When you get ready to buy your home, you should also plan to buy using the services of an Accredited Buyer’s Representative or ABR. Working with a buyer’s representative on the purchase of your home is a free service in Texas and should be taken advantage of. As a buyer you will then have your interests represented in the transaction. Without your own buyer’s representative, the agent selling the home represents only the seller in the transaction and has no loyalty or duty to you.
Here are some issues that need your consideration when selecting your Accredited Buyer’s Representative and some interview questions to ask.
Experience and Credentials: Find out how long the agent has been a buyer’s agent and how long they have been an Accredited Buyer’s Agent. Ask about other designations the agent holds. Getting a real estate license in Texas is easy and takes little course work. However, through continuing education, time on the job, and earning designations, agents can set themselves apart in the marketplace and show the consumer that they are experts in the field of real estate.
References: Be sure the agent you are interviewing can give you the names and contact information for at least three past deals. In Houston, the Houston Association of Realtors websites now enables agents to send their clients Customer Satisfaction Surveys and let’s the agents post their customer satisfaction results on their websites and on HAR.com. If the agent you are interviewing isn’t using this free service you should ask yourself why.
Knowledge: Ask what specialized areas the agent is trained in. Are there areas and neighborhoods the agent is more familiar with? This goes back again to designations as being a key way to identify an agent who takes their job seriously and seeks to become more well-trained than others in the field.
Representation: Educate yourself about what representation by an agent means. Learn about your choices as a buyer and learn what fiduciary duties mean. Inquire as to the agent’s experience in dual representation.
Services Provided: Have your agent explain how they will assist you throughout the buying process. Make sure you read and sign a buyer’s representation agreement to ensure the agent’s duty only to you. These agreements are produced by the state of Texas and protect the buyer’s interests while working with an agent.
Compensation: Learn how agents are compensated when representing buyers and understand fully any and ask about any possible hidden charges.
Finding Properties: Be certain that your agent is a licensed REALTOR and member of the local MLS so that they have full access to all properties available. Inquire about their ability or willingness to help you purchase a For Sale By Owner or other property not on the MLS if that becomes a possibility.
Personal Support: Will your agent handle every aspect of the transaction or will you be working with other people in the agent’s office? Get firm answers on who will be explaining the forms, agreements and steps required through the transaction.
Negotiation: Will your agent counsel you at every step of the negotiation process? Be sure your agent will work with you to develop your negotiation strategy and explain the contingencies that can occur. Find out how the agent will package the offer to the seller and set time frames for responding to each other.
Financing: Many agents find financing the weak link in their professional armor. You need someone who understands financing and can help you to understand your options as well. Use an agent who can give you guidance on affordability, loan options, and mortgage lenders. Have them explain to you the value of pre-approval and pre-qualification for mortgages.
Related Service Providers: If your agent is good, they will have an index of prefered service providers to make your selection process less overwhelming. Some valuable trade vendors would include home mortgage lenders, inspectors, appraisers, repair men, movers, etc.