The Austin Real Estate (www.austinre.com) Blog provides information and resources to assist you in locating a place to live in Austin and it's surrounding areas.
Austin Homebuying - How To Interview A REALTOR
Savvy homebuyers will ask for recommendations from friends, family and relatives for a REALTOR to represent them in their first home purchase. Then they interview a REALTOR to make sure there's a good personality fit.
The Buyer's Representation Agreement from the Austin Board of REALTORS is essentially an employment contract. It allows the agent to give advice and opinion, and information that can help your negotiating position such as a home's time on market. It gives permission to the agent to work on your behalf.
One thing you should be sure of is that you and the REALTOR can get along, but beyond that it's good to ask a few questions.
What are the questions that you should ask a REALTOR who you are going to ask to represent you when you buy your first Austin home?
What is your average list price to sales price ratio? I think that this question is reasonable - buyers want to know that they are going to get an experienced negotiator working for them. The answer itself can be very insightful. It's not a figure I carry around in my head - mine may be around 95% - I'm not sure. I take this question as an opportunity to discuss the other terms in a contract, and the idea that the price you pay is determined by the value to the buyer whereas the list price may be higher or lower than the fair market value.
Will you provide references? If the REALTOR isn't already a recommendation from someone you know, you may want to contact past clients or view testimonials to see what their experiences were.
Will you explain the homebuying process? It's crucial to work with an effective communicator who has empathy for your situation when you're making one of the biggest purchases of your life. If the agent can't articulate the buying process in a way that you can easily understand, don't work with them!
What are your fees? Most REALTORS in Austin will represent you at no cost to you. But some have different operating models and may charge you per home viewed, per contract written or per hour spent. This is the time to nail down these details.
What services do you provide, how will you help me in the purchase? If a REALTOR answers that they provide "full service", ask them what this means. How many homes are you likely to view? Will they provide documents for electronic signature, or will you have to fax them everything? Will they collect and deliver documents and checks for you? Will they accompany you to closing?
What areas aer you familiar with? This is especially important for new residents and relocators who may not know which areas will meet their needs. An agent should be able to listen to your requirements, and suggest homes in appropriate areas.
Buying a home is an intensely emotional experience for first time homebuyers, so it's important to select a partner who you feel will make the process simple and easy for you!