Purchasing a first home is a wise financial investment and can provide priceless personal and emotional rewards as well. Home ownership offers an unprecedented sense of security, accomplishment, success, and perhaps most importantly, personal freedom.
But before you begin to look at homes, it is a good idea to first shop around for a real estate professional who is compatible with your needs and understands your buying goals. Most novice buyers do it the other way around: they see a house they like, call the phone number on the yard sign, and immediately enter into a professional relationship entrusting the most important financial decision of a lifetime to any agent who happens to pick up the phone.
But nearly every first-time buyer admits to understanding little or nothing about the real estate business as they enter the real estate arena. As newcomers, they are suddenly confronted with complicated choices that carry powerful legal and financial consequences. They often encounter sellers who have the upper hand thanks to prior experience in the real estate market. And the potential for “silent homophobia” in the real estate industry can present an invisible obstacle for GLBT buyers, and is a legitimate and potentially frustrating concern. On top of all that, add the prospect of moving to a new location and the fact that in all real estate transactions “time is of the essence”, and you have a guaranteed recipe for overwhelming stress. And we all know that we make our worst decisions when we’re too stressed.
The careful selection of an agent who understands your needs and represents them in a professional manner can provide a reassuring level of comfort and confidence, as they work to create smooth sailing and fair dealings throughout the entire home-buying process.
Unfortunately, most first-time buyers skip this preliminary step, even though choosing a real estate professional is not at all difficult. Even if you know nothing about how the real estate game is played, you will be able to locate, interview, and select an agent who is a good match for you. The hours you invest in this quest for a professional will save you time, trouble, and money in the long run, and will actually speed up the overall home-buying process.
Here are some tips to help you make an informed choice:
1) Determine the legal roles and responsibilities of brokers in your particular area.
Depending upon where you live, the real estate laws will dictate the responsibilities and roles of real estate agents and brokers. Some states allow real estate professionals to serve clients in a dual capacity, and these “dual agents” will represent both the buyer and the seller at the same time, during the same transaction. They negotiate and mediate on behalf of both parties. In other jurisdictions, agents represent either buyers or sellers, but not both. Check with the local Realtor’s Association to find out what rules apply in your area, before you begin interviewing brokers.
2) Use a specialist.
If you are relocating through your employer, you may want to work with a broker who specializes in relocation work, because they will have the experience required to help you locate the right property, at the right price, within your window of opportunity and according to the parameters outlined by your company’s relocation program. Similarly, if you are looking for rural property or farmland, there are brokers who specialize in that area of the market, as opposed to others who are expert at finding you a city dwelling close to the nightlife. And if it is investment property you want, you may decide to choose an investment property specialist. Once you have found someone who specializes in the kind of property you’re looking for, you can narrow down your search by selecting a broker within that niche of the industry.
3) Check their credentials, and also see if you feel comfortable working with them.
As with any professional you hire, you will want to look for experience, a proven track record, a stellar reputation for customer satisfaction, and the ability to communicate with you and answer all of your questions in a way that inspires your confidence and trust.
Once you have a qualified and trustworthy real estate professional on your team to help you find a house, negotiate on your behalf, and inform and guide you each step of the way, you can relax and enjoy the adventure of shopping for your new home.
Author: Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of www.GayRealEstate.com ~ Instant Free Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors.