The 2008 mortgage crisis left the housing market in ruins. Soaring rates of default on subprime loans led to a historical recession and accompanying economic struggle that hadn’t been felt by the United States since the Great Depression itself. But over the past nine years since the housing bubble popped, the market has made a slow but sure recovery.
A burgeoning economy and increasingly competitive rates have led to a build up of home buyers ready to purchase, and thanks to affordable homes for sale, it truly is a buyer’s market. With this upward trajectory only expected to continue, it truly is an exciting time to be in the market for a new home.
And prospective buyers aren’t going it alone. In 2014, 88% of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker, a figure which increased from 69% in 2001. This trend has experience to back it up. 98% of buyers who used an agent during their home search reported them as a useful source of information.
But with so many agents out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for you. Here are three things to consider in your decision-making process:
- Know Your Priorities and Must-Haves
- Pay Attention to Licensing
- Specializations and Familiarity Matter
Whether you’re looking for a starter home or somewhere to retire, making your priorities clear is key. A realtor must understand exactly what kind of home, including specific must-have’s and must-not’s, you’re looking for in order to best personalize the selection of homes you see. Noting that you’re looking for granite counter tops on your checklist, for example, will eliminate any homes with outdated kitchens from the properties you view. Your realtor should understand that your time is important to you and seeing certain homes over others ensures not wasting any.
Understanding the world of real estate is also key in finding the right agent. All trustworthy, professional realtors should be licensed through the National Association of Realtors, an organization which sets a code of ethics for all agents. Besides granting standard licenses, this association also gives out awards to top realtors. Do your research to seek out these individuals who are at least licensed by the state and work as an agent full time. The Association of Real Estate License Law Officials currently estimates there are about two million active real estate licensees in the United States.
Most importantly perhaps, the real estate agent you choose should have experience and expertise in areas that align with your interests. For example, if you’re looking for homes for sale in the Outer Banks beach real estate market, it would be best for your agent to be familiar with the local real estate market in that area. This knowledge would allow him/her to share information on things like schools, government, and community development that may affect your decision to buy. This type of agent typically has been in the business for at least five years or more in order to obtain the necessary experience.
And besides familiarity with the area, the agent should also ideally have a specialty that fits your need. For example, if you’re selling a condominium versus a house, it’s important to work with a realtor who has experience with condos, as these units move differently on the market versus homes for sale. Many agents have multiple specialties, so it’s always important to ask.
Thanks to a healthy economy and affordable market, home buyers are currently at a great advantage. Selecting the best realtor for your needs ensures you best capitalize on this prime time within the housing sector to find the perfect house among the many homes for sale. Through research and careful attention, you can develop a successful working relationship with an agent that can then lead to your dream home. Good luck!