Buying a home is much easier when you have the right assistance. Boston City Properties can help you kick-start your search, but you will eventually need to hire an agent to help you. We can connect you with one, but you should still familiarize yourself with what to look for in a buyer's agent.
Before delving into these tips, please note that when buying a home, it is best to work with a buyer's agent as opposed to a generic real estate agent. Buyer's agents don't take listings, so they have no "skin in the game." Because they aren't under pressure to sell homes, they can focus exclusively on helping you find the right one.
So, how do you find the right buyer's agents? These tips will help:
- Ask if They Take Listings - If they do, they aren't a buyer's agent in the truest sense of the word. Although they may promise not to do so, they could easily try to push you into buying a house that's not quite right for you in order to move one of their listings.
- Contact Recent Clients - Ask for a list of clients that the agent has successfully assisted in the last few months. Before contacting any of the former clients, ask the agent if any were particularly challenging or particularly easy. This will give you a feel about the agent's process and how they address potential issues.
- Insist on Experience - Yes, everyone has to start somewhere. Since buying a home is such a huge financial and legal step, however, it isn't the time to be a new agent's guinea pig. Stick with buyer's agents who have at least five years of experience in the industry. Make sure that they have been working full time too. Some people only moonlight as real estate agents while holding down other types of jobs. Ideally, you should hire someone who works full time as an agent.
- Ask About Awards and Endorsements - Find out if the agent has received any awards, endorsements or accolades. In particular, see if they have ever received an award from an important industry organization like the National Association of Realtors, or NAR, which endorses Realtor of the Year awards in communities around the country.
- Check Credentials - The last thing that you need is to hire an agent who lacks the appropriate credentials. Check for real estate licenses with the applicable state board. While doing so, you will also learn whether the agent has ever been disciplined or whether any complaints have been filed against them. Also, real estate agents can voluntarily better themselves by acquiring certain endorsements. The right buyer's agent will be an Accredited Buyer's Representative, or ABR. Another one to look for is CRS, or Certified Residential Specialist.
- Ask About Connections - During the course of your home-buying adventure, you'll need to enlist the help of many different professionals. A great buyer's agent will have connections with real estate attorneys, home inspectors and others who can help you along the way. This will save you from having to research different service providers yourself, and you can rest easy in the knowledge that your agent stands behind them.
- Negotiation Skills are a Must - While speaking to the agent's former clients, ask about the agent's negotiation skills. You need someone who is an aggressive negotiator to ensure that you get the best possible deal and terms. All too often, buyer's agents are just in it for easy sales. When negotiating time rolls around, they roll over--and their clients get the short end of the stick.
- Learn About Their Process - How will your buyer's agent help you find a great home? What resources do they use? Ideally, your agent should have a specific process in place. However, they should also be flexible enough to adjust the process as needed to suit each client. One of the first questions that you should ask a potential buyer's agent is how they are going to make sure that you get the right house. If they hem and haw, they probably aren't worth your time. If they are ready to go with a smart answer, you most likely have a winner on your hands.
- Ask About Their Networking - In real estate, as with so many things, it's often about who you know. Well-connected buyer's agents tend to fare much better than those who are more of lone wolves. That's because when an agent has connections with many other local agents, they know where to turn to help clients find suitable properties. Ask your prospective agent who they know and how they will use those connections to assist you.
- Integrity is Key - Beware of buyer's agents who seem to like cutting corners or otherwise rushing through the process. If you get the sense that a prospective agent will do anything and everything to get you a home, proceed with caution. Integrity and honest are crucial traits to look for in an agent, so make sure that yours possesses both in spades.
- Communication is Crucial - Finally, only hire a buyer's agent who will be available and accessible to you when you need them. Obviously, there is no way to guarantee this. While interviewing past clients, ask whether they were usually able to get in touch with their agent when they needed them. If it sounds like the agent isn't around enough, cross them off the list.
When it comes to hiring a buyer's agent, one of the best pieces of advice is to get referrals from people who you trust. Boston City Properties has connections with experienced buyer's agents in all Boston neighborhoods as well as across the state. When you're ready, call us to be put in touch with a buyer's agent who can make your home-buying journey as easy as can be.
Tips for Choosing a Buyer’s Agent
For most people, buying a home is one of the largest financial decisions that they will ever make. A lot more than just money is on the line, however; after all, when looking for a place to call home, you want to get it right. With so many variables at play, it’s crucial to line up the right assistance—and hiring a buyer’s agent is an absolute must. When combined with access to Boston City Properties’ extensive online resources, it’s the most effective way to find the right home for the right price.
