A word from Gain columnist Lynn Yeldell: For the past few months, we have discussed wealth from a traditional investment perspective. But that is only half of the equation.The single largest purchase we will ever make is the purchase of our homes. With that said, our Gain column will focus on all topics real estate for the remainder of the year. Our guest writers will start simple and gain momen- tum to cover all the necessary steps to being an informed and savvy purchaser. Our G Style guest writer is Gregg Klar, a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty.
A good real estate agent can make or break your deal. Teaming up with the right agent is key to a stress-free and successful transaction. Do you know the difference between Realtors and real estate agents? What are the benefits of signing a buyer’s representation agreement? How are real estate agents paid and who pays them?
Smart consumers interview several real estate agents before deciding whom to hire. Just as you are sizing up the potential agent to find your good fit, rest assured that the real estate agent will likely be interviewing you, too. Be wary of agents who don’t ask you questions and probe for you for your house hunting motivation. You wouldn’t work with just any agent off the street and good agents are just as selective about their clients, too.
The terms “Realtor” and “real estate agent” are commonly used interchangeably, but that’s actually incorrect. There are differences between Realtors and real estate agents. An agent is someone who has completed the minimum standards to get his license in the state in which he’ll sell real estate. A Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors and adheres to a high code of ethics and education standards.
Hiring a buyer’s agent starts with signing a buyer’s agency agreement. Until signed, the agent you’re working with is actually working for the best interests of the seller. Hiring a buyer’s agent obligates your agent to work for your best interests and not the seller’s.
Agents are often paid by the sellers in a seller’s listing agreement. While most agents’ services are free to buyers, occasionally you’ll find a transaction fee or professional service fee. Don’t shy away if you see a fee; highly educated and experienced agents are worth it for a better price on the house, a better financing rate or the ability to find that perfect house before someone else does. Here’s a list of questions you should ask before hiring a buyer’s agent to represent you:
1. Do you work full time or part time as a Realtor?
2. How well do you know the areas I am interested in?
3. How many other buyers are you representing now?
4. Will you handle all aspects of my transaction or will you deleg some tasks to a sales associate or administrative assistant?
5. How many years of education and experience do you have?
6. Can you give me a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) of recent homesales in the area I’m interested in?
7. Can you send me recent list of buyer references?
Remember that working with the right Realtor who has a similar personality, high education, solid experience, and understands your concerns and goals is key to a successful transaction. Happy house hunting!