Buying a home is a big deal. You want an agent by your side who can provide everything you want and need. (And probably a few other things you don’t yet realize you’ll need!)
Too often, buyers get caught up in online house hunting and don’t give enough attention to researching a buyer’s agent to represent them in their search for the ideal home.
Even if your best friend says, “I loved our agent. You should use her!” it’s still a good idea to do your homework. Fortunately, it’s incredibly easy to collect extensive information on agents online.
STEP 1. Imagine your ideal agent.
What kind of agent is best for you? There are many different styles.
Some buyers want to work with a go-getter who quickly and efficiently pinpoints properties that meet their requirements.
Other buyers feel more comfortable with an agent who operates at a slower pace, willing to answer all their questions patiently.
Think about what you want in terms of an agent’s knowledge, experience, skills, and personality.
Consider any other resources you may need. For example, if you’re thinking about buying a fixer-upper, you may prefer an agent who has ample connections in the building trades. That way, you can expedite the process of collecting estimates from reputable contractors.
STEP 2. Identify qualified buyer’s representatives in your area.
Now that you have an image of your ideal agent, it’s time to start searching for agents who might match your needs.
Any licensed real estate professional can accept you as a buyer-client. But do you want to work with just anyone?
One of the best ways to begin narrowing your options is to look for agents who have earned the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation. They have gone the extra mile to gain specialized knowledge and expertise in representing buyers in real estate transactions.
To find ABR® designees in your market, use the Find a Buyer’s Rep online directory.
STEP 3. Visit each agent’s website.
Once you’ve compiled a list of potential buyer’s representatives, it’s time to learn more about them. Start with their website. Some agents may have more than one.
Look for clues about how well they match up against your ideal criteria. Read their bio. Get a sense of how much business they’re doing. If they have a blog, see what kind of information they’re sharing.
Each agent’s profile should include their current property listings, in addition to properties recently sold—and whether they represented the buyer or the seller.
Note that some Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) don’t share property information with realtor.com®, which will limit your ability to see agents’ current and recent activity.
STEP 4. Read reviews.
Agents’ profiles on realtor.com® frequently include ratings, reviews, and recommendations. Also note any other designations the agent has earned from the National Association of REALTORS®, indicating additional areas of expertise.
Other common sources for agent reviews include Google, Yelp, Zillow, Facebook, and Angie’s List.
Feedback from other clients is an excellent way to gain insights into an agent’s skills—and how closely they match your ideal agent. Reading about other buyers’ experiences may also help you discover significant factors that you hadn’t considered.
STEP 5. Arrange an interview(s).
Narrow your list down to two or three agents who seem to be a good fit. Before reaching out to them, it’s a good idea to prepare a few questions to ask over the phone.
You don’t need to commit to working with the first agent you contact. Talking to more than one agent may help you feel more confident about working with the one you select.
Buyer’s representatives understand that buyers have different preferences when searching for homes AND when selecting an agent. Their top priority is forming loyal relationships with their buyer-clients, so you can work as a team to find your ideal home!