If you’re like many home buyers, you may think that one real estate agent is interchangeable with another. However, most real estate agents work for sellers—not buyers—but they will gladly take you on as a client. The problem, of course, is that they are really working in the seller’s best interests and not yours. Therefore, take care to hire an agent who specifically represents buyers. Read on to pick up additional tips for choosing the buyer’s agent who’s right for you.
Whether you have a home that you need to sell before buying another, working with a buyer’s agent as opposed to a regular listing or sales agent will make a huge difference for you. Buyer’s agents protect buyers’ best interests, and that means more than helping them to get a fair price. It also means knowing what they want and having the experience, skills and tools that are needed to find it as quickly and effectively as possible.
Without further ado, here are tips to keep in mind when looking for a buyer’s agent to represent you when buying a home:
- Get referrals from several sources – Hit the ground running on your search by getting referrals to buyer’s agents in the area where you are looking to buy. Boston City Properties can refer you to an agent in the Boston neighborhood or MA city or town where you are looking. Friends, family and work acquaintances are also good sources for referrals. Other options include attending open houses and paying attention to sale signs around the area.
- Take your time – Although you may be eager to get started with your search, don’t rush through the process of selecting a buyer’s agent. Go into it knowing that it may take a little time to find someone who will truly have your best interests at heart. The agent that you choose has a profound impact on how easy or difficult things will be, so be patient.
- Interview several prospects – Even if you think that you’ve zeroed in on someone perfect, commit to interviewing at least three to six buyer’s agents before selecting one. Do some quick phone interviews to gain a better feel for the available options. You might also deliberately attend open houses that are being held by agents on your list to see how they perform in action. Ask each prospect the same set of questions to compare them more effectively later.
- Ask lots of questions – As you start zeroing in on more suitable candidates, don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as necessary. After all, there’s a lot that you’ll need to know to make an informed decision. For example, how many properties have they handled over the last 12 months? How many clients are they currently handling? Do they often help clients find homes that are similar to what you need?
- Choose a bona fide buyer’s agent – As you will quickly see, most real estate agents specialize in selling homes—not in helping people find homes to buy. Many act as dual agents, but buyers tend to get the short end of the stick under such circumstances. Therefore, ask any agent that you are considering whether they accept sales listings. If so, there may be too much of a conflict of interest for you to hire them as your agent.
- Ask about credentials – It goes without saying that the right buyer’s agent will have a valid real estate license that is also clear of any infractions. Additionally, you should give preference to agents who possess certain other credentials. For example, agents who are official realtors are credentialed by the National Association of Realtors, or NAR. Look also for credentials that are specific to buyer’s agents. For instance, the right agent may be an Accredited Buyer Representative, or ABR, or a Certified Buyer Representative, or CBR.
- Insist on experience – Now is not the time to help a newly minted agent gain some experience. Especially in a confusing and competitive market, it is vital to have someone with extensive real estate experience by your side. Find out how long the agent has been licensed for; at least five years of experience is great, but 10 years or more is even better. They should also have proven experience in handling the type of property that you need.
- Look for knowledge of local area – The ideal buyer’s agent will be someone who actually lives and works in your target market. They will have strong ties to the local community and will understand the finer nuances of the area, including its various neighborhoods and districts. This is especially important if you are uncertain about where specifically to target your search as a local agent will have plenty of relevant and useful suggestions.
- Ask for references – Just because a buyer’s agent looks solid on paper doesn’t mean that they really go to bat for their clients. Find out how others have fared by acquiring references from prospective agents. Ask for at least three, but it would be even better if you could get six or so. Insist on references for clients who worked with the agent within the last year or so because market conditions change rapidly, and it is important to choose an agent who has helped others under current market conditions.
- Assess their knowledge of the local market – Even if an agent was born and raised in the target area where you are looking, always take steps to ensure that they are on top of current real estate market conditions. Unfortunately, some agents get so complacent that they employ the same strategy regardless of what’s happening with the market. Put the agent on the spot by asking them, for example, whether it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market. You might also ask for prevailing sale prices or average days on market. If the agent struggles to answer, they don’t know the market well enough.
- Stick with someone who handles your price range – While researching local buyer’s agents, you will probably notice that some seem to specialize in higher-end homes while others focus on more affordable options. It is crucial to work with an agent who has experience with the types of properties that you’re seeking, and that includes extensive experience with homes that fall within your desired price range. That way, they should already have some good leads about homes that may suit your needs.
- Consider their personality – Ideally, of course, you will find a home to buy quickly. However, it may take a while, which means that you may be working with your buyer’s agent for an extended period of time. Your agent should therefore be someone whom you can tolerate well. In fact, you should ideally actually like your agent as a person. When their number pops up on your phone, you should feel excitement—not dread.
