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Should You Use a Real Estate Agent?
Posted By Ron On March 1, 2012 @ 8:55 AM In Real Estate,Tips & Techniques | Comments Disabled
Have you ever used the services of a real estate agent? Several years ago my wife and I attempted to sell our home ourselves. What made it tough was that I was working at another job several states away and my wife was still in the throes of mother-hood — three kids, soccer practice, ballet, school, homework. Selling our home ourselves was a project designed to fail and fail we did. Eventually, we contacted the top real estate agent in the area and sold our home just 4 weeks later, though admittedly at a lower price than we hoped.
Even though you’re not required to use a real estate agent when buying a home, a good agent will make the process much easier for you (and a great one will make you more money). Just always remember, a real estate agent’s services usually are free for the home buyer — it’s actually the seller who pays all broker fees after all is said and done. The exception to that rule is for anyone using a “buyer’s agent.”
A real estate agent’s job is to make your life easier. You should expect your agent to:
There are built-in conflicts of interest between real estate agent and buyer that you should be aware of as you step into the world of real estate.
To address these types of conflict of interest, you can agree to pay your agent a flat fee yourself, as long as the laws in your state allow this. If you’re not willing to make that sort of extra payment — most people aren’t — you can reduce the influence of conflicts of interest by never wavering from your initial price range and by finding an agent with a reputation for integrity, including references to back it up.
The best way to find an agent is through a reference from a friend or associate you trust. Rather than focus on one agent at first, come up with a list of a few who sound promising. Once you’ve got that list, approach each agent and request an interview , making it clear to the agent that he or she is not the only one you’ll be interviewing.
Each agent interview  should last at least a half hour. You can interview  over the phone or in person, though in-person interviews are generally more informative. During the interview , make sure the agent is state-licensed, works full-time in real estate, has at least five years’ experience, and is a member of a realtors’ trade association—preferably the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Always ask for references from previous clients and follow up on them. Finally, ask the agent to bring to the interview  a list of all the deals he or she has handled in the last year, including the following information:
Your agent will likely ask you to sign an exclusivity agreement stating that you will work only with him or her. Though this is standard practice, you may want to negotiate  the length of the exclusivity. Many agents will ask for six months, but you’re better off insisting on no more than three, just in case the agent fails to meet your expectations and you wish to switch.
That ultimately is a personal decision but there are several factors you might consider:
Ultimately, it’s a personal decision, but hopefully one you’re now better prepared to make! Just always realize that real estate agents don’t understand finance  and you’ll probably be okay.
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