Whether you’re buying or selling a home, hiring the right agent is essential. Asking the right questions will help you determine if someone is the right fit.

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Agents are responsible for what?

If you’re a prospective home buyer, you might think it’s easy to look online, but a good real estate agent can keep you informed of new listings, arrange viewings, and communicate with the seller’s agent. The public does not have access to as many home listings as agents do. Buying a home is a complex process, and a real estate agent can help you navigate the purchase contract, which determines what you will pay over the life of the loan.

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Especially in a hot housing market, homeowners may be tempted to sell their homes themselves. However, there are still many steps, and costs, involved in selling a home that an experienced real estate agent handles all the time. A good seller’s agent will know how to stage and market a home for sale, as well as what repairs need to be done and what can be avoided. In addition, sellers usually pay the buyer’s agent, so even if you don’t have your own agent, you’ll still have to pay some commission.

Comparing Realtors and Real Estate Agents

In order to become a licensed real estate agent, you must take a minimum amount of coursework and pass a licensing exam. A real estate agent can also become a broker after receiving specialised training and passing a broker’s licensing exam. Members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) are often agents and brokers. Agents must follow the Realtor’s Code of Ethics, and consumers can report agents who violate the code to their local Realtor association.

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Real Estate Agent Hiring Steps

Before you hire a real estate agent, they will assume you have prepared for selling and/or buying a home. You should take the following steps as soon as possible.

When buying:

  • Pre-approval is important. Getting a mortgage pre-approval is crucial for determining your new home’s price range. Taking a look at houses that are out of your budget is not a good idea.
  • Learn how to apply for a mortgage loan. A first-time homebuyer should pay special attention to this. When bidding on a home, your budget should include a down payment (roughly 20% is ideal) and earnest money, which can be applied towards closing costs or the down payment. In addition to your monthly mortgage payment, you will also need to account for annual property tax and insurance costs.
  • Prioritise your housing needs. Decide what type of home you want, what features you need, and what features you would like. Getting to know the towns and neighbourhoods where you’d like to live can also be helpful.
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The following steps should be taken if you are selling:

  • Find an agent early in the process. Houses that need major repairs take a long time to prepare for sale. You can plan and budget for repairs that will pay for themselves if you talk to a listing agent several months to a year before you hope to sell.
  • Organise your home. Before you put your house on the market, you’ll need to clean it up. Get rid of boxes that you haven’t touched in decades, old furniture you won’t take with you, and items that are just taking up space.