Finding the Right Real Estate Agent
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Finding the Right Real Estate Agent

After you've been pre-approved for a loan, the right real estate agent can assist you in making sure the rest of the process runs smoothly.

After you've been pre-approved for a loan, the right real estate agent can assist you in making sure the rest of the process runs smoothly. In the United States, real estate agents assist sellers in marketing and selling their property for the best price and terms. When acting as a buyer's agent they assist buyers by helping them purchase property at the best price and terms.

Real estate agents work for a broker either as an independent contractor or an employee. Some brokers are nationally franchised like Century 21 or Prudential. To earn the designation of a Realtor, an agent must belong to the local and State Board of Realtors and also be a member of the National Board of Realtors. These Realtors operate under a strict code of ethics and sponsor the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

Most real estate agents work for a flat fee or a commission (usually 4-6% of the purchase price) - or you could decide to use a discount broker who takes a lower fee in exchange for you doing the legwork (e.g., finding a property, setting up financing, etc.). The real estate commission is subtracted from the seller's proceeds. This commission is then divided between the broker and the real estate agent representing the seller, and the broker and real estate agent representing the buyer.

What does a real estate agent do?

Should you decide to work with a real estate agent from the start you should expect them to:

- Determine how much house you can afford including a down payment.

- Help you calculate your monthly payment.

- Explain the different types of financing that are available to you.

- Help you find the right house which meets your needs.

- Arrange appointments for you to view several homes.

- Assist in helping you make an offer and negotiate the deal.

- Prepare the sales agreement and handle the close.

Most will want you to enter into an exclusive Buyer's Agent agreement which specifies the term of representation, commission structure, and duties. You can usually switch agents at a later time if you're not satisfied with their performance. You may also elect to choose one from the Internet or do your own house-hunting or research online.

How to pick the right real estate agent

The best way to find a real estate agent you're comfortable working with, is to ask friends and family who have recently used one to buy or sell their home. Check with the State Board of Realtors or the Better Business Bureau to review an agent's background. Call the broker's office or visit their website to see how long the real estate agent has been licensed with that broker. How many transactions has the agent handled in the past year? Have they all been sales transactions or purchases? Stop by the office to see how the support staff treats you.

After all, the entire home buying process can take months to complete. You'll want to pick someone you feel comfortable working with from start to finish. Once you pick a real estate agent let them know what type of lender you're planning to use, or if there is someone else they can recommend.

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