What to ask your buyer agent before buying your first home
Thinking about buying a home? Find out how you can use a buyer agent to help your purchase – and how to engage the right person.
If you are like most consumers, you likely don’t realize the resources you have at your fingertips to help guide you personally through the process of buying a home.
The majority of people start their home buying search online, which makes sense. Who doesn’t love looking at pictures of beautiful real estate or taking one of those perfectly crafted virtual tours?
The little advertised fact is that home buyers have a right to engage a real estate agent to exclusively represent their interests in the transaction.
This person is called a ‘buyer agent’ and a strong buyer agent provides not only a wealth of knowledge about the real estate itself, but also brings transactional experience to the table that is often unmatched.
What does a buyer agent do?
Buyer agents will act as your right hand throughout the buying process, including:
- Helping you get a clear picture of what type of property you want
- Introducing you to lenders to help you finance the purchase
- Verifying that the ask price makes sense for the property by analyzing the competitive landscape
- Negotiating the offer on your behalf to get you the best deal
- Coordinating every step until you get the keys to your new home
Most importantly, I think, the buyer agent is there to help you through all the unexpected twists and turns that can happen during a home purchase guiding you based on years of experience.
How to find the right buyer agent for your home purchase
Finding an agent is not nearly as hard or as costly as you might think. Typically, buyer agents are compensated by the seller through a commission paid when the transaction closes.
Most buyer agents charge a buyer a nominal fee of $500 or less for their transaction coordinator services, which are usually done by a dedicated member of the buyer agent’s team.
When searching for a real estate agent, word of mouth referral is a great first step. Ask your friends who have purchased homes what their experience was with their buyer agent. Get contact information and don’t be afraid to interview a few people before committing to an agent to represent you.
Seven questions to ask a buyer agent
Here are seven great questions to ask a buyer agent before engaging them:
- Are you full time? If they only sell properties on the weekend, then they won’t have wide expertise
- How much experience do you have working with buyers vs sellers? Seller agents and buyer agents have a totally different skill set. Buyer agents know how to identify what the buyer really needs in their property.
- How much experience do you have working with first time homebuyers? Again, this requires a very different skill set.
- Can you help me find the right lenders and financial advisors for this process? This will give you a sense of the kind of relationships they have in the industry.
- Can you give examples of times when you have helped buyers get to the closing table?
- How experienced are you working in the geographical area that I want to buy in?
- How do you like to communicate? This is important for Millennials who might prefer text or email over the phone.
A buyer agent can help you buy the home of your dreams
I once got a call on one of my sales listings from an unrepresented buyer. During our chat about the property, I encouraged him to hire a buyer agent to help guide him through the home buying process.
He was shocked that such a person existed, and even more shocked when I shared the questions with him above. He ended up with a spectacular agent who helped him purchase the home of his dreams, and he reached out to thank me.
Never be afraid to shop around for a buyer agent to exclusively represent you. Buying a home is likely the largest purchase you’ll ever make, you deserve to partner with the best.
Elizabeth Convery is founder of VERY Real Estate, a boutique residential real estate firm specializing in sales and advisory based in Philadelphia. She has valued, financed, acquired or sold over $2 billion worth of properties in a career spanning nearly 20 years.
Elizabeth has particular expertise in working with first time home buyers and is passionate about raising the homeownership rate among her Millennial peers.