Choosing an Agent
When you are ready to begin the buying process, you might have spoken to a Realtor when you began your search or after you got a pre-approval. There are hundreds of agents in the Philadelphia area (or the area that you are in) who are ready, able, and eager to earn your business. This post is dedicated to choosing your agent because you would want someone who is knowledgeable about the home buying process and the market to guide and advise you throughout the process.
Where Can I Find an Agent?
Believe it or not, you might know someone who is a licensed real estate agent/Realtor within your close circle or someone who knows an agent; but they either work part-time, no longer licensed, or licensed and practice every day. But you should ask your friends, who do they know, they might refer you to someone who they know. The next place would be going to realty brokerages, such as Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker, Long and Foster, Exit Realty, Centry21, etc. There are normally agents on duty throughout the day to answer any calls from prospective clients (buyer and sellers).
The 3rd place could be driving down a street and seeing a house that you like, you see the ‘For Sale’ sign on the lawn and you call that agent’s/brokerage’s number on the sign. Then you would be able to answer any questions about the house you saw and request a showing. Lastly, you could find an agent by going to an Open House in a neighborhood that you’re interested in moving to. There are agents that sit at open houses, and on the sign-in sheet would be a question asking “If you are working with an agent?” Answer honestly, because that agent that sat that open house would contact you to find out more information about your interest in the house and purchasing a home.
Bonus: Even if you might have been thinking about purchasing a home, you might not have actually talked to anyone publicly about it. You might meet someone who happens to mention that they are in real estate and ask if you know anyone who is interested in buying, selling, or investing in real estate. Remember: you never know who might be in real estate unless you speak about it or overhear someone speaking about it.
Interviewing the Agent(s)
Depending on your preference, you might choose to either chose the agent that you met or interview that person or persons. In this stage, you are hiring someone to be your guide and represent you in the home buying process. In PA, you can have a buyer’s agent work for you for free; normally the seller pays the commission for both agents (not all the time, that is negotiable) when the deal closes. The agent would bring a packet of information describing the home buying process as well as learning about your needs and wants in your home. This is important since it give the agent the information that they need when searching for your home.
When you chose your agent, you want to make sure that you are comfortable with them and you trust them to guide you through the process and to represent you with their best interests at heart. You are their boss and they have to whatever (ethically and legally) you asked them to. Agents went to school and passed the test to earn their licenses; and some might’ve paid and sat through the Code of Ethics training to become a REALTOR®. So you would want someone who is knowledgeable and able to answer your questions.
With that being said, you want to make sure your agent is knowledgeable, tech savvy, and available to your needs. You would like someone who returns your phone calls and keeps the lines of communication open to you, as well as disclose everything that is going on in the transaction. If you cannot get in contact with your agent or they don’t return your calls or emails within a reasonable amount of time, you might need to speak with that agent.
The ultimate goal is making sure that your agent is able to get through the transaction smoothly and quickly.
Towards the end of your meeting, the agent, if you choose to hire them may ask you to sign a Buyer Agency Contract with them. This basically outlines the duties and responsibilities between the agent and buyer — as well as how the agent would be compensated during the transaction. This is also how the agent gets paid. Although you may not be paying a fee upfront, this contract states that there is a mutual agreement between agent and buyer that they are entering into a agent/client relationship and that the agent is working for the buyer in finding them a home.
Pursuant to PA law, you would be asked to sign a Consumer Notice. This is not a contract but it outlines the different types of agency during the transaction; it describes how the agent can represent the buyer in the transaction. Bylaw this is required, when discussing a true interest in real estate. If you choose not to sign the Buyer Agency Contract, whatever is discussed would not be held in confidentiality; but if you signed the contract, anything that is discussed, would be held confidential.
Lastly, make sure you get copies of all documents signed. It is important that you read and keep all records of what you signed during the process.
If you are interested in buying and would like to discuss further the home buying process, feel free to contact me.