There are many things to consider when you begin the homebuying process. For most homebuyers, particularly first-time homebuyers, working with a real estate professional to find the right home and oversee the negotiating process is ideal. While every situation is unique, it is not wise for inexperienced homebuyers to try to take on the role of a real estate agent themselves. There are several moving parts during the homebuying process, as well as high emotions for the buyers and sellers, so having a team of professionals to help keep things on track and give sound advice is a wise decision. Experienced homeowners know how valuable it can be to have a knowledgeable partner to help them navigate the home search and negotiation process.
If you’re new to the homebuying process, you may not be completely clear what value a real estate professional provides so you may be surprised at the list of responsibilities they have. Real estate professionals have a long list of duties to help their clients purchase and sell their homes. They spend a tremendous amount of time researching home listings—both online and in-person—to help you find the home of your dreams, they write offer letters, oversee the negotiation process with the seller's agent, and much more. While you most likely cannot spend all of your time searching for and securing the perfect home because you have a full-time job and other responsibilities, this very task actually is your real estate professional's full-time job! And, since they don't get paid unless you buy or sell your home, you know can rest assure that they are dedicated to helping you achieve your goal.
Before you choose a real estate partner, familiarize yourself with the various roles in the real estate field:
Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent has earned a real estate license—either in a sales capacity, as an associate broker, or as a broker—by taking classes and passing an exam, based on the requirements in their state.
A real estate agent can only refer to themselves as a REALTOR® if he or she is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. With this distinction, he or she must adhere to the standards and code of ethics of the association.
Real Estate Broker
A real estate broker has more education than a real estate agent and has taken and passed a broker’s license exam. A real estate broker has the ability to hire real estate agents to work for him or her.
Real estate professionals have a thorough understanding of the industry, as well as access to tools and databases to carefully search home listings that will meet your unique needs. Because of their experience, they are able to give you objective opinions on a home, helping you see beyond great features that many buyers tend to “fall” for, such as a great yard or granite counter tops. Real estate professionals can help you understand potential repair costs, neighborhood crime rates, school systems, and tax rates to make the best decision for their families.
Once you’ve found a home, your real estate professional will coordinate all price negotiations with the seller’s agent. Their resources and experience allow agents to negotiate a fair price because he or she knows nearby home values, average sale prices, days that nearby homes stayed on the market, etc.
Once the offer is accepted, the agent will ensure the home is properly inspected, help prepare an official offer letter, and walk you through each step of the closing process.
Deciding who to work with during your homebuying journey is ultimately your decision, but make sure you don’t approach it lightly. Much like choosing your lender, take some time to ask your trusted family and friends for referrals, and review their website and social media profiles for client reviews.