You’ve taken the advice of the previous blogs and you’ve found some places that warrant a closer look. Congratulations! You’re ready to see a few homes in person! Before doing this, I highly suggest you hire a real estate agent to represent you.  I’m not just saying that because I am a real estate agent and I’d love to help you find your new home – although that’s true. I say it because almost everyone else who you’ll meet on your home buying journey will be working for the seller.

Buying a house without a licensed, experienced real estate agent is like representing yourself in a murder trial: not recommended. Here are 7 reasons why you should hire a buyer’s agent.

  1. An additional pair of experienced eyes – Do you think the seller’s agent will be pointing out the tiny closets or the white substance covering the pipes that looks suspiciously like asbestos? Granted, real estate agents are required to disclose everything they know about a home. That’s why some listing agents prefer to know as little as possible.  Your agent will be looking for threads that she can pull at to reveal hidden problems.
  2. Local knowledge – Especially if you are considering several areas, it helps to have someone on your side who knows you and knows the vibe of each neighborhood. Want to be able to walk to great restaurants? Need access to public transportation? Love your morning jog? Your agent can save you hours on google maps and can suggest areas that you may have missed. A good agent will also know about future plans for the area that may change some of the things that you love about it – for better or worse.
  3. Experience – There are a lot of moving parts in a real estate transaction so plenty of chances for things to go wrong. Your agent will help you avoid a lot of these pitfalls and save you time and money in the process.
  4. Sanity check – Buying a house is one of the most stressful things that you can do – and the first time is the toughest! I spend far more time talking buyers off the ledge when they get nervous, hand holding, advising and other coaching-and-caring activities than I do on paperwork for most first-time buyers. You want someone who can tell you whether a seller request is normal, what to expect from your lender, if you’re in love with the home or just the decorator. The most qualified person to do that is your agent, your trusted advisor.
  5. Price – Homes rarely sell for the exact asking price, so how much should you offer? Go too low and you could lose the house to a higher offer. Go too high and you could start your new chapter with more debt than necessary.  An agent who knows the market well will help you walk that tightrope.
  6. Negotiation – This is where having a great agent really pays off. It would be extremely difficult for you to negotiate directly with the seller’s agent and get the best price. Think about it, you’re going against a seasoned negotiator who has no emotional skin in the game – no tell that will reveal information that you can use – you most likely have no prior experience negotiating with this person so no opportunity to learn their style. It will be very hard for you to keep from revealing something about your position that can be used against you. Why do you think great actors, athletes and authors use agents? It’s not easy to negotiate for something that you want, especially when the person on the other side of the table is not the other party but a professional negotiator. Trust me, do your up front work choosing a great agent who is a seasoned and trained negotiator and set them loose on the seller’s agent.
  7. Dream team – All professional real estate agents have a team of people who they work with frequently and can refer – both during your purchase and after the sale when you need repairs or maintenance. Because they work together often, you’ll usually be treated better and with a higher priority by the professional your agents refers. After the sale, whether you need a plumber, a good restaurant or the best dog groomer, you can continue to lean into your agent for advice and referrals.

How do you find a great agent? I suggest asking friends and family for suggestions. Speak to at least three agents asking all a list of prepared questions. Note how long it takes them to respond to your initial contact, whether they seem professional, if they listen and ask questions or just talk and sell themselves, if you connect with them. A successful relationship will be with a person who you know, like and trust. If one of these components is missing, keep shopping. Buying a house is a long road, don’t add to the stress by hiring the wrong guide. If I can help answer any questions, please reach out.

Now you’re ready for HBU E07: The Open House

Did you miss Part 1?

More tips for choosing a great agent from HomeLight.com and Forbes.