Buying a home can be an overwhelming process. Even if you know where you want to live and have an idea of what you may be able to afford, there are complex contracts, potential issues like structural problems to worry about and ever-changing market conditions.
One of the easiest ways to navigate the process is by hiring a buyer’s broker.
A buyer’s agent or buyer’s broker — both are licensed real estate professionals but brokers have a higher level of licensing — represents your interest as a home buyer, rather than the seller’s, providing information like neighborhood details, consulting on financing options and helping to negotiate the price down.
So how do you find one of these brokers? Here are five tips to consider:
Don’t call the number on the "for sale" sign. The agent who holds the listing represents the seller, and they’re likely making a commission off the sale. They want to move the property for as high a price as possible as quickly as possible. Find your buyer’s agent first and let them get you a better deal.
Ask questions. Like hiring anyone, it’s best to ask an agent about their experience before agreeing to work with them. What kind of licensing or other credentials do they have? Get references. Check if they have any potential conflicts of interest. How well do they know the area where you’re looking to buy? How are they paid?
Follow up. Check out those references. Do a Google search. How are their negotiating skills? Also, remember that you’re going to have to work together. Do your personalities mesh?
Get it in writing. A buyer’s broker has a fiduciary responsibility to work in the buyer’s best interests. But experts say it’s important to get that in writing in order to ensure they’re representing only you, the buyer, and not the seller.
Stick with a dedicated pro. The National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents recommends hiring a buyer’s agent who only represents buyers. The group, an industry professional association, says that exclusive buyer agents offer the highest level of protection and dedication.