6.02.2015

Finding the right real estate agent

When BryGuy and I started to get more serious about our house search -- besides just looking at million dollar homes on Zillow and drooling -- we knew we needed guidance. We had never done this before, we were as they say, "Property Virgins" (Sidenote: Can I just say that I love that show and pretty much all shows on HGTV...except Love it or List it and Flip or Flop, they are the worst.) Despite my wealth of knowledge learned from HGTV I actually had zero idea on how to go about the whole thing. Do you just start looking at houses first? Do you meet with your bank? Do you get a real estate agent? All of those questions were so overwhelming to me that I would freeze up and be like, "it's too complicated, we can do it." 

And along came Ana, who not only happens to be one of my very dearest friends, but is also a licensed real estate agent. I started to pick her brain with questions about the process. In all honesty, Bry and I weren't sure about whether or not we wanted our close friend to be our real estate agent. What if we weren't happy with the search process and didn't know how to tell her? What if something went wrong down the road and we felt uncomfortable, would it create tension in the friendship? 

After thinking about it long and hard, we decided that it was better to have a trusted friend on our side than a complete stranger, and it was one of the best decisions we've ever made. Not only did our agent/friend find us the home of our dreams in record time but she provided sound advice, kept us on budget, and made a complicated and overwhelming process feel straightforward and easy. 
Although I'm no expert at buying a home, I can tell you what worked for us and I think that if you're not lucky enough to have a close friend that can be your agent, that you should shop around for someone that's going to be the right fit for you. After all, this is one of the most important decisions and biggest purchases you will make in your life! 

In my opinion, these are the qualities that are most important when looking for a real estate agent:


1. Someone who will be straight with you
Is that house you love an amazing deal or too good to be true? Should you put your foot down about getting that electrical outlet updated or is it something that you shouldn't worry about in negotiations and just fix yourself ? An experienced agent is going to be straight with you, even if they think it's something you might not want to hear. 

2. Someone who is meticulous
The paperwork, OMG the paperwork. There are endless amounts of paperwork to be reviewed and signed when you're going through the steps of buying a house and you need someone who is detail-oriented and painfully organized. You will need insurance quotes, inspections, titles, and you need to sign a million agreements and addendums. If you don't have someone that stays on top of all of those necessary steps and reminds you of what you need to complete, you will drown in paperwork and you might miss out on something vital to the process. 

3. Someone you trust
Your agent is going to have access to your income, debts, social security number, etc. and you need to know that person is discreet and trustworthy with your precious information. Also, there's a lot of referrals in the business of buying a house, and you you want to know that when your agent recommends an insurance person or an inspection person, that you can trust their recommendations. 

4. Someone at a similar place in life to you
If you are married with children, you might not want that agent who's a single bachelor in his 20s as your agent. That open staircase in the middle of the living room might seem like a cool and modern feature to him, but to you, it's a death trap for your child that's just learning to walk. If your agent is at a similar place in life to you, they will truly consider whether the home is a good fit for you before scheduling a showing. Also, you're going to be spending A LOT of time looking at homes, driving in cars, emailing/speaking on the phone to this person so it would be good to have someone that you can vibe with while doing all of that. 

5. Someone who will go to bat for you
You don't need a bulldog, but you do need an agent that's willing to stand their ground on certain issues. The seller's agent is trying to fight for the best deal for their client, and you need your agent to be doing the same for you. 

6. Someone who can talk you off the ledge
There's going to come a time during the home buying process/search when you feel stressed, discouraged, or nervous. Your agent should be able to listen to you and then assure you that everything will work out and that the right home for you is out there.

Luckily, our wonderful agent fell into our lap. But if I was doing this process again and didn't have her, I would speak to friends for recommendations and then meet with 2-3 potential agents before picking the one that most closely met the criteria above.

Did I miss any important characteristics? 

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