A good real estate agent can give you invaluable tips for buying a house! Here are my tips for finding the right real estate agent to help you buy the right home…
“Even if you had millions of dollars to spend on a new house, you’d probably still have to compromise on something,” said our real estate agent Cyndee Konoff, of Angell & Hasman Associates in West Vancouver, BC.
This was one of many insiders tips she gave us about buying a new home, and it helped me realize that having more money won’t make the decision easier. All homes have pros and cons…the trick is knowing which pros and cons you can live with.
If you’re house hunting, read Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home — whether or not you find the right agent! He or she can’t tell you everything you need to know; you have to do some research on your own.
And here are a few tips for finding the best real estate agent to represent you…
How to Find the Right Real Estate Agent to Help You Buy a House
Konoff is the agent who will represent us when we buy a new home; we have a different realtor – a listing agent – to sell the house we live in. Most people use the same real estate agent for both buying and selling houses, but we live on an island and that changes everything!
If you need to find a real estate agent to help you buy a new house…
Search Google for the real estate agents in your city – but don’t fall for the “best” ones. I searched Google for the “busiest real estate agents in Vancouver”, the “top selling realtors in West Van”, and the “most popular real estate agents in BC.” Several realtors’ names came up several times, indicating they may be good choices. But, the busiest, best, top selling real estate agents may not be the right one to help you house hunt.
So you need to…
Email a dozen or so potential realtors, and ask for information. Before I met Konoff in person, I emailed a dozen real estate agents the same question: “We need to move next month, and we’re looking for a home with a view, in the million dollar range. What can you show us?” At the time, I was in Toronto for a convention and didn’t have time to look on MLS (“Multiple Listing Service”, on which real estate agents list homes for sale). I needed a realtor to send me a list of at least a dozen homes that suited our needs. Konoff acknowledged my email immediately, and sent me the listings a few hours later. Perfect! I knew we found the right real estate agent because she was already helping us house hunt.
Weed out the real estate agents who can’t or don’t help you. I received a range of responses to my email: a couple real estate agents sent me the link to MLS (I could’ve done that myself), another asked me to hold off until he gets back from vacation in two weeks, and another suggested we meet for coffee to discuss my housing needs (who has time for coffee??). Several real estate agents did send me listings that were comparable to Konoff’s…but she beat them to it.
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Ask the realtor to line up houses for you to see. I love that Konoff organized and drove us to the houses we want to see. She calls the listing agents and arranges for them to be at the house when we’re there. She drives us to the homes (in her gorgeous silver BMW!), which frees us from worrying about maps and driving. Instead, we can focus on the neighborhood, roads, bus routes, nearby parks, etc — and concentrate on finding the right house. If you’re looking for a real estate agent, make sure he or she is willing and able to plan and engineer the details of your house hunt.
Make sure your real estate agent connects with you on a “human” level. We’re considering buying a more expensive home than we originally planned. When I told Konoff this (it was our idea, not hers!), she reminded me of the whole “house-rich, cash-poor” scenario – and said that we don’t want to be so strapped for cash that we can’t afford to go out for dinner occasionally. That wasn’t what I expected from a real estate agent – because after all, the more we spend on a house, the higher her commission is! Pay attention to details like that when you’re looking for a realtor, because it’s those details that separate the good from the great real estate agents.
Quick Tips for Finding the Right Real Estate Agent:
- Doesn’t push you off on her assistant.
- Lets you take as much time as you need to explore a house – doesn’t rush your house hunt.
- Admits when she doesn’t know something, and finds out the answer for you.
- Follows up on what she promises (eg, if she says he’ll call the neighbors to find out about that barking dog, then she needs to do it).
- Returns your phone calls or emails within a few hours.
- Is honest about both the strengths and the weaknesses of the homes you’re viewing.
- Helps you differentiate between buying property for investment purposes, and buying a home to live in.
- Has a solid, professional working relationship with other realtors.
- Doesn’t criticize or gossip about other real estage agents – but is honest and straightforward (a tough balance!).
My husband and I ended up buying our dream house in Vancouver. This is the only house I’ve ever lived in that I love, and we wouldn’t have found it if it wasn’t for our real estate agent, Cyndee Konoff.
If you’re house hunting, read 5 Ways to Save Money Every Month While Paying Off a Big Mortgage.
Got questions about house hunting or finding the right real estate agent? Please comment below…