How a Great Real Estate Agent Can Help You Buy Your Next Home
When you’re looking for a home, there’s a reason we always recommend working with an experienced real estate agent. They are more than just a liaison to get you from point A to point B in the home-buying process. A great real estate agent is your partner. They’ll help you navigate the process, make informed decisions and overall set you up for success.
Over the years, at Great Midwest Bank we’ve worked with lots of real estate agents who have helped friends and customers through the home-buying process. A number of considerations separate the great real estate agents from the good ones.. Let’s explore how a great real estate agent helps you buy your home.
Recommends Properties Before You Find Them Online Yourself
Be honest: how much time have you spent perusing houses on websites like Zillow? These sites can help you get a general idea of what’s out there in the local real estate market, but tend not to be as up-to-date as the tools a real estate agent has. Many homes listed on Zillow-like sites may already have an accepted offer, for example.
When you work with a real estate agent in your home search, they will use a multiple listing service (MLS) to find homes that fit your parameters. MLS sites share real-time listing information directly from brokers and readily show the status of a given home — whether it’s an active listing, has a pending offer, is off-market and so on.
Once you’ve formed a complete picture of what you’re looking for in a home, your agent may be able to set you up with a customized MLS access portal that shows new home listings in your area that fit your search criteria. This is especially helpful when the home-buying market is competitive because you’ll see homes as soon as they hit the market — and can quickly get moving on a home tour and offer if you’re interested.
Understands the Local Market
Like a great local bank, experienced real estate agents should have a strong understanding of the local market. Especially when you’re beginning your search, they should help you compare home prices throughout different towns and neighborhoods. Your agent may also be able to help you get more for your money by suggesting homes in an area where the housing market is less competitive.
For example, perhaps one city you’re interested in is actually much more expensive than a neighboring city, largely due to that city being in a desirable school district. However, school districts aren’t on your list of housing considerations, so your agent helps you decide to explore that nearby city with more affordable homes.
Your real estate agent should also help you understand how the price of a home you’re interested in compares to similar homes that recently sold in the immediate area — often referred to as “comps.” Exploring comps will help you understand whether a home’s listing price aligns with the current market. It also helps you make an informed decision about how much to offer if you’re interested.
Honestly Outlines Homes’ Pros and Cons as You Narrow Your Property Choices
A great real estate agent helps you objectively explore your options. It’s especially advantageous if your agent has an eye for home features and knowledge of potential problems that may be noted during the home inspection. Ideally your agent can help you understand as much as possible about the home — when you first express interest in a listing, when you go visit the property and beyond.
As you walk through a home for the first time, the agent should point out nice features and also potential problems that might come up during an inspection for that particular home. For example, in one home you tour maybe your agent mentions the uniqueness of the large kitchen compared to other homes in the area. However, they also observe that the walls in the basement show evidence of bowing and may require some bracing beams. They tell you to be prepared for that possibility if you proceed with an offer.
Overall, your agent should help advise you to come to the right decision for you— and only you. They should be transparent about all the pros and cons they can determine for any home you’re considering.
Looking to buy a home? Here are some considerations when you’re first starting out.
Helps You Strategize Your Offer and Negotiate
So, you’ve found a home you love and it’s time to make an offer. How can you possibly decide on how much to offer and what to include in the contract? Your real estate agent should help you navigate the process of forming an offer and negotiating with the seller — going to bat for you in every step.
As mentioned, a truly great agent knows what’s going on in the current local market. This includes having a keen ability to help you craft an enticing offer to the seller that still protects your best interests. For example, maybe when you and your agent form your offer you wisely choose not to waive the inspection, but you decide to forgive the first x-dollars of repair costs for problems found during the inspection.
Your agent should also explain the purchase agreement and other documents in detail. Should problems come up during the home inspection, they help you determine the best course of action — what to ask the sellers to fix and what n to do if your requests are not addressed how you wish.
Whether you’ve bought a home before or this is your first time, the process can often feel overwhelming. Real estate agents should help put your mind at ease by explaining all the steps and documentation. No question should be viewed as a silly question — if you’re unsure about anything, your agent should be happy to clarify.
Sees You Through the Closing Process and Follows up with You Afterward
Working with an agent to buy a home is not just about finding the right place, making a smart offer, or sealing the deal — it’s all those elements combined and more. There are lots of steps between your offer being accepted and wrapping up closing. A great real estate agent helps keep you organized and informed through every phase of the home-buying process with care and professionalism from beginning to end.
Your agent should also check up on you after you have your house keys in hand. They may invite feedback so they have a sense of what they did well and potential areas for improvement. But beyond that, they should make it known to you that they’re available as a resource for questions or future needs.
Ready to start the house hunt?
Every buyer’s situation is different, so you’ll probably have more questions to ask. However, these considerations are a terrific starting point when looking for a real estate agent to partner with when you buy your home. If you would like us to refer some great agents that we’ve have worked with in the past, we encourage you to contact one of our friendly and experienced loan officers at your local Great Midwest Bank!
A version of this article was originally published in November 2014. It was most recently updated in January 2023.