If you’re thinking of buying a new home in the near future, there are a few things you need to do. First, you will want to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage to see how much you can afford. And you’ll probably start a preliminary scan of properties in your target community. But before you get to the point of booking showings, I encourage you to look for an experienced real estate agent to help you in your search.
As you embark on your home search, there are plenty of things that your agent can do for you. Here are just a few.
- Listen. It always helps to have a sounding board if you’re trying to pinpoint your priorities. Since it’s likely that your home will be one of the biggest investments you ever make, you want it to be everything you’d hoped for and you want to get your money’s worth. By listening to your list of needs, wants, and “must haves,” your agent can help you refine your search to include only the homes that represent all of the features you are looking for. Moreover, a good agent will hone in on what you are looking for simply by observing your reactions and opinions at showings.
- Inform. A good real estate agent is aware of the ebb and flow of the real estate market, has access to the tools of the trade, and is experienced with all the pitfalls and pluses of a home sale, making him or her an excellent resource. Not only do agents have access to online listing databases, they have connections with other agents that could lead you to your dream home. They can counsel you about the state of the market, make recommendations regarding your offer, and keep a keen eye out for any issues that might arise with the house itself or with the sale. Choose an agent who is knowledgeable in your target community, and you’ll have the bonus of an “insider” who can tell you about schools, services, utilities, and other aspects unique to the area.
- Network. In addition to connections to other real estate agents, your agent will have a network of other agents, home inspectors, lenders, and other professionals who can help you navigate the home buying process. And by consulting with other agents, your agent will be able to provide insights about available homes, homes coming up for sale, and other details that only an someone inside the industry would be able to access on your behalf.
- Advocate. Having completed many a previous home sale, your agent will know if anything is amiss, unusual, or just not in your best interest s you make an offer and proceed down the path to home ownership. He or she can raise a red flag if something seems “off,” and help broker a solution with the seller or seller’s agent.
- Negotiate. Once you decide to make an offer on that perfect home, your agent can help you negotiate the terms. If there are concerns raised by the inspection, or you simply want a bit of expert advice about your initial bid, your agent is your best guide – as well as an intermediary between you and the buyer so that the transaction doesn’t get too personal.
This list only scratches the surface of the many services your real estate agent can provide you. Buying a home can be a daunting process, but having your agent at your side will ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.