and ears. We are right there with them.”
Plus, a buyer needs to be prepared to give their lender every piece of documentation immediately. If you are waiting three or four days, it will hold everything up, so an agent can keep things moving along.
Celebrate With The Closing
“This is the pinnacle. This is the climax. A realtor should be at the closing. We’re the ones to hand over the keys to your new house. That is your celebration,” she says.
Stone and other realtors have been known to pick up a paintbrush to help with a client’s remodeling or even to lift a few boxes on moving day. They aren’t required to, but some just do it to help make the experience even better.
They also can help clients find a good moving company, interior designers, appliance and furniture stores, painters and more. They’ve spent time with home buyers, so they might pick up some information that can help.
“Good realtors also contact their buyers from time to time to see if they are still happy. It’s not about getting them a closing gift (which is nice), but it’s about touching base,” Stone explains. “But I’ve heard 80 percent of agents don’t ever touch base again with their buyers. Their focus is finding more buyers and sellers. But referrals are huge to me, and I want them to be happy.”