The first step in our house hunt in Tennessee was to get pre-approved. Once we’d figured out all of that, we decided to find our Realtor (if you’re a buyer, you call them your “Buying Realtor”). It was all about building our house hunting dream team!
We found our Realtor by starting with three unique options:
- Realtor 1 – Referral from our mortgage lender. Had been selling homes for 30 years and knew our “ideal” neighbourhood well, but wasn’t available to meet right away due to holidays. She also didn’t want to meet us on our free time in the evening, which was a deterrent.
- Realtor 2 – Big Realty company Realtor. We’d seen them recommended through Dave Ramsey, so we booked a meeting with one of their middle-aged (very busy) Realtors.
- Realtor 3 – The one we chose! The wife of my husband’s cycling teammate. She’s been a Realtor for 5+ years and is very involved with local developers.
Here’s how we picked the best buying Realtor for us.
The basics: Everything we read online about choosing a realtor had only the basics about picking Realtors, which wasn’t much. Make sure they’re licensed, see how many homes they’ve bought/sold in the past year, and determine how well they know the neighbourhood. Yada yada yada. Let’s be real, most Realtors have this going for them, so it was easy to see all three of our Realtor options had these qualifications.
The availability: We needed a Realtor who we could call any time of day with questions or new houses to view. We also needed someone who was able to get us a showing the day a house was listed (houses are going fast!) See what their schedules are like, and if they can handle spontaneity. You don’t want to miss out on houses because they’re too busy.
Our Realtor was available for our first meeting on the day we emailed her. So efficient! On the other hand, Realtor 2 (big Realty company) preferred only weekend showings, or would have his assistants show houses if he wasn’t available – which we assumed he wouldn’t be. Not okay, because we need hand-holding and someone by our side during the scary experience of buying our first house!
The actual house hunting: How are the Realtors actually finding you these houses? Are they sorting through listings and constantly editing criteria, or are they just using an automated system to generate you listings. If they’re just using a system to automatically generate listings because they’re too busy to take the time to sort through, that means a lot of listings and a lot of homes that probably don’t match your specific criteria.
Be prepared to do your own searching, too. We got access to the HomeScouting website from our lender, which allows us to view MLS listings as soon as they’re posted
The negotiating and offer writing: We put these as one category, because they go hand in hand. Is the Realtor okay to quickly write an offer? Some Realtors still use paper contracts, which makes it really tough to edit a contract or whip one up quickly. Imagine having to sign and scan and resign and scan, it’s a pain. Our Realtor uses digital contracts which are emailed and digitally signed. It made it so incredibly easy to see a house and make an offer on it all in the same night! Then once the offer is signed, are they calling the selling Realtor to communicate they’ve sent the offer? And say the seller counters your offer, do they involve you through every step and offer advice? Ask how they prefer to negotiate, and how they keep you in the loop during the process.
Their personality: This should really be number one on the list. If the Realtor doesn’t gel with you and your needs, they’re not the ones for you. If you get a weird vibe, if they interrupt and talk over you, or if their personality changes once you say “I’d like to think about it,” before signing a contract with them (yep, that happened to us), go elsewhere. We chose someone who was around our age, and who we genuinely got along with. You’ll be spending a lot of time with this person, so make sure you like them and not just their Realtor qualifications!
Picking a Realtor can be tough – but it’s all about building your dream team. We want to know: How did you chose a buying Realtor, and what advice do you have for other first-time homeowners?