For most people, buying a home is amongst the most important purchases they will make in their lifetime. Buying a home can be an intimidating experience, with many facts and figures and general knowledge to cover. We recommend that you hire an exclusive buyers agent, especially if you are a first-time homebuyer or relocating to a new city. When in the market to buy an apartment in NYC, take the time to interview your buyer’s agent properly. This person will be your loyal guide and representative with fiduciary duty through the buying process. As such, having the right agent for the job is crucial. The way to do this is by asking them some tough questions.
Finding a buyer’s agent that best suits your needs can be challenging. There will be obvious ones, such as, What are your commission fees? What Neighborhoods do you specialize in? And How long have you been in the business?. These are the right questions, but there are other more probing ones that you might not think to ask. So before you hire, ask the questions below.
How long have they been full-time buyer’s agents?How long have they been full-time buyer’s agents?
While the number of years in real estate is not necessarily an indicator of success, working full time in the industry indicates that they have on-the-job experience, where most skills are learned through practice.
How familiar are you with the neighborhoods that I like?How familiar are you with the neighborhoods that I like?
Spending time buying homes in the neighborhoods you prefer indicates that the buyer’s agent has a solid understanding of the area. Especially if they have already helped buy homes there in the past.
What type of buyer’s agency do you practice?What type of buyer’s agency do you practice?
There are three different buyer’s agent types, so you will want to ask this question if you are looking for a specific agency representation.
Buyer’s agent types includeBuyer’s agent types include
- Non-exclusive buyer’s agent (represent buyers and work with brokerages and sellers of their choice, but there can be a conflict of interest if they work with an office that also has sellers agents)
- Designated buyer’s agents (represent the buyer)
- Exclusive buyer’s agent (represents buyers only and doesn’t list properties for sale)
Can you recommend professional service providers post-closing?Can you recommend professional service providers post-closing?
A buyer’s agent should be able to recommend mortgage lenders, home inspection services, painters if needed, and other essential services necessary when buying a home. A seasoned buyer’s agent will be able to give you more than one company and let you know if they have a relationship and if they receive compensation for their recommendations.
Are you aware of any special home buyer programs?Are you aware of any special home buyer programs?
A buyer’s agent familiar with the area you are considering should be familiar with local laws and regulations and point you in the direction of local, regional, state, and federal programs that help with home purchases and improvements. A great buyer’s agent may also be aware of alternative programs and even grants and loans.
Do you know of any incentives offered?Do you know of any incentives offered?
Despite a robust recovery in the housing market and limited inventory, real estate developers and sellers may be offering incentives to help sell their property.
Do you have any credentials and certifications?Do you have any credentials and certifications?
These include those from the Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR) certification from the National Association of Realtors® and The Certified Buyer Representative (CBR) designation. Also, the National Association of Exclusive Buyer’s Agents (NAEBA)
How are you paid, and do you charge a fee?How are you paid, and do you charge a fee?
The seller pays the listing agent and buyer’s agent commission in NYC. However, be sure you know up front who will be paying your buyer’s agent.
How will you communicate with me?How will you communicate with me?
Find out the best way to reach your buyer’s agent and how they communicate so that you can make sure that you are both on the same page at all times, whether text or email is your preference. When working with a buyer’s agent, you will want a responsive and dedicated broker, keeping you ahead of your competition.
Who was your most challenging client, and how did you handle it?Who was your most challenging client, and how did you handle it?
You’ll want a buyer’s agent that knows how to handle challenges with grace and professionalism. Having them relate a client’s horror story will give you an insight into how they deal with challenging people and circumstances. Any agent that immediately starts trash-talking a former client on the worst terms should raise a few eyebrows. That’s not the way a professional should speak about previous clients, nor is it an agent you should consider. But if they demonstrate patience and expertise in handling an awkward situation, you can be a lot surer of them.
If it was you looking to buy a home, where would you look and why?If it was you looking to buy a home, where would you look and why?
You’ll work best with an agent that has a similar lifestyle to yours. Asking this question gives you an insight into what the up-and-coming neighborhoods are and your broker’s mindset. You’ll both work together much better if the agent listens properly and understands your needs on a personal level. For instance, if they have a family, they’ll know what neighborhoods are the best for raising kids. If they’re career orientated, they’ll know what amenities and local services are vital to you.
Will you help me narrow down my choices?Will you help me narrow down my choices?
House hunting can be time-consuming and exhausting. A seasoned buyer’s agent will know this in advance have a system that focuses on properties best suited to your needs. You may not be able to view all properties or maybe a foreign investor, so you’ll want to know if they can preview for you. In a competitive marketplace like New York City, great properties sell quite fast depending on pricing, so also advised moving quickly once a property comes to market.
Their answer will not just tell you how they’ll help you narrow down your choices but also what their approach to finding a home will be—for instance, an honest opinion on a property’s pros and cons.
What are some ways I could make my offer more attractive?What are some ways I could make my offer more attractive?
Money always opens doors, except not always for a Co-op. Suppose you compete in a hot market like NYC, a buyer’s agent with a few more tricks up their sleeve than just upping the price. They should demonstrate the right market knowledge and negotiation skills to give you an advantage over the competitors. Simple as asking the seller’s agent the right questions to find out what is most important. It could be a quick closing, a delayed closing, a post-possession agreement, a specific contingency, or just a buyer they like and trust.
How do you help home buyers come to the right decision?How do you help home buyers come to the right decision?
Sometimes a simple list of pros and cons may not be enough. Having an agent who fully understands your needs, market knowledge, and clarity of vision can help move things along. You should feel comfortable talking with them about any issues or concerns you might have. Common questions include property valuation and the future potential of a particular property or neighborhood. An experienced agent will help you look past the small details and see the bigger picture.
Do you have testimonials or a list of previous clients?Do you have testimonials or a list of previous clients?
As with any service provider, ask for referrals to determine if previous clients were pleased representation provided. Websites like Google provide an excellent reference to learn what other home buyers experienced.
These questions are an excellent way to start a conversation about home buying. Depending on your needs and preferences, you may also want to choose a buyer’s agent specializing in first-time home buyers, condos, co-ops, or townhouse properties.