Pick the Buyer’s Agent Who Is Right for You
If you’ve ever flipped through an issue of Up North Home Showcase, you know that there are many valuable real estate agents serving northern Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula Michigan. With so many choices, as a buyer, how do you narrow down your options to find a real estate agent that is a great fit for you? Here are five points to keep in mind as you search for a buyer’s agent in northern Wisconsin or Upper Peninsula Michigan.
1. Talk to a lender first to find out how much you can afford.
Ideally, get preapproval before enlisting the services of a buyer’s agent. This will help you set realistic expectations, enable your real estate agent to select which properties to show you, and cater your search for an agent to one who has experience in your price range.
2. Seek referrals of buyer’s agents from your network of family and friends.
Your friends and family know you well, and they are a valuable resource in your search for a buyer’s agent.
3. It is not recommended to engage with a real estate agent who is your own family member or friend.
Keeping a boundary between personal and business will be important during negotiations. You will be thankful you didn’t work with a friend or family member if you are dissatisfied.
4. Interview at least three agents over the phone or in person.
Be clear that you are at the interview stage as you get a sense of the agent’s personality. It’s important that you have “chemistry.” After all, you’ll be spending a lot of time together over the course of the next few weeks or months. What’s more, you’ll want to feel comfortable with entrusting your agent to represent you throughout this very important process. But in addition to getting a gut feel of the agent, now is the time to gather the following information about the agent:
- Availability, including whether he or she is a part-time or full-time agent and how many buyers he or she typically works with at one time
- Whether the agent is willing to work with you to set realistic goals and a feasible time frame
- General level of experience
- Experience with the type of property, the price point, and the neighborhood you are looking for
- If the agent requires preapproval before looking at homes
- Track record of success: how many homes did he or she sell as a buyers agent in the past year?
- The agent’s system for narrowing down buyers’ preferences
- How many homes the agent typically shows clients (This speaks to the agent’s ability to narrow down the properties. Many successful agents will only need to show buyers five to ten homes
- Whether the agent requires buyers to sign any contracts or agreements
- How (and how often) the agent typically communicates with buyers: phone, text, email, etc.
- Whether the agent attends home inspections
- How the agent negotiates requests from inspections
- Testimonials and the contact information of references from the agent’s previous buyers
- Note that it is not recommended to interview different agents from the same company.
5. Do your research.
While you’re narrowing down your search, it is also enlightening to do your own research on your potential agents:
- Now is the time to check the references. Ask previous buyers about their experience with the quality of support the agent provided throughout the homebuying process (including during negotiations).
- Take a look at the agents’ website, social media channels, blog, and online reviews.
- Take a closer look at the agents’ credentials. Only real estate agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) can claim the title of Realtor (with a capital R). These professionals have formally agreed to adhere to the NAR code of ethics. In addition to this designation, some Realtors have earned certifications after having completed training in a specific area of real estate. Here are some of the certifications that may be pertinent to your search for an agent. Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) indicates additional training in the handling of residential real estate. Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR) indicates additional training in representing buyers in transactions. Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) indicates additional training helping buyers and sellers who are age 50 and older. Counselor of Real Estate (CRE) indicates membership of the professional membership (by invitation only) organization of the same name for real estate advisors recognized by their peers and clients for knowledge, experience, and integrity. Graduate REALTOR Institute (GRI) indicates training in residential real estate with a solid base of information for their practice. Resort & Second-Home Markets (RSPS) indicates specialization in resort and second-home markets around the world.
- Check with the state real estate regulator and Better Business Bureau to find out whether an agent is licensed and whether he or she has any complaints filed or disciplinary actions.
To learn more about the real estate agents serving northern Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula Michigan, read the latest digital issue of Up North Home Showcase.