You will need to find an agent if you want to purchase your dream house. These agents are the only ones who have access to lock box codes, which are used in order for a potential buyer to visit homes for sale. However, this may not be a good idea to work with an agent because he works for a seller, and his job entails obtaining the highest price for the seller. That presents a conflict of interest as you want to acquire the property for the lowest price possible.

There are a lot of choices when it comes to looking for someone to represent you. But many fail to realize the huge difference between a real estate agent and a realtor. A real estate agent refers to an individual with a state or provincial license, representing either a buyer or a seller in a transaction in return for commission. Most of them work for a real estate broker or realtor. Conversely, realtor is a designation given to a professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors. NAR members include agents working as appraisers, counselors, residential and commercial real estate brokers, property managers, salespeople, and other real estate professionals. If you have no agent recommendations from friends and relatives, it is advisable to search for a Realtor as these professionals may be more likely to give you a higher-quality agent.

Some agents offer a commission rebate. Normally, the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent divide the commission from the sale, which ranges between 5% and 6% and paid entirely by the seller. If that is the case, the buyer’s agent will get 2.5% to 3%. Your agent can give some of that money to you as an incentive for you to work with him. For those with limited cash reserves, this can help offset the amount of down payment, closing costs, and other expenses relative to purchasing a house and moving.

But the rebate must not be the sole criteria in selecting an agent. In this type of transaction, the amount of money a good agent can save you could easily exceed the rebate offered by another agent. Idealistically, find an agent that offers both. But this is not possible in real life.

Whether an agent or realtor, consider the following factors when searching for one:

  • Nature of work
  • Experience
  • Availability
  • Contracts to sign
  • Fees

A potential buyer should work with an agent who is familiar with your area. It is preferable if the agent lives in the area and works full-time, as he can lead you to the best neighborhoods, guide you about quality of life issues, and share trends in home values and sales. On the other hand, a new agent with a good mentor can fulfill his job like a veteran professional.

Also, an agent should be available at the days and times you want to meet him. For instance, if you work from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., that professional must be willing to work with you in the evening and on weekends.

Several agents will ask you to sign an exclusive contract with them, which usually lasts from 30 to 90 days. It aims to protect them against sudden change of agents. But you can protect yourself by signing the shortest contract possible in case you are not contented with his performances.

In most instances, you should not shoulder the agent’s fee and let the seller handle it. And most importantly, tap an agent you are comfortable working with, but do not work with a wimp. Choose someone who can be a good negotiator on your behalf. Not all agents can secure the best deal.