By: Kyle Spearin
As a home first time home buyer, you don’t know what you don’t know.
You’re going to regularly encounter terminology that you’re unfamiliar with and on top of that, everything from start to finish is brand new to you. To compensate for your limited knowledge, you need to find a real estate agent that has experience.
When interviewing agents, you need to get a feel for whether a given person is the right match for you. But, how would you know? After all, this is your first time going through this already strenuous process. Taking the time to vet your agent will
save you a lot of headaches and money, so it’s well-worth the time.
Although you might not know what to ask, many people before you have reflected on this process and given some ideas about what to ask. Here is a list of questions that will help guide your search for a high quality agent.
1. Do you own a home?
It might seem irrelevant to know this information. It might feel like it’s none of your business to know the answer to this question. Perhaps you think that it doesn’t matter as long as they have helped others go through the process--this is their
job after all. This logic is completely wrong for your purposes. It DOES matter.
Consider this: would you eat a meal made by a chef who wouldn’t eat his own cooking?
Probably not. The same logic holds true to agents that are not homeowners. They may understand the transactional nature of buying a house, but have no idea what the emotional side of the process is like. How can you expect them to know what you’re
going through if they haven’t been through it themselves?
Just something to think about.
2. How many deals have you done in the past year?
The more transactions the better. You want someone who has a proven track record because they know the ins and outs of the market. In addition, having more transactions implies that they are superior agents. When you’re a real estate agent, you get paid when you close deals, so
the more successful agents will have more deals closing.
Experience really does matter. Think about the first time you did something compared to the 10th, 20th, or 100th time you did something. Over time and with practice, you get better at whatever you’re working on. Since this is an expensive purchase,
you don’t want to be the guinea pig for a new agent’s experimentation.
One exception to the rule in this line of thinking is if the agent has a strong supporting cast. Sometimes newer agents are all-stars, but they don’t necessarily have a long track record. To ensure that this agent is legitimate, you want to guarantee
that they have the support of a top-performing agent if they are newer to real estate. Even so, you might decide to go a separate direction. Think long and hard about this.
3. Have you ever worked with a first time home buyer?
A house is a house. Anyone who’s helped one person buy a house must know how to help another person do the same. It doesn’t matter if they’ve worked with a first time buyer before as long as they have experience in the industry...right?
Not all buyers want the same things. Furthermore, working with someone who has experience buying a house is a lot different than working with a first time home buyer. The biggest difference is that an agent who works with first time buyers has to have
even more patience.
Throughout the process, especially the first time through, a real estate agent needs to be a resource and a teacher. There is always a level of uncertainty doing something for the first time, the best way to overcome this is by providing an excellent
education. Agents need to be able to explain different terminology, point buyers towards resources, and be able to hand-hold throughout the process without getting frustrated. The best first time buyer agents know how to anticipate questions and
go out of their way to answer them before they even come up. When you interview an agent, this will be very apparent if they can explain the hurdles that many first time buyers face.
The other way is by having patience. People second guess themselves a lot when they don’t know what they're doing, so it’s very important that the agent can reassure them. People who look at houses for the first time also tend to see more houses because
they aren’t always sure what they’re looking for. You want an agent who can help you refine your search quickly so that both you and the agent save time while still getting you into your dream home.
Don’t overlook how important this skill set is.
4. What company do you work for?
Within real estate, there are hundreds of brokerages. Some big, some small.
To a degree, size does matter when it comes to this question. An agent that works at a larger company will have some advantages. A bigger company might allocate more money towards agent training and probably has strong support systems with mentorship
programs for agents.Chances are that if a company is large, it’s because they’ve expanded with a track record of success.
In contrast, a smaller boutique brokerage might have more of what you want. They probably have lower volume, but might be more hands on with their agents and be more specialized in a certain geographic location. It comes down to personal preference.
Look into each company’s reputation because this is likely to vary from place to place.
If you want to have an enjoyable home buying experience, you need to find a great agent. Asking the right questions will get you the right answers, the right answers will get you the right agent. Be sure to ask the 4 questions mentioned about
to set yourself up for success with the best agent you can find.