Choose Agent Carefully Before Buying House

by Thomas Kraeutler and Meredith Brennan

Imagine you're in a supermarket by a large barrel of apples with a sign that says Pick One - 6 Cents. Some of the apples are sweet, others are sour, a few are only for cooking and the rest look too green and not quite ready for eating. You think for a second and then reach in and grab the first one that looks good - only to find that it wasn't exactly what you expected.

For an apple, it may not matter. But that kind of decision making often happens when people choose a real estate agent to help them buy a home. On the surface, all real estate agents seem alike. They all charge about the same fee, 6% of the sales price, and most agencies offer similar services. But, in reality, differences can be huge. Consumers who don’t do their homework can wind up getting bad advice that could cost thousands. To pick yourself a top-notch professional, do the following:


The best place to start is by asking friends for referrals. If you're new to the area, do an informal search of the properties in the neighborhood. If the same name pops up on lots of signs, you've probably found someone who specializes in that particular area. This can be a real plus, since the agent will probably be well versed in the homes, schools, municipal services and other important information.

Once you've narrowed down the list, make an appointment to meet with the agent in their office...

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