- Ask about availability – As any good agent will tell you, buying a home is a full-time job. You most likely have a regular job to focus on and can’t focus on the hunt around the clock. Since this is your buyer’s agent’s job, though, they should offer excellent availability. Some agents have specific schedules and go “offline” when not on the clock. Others make themselves almost completely available to clients. You may not need the latter, but you should err more on that side of the spectrum.
- Find out how you can get in touch – Real estate activity can be pretty random, and it’s often necessary to act quickly when something that suits your needs appears on the market. Therefore, you should be able to get in touch with your agent easily. Top-notch buyer’s agents make themselves easily available to clients via several different channels. Look for an agent who will communicate via email and phone at the absolute minimum. Some are also available for text messages and even social media interactions, so be sure to find out.
- Ask about the strategies that they may employ – When you choose a buyer’s agent who has at least five years of experience, you choose someone who should have proven strategies and methods that they employ on behalf of their clients. After explaining your basic requirements to a prospective agent, ask them about the types of strategies that they would use to help you find what you need. A good agent should have several techniques to rattle off right away.
- Choose an agent who offers strong resources – Finding the right home takes a lot of work, and even the best buyer’s agents can’t do it all themselves. Savvy agents know where to direct their clients for things like home loans, home inspections and property insurance. The right buyer’s agent will have strong working relationships with companies and individuals who offer services like these, and those connections will serve you well during your search.
- Assess their negotiating abilities – Most real estate submarkets across the state of Massachusetts are on fire lately, and negotiations are often intense. Bidding wars are even pretty common in many places, so it’s crucial to hire an agent with strong negotiation skills. One way to assess this is by asking about their list-to-sale ratio, which reflects the average difference between the asking price of a home and the sale price. The right agent will routinely get sales that come in under or within range of list price.
- Insist on a buyer’s agent agreement – Whether you end up with an agent who strictly works with buyers or one who also takes sales listings, insist on signing a buyer’s agent agreement. This agreement should spell out the agent’s duties and responsibilities to you, and it will likewise explain your responsibilities and duties. Make sure that there is some wiggle room in the language to avoid getting stuck in a less-than-optimal arrangement.
- Choose an agent with strong local ties – The best agents—buyer’s agents and seller’s agents alike—are largely successful because of their networking capabilities. It’s far better to work with an agent who seems to know everyone than one who is more of a lone wolf. Better still, choose an agent with a track record of community involvement. Whether they assist with local charities or play on a local sports team, those connections could very well come in handy during your search.
- Find out what distinguishes them from the competition – Regardless of where you’re looking to buy, you should be able to take your pick from tons of different agents. You need someone who is proactive, so ask each one what distinguishes them from their competitors. The right buyer’s agent will have an immediate answer, and they will clearly take pride in their distinguishing features. For example, they might point out that they specialize in digital marketing, or they may tell you about unique steps that they employ to help clients find homes.
- Ask if they work alone or as part of a team – While there are some advantages to working with a real estate agent who works independently, one who works with a team tends to have access to broader and more impressive resources. If you are house hunting in a particularly competitive market, like Back Bay’s, you are probably better off working with a buyer’s agent who is a part of a full-fledged real estate team.
- Choose an agent who is also a teacher – Home buyers often turn the reins completely over to their agents, and many agents are perfectly happy with this arrangement. However, a truly effective buyer’s agent will make a point of including you every step of the way, ensuring that you understand what is happening. They will explain things in detail when decisions need to be made, and they will make sure that you are up to speed about what is going on with your search.
- Find out how they will be paid – Ask any buyer’s agent who you are considering how they get paid out of the deal. They will be paid based on commission, of course, but the percentage that they get will vary from situation to situation. This is especially important to figure out if there is any question about being able to handle closing costs and the like.
- Work with a proactive agent – New listings appear in Boston City Properties’ real estate database continually around the clock. The right buyer’s agent will be proactive about helping you find what you need. When something suitable pops up, they will alert you so that you don’t miss out on anything. Ask how your agent will keep you in the loop before hiring them.
- Trust your gut – Finally, work with a buyer’s agent with whom you share a good rapport and natural chemistry. Pay attention to how they present themselves to the world. Do they seem to do things by the book, or do they seem more willing to cut corners or to take risks? Ethics are important, so insist on an agent with strong ones—and with the track record to back it up.
Get a Referral to a Buyer’s Agent from Boston City Properties
If you are looking to buy a home somewhere in Massachusetts, do yourself a favor and sign up with Boston City Properties. It’s totally free—just complete and submit the easy form. Once you do, you’ll get instant, unlimited access to our constantly updated MA real estate listings. Thanks to our powerful search tool, you’ll have a list of promising options to explore before you know it. When you’re ready, contact us for a referral to a local buyer’s agent who can take you to look at homes and guide you through the rest of the process.