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How to Select a Real Estate Agent

How to Select a Real Estate Agent

    Selecting the right real estate agent is a key step in the home purchase process.  An experienced and capable real estate agent can help you successfully find, negotiate and purchase a home and avoid potential pitfalls.  Selecting the wrong real estate agent can end up costing you money or you could miss out on the home you are looking for so spending the time and effort to find the right agent or realtor is important.

    The good news is the for home buyers, the property seller actually pays the commission for both real estate agents involved in the transaction -- the commission comes out of the property purchase price. So having a qualified agent costs you the same as an unqualified agent - nothing. Even though you do not pay their fee, a home buyer's real estate agent can add tremendous value to the process. For example, the agent may be able to negotiate a better purchase price based on market insights and knowledge.  Agents with deep local expertise and relationships may be aware of certain property listings before they hit the market, which are also known as pocket listings.  Or the agent may be aware of certain issues with the home or the neighborhood where the property is located.

    A good real estate agent represents your interests when negotiating the property purchase agreement. The purchase agreement not only includes the property price but other important terms including the length of the escrow period and what happens if the transaction falls through. While most home purchase transactions are relatively straightforward, you want to make sure that you are protected in the event something unexpected occurs as there is a lot of money on the line.

    In short, a real estate agent's expertise and experience can help you find the home you want, save you thousands of dollars on the purchase and help you avoid unnecessary hassle and frustrations. While selecting a real estate agent is more art than science, we recommend that you use the pointers below to guide your selection process. There are a couple of important points in the list that we want to emphasize.

    First of all, request client references for the agent. You want to understand the transactions the agent has worked on in the past and the level of customer service he or she has provided. Even the willingness to provide references says a lot about an agent. If they are unwilling or cannot provide references then this is a red flag and you should choose a different agent. Positive references can be very informative and enable you to gather more insight into the real estate agent’s area of focus and attributes.

    You also want to speak with multiple real estate agents before making a selection.  Even if you already know a qualified agent or have a personal referral from a friend or colleague, contacting several agents never hurts.  You may be able to pick up pointers or learn something about the housing market that applies to your situation.  You may also learn about upcoming listings or pending sales that may influence your home search.  A good real estate agent has in-depth understanding of current market conditions and dynamics.  Plus, the more information you have, the more likely you are to find the home that is right for you. 

    Another important point to keep in mind when selecting a real estate agent is that experience counts. You want to hire someone who has experience in the area, property type and price range you are interested in. For example, some real estate agents focus on specific neighborhoods and may be more familiar with market trends and property values in that area. Other agents may focus on a specific property type such as condominiums or co-ops. Some agents may focus on higher-end properties or starter homes. Hire an agent with the transaction experience that is most relevant to your home search.

    We also recommend that you start contacting lenders at the same time you start your real estate agent selection process. Selecting a lender and getting pre-approved for your mortgage before you select a real estate agent puts you in a stronger position to act quickly to purchase a property.

    The table below outlines key tips for how to select a real estate agent.  Remember to interview multiple agents, focus on their relevant experience and get references. 

  • Real Estate Agent Selection Pointers

    • Talk to several real estate agents
      • Keep your options open and run an interview process. Remember to ask lots of questions – you are in control
    • Experience matters
      • Make sure the real estate agent has extensive experience in the area in which you are looking to buy a home
      • Ideally he or she has been involved in recent transactions in that neighborhood
    • GET REFERENCES!
      • We cannot emphasize this point enough – any good real estate agent will happily provide multiple client references
    • Understand how the commission works
      • As the buyer, you do not pay a commission to your real estate agent
      • The home seller pays the commission (which comes out of the purchase price that you are paying) which is split between the seller's agent and your agent
      • Although it does not directly impact you, note that total real estate agent commissions typically run between 4% - 6%
    • Never use the property seller's agent as your agent
      • Eliminates any conflict of interest
      • Ensures that you are working with an agent who is working 100% on your behalf
  • Use our get pre-approved form to get approved and mortgage quotes from multiple lenders. The form is free, no obligation and requires minimal information.  Getting pre-approved gives you a competitive advantage for your home search by making your offer stand out.

  • GET PRE-APPROVED

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  • The table below shows mortgage rates and fees for leading lenders in your area.  In addition to interviewing several real estate agents we also recommend that you shop multiple lenders for your mortgage.  Contact several lenders in the table below to compare loan terms.  Comparing lenders and proposals enables you to find the mortgage and program that are right for you.

  • Rate Details*
    Loan Program:  
    Monthly Payment:  
    APR:  
    Rate:  
    Points  More Info:
    Points: Fees you are willing to pay in order to get a lower interest rate. The number of points refers to the percentage of the loan amount that you would pay. For example, "2 points" means a charge of 2% of the loan amount.
     
