Choosing the Right Agent For Your Home Search

Real Estate

The spring market is officially underway in Chicago, with more new listings hitting the MLS every week and more buyers circling around them.  If you’re starting your search, then you’re probably making your list of *must haves* for your next home.  But what about your agent?  What are their... must haves? 

Choosing the right real estate broker is important, and you want to make sure you are getting a knowledgeable and well-equipped partner to help you.  That means your agent should be:

1.  Your planner.  When meeting for the first time, your agent should listen to your wants and needs and be honest with you about the feasibility of both.  In that same conversation, a good broker should be advising you of current price trends, neighborhood dynamics and property options, but also the real-life practicalities (and stresses) that go along with buying a home.  If you have a good agent, you should walk away from that meeting feeling like you have a strategy for your house hunt that takes incorporates your needs and the conditions of the market.

2.  Connected.  From beginning to end, your agent should have a network of professionals they can readily recommend.  This is especially important when getting pre-approved; you want someone who can help you work through any issues early-on and who will explain the process thoroughly so there are no surprises.  Your broker can also recommend an inspector, an attorney, a contractor or an interior designer.  Of course you can go online, read reviews and choose for yourself, nut it's always nice to get a personal referral from someone you trust.

3.  Your negotiator.  You agent should have a strategy for the initial offer, any counter offers, and any repair requests that arise from the inspection.  A good agent (ahem!) will even give you her strategic advice on how to approach escorted showings and open houses so that you don't divulge too much information - or excitement - to the listing agent, who might use it against you come negotiation time.  A really good agent (ahem!!) will even assist you in escorting outside of the purchase contract itself (think contractor pricing and lender credits).

4.  Your leader and your first line of defense.  As a buyer, you really should feel like your broker has your back.  This means pointing out both the good and the bad with properties.  It also means staying on top of the details:  getting all required disclosures, coordinating - and attending - inspections, following-up on any repairs, and keeping everyone involved in your purchase on track.  The job really should be called Real Estate Agent and Project Manager Extraordinaire.

5.  Responsive.  There’s really no excuse not to be.  You are the client, and you should feel like you're receiving top notch service.

6.  ...How about fun?  OK, this isn’t a top priority.  But if you’re going to be spending time with this person, putting trust into them to help you navigate the process of finding your next home, why have it be a drag?  :)