What to Ask a Real Estate Agent When Buying

The home-buying process can take a lot of unexpected twists and turns, so having a good agent to guide is key. Before you shake hands on a deal, here’s what to ask a real estate agent when buying a home.

How long does it typically take your buyers to find a home and close?

If the agent tells you his typical buyers move quickly, within weeks or a month, he’s probably used to working with buyers who do a lot of research before engaging the agent. If he says it’s more like a year or longer, he’s likely more patient and lets the home-buying process run its course.

Where do you do the most business?

Your home search can take you through multiple towns and school districts, so it’s best to have an agent who typically covers a fairly broad geography. But be realistic. Agents tend to focus on where and what they know. Most have a solid knowledge of a few towns and a cursory knowledge of nearby areas.

Do you work solo or with a partner or team?

Because home buying is incredibly personal,  you’ll want to know who you’ll be working with. Ask your agent what her arrangement is: Does she work independently? With a partner? A team? Does she have an assistant? If she works with assistants or junior agents, make sure you won’t be pushed off to someone with less experience.

How do showings work?

There are multiple ways to see properties. The most effective approach is different for every buyer and in every market. Some markets rely heavily on open houses. Others require private appointments or the use of a lock box to view properties. If the agent prefers that you leverage open houses as much as possible, but you want a little more handholding, she may not be the right agent for you.

How do you search for properties?

Buyers don’t rely only on their agent to find properties anymore. What’s more, many agents encourage buyers to search online independently. Agents leverage their local multiple listing service (MLS) and send buyers emails and alerts from there.

What’s the best way to communicate?

Good collaboration makes for a seamless process, so ask the agent how they collaborate with their buyers for searches. Finally, ask if they’re a phone, text or email kind of person. Identify an agent who works well with your own communication style.

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