The One Thing All The Happiest Homeowners Remember to Do When Buying

published Sep 10, 2019
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When it comes to time to jump into the home-buying process, there’s lots to consider: Your budget, all the must-haves that constitute your dream home, and the city or town where you plan to put down roots, for starters. There’s a lot to consider, and seems inevitable that at least one factor won’t play out as perfectly as you’d hope—as it does for most people. According to a February 2019 Bankrate survey, 63 percent of Millennial homeowners had at least one regret after buying a home. Regrets ranged from underestimating the total cost of homeownership to buying too small of a house to not liking the neighborhood after move-in.

I’m going to take an educated guess and say that the 37 percent all did one thing the majority didn’t: Talking to multiple real estate agents before they hired one. While the list of regrets above may sound unavoidable, the truth is that they’re not. The right real estate agent will be able to address these regrets before closing day.

While you may be tempted to simply go with an agent attached to a listing you love, forgoing one altogether, or just hiring a friend of a friend, that decision could end up being a major mistake: Buying a home is most likely the largest purchase you’ll make in your lifetime—and one of the most confusing. Why wouldn’t you want an expert you know you can count on? Although it’s easy to dismiss an agent’s role as dispensable, you’ll appreciate a good one when you hit a snag.

But what exactly makes a practically perfect agent? Experience plays a role, says Wendy Arriz, an agent with Warburg Realty in New York City. You want someone who not only knows the area and the market, but also has the shrewd negotiation skills to get to closing, something that’s honed through years on the job.

Trust plays a role, too. For example, you don’t want to use the seller’s agent as their financial loyalty is with the seller—not the buyer, notes Arriz. Also, you want someone who is going to be honest with you along every step of the way.

And the third and final asset is a little more magical: Chemistry. The right agent will communicate in a way that feels right to you and your needs, says Karen Kostiw of Warburg Realty in New York City. Even if all the real estate agents say essentially the same thing, the right agent will usually say it in a way that makes it all the difference to you.

And remember: Just like a romantic partner, you’ll be spending a lot of time with your real estate agent, says Michael J. Franco of Compass in New York City. It only helps if you actually enjoy their company and feel relaxed around them:

“Searching for a new home is often very personal, so I believe strongly that the purchaser should feel totally comfortable with the agent they choose,” he says.

But how to find that powerhouse agent? Just like you would in dating, you should play the field, says Kostiw.

Here’s a game plan for you: Agents come in three varieties, says Martin Eiden, an agent with Compass in New York City: The neighborhood/building expert who has all the insider tips on the area; the family member or friend who will definitely look out for your best interest; and the outlier—an agent who you don’t know personally and may not know every detail about your neighborhood or building, but are otherwise experienced and up-to-date on industry trends. While you may be drawn to one type, he recommends talking to at least one of each type and up to five total before hiring the experienced, communicative, trustworthy agent of your dreams.

Even if you end up hiring who you originally planned on, you’ll likely come away with a better perspective on the home-buying process, more trust that the agent you’ve decided to work with is the right one for you, and, of course, fewer regrets.

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