The following article appeared on the CDC Federal Credit Union Blog on July 29, 2019.
Perhaps you’re finally ready to take the plunge and buy your first house or maybe you’re already a seasoned homeowner and your family has outgrown your current house and it’s time to move. Once you’ve decided it’s time…what do you do next?
You could begin by driving around for hours looking for yards with “For Sale” signs until you find the perfect house. Or you could look online scrolling through endless pages of homes for sale in the area you’re looking to buy. But in each case, both of these actions will probably take up way too much of your valuable time and you still may not find the house of your dreams.
Buying and selling a home is an emotional and daunting process complicated by a complex financial and legal transaction. Therefore, in order to make an informed decision, you should consider hiring a real estate agent, a real estate professional, to help you through the intricacies of the process.
Here are three compelling reasons to hire a real estate agent when purchasing a home.
Real estate agents can save you time.
First, with a formula using your current monthly income and your current monthly obligations, an agent can help you determine how much house you can afford. And knowing what you can afford saves you from wasting time looking at houses that are out of your price range.
The second way an agent can save you time is by using a multiple listing service (MLS), a database of all houses for sale in the area you’re looking in, an agent can narrow down your search so you’re not spending endless hours and gas driving around in your vehicle. By narrowing your search by price, location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and so on, an agent can determine what properties are available within your parameters and provide you with a printed report of properties that match your criteria. Oftentimes they may even have information on potential homes that haven’t officially hit the market yet. Once you review the reports, you can drive to the properties that really interest you.
Real estate agents can save you money
One of the many valuable services provided by a real estate agent is to negotiate the contract. This includes the sales price of the home. Since real estate agents know the market values of homes, they are better equipped to negotiate to get the buyer or seller the best possible price.
Real estate agents can help you understand the legal and financial jargon
As in any specialized and dynamic industry, real estate has its own jargon and laws that most people don’t understand. Since buying a home is not something most people do often, people need an agent who is working on their behalf and can explain the process and the jargon. And that means having a better understanding which in turn helps in making better educated decisions, and overall, less problems and headaches throughout the home buying or home selling process.
One important factor is finding the right agent – someone you trust and can work well with. Here are some things you can do to help you find the right agent.
Ask for referrals
Talk with your friends and family about the agents they’ve used in the past. Take names and do your homework. Many agents now have their own websites, so look them up and check out any online reviews.
Interview lots of agents
Don’t be shy about interviewing several agents to find the right fit for you and your family.
Look to the agent’s experience, but don’t overlook new agents
In general we can all agree that experience is a good thing, but sometimes experience can also make professionals complacent and careless. Don’t let an agent’s experience get in the way of your best interest. New agents may not have the experience of the longer agents, but they’re up on the latest processes and laws. New agents may also have less clients, so that may mean more time to allocate to your transaction.
Also, look for an agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors. Agents who are members are also called Realtors and have agreed to uphold high standards and ethics of the industry.
Trust your gut
It’s not scientific, but it works! If you interview someone and you feel comfortable with them, it’s probably a good fit. Remember you’ll spend a lot of time with them and they may be privy to some of your confidential information, so trust is very important.
When the time comes, you may be tempted to go it alone. But think it through before you give in to that temptation. When you need tax advice, you hire a Certified Public Accountant, right? So when you buy or sell a house, hire a real estate agent.