Everyone needs a home. Whether it is a small apartment, a sprawling mansion, or even an RV, you need a home. Having a place to call home provides us with stability and security. Homeownership presents us with the opportunity to create memories, build relationships, and express our personal style. Our homes are also where we store our most valuable possessions. But as a first-time home buyer, how do you find a real estate agent?
Don’t worry; we’re going to walk you through the process. From the time you start searching for a house to the day you move in, here are some tips for choosing the right real estate agent.
Remember, as home buyers; you have the right to choose your own real estate agent. A knowledgeable, experienced, and well-connected real estate agent can be an invaluable resource in finding the right house for you.
What do I need to do as a first-time buyer?
As a first-time homebuyer, there are a few things you need to do before you start working with an agent.
We always recommend having a general understanding of the home-buying process, as both the buyer or seller. This will give you a better sense of the types of questions and concerns you need to ask.
Once you have a rough understanding, you should start researching local agents. Of course, you’ll need to know where to look.
An excellent place to start is your network – friends, family, and colleagues might have a real estate agent they recommend. You can also check out websites like Realtor.com for reviews of agents in your area. However, we’ll get more into that later.
Lastly, once you’ve narrowed your list down, you need to choose an agent. Before you reach out to the Realtor, make sure you feel comfortable with them and their ability to help you. They should be experienced in helping first-time homebuyers. They should have a proven track record of success in finding homes that meet your needs.
At the end of the day, it’s essential for you to find an agent you can trust. You want someone that is looking out for your best interests. Doing your research before you start the process will pay off in the end.
Understanding the homebuying process.
When you’re a first-time home buyer, you might be overwhelmed by how much there is to learn and do.
After all, purchasing a home is the single most expensive purchase most people will make in their lifetime.
It’s essential to understand the steps that you need to take and the home-buying process so that you can make informed decisions along the way.
If you have a buyer’s agent, they’ll explain the process and guide you through it, but it’s still helpful for you to have a basic working knowledge of what’s involved.
To make the process easier, we’ve broken it down into five significant steps—
Research & Financing.
Before you can start shopping for a home, you’ll need to understand what’s out there in terms of mortgage rates, different home loan programs, closing costs, down payment assistance programs, and more.
It’s crucial to figure out how much you can realistically afford and what type of mortgage loan makes the most sense for your budget.
Many first-timers make the mistake of skipping this step, but don’t fall into that trap. It might seem like it’s as simple as arbitrarily picking a home price and searching based on that, but there are a lot of factors that go into the process.
House Hunting & Making an Offer.
Once you have a better understanding of the home market and what the interest rates are hovering at, it’s time to start looking for a house. You’ll likely need to hire a buyer’s agent who will be able to help you find the type of home you’re looking for and assist you with making an offer.
There’s a bit more to it than just scouring online listings and hoping you find your dream house with a reasonable home price. You need to know what price range you can afford and search for homes with an asking price within your budget.
Home Inspection & Appraisal.
Once your offer is accepted, it’s time to have the property inspected and appraised.
This step is essential, especially for first-time homebuyers, because it will help you determine if there are any problems or issues that need to be addressed before closing.
And in the state of Texas, you can negotiate an option period into your contract, which allows you to back out of the transaction before a specific date if there are problems you don’t want to deal with. You can also renegotiate with the seller on some of these items, but more on that in a minute.
As for the appraisal, typically, your lender will take care of that. However, if you’re a cash buyer, you will have to take care of that yourself. It’s essential to get a professional appraisal of the property to ensure that you’re getting what you paid for.
Negotiating & Closing.
At this stage, you will be negotiating any final details of the purchase and sale agreement with the seller. This could cover anything from addressing inspection issues to setting closing dates and signing documents.
Most inspection issues that you might want to address are essential items such as roof, foundation, or HVAC problems. Smaller things are typically left for you as a homebuyer to fix up. After all, it’s not a brand-new house, so it may have a few dents and dings.
Finally, on closing day, you’ll sign all the paperwork required for your loan and title transfer, pay any necessary fees, and receive your keys. Closing day is always fun and memorable, especially for first-time homebuyers.
This is our favorite part of the entire process. Once the paperwork is signed and you have the keys in hand, it’s time to move in!
This may be an exciting experience for first-time homebuyers, but remember that there are still a few tasks that need to be taken care of before you can really settle in.
Take some time to review your purchase agreement and make sure everything is in order, change the locks (just to be safe), and check for any safety hazards.
As for that monthly mortgage payment, you shouldn’t have to worry about that for a month or two.
Do you even need a real estate agent?
You might be thinking that the home-buying process seems pretty simple and that you can just do the real estate transaction for your dream home yourself.
However, having a buyer’s agent on your side can be invaluable, especially for first-time homebuyers.
Full access to homes you can’t find elsewhere online.
They will have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which contains all the listings in your area. The MLS also provides a history of each of the properties, so you know what you’ll pay in property taxes and even how much the property’s seller paid for the house. You don’t get that with Zillow.
Real estate agents bring professional training and experience to the table.
Additionally, real estate professionals are trained and experienced, and they are experts at negotiating deals with the seller’s agent. That means they will try to get first-time buyers a better purchase price on their residential property.
Leverage the agent’s vast network of home professionals.
One of the best parts of using a buyer’s agent is their vast network of contacts in the real estate industry. If you’re looking for a mortgage lender to secure you a mortgage pre-approval or a licensed inspector to provide you with a home inspection, they have contacts for all sorts of real estate professionals. Remember, they’ve worked with all of these professionals on numerous transactions, so they can tell you who the best mortgage companies are and where to find great contractors if you’re buying a fixer-upper.
