Real Estate Agent Helping first-time homebuyers learn about and select a real estate agent.

Real Estate Agent
Selecting your real estate agent is a very important step in the homebuying process. A real estate agent who is affiliated with the trade group National Association of Realtors® is called a Realtor® and most agents are Realtors®. The real estate agent's role on your homebuying team is to help you make informed decisions about the neighborhood and home you want to buy. They have exclusive acess to real estate listings and can get you in the homes you want to see. They are also your primary negotiator representing your interests throughout the sale. They are experts in structuring your offer and completing the legal agreements that you need to prepare to submit an offer. Your agent works tirelessly to submit your offer, negotiate it's acceptance and serves as your trusted advisor throughout the entire transaction.

Buyer's vs Seller's Agent
It is important to remember that there are Buyer's Agents and there are Seller's Agents.   It is also legal with proper disclosure for a real estate agent to represent both the Buyer and the Seller in a transaction, but this is not recommended!  You really want an agent who exclusively represents the interests of  you, the Buyer.  It is also important to remember that the Seller pays all the Buyer and the Seller Agents' fees, so it costs you nothing to have your very own Buyer's Agent.

Finding a Good Real Estate Agent
There are lots of real estate agents who are eager to get your business. Like any decision you make it should be based on the qualifications, experience, and the customer service offered by the agent. You likely know someone who is an agent and will be tempted or may feel obligated to work with them. That is perfectly understandable, but not all agents have equal expertise in understanding their real estate market, helping first-time homebuyers access the best programs or partner with the best lenders. So if you decide to go with a less experienced real estate agent, you may be teaching them about these programs instead of the other way around.

There are, however, a lot of real estate agents who really do specialize in helping first-time homebuyers and partner with those lenders that do as well. One great place to search for qualified real estate agents is your local homebuyer education and counseling program. Many of these programs have real estate agents who volunteer their time to teach the home buyer education classes. Another good way to select an agent is to ask your lender for a few referrals. Your lender will have a few agents to recommend that they have had a good experience with in recent transactions. Asking your freinds who recently purchased a home is another great way of finding agents to interview.

Selecting your Real Estate Agent
As you narrow your list of agents to consider it is a good idea to talk with a few of your finalists and ask them some questions before you make a final decision. Here are a few questions to get that conversation going:

How long have your been a real estate agent?
What makes you a better choice than the other agents I am considering?
Which real estate markets do you specialize in selling homes?
Which lenders do you work with and why?
Do you have any mortgage lenders you are expected to work with?
Which first-time homebuyer programs have you helped your clients recently access?
What would your last first-time homebuyer client say about working with you?
May I talk with them about their experience?
What else would you like me to know about working with you?

Once you have selected an agent they may or may not ask you to sign an agreement with them to confirm that they will represent you as your buyer's agent. However, Many real estate agents do not require any type of formal agreement to be signed. Different areas of the country have different standards so ask around if you have any questions before you sign any documents. You should never have to pay any fees directly to your real estate agent for their services. A good place to ask questions is your local home buyer education provider or your state agency that oversees real estate agents.