So you've completed your real estate search and you have finally found your dream home. Do you seal the deal on your own, or do you hire a real estate agent? Nowadays, most would say hire an agent.
A realtor will provide you with accurate evaluative information about all of the real estate listings you are interested in, as well as help you negotiate a deal when it comes time to purchasing a home. It is more common for a seller to have a real estate agent, but with the housing market being so unpredictable, it couldn't hurt for a buyer to use an agent as well. These buyer agents will generally collect around 5% to 7%, while a selling agent will take about half of the total commission.
Realtors are expected to be familiar with the area you live in. For example, in April 2014 there were over 2,800 listings in Iowa. A realtor should be able to tell you the average home prices in the area ($151,833 in Iowa in April 2014), as well as how much the market is fluctuating and when the best time to buy is. Since last year, the median home sale price fell 3.2% in Iowa. The realtor should be able to tell you how much could be saved if you wait and purchase in an off year.
Below is a list of ways a real estate agent can help you:
- Determining how much you can afford. An agent can even work with lenders and banks on your behalf in order to qualify you for a loan.
- Realtors have the housing world at their fingertips with the Multiple Listing Service, which shows homes that are for sale. They will be able to arrange personal showings for the houses you're interested in and also allow you to look at real estate websites.
- An agent can help understand your personal likes and dislikes when it comes to amenities and features in a home. They will take note and remind you at the next open house visit. This will help narrow the search.
- You won't have to call up a home inspector or a lender -- this is all done through the real estate company. The realtor will also be happy to explain things like interest rates and other home buying issues.
To find a local agent near you, look up well-respected Realtor sites on the Internet and check out their personal page (if they have one). Check to see what types of houses they've sold for clients or helped purchase. As always, don't be afraid to ask them any questions regarding the purchasing process.