Buying a home can be one of the most exciting times in your life. Finding a real estate agent who specializes in working with buyers is critical. Working with buyers requires a different skill-set than working with sellers. A sellers agent's job is to market and sell a client's home. A buyers agent's job requires many more key skills. In fact, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) offers a designation real estate agents can earn for working specifically with buyers.
Accredited Buyer's Representative®
The National Association of Realtors® offers a designation called an Accredited Buyers Representative®, or ABR®. According to the NAR, "The ABR® designation is for real estate buyer agents who focus on working directly with buyer-clients at every stage of the home-buying process." As a buyer, you can gain so much if you work with an ABR® as these agents have elevated skills and knowledge about working with buyers. According to NAR, they also receive "ongoing specialized information, programs and updates that keep them knowledgeable on the issues and trends facing home buyers."
Knowledge of the Market
The buyers agent you choose should have a deep knowledge of the real estate market in the local area in which you are looking to buy a home. When interviewing for your agent, ask them how well they know the market and how many homes they have sold or helped purchase in the area. They should know the market inside and out. First and foremost, they should know property values. They should know which subdivisions, developments or specific areas are selling quickly and which ones are not.
Knowledge of the Area
Your buyer's agent should also know the area like the back of his/her hand. If you have school-age children, he/she should be able to tell you which schools children will attend and what their ratings are. They should know neighborhood safety ratings or be able to direct you where to find out, be able to direct you to the downtown area, major roadways, highways and tollways. Give you information on where the medical buildings and hospitals are, direct you to the shopping mall and where other stores and restaurants are located, along with the location of places of worship, the library, golf courses, park district buildings, parks and more.
Contract and Negotiation Skills
It's key that your buyer's agent is able to write a real estate contract well. Most contracts are written by attorneys and agents fill in the blanks. There are necessary skills required on how to fill in the blanks on your behalf, however. Your agent should also possess negotiation skills and strategies. Remember, your buyer's agent should have your best interests at heart and work hard on your behalf.
Multiple Listing Service Member
Your buyer's agent should be a member of the local multiple listing service (MLS.) This is where most of the area homes are listed for sale. Your agent should be able to set up an automatic search for you. This is where you'll receive emails about any new listings that come on the market. The MLS in your area may also have a Private Listing Network (PLN) as well. The PLN is where agents list homes that will be coming up for sale soon. Be sure to ask your agent about this. The multiple listing service is also where your agent can go to find home values when completing a market analysis for the home you wish to purchase.
If you find a highly qualified or Accredited Buyers Agent, you'll have an exceptional experience when buying your home.