Published: June 29, 2018
1. Be Comfortable with Your Agent
This person is helping you make one of the biggest purchases of your life. You need to like them and feel like you can talk to them. If you’re uncomfortable asking big questions to your realtor, you need to find someone else. It’s perfectly normal to interview multiple agents before deciding who you want to work with. Have a list of questions ready and an idea of what you would like the answers to be. If you don’t feel comfortable introducing them to your dog, you don’t need to use them to help you buy a house.
2. Set Realistic Goals and Timelines
Are you looking to be in a new house in 30 days? That’s definitely something you need to talk to your realtor about before you hire them. Don’t expect to go on showings the same day you tell your realtor you saw a house online you like, as chances are, they are working with multiple clients at a time. Be respectful of their time and schedule. Before looking at houses, discuss your timeline with them, and allow them to give you a realistic schedule of the house buying process. It’ll also be an indicator of how busy they currently are and what kind of attention you can expect from them during the process.
3. Make Expectations Clear
Do you expect the realtor to show you houses every week? Are you expecting them to show up at your home and do all the driving to and from showings? These are things you need to discuss. Maybe you’re expecting a seller to pay all closing costs or hoping to receive 10 listings a week from your realtor. These are expectations, if conveyed at the beginning of the process, will keep the relationship positive if conveyed at the beginning of the process.
4. Expect to Sign a Buyer’s Broker Agreement
Before being shown homes, you will most likely be asked to sign a Buyer’s Broker Agreement, which is basically a contract saying you won’t work with any competing broker or realtors. It’s common, and you should expect to sign it as soon as you agree to work with your realtor. 99% of realtors get paid on a commission based system, so they don’t want to risk wasting their time showing homes if you then decide to work with someone else. It’s a practice that is widely accepted and important when solidifying your working relationship.
5. Have Common Courtesy
Some realtors only sell homes in their spare time and are working with multiple clients at a time. If your realtor doesn’t immediately respond to your email or return your call, don’t bombard them. Buying a home is an exciting process, but don’t forget your manners. In the beginning, try to learn about your realtor’s daily schedule. Do they have kids and only answer emails at night after putting them to bed? Do they do real estate full time but call it quits at 5pm? Knowing these types of working schedules will help you show them respect for their time and attention. And it may actually get you more responsiveness than another client who is emailing them every 5 minutes.
6. Be Ready to Buy
Realtors are showing homes because they’re hoping to eventually get paid. The commission pay structure means they don’t get a dime until you decide to make the purchase. Don’t hire a realtor if you’re really not going to buy a house in 6 months or if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. A realtor’s job is to make a sale, not to take you to homes you have no interest in actually purchasing or that are out of your price point. On the buying side, be prepared to write a check for earnest money immediately when looking at houses. If you find the right one and want to make an offer, earnest money will start that process, so it’s best to have that checkbook on you while you’re being shown homes.
7. Listen to their advice
Realtors went to school for real estate and are experts in the current climate of buying and selling. If they voice their concern over a roof having not been replaced or a potential flood zone, you should listen to their advice. Realtors can often find out more about the property than what you can on the online listing. For example, they can tell you if the air conditioner hasn’t been replaced in 10 years or if the house has been checked for termites. These are all important things to listen to before making an official offer
8. Be Flexible About Your Wishlist
When you sit down with your realtor, they’re going to ask what type of home you’re looking for. And they’ll probably ask you to prioritize your wishlist with what’s the most important down to what you could live without. You’ll be better off immediately understanding that there’s no such thing as the perfect house, and you’re going to have to pick and choose what matters most. The tip here? Don’t shoot the messenger. The realtor’s job is to find something as close to your wishlist as possible, but that house probably doesn’t truly exist. So if they show you a home with a smaller kitchen that you didn’t want but that also has a huge backyard that you did ask for, show them respect. Use that opportunity to tell them, “You know, we can live with a smaller yard if the kitchen is perfect.” It’s a learning experience for both you and them, so it’s best to be as honest as flexible during the showing process as possible.
9. Understand What They Can and Can’t Tell You
While they are experts, you should also understand what they can and can’t legally tell you. For example, they can’t tell you who your neighbors are or anything about the people who live in the neighborhood. Because of fair housing laws, you will have to do your own research about crime rates and other aspects of neighborhoods. You can’t ask them, “Is the HOA really strict here?” or something like, “I saw a church down the road. Do the people who live here attend that church?” They won’t answer, and don’t get mad at them. It’s the law that they stay impartial about areas where they show houses so as to not influence buyers’ decisions and be held liable if the information provided proves untrue.
10. Thank Them
After you buy, your realtor gets paid, so chances are, they’re going to be pretty happy. But a “thank you” goes a long way too. Send them a card or a small gift as a token of your appreciation. The best “thank you” gift for realtors? Keeping them in mind when someone you know is looking to purchase a home in the area. Their income is based solely on getting leads that turn into sales. And who knows, you may be selling your home in a few years and can work with them again. If you had a good experience with them, directing your family and friends to them is the ultimate thank you.
After you go through the homebuying process, it’s time to move! Get a free no-obligation quote from UNITS to make moving simple, easy, flexible, and (most importantly) affordable.