10 Ways Smart Buyers Get The Most Out Of Their Real Estate Agent

By: Susan Bicksler

Whether you're searching for a single family home or a condominium, you'll save time, money, and effort by working with a competent real estate agent. Follow these 10 easy steps to ensure success!

Be picky. Choose an agent who is articulate, professional in action and dress, responsive to your questions, and one who provides lots of details on each property.

Be loyal. Just as buyers want an agent who will maintain focus on their needs, agents can't afford to spend precious time on buyers who try to deal with multiple agents, loyal to none.

Be precise in wants and needs. Agents aren't mind readers. Think about your price range, ideal location or neighborhood, size of house, number of bedrooms and baths, whether you have pets, want to be near a school or hospital, require a fenced yard, garage, fireplace, or pool. Do you prefer ground floor or top floor if looking for a condo. What range of association maintenance fee can you afford? Provide your wish list to your agent, but indicate what items you are willing to compromise on.

Be honest. Don't tell your agent you're in the position to make an offer when you haven't researched your credit score and contacted a mortgage lender to ensure your ability to obtain a home loan. It's a waste of effort and a huge disappointment for both buyers and agents when a deal goes south a few days before an expected closing.

Be proactive. Review your finances to ensure you can really afford a mortgage payment, taxes, insurance, upkeep and unexpected costs of owning a home at this time. If you do an advance search on the Internet, share the ones you find interesting with your agent so an appointment to show can be arranged.

Be considerate. Agents have families and obligations too. They will appreciate the fact you do not expect to go house hunting within a moments notice, on major holidays, or late in the evening.

Be punctual. Arrive for appointments on time and expect the same from your agent. Make sure to exchange phone numbers so that if a meeting has to be canceled, you both have the ability to notify each other as soon as possible.

Plan a search strategy together. Discuss with your agent what days and times are best for viewing property. Unless a home is vacant or has a lock-box key, an agent needs time to contact the owner or their agent to set up viewing times. If a number of homes are going to be viewed the same day, your agent will need additional time to map out the most efficient route and gather facts on each location.

Limit the number of people on appointments. It can be distracting and counter productive, when meeting with an agent or showing a house, if there are unruly children or additional friends and relatives that come along and are all speaking at once. Better to wait until you zero in on which house you like best, then show it to the kids or get further input from Mom or Dad.

Show some respect. There are exceptions, but most real estate agents devote tremendous amounts of time, mileage, and money to their profession. Requirements include classes in a wide variety of real estate subjects, local, state, and national dues, licensing, insurance, advertising, fees for office space and equipment at their brokerage, reliable transportation and communication. They spend long hours searching for just the right property for their clients and printing pages of detailed information on potential choices. Agents are independent contractors who must sign with a broker to operate and they don't get paid unless the deal goes to closing. They'll respond, by working even harder, if you acknowledge their efforts and say thank you once in awhile.

Copyright (C) 2008 by Susan Bicksler, all rights reserved.

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