5 Secrets To Finding The Best Realtor When Buying A Home

By shaye • June 8th, 2010

When buying a home here are 5 things you should do to get prepared, and find the best Realtor to help you find that dream home:

Decide on your needs
Write down a list of what your needs are for your next home search. Be sure to differentiate between your wants and needs. For example; Do you really need that 3 car garage, or is it just a want? It could mean the difference between finding 50 homes with a 2-car garage that meet your needs, and only 5 with a 3-car garage. (It may be different where you are, but in the Denver real estate market, you’ll likely cut your options by 90% to 95% by requiring a 3 car garage vs. a 2-car garage unless your budget is over about $500,000.)

Establish a “top 10” list of your wants.
Be sure that number one on that list is what city (or cities) you need to live in. This will be paramount in how you go about finding the best Realtor to help you. If two of you are going to buy the home, each of you should write a “top 10” separately. After you’re both done, compare notes, and agree that any criteria that match are “must-haves”. Everything else can be negotiated. My wife and I did this two years before our last move, and it settled a lot of would-be arguments about what home was right for us. When we eventually found our dream-home, every single one of those criteria was met! Sit down right now, and write your list, and keep it for future reference.

Find a Realtor who will best serve you, and don’t settle for anything less
Start with how you find your Realtor. If you are “internet friendly”, and do a lot via email and the web, the last place you should look for a Realtor is in the phone book, or classified ad section of the newspaper. The agents you will find there most likely center their business around the phone, and you’ll find that many of them might not even check email except every few days. On the other hand, if you don’t regularly check email, and aren’t comfortable “surfing the web”, you’ll likely want to start your search in the phone book or newspaper. The last thing you need is to start working with a Realtor who is excellent at email correspondence, but slow to return phone calls. Either way, once you identify a few buyer-specialists that look like they might be able to help you, contact several of them (via your preferred method of contact), and ask them what homes they can send you that meet your specific needs. Give them a list of what you’re looking for, and see what they can find for you.

At this stage, you should be contacting 3 to 5 Realtors. Contact less, and you might not have enough “candidates” to make an informed decision. Contact more, and you will get overloaded with agents constantly checking in with you in order to get your business. (This is the largest problem buyers have when calling a dozen or two listing agents (one at a time) to get details on homes that interest them.)

Narrow the list
Now that you’ve got 3 to 5 Realtors vying for your business, judge them based on their performance. If any of them tried to talk you into their own listings, or strayed from the list of needs and wants you gave them, drop them. They’ve already demonstrated that they aren’t going to listen to your needs. How they get back to you is also important. If you are a “phone person” who only checks email every few days, why not deal with a Realtor who is willing to call you whenever they find a home that meets your needs. If you like to look on the web, make sure your Realtor is willing to email you every day (and make sure that they’re ONLY emailing you properties that meet your specific needs.) This step usually narrows your list to one or two agents, and the choice will likely be an easy one after an initial meeting with them. Once you have met with them, have a discussion about “exclusive agency”. When you have that discussion, be sure they have a “cancel anytime” policy. If they aren’t 100% satisfied that you will be happy with their performance, why should you be?

If you’re not moving for several months (or even a year), it’s that much more important that you get in touch with 3 to 5 Buyer Agents. If they’re not willing to invest their time in educating you on the market, they’re not serious about their business. Odds are that if you start with half a dozen Realtors in January, only 1 or 2 will still be in touch come June or July. Those agents are the ones you want working on your side. The rest will simply weed themselves out for you.

Get out and start looking!
Once you’ve identified a handful of homes that interest you, contact the agent you’ve decided to work with and start looking! No amount of pictures and virtual tours can substitute for getting out with your agent and actually looking, touching, and feeling the homes you might one day be moving into. By giving your agent the assurance that you’re ONLY working with them, they’ll clear their calendar for you whenever you want to look at homes, and since you’ve got a “cancel anytime” agreement with your agent, you can get rid of them if it turns out they’re not as great an agent as you initially thought they were.

Joel McDonald is the owner of Benchmark Realty – specializing in <a rel=”nofollow” onclick=”javascript:pageTracker._trackPageview(‘/outgoing/article_exit_link’);” href=”http://www.benchmarkrealtyllc.com/boulder-co-real-estate.php”>Boulder CO

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