“About two months ago, I was looking for a property in Bhopal. In a month, my first buyer agent showed me only one house and that too was 25% pricier than my budget. That got me frustrated and I decided to change the agent. This time we hired Nitin Bharadwaj, an agent who specializes in the area where we were interested in. He showed us 6 houses within 2 first weeks and helped us negotiate with the seller. We made an offer for a house within 3 weeks of hiring Nitin.”
Saurabh Pandey, Bhopal
Buying a property is a major decision and takes time and effort to find a good one. A good buyer agent will be next to you during each step of the home buying process and will go out of his/ way to make sure that you get the best house which fits your needs in the smoothest way possible. Even after buying the property, they continue to check in and make sure that everything is going well in the new place.
Why Buyer Agent?
Before discussing the questions to ask before hiring an agent, let’s see why we need a buyer agent.
A buyer's agent guides you through the home buying process. These include:
They help with finding a home for sale which matches your needs and price range, using their knowledge of the market and the area.
They negotiate with the seller on your behalf and once the offer is accepted, they are on top of all the paperwork required to complete the deal.
Buying a house can be quite exhausting and having a good buyer agent make a big difference in the whole experience.
How to go about finding a good buyer agent?
Get Recommendations: “Recommendations” are one of the easiest ways to find a real estate agent. So, ask for a referral from family, friends and neighbors. These are usually genuine agents and since they come with referral, the trust factor is usually high.
Get references from nearby builder properties offices: Check the new builder properties/ societies near your area and inquire about the real estate agents they can refer to.
Online search: Search online for real estate agents in your area. There are few very good websites which can help you to find good real estate agents. Some of these are: JustDial.com, PostLo.com, Sulekha.com, MagicBricks.com.
Your goal at this stage is just to shortlist 3-4 real estate agents so that you can interview them before hiring one.
Ask these 5 questions before hiring a buyer agent.
Now, once you have shortlisted a few buyer’s agents, the harder task is now to finalize one. Asking these questions can help with finalizing one:
Do you pocessesses valid licenses to operate in this area?
Under Real Estate Regulation and Development Act (RERA) 2016, it is mandatory for every real estate agent to get a registration certificate and license. In addition, a state can have additional license requirements for real estate agents to provide their services or run their business in the state. So, first make aware of such license requirements for real estate agents in your state so that you can verify if the real estate agent you are interviewing processes those licenses.
How long the person is in the market and how many property deals the person has closed in the past?
Experience matters in the real estate business. An agent with good knowledge of the market in your area can negotiate better with the seller and finalize a better deal for you. Also, an experienced realtor can take you to the front of the line when multiple buyers want the same house. Request a few names of the clients who recently purchased property with them, and contact those customers to ask about their experiences.
What strategy will they use to find the house, what will be their role after purchase is complete and what will be their style of communication?
It’s important to know how much time they will dedicate to find the house and how often you will hear back from them. Are you going to work directly with them and their assistant? What will be your work after the purchase is completed? A good buyer agent, even after property purchase is completed, helps further to connect with a good contractor/ handy-man to get property ready for you to move-in. So, the answer to these questions will give a good idea of their working style and if that suits your needs or not.
How is the agent going to make sure that the property seller and the property itself is genuine?
There are few ways to make sure that the seller is the genuine owner or has rights to sell the property. Buyers agents are usually well connected with municipal office employees and quickly able to find out about the status of the property. They should make sure there are no active loans on the property and the owner has the original deed of the property. If you are planning to take a loan to purchase the property, they make sure the property is free from any restrictions which prevent you from getting a loan. For example: Usually banks don't provide loans on property built on farmland.
How much will they charge or what’s their commission?
There is no written regulation over the charges of a Real estate Agent, but usually realtors have commission based charges. The most common fee that has been observed is 2% of the property closing cost. But the commission can vary anywhere between 1% - 4%. So, here negotiations skills can help you to fix the commission amount that best fits your needs.
Working with a realtor is an extremely personal journey. You have to be able to share all your wants and needs and have them guide you with their years of experience with the real estate market. Buyer agents cared for your needs like family, pointed out things good and bad, made the entire process really smooth for you. So, it's very important that you ask the right questions and only after being completely satisfied with their responses, you finalize one.