    Total Lender Fees:  
    Loan type:  
    Property Value:  
    Loan to Value:  
    Credit Rating:  
    Date Submitted:  
    Monthly Housing Payments
    P & I More Info
    Principal & Interest: A periodic payment, usually paid monthly, that includes the interest charges for the period plus an amount applied to the reduction of the principal balance.
    Mortgage Insurance More Info
    Mortgage Insurance: The monthly cost for a policy that protects the lender in case you’re unable to repay the full amount of the loan. It is typically required for loans that have a loan-to-value ratio between 80% to 100%.
    (Estimated)
    Property Tax More Info
    Property Tax: (Also called "Real Estate Tax.") Property taxes are government assessments on real estate property. With mortgage financing, the local, county or state tax assessment on real estate property is considered part of the monthly housing obligation and typically collected and set aside by the lender ...
    (Estimated)
    Homeowner Insurance More Info
    Homeowner Insurance: or also commonly called hazard insurance, is the type of property insurance that covers private homes. It is an insurance policy that combines various personal insurance protections, which can include losses occurring to one’s home, its contents, loss of its use, or loss of other personal possessions of the homeowner, as well as liability insurance for accidents that may happen at the home or at the hands of the homeowner within the policy territory.lender ...
    (Estimated)
    Homeowner Association Fee More Info
    Homeowner Association fee: (HOA) fees are funds that are collected from homeowners in a condominium complex to obtain the income needed to pay (typically) for master insurance, exterior and interior (as appropriate) maintenance, landscaping, water, sewer, and garbage costs.
    (If Any)
    Total Monthly Housing Payments
    Lender Fees
    Points More Info
    Points Fees you are willing to pay in order to get a lower interest rate. The number of points refers to the percentage of the loan amount that you would pay. For example, "2 points" means a charge of 2% of the loan amount.
    Origination Fee More Info
    Origination Charge: A loan origination charge is a fee charged by the lender for evaluating, processing, and closing the loan.
    Credit Report Fee More Info
    Credit Report Fee: Fee charged to obtain an applicant’s credit history prepared by one or all of the three major credit bureaus. Used by lender to determine the borrower’s creditworthiness.
    Tax Service Fee More Info
    Tax Service Fee: A fee charged by the lender to cover the cost of retaining a tax service agency. These agencies monitor the property tax payments on the property and report the results to the lender.
    Processing Fee More Info
    Processing Fee: A processing fee is a charge by the lender for clerical items associated with the loan. Examples of processing include loan set up, organization of loan conditions for underwriting, and preparing required disclosures for the borrower.
    Underwriting Fee More Info
    Underwriting Fee: A fee charged by the lender to verify information on the loan application, authenticate the property’s value, and perform a risk analysis on the overall loan package.
    Wire Transfer Fee More Info
    Wire Transfer Fee: In most cases lenders wire funds to escrow companies to fund a loan. Commercial banks that perform this function will charge the lender so the fee is generally passed on to the borrower.
    (If Any)
    FHA Upfront Premium More Info
    FHA Upfront Premium: A fee paid in cash at the close of escrow or more commonly it is financed into the loan. These premiums are pooled together by the FHA and are used to insure the risk of borrower default on FHA loans. FHA upfront premiums are prorated over a five year period, meaning should the homeowner refinance or sell during the first five years of the loan, they are entitled to a partial refund of the FHA upfront premium paid at loan inception.
    (If any)
    VA funding Fee (If any)
    Flood Fee
    Other Fees More Info

    Other fees could be either additional Administrative Fees that a lender charges or it could be a Flat Fee to cover all lender charges such as: (Origination Fees, Points, Underwriting and Processing Fees, Credit Reports and Tax Service Fees)

    The flat fee does not include prepaid items and third party costs such as appraisal fees, recording fees, prepaid interest, property & transfer taxes, homeowners insurance, borrower’s attorney’s fees, private mortgage insurance premiums (if applicable), survey costs, title insurance and related services.

    Total Lender Fees
    *Actual rates and other information may vary. Sponsored results shown only include participating lenders. The information you enter on this page will only be shared with lenders you choose to contact, either by calling the phone number or requesting a quote.
    Current Mortgage Rates as of December 11, 2018
    • Lender
    • APR
    • Loan Type
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    • Payment
    • Fees
    • Contact
    Data provided by Informa Research Services. Payments do not include amounts for taxes and insurance premiums. The actual payment obligation will be greater if taxes and insurance are included. Click here for more information on rates and product details.
  • Great Mortgage IdeaRelated FREEandCLEAR Resources

  • Sources

    Real Estate Agent Selection: http://myhome.freddiemac.com/buy/find-agent.html

About the author

Michael Jensen, Mortgage and Finance Guru

Michael is the co-founder of FREEandCLEAR. Michael possesses extensive knowledge about mortgages and finance and has been writing about mortgages for nearly a decade. His work has been featured in leading national and industry publications. More about Michael

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