If you’re like me, you often sit around and contemplate, “What exactly should I do with my money?” If you’re really like me, your answer is usually to hit up the Taco Bell drive through. But for those times when you have more than a burrito’s worth of money to figure out, you probably want to invest it. There are many options available, but real estate may be a good option for you. “Why?” you ask. Well, as Mark Twain famously put it, “Buy land, they aren’t making any more.”
When starting to look for a home, it’s tempting to start the search on your own. After all, there are many websites out there that show homes for sale, right? Well, the truth is that many times these sites don’t show the most up-to-date info on homes. For example, a home may still show as active when in reality it’s already under contract. This is where a real estate agent comes in. Not only will you save time from looking at homes that are no longer available, but a good agent will also do the searching for you, and should use his connections to find out about any “hot homes” that are about to hit the market.
Some people prefer to get recommendations from their families and friends, but if you’re moving to a new area or aren’t won over by the agents that people have recommended to you, then you’ll have to do the search on your own.
Here are some questions to help you find the right real estate agent for you.
Is this your full-time job? An agent that does real estate for a living, full-time, and survived the housing market crisis is most likely a good one. But again, just because an agent has survived the housing crisis doesn’t mean he or she will be a good fit for you.
How long have you been an agent? If this is your first time buying a home, it may be comforting to know that your agent has many years of experience. However, this doesn’t mean that an agent with less experience won’t do a good job. Newer agents may have plenty of training to offset the lack of years of experience.
How many sales have you closed in my preferred location? If you have a specific neighborhood in mind, having an agent with plenty of experience in your desired location will definitely help you.
What do your services cover? Are there any fees I have to pay? Typically, buyers don’t have to pay for any commission or fees, the sellers pay for all of these. However, it doesn’t hurt to make sure that there aren’t any other fees for services out of the ordinary.
Have you closed any short sales or bank-owned properties? With so many short sales and foreclosed homes out there, you want to make sure your agent has had experience handling these kinds of transactions, just in case you decide to buy one of these.
How do you handle short-notice showings? How fast can you show a property? Some areas have seen an increase in demand, or haven’t seen a decline in demand at all, and are still considered popular areas. If you want to snatch a home in one of these areas, you’ll probably have to act really fast. You want to make sure your agent feels the same sense of urgency as you do.
How do you feel about showing “for sale by owner” homes? Some homes being sold as “for sale by owner” don’t offer commissions to the buyer’s agent. Would the agent be ok showing you homes that pay no commission?
When a client is unhappy with your services, how do you handle their complaints? You want to feel comfortable letting your agent know if there’s something bothering you. Also, you may want to ask the agent if a client has ever decided to drop him or her as an agent before. If yes, ask him or her to explain the circumstances. Maybe the client had unreasonable expectations.
Do you have references of the last three deals you’ve closed? Just how you would ask for references if you were interviewing someone for a job, a real estate agent is trying to land the job of representing you during your home search. You want to make sure you hear what some of his past clients have to say about their experience with him.
Ask these questions as you search for your real estate agent and you may save yourself the headaches and stress of picking the wrong one for you.
Good luck on your house search!