Home Hunting

By Jeanelle D. Horcasitas

May 29, 2015 5 min read

Unless you're a millionaire who can afford to buy a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, the biggest purchase you'll ever make will most likely be your home. Whether you're a neophyte or seasoned buyer, choosing the right home is never an easy process, so you shouldn't do it alone. I would suggest using a licensed real estate agent who will assist you through the entire endeavor to ensure that you buy the house of your dreams.

First, you'll want to find the real estate agent who is right for you. You'll want to do a little investigative Google searching, browse professional profiles on major listing sites such as Zillow or ask your friends/family members who own homes if they can refer you to an agent with whom they've had a good experience. Ultimately, you are looking for an agent that will be responsive to your questions and concerns, organized when sending you listings to check out and, most importantly, have a schedule that fits with yours! An agent with these qualities is important, but don't forget to examine their previous experience. Ideally, you want to hire an agent who has a few years of experience, successful transactions under his or her belt and who is an expert in the your target market. Yes, there are a lot of factors to consider when using an agent, but once you've found the perfect one, you'll be in great hands to begin your home hunting!

Once you've secured your agent, make sure to keep a few of these tips in mind:

--As a buyer, you should not have to pay any commission to your agent. It is the seller's responsibility to ensure that a small percentage of what the home is sold for is allocated to both his or her agent, who is selling the home, and your agent, who is bringing them the buyer, but more importantly, the money. According to Chrystal Caruthers from realtor.com, "the buyer's agent is paid by the seller because the listing agent is sharing a percentage of the commission. Sharing the commission is called cooperating, or a co-op commission." This is definitely an advantage for the buyer, who does not have to worry about extra fees, and it's a nice incentive for the agent helping in the process!

--Your agent is representing YOU, so that you don't have to worry about approaching sellers to view the home or negotiate prices. Although a home might be listed on the market, it is best to have your agent set up the best time to visit it. Having your agent set up this formal visit is much better than you attempting to visit the home on your own as a total stranger -- the seller will have more trust in a licensed real estate agent.

--Remember, your agent is the expert, so use his or her knowledge to your advantage! Assuming that your agent is a good negotiator and understands the process and market, he or she should be able to provide you with a good price point when it comes to putting in an offer on a home that you're interested in buying. The agent should definitely have a sense of what the value of the property should be so that you make the best choice for your family and your wallet.

--Once you've made the offer and it's accepted, it's time for the next big step: the paperwork. Luckily, having an agent alleviates a lot of the hassle and stress when it comes to buying your home. For example, understanding the appraisal of the home can be tough data to find on your own. Therefore, your agent should have access to databases or people who can determine whether or not you're underpaying or overpaying for the home. Ultimately, your agent is an enormous help and time-saver in the closing process of purchasing your new home.

--Your agent is your biggest advocate. Your agent knows the success of finding your home is a reflection of his or her own success in the business. If your agent goes above and beyond for you, the biggest compliment you can pay them is to simply refer them to their next customer. So always remember to pay it forward!

As you can see, finding a home entails a lot of patience and determination. Therefore, using a licensed real estate agent is wise when it comes to this life-changing process. When it comes to your home, you want to ensure that you're getting the best value, and a real estate agent will help you achieve this goa1!

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