Choosing a Buyer's Agent is an important part of the home buying process. This is the person that you will be working with to help you find your dream home, therefore, doesn't it make sense to meet with them first to ensure that they know what you're even looking for in your next house? When an agent asks you to meet them prior to viewing a house that you see online or drive by, look at this as a sign that they are invested in putting themselves to work for you. A Buyer's Consultation is useful to clarify the home buying process, sets the expectations on both sides, and lays the foundation for a happy client/agent relationship. The home buying process often has a unique set of opportunities and challenges, and can be stressful. You're not only choosing an agent, you're also choosing a trusted real estate advisor, and putting a plan in place up front will help to ensuring a smoother, and more enjoyable, transaction.
The first step would be an in-person meeting to get acquainted. It may be at a local real estate office, your home, or at a place like a local coffee shop. Based on your availability and theirs, it's a time to discover whether or not schedules can be coordinated, and how flexible each of you might need to be in the future to coordinate time together to look at homes.
Typically, a Buyer's Agent will ask all sorts of questions, a "Buyer's Interview" if-you-will. The information collected during this phase of your time together is vital, as it’s how the agent will collect all the necessary info to help them to what they do: find your dream house! What type of home? Location considerations? How many bedrooms/bathrooms? Is a yard or outdoor space important to you? Are you looking for move-in ready, or are repairs/remodel ok? What is the amount of square footage that you're looking for? What is your price range? Have you been prequalified for a mortgage? What are your top 5 priorities?
The National Association of Realtors states that 93% of buyers consider "knowledge of the purchase process 'very important'" when choosing an agent. Have the Buyer's Agent walk you through the home buying process. Have them illustrate their awareness by sharing the steps to homeownership with you, from making the first offer, to closing day. Also ask what their process is for finding you the best home, for the best price. What is their knowledge of the local market? What's their experience and do they have good negotiation skills?
Setting up your communication expectations right of the bat is also important. How do you like to be communicated with? Text/Email/Phone...all of the above? Are there any times that are off limits, or would you expect to be informed around the clock?
Do they have any takeaways or brochures with them, or that they can refer you to, after this initial consultation? Do they have a handout about the home buying process, or can they email it to you? Or is there a website address that they have that they can refer you to?
After the agent has answered all of your questions, you can now decide if this is the agent that you'd like to represent you. Typically, you might sign an agreement for "x" amount of time (different brokerages may have varying timelines) that you have hired them to be your agent for. Now they can get to work for you!
Now that the process is clarified, expectations have been laid, and a foundation set, it's time to get to house hunting. Taking the time to have a Buyer's Consultation is a great step to finding the house that you want, in the time you want it and helps to make a more enjoyable home buying experience overall.
Melissa Rolland is a licensed Connecticut realtor. She lives in Tolland, along with her husband Todd, a licensed broker. Together they manage the Rolland Realty Group at Keller Williams Realty. You can connect with them at www.RollandRealtyGroup.com.