First-Time Home Buyers Guide: Using A Real Estate Agent

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Posted 07/06/2016 by THE NEWSDESK Via

Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a licensed professional who assists buyers and sellers of real property. Specialized licensing is available, such as agents who have earned the REALTOR® designation from the National Association of REALTORS. In general, a home buyer's real estate agent is paid by the home seller, from the proceeds of the home sale.

Using A Real Estate Agent As A First-Time Home Buyer

The decision to purchase a home -- especially for first-time home buyers -- can be nerve-wracking. There is so much to think about, and so much to do.

Where should I live? What's the school district like? Can I walk to anything?

How big is the home? How big is the yard? How many bedrooms do I need.

The list goes on.

As a home buyer, there are some real estate-related questions you'll answer on your own; nobody can tell you how big of a down payment to make, after all.

Other questions, though, are best answered by a real estate professional.

When you're buying a home, consider hiring a real estate agent to help you with the process. A good real estate agent will save you time, save you money, and give you advice and information you won't ever find online.

Best of all -- buyers' real estate agents are "free". You don't pay to use a real estate agent when you choose to buy a home.

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Real Estate Agents Are Housing Market Experts

For many people, the home purchase process starts online. There is no shortage of websites showing homes listed for sale, sortable and searchable in hundreds of ways.

It's good to have access to so much information but, often, the sheer volume of "Homes for Sale" data leads to information overload -- and stress.

Homes begin to blend together and simple choices become difficult. You lose certainly over what you want, and how you're going to actually afford a home to buy.

A skilled real estate agent can help you relieve some of this stress. Here's how.

Real Estate Agents Are Neighborhood Specialists

Real estate agents are often specialize in certain cities or neighborhoods, and know a lot about the homes for sale in a particular area. If you're looking for a 2-bedroom home on a certain city block, a good agent can tell you what's for sale and, also, what's about to be for sale.

These "not yet for sale" homes are known as Pocket Listings and you won't find them on the various real estate websites popular among consumers.

Also, in knowing an area, a real estate agent can help you determine whether you're overpaying for a home based on other, recently-sold properties in the area.

Real Estate Agents Are Expert Housing Negotiators

As a home buyer, another reason to use a real estate agent is that real estate agents have special skills related to the purchase and sale of real property.

One such skill is negotiation.

A skilled real estate agent will successfully negotiate on your behalf so prevent you from overpaying for a home, or forgetting to ask for "throw-ins" to which you may be entitled.

For example, a good real estate agent can negotiate your closing costs away.

A standard housing contract states that the home buyer is responsible for paying its mortgage closing costs. There is language, though, that shifts the costs to the seller under an agreement known as "seller concessions".

Or, you may find a home that interests you, but during the home inspection, you discover that the dishwasher has been leaking behind the wall, and mold has started to grow.

The seller is under no obligation to remediate the mold. However, a good real estate agent will make sure that the seller compensates the buyer for the issue, or gives the buyer the right to cancel the purchase agreement outright.

Real Estate Agents Save Their Clients' Time

A real estate transaction requires a fair amount of paperwork. There are sales contracts to sign, required home disclosures, and a mortgage to get approved.

Managing this yourself can be daunting. To a good real estate agent, though, handling your purchase is just an everyday part of the job.

When you work with a real estate agent, there is a single point of contact for all communications with the seller -- and it's not you. Your real estate agent will handle nearly everything, saving you time and trouble, and a whole lot of effort.

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How To Find A "Good" Real Estate Agent

So, you've made the choice to work with a real estate agent. But, where are you going to find one? And, how do you know if you're working with a good real estate agent, or a not-good one?

Unfortunately, you won't know whether your real estate has done right by you until after your transaction is complete, but there are some steps you can take to improve your odds of working with somebody good.

First, ask a friend for a trusted referral instead of choosing a random agent online. The agents who are listed online next to a home's listing are paying to have their faces there.

A trusted referral has earned that trust.

Second, work with full-time real estate agents whenever possible. There are some very good part-time real estate agents, but you will likely get better results from an agent whose only job is Real Estate Sales.

Can you imagine trying to put an offer on a home, but your agent is busy waiting tables or teaching class? That would be terrible.

Third, all things equal, seek out real estate agents with experience.

The top real estate agents in your market are the "top" for a reason -- they're good. And, often, they've surrounded themselves with good people at the office.

It's okay to work with somebody who's new to real estate, but when given the choice, experience wins.

And, lastly, always get your own real estate agent.

It can be tempting to work with the agent of the home seller. Maybe it's easier for you, or maybe you've been told you'll get the home more cheaply because there's less commission to pay.

Whatever the reasons -- don't do it. When a real estate agent contracts to sell a home for somebody, the contract includes language requiring the agent to maximize the selling price for the home.

If that agent also represents you, the home buyer, it can't possibly help you pay less for the home. That would be a breach of contract between the agent and the seller.

Therefore, get your own representation. It's protection for your wallet.