The term “real estate agent” applies to professionals of every description in the property field. Those with a real estate degree and a high level of experience tend to be real estate brokers, and they are usually licensed to hire salespeople called agents to help clients with specific aims. Sellers’ agents (otherwise known as listing agents) help property owners who seek to sell. Buyers’ agents help those who are looking to buy property.
If you are in the market for a home to buy, it won’t do to simply go to any agent; if you make the mistake of hiring a seller’s agent to buy property with, you may not get turned down; you won’t get the kind of expertise that you need, though.
Only a few buying agents in any market, typically possess a high level of expertise and success; a 20-80 rule applies in most cases — 20% of the buyer’s agents in a market will usually manage to attract the business of 80% of buyers. If you’re serious about buying well, you need to make sure that you go to the successful 20%. While it may seem insensitive to ask pointed questions but how qualified or experienced an agent is, it’s something you simply need to do.
Interview the agent about their commission
Since buyers’ agents get paid anything between 5% to 10% in commission based on the value of the deal that they push through for their clients, it is natural for them to want to promote expensive homes over cheaper ones. It’s important to have a conversation with any agent that you are serious about.
Buyers’ agents typically split their commission with the listing agents that they work with in a partnership that ends up pushing high-priced real estate over the lower-priced kind. You need to talk to your agent to make sure that this type of sharing doesn’t happen in your case. This can help correct the drift towards expensive listings.
Ask about possible help securing a mortgage
According to leading real estate agency WilsonPeacock.co.uk, good, established buyers’ agents with years on the job tend to have hundreds of professional contacts in the industry that they are able to utilize for their clients. Contacts in the mortgage lending industry can be very useful, for instance. Going in with a recommendation from an influential buyer’s agent can greatly help smooth the mortgage process. Any good buyer’s agent will make sure to not take clients on serious tours until they know what mortgage lender the client wants to work with, approve of them and ensure that pre-approval exists.
Ask about recommendations for other professionals
It isn’t easy to find a good home inspector, real estate attorney or home repair professional. Turning to your real estate agent for meaningful recommendations in these areas can help you quickly move the process along. You need to make sure that such assistance is forthcoming.
Ask about their experience in the field
Many people engaged in real estate tend to be part-time professionals attempting to bring in extra income over a weekend engagement in the profession. Needless to say, part-time workers aren’t able to offer the level of service that full-time professionals are. It’s important to ask pointed questions about full-time employment, the number of buying deals finalize in the past year, and the number of years in the real estate buying business. It’s usually a good idea to go with someone who has had about five years as a full-time buyer’s agent.
Ask about how many buyers they are working with at the moment
While you do want a buyer’s agent who gives you good deal of attention, you don’t want all their attention. Someone who only has one client at a time is likely to not be of very in-demand one. What you’re looking for is an agent who has multiple clients in any given time, but who still manages to make each one of them feel fully taken care of.
Ask how many homes you can expect to be shown
While it may seem as if an agent who shows clients dozens of homes is far better than one who only shows five or six, it isn’t as straightforward a proposition. A good buyer’s agent should be able to accurately judge what kind of homes clients are likely to buy, and shows them exactly what is likely to please them, rather than all kinds of irrelevant homes that they wouldn’t pick anyway. Usually, it’s possible to tell how good an agent is by asking about the number of homes that they show prior to making a sale. Under ten is a good number.
Finally, ask that about whether you need to sign a contract
It’s usually easy to tell how good a buyer’s agent is simply by asking if contracts are required. Less successful buyers agents usually try to tie clients up. The good ones never need to do this.
James Cole has been an active property investor for a number of years and enjoys sharing his tips and insights on subjects like working with agents. He is regular online contributor for several property investment websites.