Homeward Bound


10 easy tips to finding a great real estate agent and a great house

04-8.jpgFinding the home of your dreams can quickly turn into a nightmare if you don’t have an experienced real estate agent to help you. Here are a few tips that should make the process a lot easier and a lot less stressful when navigating the New Orleans market.

  • Though there are several kinds of real estate agencies out there, you shouldn’t get bogged down in choosing between a big one, a small one, a franchise or an independent agent. You have to go with whatever is right for you. The individual agent is the key, not the agency itself. Keep in mind what you’re looking for and don’t settle for anything less.Choose experience. The real estate business has one of the highest turnover rates of any profession because it’s a job that a lot of people think they can do. If you want an agent who is dedicated to his work, be sure the individual has at least two years of experience. If he doesn’t, it’s time to interview someone else.If you are looking for a home in a certain neighborhood, chances are there are agencies in that neighborhood that know more about those homes than agencies outside the neighborhood. You will probably regret just picking an agent out of the phone book and hoping they know the area. A nearby agent will not only know the market in a certain neighborhood but will probably also know a lot about the specific house you’re interested in.

    What kind of representation are you looking for? Some real estate agents are only seller’s agents, meaning they only represent sellers and can be no help to buyer’s needs.

    Remember that an interview can help a lot more than an over-the-phone conversation. A lot of experts say that having a face-to-face interview with an agent will let you know what he or she can really do for you. Ask questions about the neighborhood you’re interested in and for specifics about houses in that area (such as average square footage, price, etc.). Maybe even interview three for comparison’s sake. After all the questions, don’t forget to factor in personality. You may be working with this person for months, so you want to make sure your personalities gel.

    Make sure your agent is committed. The agent you choose should be driven and should give you the attention and respect you deserve. If you come across an agent who only works part time, that person might not have the level of commitment that a full-time agent would.

    Search for your real estate agent before you search for a home. If you don’t have an agent yet you find a house that you instantly fall in love with, be aware that it may already be under contract. A lot of real estate agents will use this opportunity as a way to lure new clients, so be prepared for them to offer you their services. There’s nothing wrong with that, but they may make promises they can’t keep. (“Oh, this one is taken, but I have others you would like.”) This is no way to choose your agent. Fall in love with your real estate agent first not a house.

    A question you might want to ask a prospective agent is what they will do to ensure that you find your dream home. If they’ve done the same thing for other clients successfully, they should have no problem explaining what they can do for you.

    Ask a good friend who lives in your area who they worked with when they bought their home; chances are they’ll know what kind of house and agent you’re looking for. Another source of information is the National Association of Realtors Web site at www.realtor.org. It has a list of Realtors in your area and other resources you’ll find very helpful.