Buying a home is one of the most important financial and emotional transactions you will ever make. It is imperative to find a buyer's agent who will work hard for you, understanding both your desires and financial realities in securing the ideal home. It is highly recommended to interview several real estate agents before you hire your "buyer's agent". While interviewing agents, there are five key questions to ask.
1. How many years have you been in the business?
It really does matter how many years your real estate agent has been in the business. You want to know if your agent has been through enough real estate markets to be able to represent you in the best possible way. For example, it has been a super seller's market the past few years as home values have risen. However, the market is starting to balance out in many areas. Be sure your buyer's agent knows how to work in a balancing market. If they do, they will have strategies which may be able to give you advantages and possibly save you money.
2. How well do you know the area?
It is important to know if the buyer's agent you hire is a native or newer to the area. The longer the agent has lived and worked in the area, the better the agent will know the area and be able to find the best house for you. Ask the agents you interview where places of importance to you are located and see if they can help you find a home in close proximity to them. If certain school districts or schools are important, they should know where they are located so you can look for homes in the boundaries. If you are in need of being close to certain medical facilities, your agent should be able to tell you where they are. If recreation is important, your agent should know where the parks, athletic fields, park district, and jogging and bike paths are located. Not only should the agent you hire know the area, but they should also understand the changing home values in the area as well.
3. What is your commission?
Working with a buyer's agent does not typically cost you money out of your pocket. Most of the time, the buyer's brokerage gets paid cooperating commission by the seller's brokerage. If your buyer's agent asks you to sign an agreement that states their brokerage will get paid a certain amount of money or a percentage of the sales price, ask if this amount or percentage will be covered by the seller's brokerage. If not, you may be liable for the difference at closing.
4. Are you a member of the National, State and Local Associations of REALTORS®?
Having a buyer's agent who is a member of the National, State and Local Associations of REALTORS® is also advantageous. REALTORS® have access to classes and education which will help them work better for you. They must abide by the REALTORS® Code of Ethics which ensures they place your interests ahead of their own.
5. Are you a member of the local Multiple Listing Service?
There are advantages to having a buyer's agent who is a member of the local multiple listing service (MLS.) Member agents have access to all listings in the area. They also have up-to-the-minute access to the status of the listings. For example, if the houses are brand new, still active and available or if they are under contract. Some multiple listing services have a program in which your buyer's agent can set you up to receive an automatic email when there are new listings that meet your criteria.
These five key questions are a good starting point. Homelight.com features an article written on August 23, 2022 by Garrett Callahan and Christopher Rogacz, Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Real Estate Agent which offers more questions you might want to ask if you would like to expand on your interview questions. Do not be afraid to ask questions. A good buyer's agent will be happy to answer any and all questions you have.