Buying a home is arguably one of the most stressful, emotional, time-consuming, and financially-draining chapters of your life. Unless you personally have the experience, it is highly recommended that you hire someone to represent you. As a potential buyer, the type of agent you want is a buyer’s agent. They are the ones who are the most likely to have your best interests in mind. This is opposed to a listing agent, who represents the seller. Not all buyers’ agents are the same, however. It’s important to find one who meets your requirements and who really listens to you. The number one red flag in any buyer-agent relationship is if the agent seems to be in a hurry or very pushy about closing a deal, even if it doesn’t seem to meet all of the criteria.
The first thing you should do before entering into a relationship with an agent is to make a list of hard limits and soft limits. These are your wish list items that are either deal-breakers or ones that you are willing to give up or be a little flexible about, in exchange for other items on your wish list. For example, you may be willing to live in smaller square footage overall if it’s in a better school district. When searching for an agent, you also want to establish up front that you demand a comparative analysis of other homes in the area to ensure the asking price is fair.
It’s important to stand firm as the process goes along. Even if you might be getting tired of looking at houses, it’s important to see the long-term image of living in the same place for an extended period of time. Keeping perspective will prevent you from having to settle and help you stand your ground when faced with an agent who might be trying to convince you that a few extra miles are no big deal, or that a few thousand dollars over budget are worth it.
Once you decide on a house and you feel ready to make an offer, watch out for any feelings of pressure on the part of the agent to get this over with quickly. Both the listing agent and buyer’s agent make a commission off the sale, which means they want to finish their transaction with you. On the plus side, positive reviews and word-of-mouth are two ways they keep themselves in business, so they are motivated to make you happy as well.