Buying a house is a complex process. And given the size of the investment, a mistake at any point in the process can be costly. You may want to consider working with a real estate agent, and if so, you’ll want to find that person before you begin looking at houses.
They are trained professionals, connected within a community to all phases of the home-buying process. They can be your best ally as they are expert problem solvers, with a mission to find you a house in your price range.
To find a real estate agent, ask for recommendations from a financial advisor, your friends and family as well as co-workers. You can also speak to the owner of a real estate agency and ask he/she to match you with an agent that suits your needs. Some agents specialize in older homes, some in land and others in certain areas of town. Gather names and phone numbers of clients from the last three months and call them to learn how satisfied they were with the agent.
By law, a seller’s agent represents the seller, so you would be better off to use a buyer’s agent who will work solely for your best interest. When meeting with a potential buyer’s agent, be sure to ask:
- How long have you been an agent?
- How many houses have they helped sell in the neighborhoods that interest you?
- How will you help save me time and money?
- What are my obligations in the agreement?
- What is your commission?
- What happens if I find a home that is for sale by owner?
To help you better understand the entire home-buying process, we’ve put together an e-book — Tips From a Lender: A Homebuyer's Guide. It’s a great resource for anyone in the market, but especially for first-time home buyers. You can get your own copy here.
Of course, the best way to answer any questions you have about your specific situation is to speak with a mortgage specialist.