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11 Steps to Buying the Home That’s Right for You – Step 2: Choosing Your REALTOR®

man-house-small.jpg So you’ve made your list of wants and needs and preferences about your dream home. You are now ready for the next step in your San Francisco real estate hunt!
Your job now – look for an agent to represent you in the purchase of your home. There are many reasons to work with an agent, from having someone that can help you find your home, to someone that will negotiate for you in the purchase, to someone that will make the escrow process smooth and problem-free for you – a good REALTOR® can help you every step of the purchase process, and it doesn’t cost you a dime!
So how do you find the REALTOR® that is perfect for you?
Start by asking friends for referrals. Real estate is not just about business, it’s about relationships. A good agent will not just help a buyer buy a home, but will be there for years afterward to make sure that their home ownership needs are constantly being met. Ask your friends, family and co-workers about their experience with their REALTORS® during, and after the purchase process. If you hear good things, schedule an interview with their REALTOR®.
Go to open houses. Wander into a few open houses in one weekend. Pick places that meet what you think your price range will be, and in the neighborhoods you want to purchase in. Then talk to the agents that are at the open house. Most of the time, agents are at an open house, not to sell the house, but to meet buyers. Some are pushy about it, and will follow you around the home. Others take a more hands off approach, and wait for you to come to them. Others still provide you with some information, and maybe offer to help, but let you decide where the conversation leads. I can’t tell you what to look for in an agent in terms of personality, like every relationship, we all have different needs. But some things you do want to look for are:

  • whether you have a good repoire
  • whether the agent is knowledgable about the areas that interest you
  • whether they are giving you their full attention
  • whether they feel trustworthy
  • whether they work for a reputable company
  • Talking to the agent should give you a good feel for what to expect from them. First impressions are, well, priceless.
    Look on the Internet. Many real estate agents these days have web sites, blogs, reviews on Yelp, etc. Read what the agents have to say on their web sites. Do they provide you with useful information without asking you for anything in return? Read their blogs. Do they sound knowledgable? Do you like the tone of their posts? Read their reviews. What do other people have to say about them? Pick one or two that seem to fit your personality, and call them.
    Ideally, through getting referrals, going to open houses and searching the web, you should find about two or three good agents to interview. Schedule your appointments. Meet the agents, and come armed with a list of questions to ask. (But also listen to what information the agent is providing you on their own. They should be armed with a good amount of info, and hopefully, will answer some of your questions before you even ask!) As for what questions to ask:

  • How will you search for my new home?
  • How many homes will I likely see before I find a home I want to buy?
  • Will I be competing against other buyers?
  • How do you handle multiple offers?
  • Do you present offers yourself?
  • How do you communicate with your clients?
  • How often do you communicate with your clients?
  • What are your hours of availability?
  • How should I look for properties?
  • There’s not necessarily right or wrong answers to these questions, but they should give you a feel for how they work, and whether they will work well with you.
    Picking your agent may very well be the MOST important part of the entire home purchase. A good agent can make the process fun, exciting and stress-free. A bad agent – well, the worst case scenarios are endless. Choose wisely!
    Stay tuned for the Step 3 to Buying the Home That’s Right for You – Get Pre-Approved!