Buying a House? Find an Agent First!

Are you at the point in life when you are thinking of making the big transition from renter to homeowner? Or maybe you’re ready for an upgrade and the time has come for you to sell your house.

I know it can seem a bit intimidating. After all, for most of us, real estate is the biggest sales transactions we will ever be involved in, and the truth is that buying and selling a home is a very big deal.

So where to begin?

Maybe you’re thinking to yourself I’m a DYI type. How hard can this be? Or maybe you have experience buying or selling a house already and think you’re prepared to handle things alone this time. Maybe you already have a neighborhood in mind and an idea of what kind of house your family would be happy in. Great! Perhaps you’ve taken the preliminary step of doing some internet research and already found some candidates that fall in your price range. Even better!

You got this, right?

Hold on a second. Buying and selling a house is not like buying furniture or a computer or even a car. A real estate purchase involves a number of steps and there are many complex financial issues to navigate involving various parties. Having an experienced agent you can trust on your side will make the process much smoother and help get you the most bang for your buck. Here’s how:

Agents are super negotiators. Maybe the most important tool that a professional real estate agent brings to the table is experience in negotiating. As a buyer, a professional agent will help you make the right initial offer and then guide you through the counteroffer and post-offer processes, all with the goal of getting you into the right house and within the parameters of your budget. As a seller, an agent will help assure you are listing at the right price and getting top value for your house.

Sealing the deal. Aside from negotiating a fair price, an agent has the technical knowledge to help you close the sale. There is a staggering amount of paperwork that goes into closing on a house, and your agent will be able to answer any questions or concerns about the stack of papers you will be expected to sign, whether you are buying or selling. Also, your agent will be available to help fix any issues that pop up after closing. Yes, even when the sale is complete, problems can surface, and even a small thing like a paperwork error can have big implications if not handled correctly.

Great agents are great neighbors. An experienced agent vast reserves of local knowledge. So much information is available online these days, but house listings only tell part of the story. Aside from available properties, a real estate agent is constantly plugged in to market conditions, and your agent will know the local scene better than anyone, including neighborhoods, schools, local businesses...everything that influences your decision to buy a house. What’s more, your agent can find you a reputable mortgage lender who will be aware of any offers available within your specific geography and can help structure your loan in a way that best suits your needs.

Who you gonna call? Speaking of local knowledge, a real estate agent spends years compiling a portfolio of trusted local professionals. No matter how perfect and well maintained a house appears when you buy it, issues will spring up, usually sooner than later. Your agent will know who to call in the event you need a plumber, a carpenter, an electrician, an exterminator...and by tapping into your agent’s network, you can be sure to find someone with an established reputation for honest work.

Agents know houses. A career agent has looked at thousands of houses and will be able to identify any red flags. If you are buying, an agent with a keen eye may be able to detect an issue with the house or the seller that you might not notice. As a seller, your agent will point out everything you need to do to get your house looking its best and ready to show.

Of course finding an agent can take some time and effort too. So ask around. Talk to people you trust who have recently bought or sold a home. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to any agent you are considering, including about their credentials and the properties they have helped buy and sell. If something doesn’t quite feel right, don’t settle. Keep looking until you find someone you feel comfortable with. After all, this is the biggest purchase or sale of your life, and hiring the right agent can make all the difference in the world!