3 Tips for Preparing for Your First Meeting with a Buyer Agent

Don Callahan
Don Callahan
Published on November 10, 2017

As much as we love shows on HGTV where buyers find their perfect home in 30 minutes (including commercial breaks), it doesn’t reflect reality and the time and effort shopping for a new home entails.

The best way to ensure a smooth process is to come to the first meeting with a buyer agent knowing a few things.  Arrive armed with the following knowledge, and your agent will have an easier time making your homeowner dreams come true.

Your Actual Budget 

A key step to successfully buying a home is to first find a lender and receive preapproval on a mortgage. The pre-approval amount that the lender offers will help you figure out the home price range you can afford and what you’ll be expected to pay monthly.  It should also be noted there is value in working with a local lender.  Don’t get us wrong–national lenders like Bank of America and USAA  can offer quality services, but it is the local guys that you can meet face to face with and give personal customer service that you don’t get from lenders that identify you as just a number.

Sitting down with a lender, you’ll be able to get an idea of how much you can afford for a mortgage–which isn’t the same thing as how much you should spend on your mortgage.  Having an honest conversation ahead of time will save TONS of time later, so you’re not using time looking at houses that are out of your spending comfort zone.

Must-Haves and Deal-Breakers 

Letting your agent know what home features you absolutely can’t live with and without can be extremely helpful, and cause far less antagonism when touring homes.  Providing your agent with a list of required and desired characteristics helps him or her form an idea of homes on the market that would best meet your needs. As you visit homes, the list will likely evolve; be sure to talk this through with the agent.  Your agent has lots of resources at their disposal to help you find a house you love.  You may find that things you thought you wanted before you started looking may not be practical for you and/or your family.  Speak up when you realize your tastes have changed, and let your agent know your new preferences.  Be sure to weigh each potential problem to make sure it doesn’t cause a point of contention down the road.

Willingness to Go Along with the Process

Not all real estate agents are created equal, but, generally speaking, buyer agents are the experts in helping you find the home of your dreams.  Your agent will be upfront about the expectations of your new relationship; be willing to trust the process!  Your agent will know what’s available with the characteristics you are looking for.  So many websites are not accurate, but often perspective buyers use them as a guide for what is available and trust all the information they provide.  “I think buyers tend to rely too much on Zillow,” says buyer agent Russ Strazzella with Keller Williams Realty in Savannah, GA.  “While it provides buyers with access to lots of information – it’s very Democratic that way – you can’t really make a determination on the value of a property based solely on a Zestimate.”  Your buyer agent has the tools to help you determine the facts of the houses you are interested in, so trust their process!
Potentially, buyers should expect to spend four to six months working with their agent.  During this time you’ll establish your wants and needs, search for the right home and work toward closing together.  As a buyer, you are not alone, and your buyer agent is one of the most important folks on your team!

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