There’s no doubt about it – a trusted real estate agent can help make the home-buying process a little easier and a lot less stressful.
But what do real estate agents actually do? We’ll take a look at how a reputable real estate agent can help you successfully navigate the real estate market. We’ll also outline the steps you can take to be absolutely sure you and your real estate agent are the best possible match.
What Is A Real Estate Agent?
Real estate agents are licensed to represent buyers and sellers during a real estate transaction in exchange for a commission. They may work independently or on behalf of a brokerage or another agent.
If you’re buying a home, a real estate agent can make it easier to find homes within your budget. They can also assist you as you put in an offer and as you negotiate with sellers.
When Should You Look For A Real Estate Agent?
Before you get serious about finding a real estate agent, you first need to do a little financial legwork. Your agent needs to know what your budget is before they can begin showing you properties. If you’re just beginning your mortgage process, you may not even be 100% sure of how much house you can afford.
This is where prequalification and preapproval come in. A prequalification means a mortgage lender pulls your credit and asks for a verbal report of your income and assets. The lender doesn’t verify whether these numbers are accurate yet, so ultimately, a prequalification is a rough estimate of income and assets that haven’t been lender-confirmed.
A preapproval is different from a prequalification, though the two are often confused with one another. A preapproval is a firm credit offer that takes your actual W-2s, tax returns, pay stubs and bank statements into consideration.
Unless you lose your income, your credit score drastically changes or you suddenly take out a large unsecured loan, your lender won’t rescind or change the offer while you look for the perfect home. Preapprovals give your real estate agent a point of reference so they can start searching for homes that meet your budget and needs.
A real estate agent or home seller may not look at someone who’s prequalified as seriously, so make sure you get preapproved and not just prequalified before you begin to compare agents. Some agents might require you to get a preapproval before they agree to show you homes.
Rocket Mortgage® has broken up the approval stages into Prequalified Approval and Verified ApprovalSM to help you better understand the power you have as you hunt for your home and to help you make the strongest offer.
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What The Right Real Estate Agent Provides
While it’s possible to buy a home without the assistance of an agent, a great real estate agent can be a valuable asset in securing the right home. Some of the benefits a great real estate agent provides include:
Expert Knowledge Of Your Area
Real estate agents are professionals who know the property values, schools and neighborhoods in the area better than everyone else. Your real estate agent can provide you with helpful tips to find a property that’s right for you. They can also tell you if a property you’re considering is more expensive than average, thanks to their knowledge of area prices, which can save you both money and stress. First-time home buyers can especially benefit by working with a qualified agent.
Between work and daily life duties, most people don’t have time to endlessly search for homes and properties. Your real estate agent has access to a wide range of listings; they can save you time by finding homes within your price range and can use criteria that you provide to find homes with access to public transportation, a pool, a great school district – whatever is most important to you.
Assistance With Paperwork
When you buy a home, you can expect to complete a lot of paperwork, and a lot of it may be unfamiliar, especially if you’re looking for your first home. Your agent can make sure that you complete your paperwork on time, that everything you fill out is correct and that you or your lender address any outstanding issues as quickly as possible. All of these factors can lead to a less stressful home purchase.
Assistance With Negotiations
If your home inspection reveals hidden issues with the property, your agent can help you negotiate repairs and replacements with the seller. The best real estate agents know how to compromise with property owners, and they can help convince property owners to make necessary repairs before a sale is finalized. Real estate agents can also make sure that there’s no one working on the home without authorization and that a property owner has all the necessary permits and allocations for ongoing projects. Your agent might even suggest a different property for you if the homeowner is hiding a major long-term issue.
Picking The Right Real Estate Agent For You
As soon as you’re ready to choose a real estate agent, the next step is finding the relationship that’s right for you and your needs. Here are some tips to help you choose an agent:
Tip 1: Ask Around Town
Do you know someone who has recently closed on a home? Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most reliable ways to find a great real estate agent. Don’t be afraid to use social media sites to put out an open call for your friends and family members to share their experiences with local agents. Since you’ll spend a lot of time with your agent, it’s worth it to choose someone who connected well with people whose opinions you trust.
If you’re looking for some help, Rocket HomesSM can match you with a top-rated agent in your area who’s been vetted and has demonstrated success in the local market.
Tip 2: Ask A Few Questions
When you meet with a real estate professional, ask questions about your desired area to gauge their knowledge. You may want to ask how average home prices have changed since the agent began working, which areas see the highest and lowest crime rates, or which areas have the easiest access to public transportation. It’s helpful to work with a real estate agent who can teach you things about the area that you didn’t already know, as one of the major reasons why you hire an agent is to gain access to their insider knowledge and connections.
You can also ask a real estate agent to direct you to their previous clients so you can speak to them firsthand about their experience. Be hesitant to work with any agent who refuses to offer any form of testimonial or reference from previous clients, as this may indicate that the agent has something to hide or may not know the area as well as they claim.
Tip 3: Check On The Status Of Your Agent’s Licensing
Most states require that real estate agents register with a licensing board where state agents can record disciplinary actions or complaints. Before you agree to work with a certain agent, locate your state’s real estate licensing board and look up your agent. Make sure that their license is in good standing, that they have a clean record and that there are no pending disciplinary actions on their record.
Tip 4: Look For Flexibility
Are you only comfortable with text message communication or do you prefer to regularly speak to your agent over the phone? Do you work non-standard hours and need an agent available to show homes during the morning or afternoon? Do you prefer a lot of hand-holding when it comes to choosing properties or do you want your agent only to contact you when they’ve found the perfect match?
When you meet with an agent, tell them exactly what you need when it comes to communication and choose an agent who seems happy to work on your terms.
Your real estate agent can assist you during the entire home buying process, from preapproval to closing. It’s helpful to begin looking for a real estate agent well before you need to pack up and move out of your current space.
Rocket HomesSM can assist you with finding a real estate agent in your area – their agents are highly rated and experienced local experts, and they’ll work with you every step of the way through your home buying process.
The hunt for the right real estate agent can feel as difficult as the search for the perfect property, but connecting with an agent you trust can make the home buying journey a less stressful one.
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Visit Rocket HomesSM to get a proven real estate agent that’s handpicked just for you.
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