Many professionals will help you along your journey to becoming a home owner. For most home buyers, one of the most important of these people is a real estate agent. Some people choose not to contract the services of a real estate agent, but the knowledge and expertise these people have gained in their field often proves to be invaluable to home buyers – plus, many VA borrowers don’t pay for their real estate agent’s services in the end! If that seems impossible, keep reading.
Real estate agents are people who are licensed to help others buy and sell commercial and/or residential property. (Although “real estate agent” and “Realtor” are sometimes used interchangeably, this is technically incorrect. A Realtor is a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors, a professional organization with certain codes and other requirments that must be followed.) Real estate agents are knowledgeable about the particulars of the market in a specific area and the details of contracts and other legal requirements as they relate to buying and selling property. They make their money on commission, which means that when they help someone buy or sell a property, they will be paid a fee worth a certain percentage of the purchase price, usually between 3% and 6%. Agents may work under the umbrella under a large real estate company, or they may operate independently.
90% of home buyers and sellers work with real estate agents, because these professionals have access to a plethora of listings in a given area, including many that may not be posted on websites that can be viewed by the general public. Knowing about these additional listings gives you that many more options for finding a home that meets your specific needs and wants. Real estate agents are also experienced negotiators, which will be to your benefit when it comes time to work out an agreement with a seller. They’ll look out for your interests and secure you the best possible deal. Additionally, agents can often recommend reputable home inspectors and contractors for you to work with.
For VA buyers, it’s especially important to work with a real estate agent who understands the ins and outs of such transactions. If you’re relocating due to PCS, you’ll probably have a very limited window in which to find a new home, and a good VA real estate agent will be ready to help you hit the ground running and make the most of your time. Also, properties purchased with VA-backed loans must meet certain requirements, and you’re going to want a real estate agent who is familiar VA guidelines relating to home owners’ associations, septic systems, private wells, termite inspections, and more, so you don’t end up wasting your time or money on a home that the VA ultimately won’t approve. And as we mentioned above, VA borrowers often don’t end up paying for their agent’s services – both the buyer’s and seller’s real estate agents are frequently compensated by the seller of the home.
So how do you find a good real estate agent to work with? There are a few different options:
- Ask your lender: Lenders often work with the same real estate agents over and over again, and of course, they won’t work with anyone whom they don’t think is qualified.
- Look online: Search for real estate agents in the area where you plan to buy a home. Be sure to look at the number of listings they’ve had and read reviews from previous customers.
- Ask your family and friends: If you know someone who’s recently moved in the area where you’re looking, find out who they worked with and how satisfied they were with the services they received.
When you find one or more agents who look good to you, be sure to ask about their previous experience in the local market, whether they’ve worked with VA clients before, how many other clients they’re currently working with, how they will communicate with you, and whether they have any assistants or other staff who will be helping with your potential transaction. Consider how your personality will mesh with the agent’s – sometimes people just don’t click, and that’s not anyone’s fault, but it can make for a contentious working relationship, which no one will enjoy. Once you verbally agree to work with an agent, read any and all information and paperwork carefully before signing a formal agreement. If you have any doubts about the success of this relationship, request a short contract to begin with (approximately one month). If things are going well, you can always renew the contract.
Choosing a real estate agent is one of the most important decisions you will make in relation to one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make. If you have any questions about working with real estate agents or are looking for more guidance in choosing one, contact Fortress VA Loans today. Our family of VA loan specialists and lenders are experienced in all aspects of the home-buying process, from loan prequalification to house-hunting to closing on the home of your dreams.