If you’re looking to buy a home this spring, you’re probably wondering how to find a good real estate agent. (If you’re going it alone, sans agent, good luck!)
The system, as it exists now, is hardly ideal for buyers. Most people meet real-estate agents by visiting open houses or inquiring about ads they’ve seen in the newspaper or on the Internet.
Inevitably, an agent will ask you if you are “working” with another agent. If you say no, he will send or give you some listings and ask if you’d like to visit some of the houses. If you do, he will “claim” you, at least when it comes to that house.
In some states, you may also be asked to sign an exclusive buyer’s agency agreement. Should you decide to buy the home, the agent will expect to represent you during the sale.
My suggestion? Ask friends and family who they used when they bought. Alternatively, use the Internet to find agents with a strong presence (ahem). Then, ask the agent for details on their most recent sales, to see if he or she has experience with buyers just like you. Meet two or three agents and interview them. You’ll know pretty quickly whether each agent is right for you.
Some people think it’s important to work with “exclusive buyers’ agents” when looking to purchase a home. These agents only work with buyers – they’ll never have listings.
I am an exclusive buyers’ agent, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using an agent who works with both buyers and sellers (not on the same deal, of course). The more experienced an agent, the better.
If it turns out you don’t think you want to work with your agent at any point, just tell him or her.
(Regarding a buyer’s agent agreement, which you may be asked to sign, I think you should feel comfortable doing so. Just make sure it allows you to withdraw from the agreement at any point in time.)
More: Finding the Best Match When Shopping for a Buyer Agent – By June Fletcher, The Wall Street Journal