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An Honest Opinion of Working With a Real Estate Agent for the First Time

When my husband and I decided to buy a house in Charlotte, we decided to work with Mark, a local real estate agent with lots of experience. We were getting ready to move from Colorado to North Carolina and reluctantly decided to temporarily rent. So we were looking forward to meeting with Mark and looking at some houses once we got there.

Two days before the move, Mark sent us a listing that completely made us rethink renting.  It was the perfect size, perfect style, and perfect location — so perfect that Mark was certain it would be gone by the time we arrived in North Carolina. With his help, we put in an offer that day.

From that point on, it was smooth sailing. Our offer was accepted, the house passed inspection, and the negotiations were no trouble at all. Mark walked us through every step of the process, answering our questions and keeping us on track.

If you’re a prospective first-time home buyer, you might be wondering if a real estate agent can help you as well. Here’s what you need to know:

What Do Real Estate Agents Do?

A real estate agent is the buyer’s representative and personal home shopper. Eighty-seven percent of home buyers purchase homes from agents, who carry out the following tasks:

  • Set up showings.
  • Negotiate the purchase.
  • Deal with the seller and their agent.

First, the real estate agent will schedule a time to meet and discuss what kind of home you want, your price point and any questions you have about the process. When my husband and I spoke with our agent, we told him we wanted a two or three-bedroom house in an urban area, close to shopping, restaurants and in downtown Charlotte.

Not all real estate agents are the same, but this one was great. He listened, asked questions about specific neighborhoods and created an automated search tool for us to use. Any time a home fitting our parameters went on the market, we were notified by email. We didn’t have to scour the web every day for fresh listings — it was hard enough keeping up with all the great houses found by the search algorithm.

After finding a home that looked interesting, we contacted the real estate agent to ask about the next steps. We were getting ready to move from Denver to Charlotte, so it would be a few days before we could actually look at the place. Mark made it clear that this house would almost certainly be off the market by then.

At his recommendation, we put in an offer immediately. He also gave us advice on how to make a competitive offer and how to write a letter to the sellers.

A real estate agent can also help if you have an issue with a home after you’ve put in an offer, like a bad inspection or a low appraisal. When our house was appraised for $5,000 less than our offer, he advised us to ask the sellers for a reduction, which they agreed to.

Do You Need a Real Estate Agent in 2020?

Having a real estate agent is incredibly useful as a first-time home buyer. Without an agent, you’ll have to use public listing sites to find homes. If you’re in a sellers’ market, you could miss out on houses that get sold before they’re officially on the market.

An agent will represent your interests and offer advice, like how much to offer and whether a home is really worth the listing price. They’ll also recommend a mortgage lender, home inspector, and other services. Our agent even got us a good deal on a home security system.

Unless you’re incredibly familiar with the market, have a real estate background or know someone in the industry, you’re likely better off using an agent for your first house. They’ll save you time and stress, allowing you to focus on your other responsibilities.

Some buyers are worried about the cost of a real estate agent, but that’s a common misconception. Buyers don’t pay their real estate agents. The seller’s real estate agent receives a commission from the home’s sale, and they typically split it 50/50 with the buyer’s agent.

Some first-time buyers, after finding a house on their own, decide to use the seller’s agent to facilitate the deal. That’s almost always a bad idea because an agent has no duty to be impartial. They could very well skew negotiations in favor of the seller in order to receive a larger commission — leaving you with the raw end of the deal.

How to Find the Best Real Estate Agent For You

The first and best place to look for a real estate agent is LemonBrew, the fresh and modern home buyer and real estate agent matching platform.

Find a real estate agent or Realtor who sells homes in the area you like. Don’t hire an agent who specializes in the suburbs if you’re looking in the downtown area. You want someone who knows your neighborhood inside out — our agent lives just a few blocks away.

Be mindful of the difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor. A real estate agent is someone licensed by the state who is allowed to represent a buyer or seller in a transaction. A Realtor is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®, an organization that has its own rules, ethics, and standards on what its members can and can’t do.

Looking for a real estate agent that you can trust? LemonBrew matches you with the best local agents in your area. Click here to find out more.