Agent fees are covered by the seller.
Plus, the buyer’s agent services are covered by the seller, so there’s no additional cost to you, the home buyer. Most of the time, the seller’s proceeds will cover the cost of all parties involved, including listing agents and buyer’s agents. So none of this is wrapped up in closing costs or anywhere else for you as home buyers.
Remember—it’s a significant investment, and having a knowledgeable buyer’s agent by your side can help you make intelligent decisions along the way.
Where to look for real estate agents.
At this point, you’re probably convinced that the best way to go about buying a home is with a buyer’s agent. So, where can you find one?
Recommendations are an excellent place to start.
Most people start by asking friends and family for recommendations, as they are likely to have worked with real estate agents in the past and can provide valuable insight. However, it’s also essential to do your own research and find an agent who is experienced in your local market and understands the laws associated with buying a home.
Agent referrals are great, but you can also check out online resources such as agent directories or real estate websites that provide details about local agents.
Check out Realtors online.
The internet is your friend here—sites like Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, and other real estate websites can help you narrow down your search for a top-notch buyer’s agent. You can also use the National Association of Realtors (NAR) website to search for an agent in your area.
Always have a discussion with prospective agents.
Finally, take the time to meet with a few agents and make sure you feel comfortable with each one before you sign any paperwork (as a home buyer, you’ll need to sign a buyer’s representation agreement at some point).
This will ensure that you have someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in the real estate market, helping you through every step of your home-buying journey. After all, as a first-time homebuyer, you want someone that will understand that this is new territory for you.
Buying a home can be an exciting and daunting process, but if you have the right buyer’s agent on your side, it will make everything much more manageable. Remember to do your research and find someone who is knowledgeable in the market and experienced in negotiations.
What to look for in a real estate professional.
So, you narrowed down your list of real estate agents that you’re considering for the job, and now it’s time to make a decision.
Factors to consider when choosing a real estate agent.
When researching potential buyers’ agents, there are a few things to keep in mind—
- Experience. How long has the agent been working in your local market? The more experienced they are, the more likely they are to be familiar with the laws and regulations associated with home buying in your area. They’ll also have more contacts in the industry and
- Credentials. Make sure that the agent you choose has a real estate license in your state, as well as a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Also, ask for references from past clients and read online reviews to get a better idea of their reputation.
- Communication skills. You want to make sure that your buyer’s agent is someone who you can communicate with easily and trust. Ask about the agent’s process for keeping you informed throughout the home-buying process, as well as how quickly they respond to questions or concerns.
- Negotiation skills. Once you find your dream home, your buyer’s agent will be the one negotiating with the seller to get you the best deal. Make sure they have a good reputation for being an experienced negotiator and can help you through this process. If they have dozens and dozens of real estate transactions under their belt, there’s a good chance they can negotiate like a pro and get you the best purchase price possible.
Finding a great buyers’ agent is an essential step in your journey to home ownership, so make sure to do your research before making a home purchase. You’ll be glad you did when you’re finally closing on your dream home!
What do you say when you reach out to a Realtor?
When going through a list of realtors that you are considering working with, your first step should be to reach out and introduce yourself.
Start by giving them a call and briefly introducing yourself. Let them know that you are currently looking for a buyer’s agent and why you think they may be the right fit.
Ask questions to make sure they are familiar with the area you’re interested in and how well they know the real estate market. Also, ask them what their process is for keeping you informed throughout the home-buying journey.
Questions to ask as a first-time homebuyer.
Here are some questions you, as a first-time homebuyer, should start off with when you’re reaching out to buyer’s agents for the first time.
- Are you a full-time agent? There are a lot of agents that work in a part-time capacity, and their attention might not be fully dedicated to your home search.
- How long have you been in the real estate business? This will let you know the extent of their experience.
- How many transactions have you closed in the past year? Just because they’ve been in the industry for ten years doesn’t mean they’ve closed many homes recently. Not only do you want quantity, but you want currency as well.
- What kind of experience do you have representing buyers? If they are on a big team, they might not have as much expertise representing buyers as a single agent does.
- Do you specialize in any specific area or type of buyer? Whether they’re into high-end luxury homes, military relocation, or first-time buyers, this will tell you a lot. Some agents also work only with sellers.
- How long does it typically take for a buyer to find their dream home with your help? This can tell you how much they know about the market because this number can change frequently based on current market conditions.
- Can I expect frequent updates and reports on my search process? Remember when we talked about communication? You want to ensure they’re going to communicate with you effectively. Let them know your preferred method of communication.
You’ll want an agent that has your best interests in mind, and asking the right questions will let you know if they’re a fit.
Agents will promise the world!
What we’ve found is a lot of agents will promise the world to their buyers just to get their business. However, they often fall short in some aspects. Keep in mind this is your dream house, and you want someone that is not only going to help you in your home search but also represent you and your best interests in the process.
Ready to find a real estate agent?
If you’re a serious buyer and you’re ready to start your home search, it’s time to find an experienced buyer’s agent. Look for someone who knows the area well and has a proven track record of successful real estate transactions.
That’s where I come in. As a licensed Realtor in the state of Texas, I have served countless first-time buyers and other types of home buyers in the past. I specialize in helping buyers find their dream homes and make sure they get the best deal.
I understand how daunting the home-buying process can be. That is why I’m committed to providing exceptional service and delivering positive results for my clients. In the end, I want you to feel confident and feel that you’re moving in the right direction when you’re looking for your next house.
If you’re ready to start your journey to homeownership as a first-time home buyer, then give me a call. I would love to chat and answer any questions you have about the home-buying process.
Together, let’s find your ideal home.