After renting for a year, my husband and I made the decision to purchase our first home. We watched lots of HGTV Property Virgins and House Hunters, and I constantly had my nose in online listings, sure to be the first to know when another home went on the market. But looking back, we weren't nearly educated enough to walk into our first home purchase without the faithful guidance of a good real estate agent. Fortunately, our real estate agent embodied four key characteristics that made him just the right fit for our house hunting needs.
The right real estate agent won't pressure you.
Our real estate agent didn't make us sign a contract granting him exclusive rights to work with us on our home search. Rather, he reminded us that if we ever felt as though our relationship with him wasn't working out, we were under no obligation to continue. He also didn't instill a sense of "now or never" fear. He was willing to work with us for months on end until we found the right house, and in fact, he taught me patience (or at least tried to). Since a house search comes along with so much pressure to begin with, it was a relief not to have any extra added by our real estate agent.
The right real estate agent will let you call the shots.
Our relationship with our real estate agent started with us sharing our must-haves and wish list. From there, every time I came across a listing I was interested in, if he thought it was worth a look, he'd do everything he could to get us a showing within a day or two. When we were putting in our offer, he didn't encourage us to spend more than we were comfortable with, but he helped us keep a realistic mindset. From the beginning, the process was quite buyer-centered, and we never felt as though our real estate agent was trying to re-shape our vision or go after his own agenda.
The right real estate agent will educate you along the way.
Our real estate agent turned our house search into a very educational experience for us. He taught us the reasons certain areas were more desirable than others, the importance of resale value (which I still keep in mind whenever we make changes to our house), and some of the nuances of real estate pricing and negotiations. He'd often quiz me at one showing about something he'd taught me at the last and get excited when I answered correctly and proved I was becoming a more educated buyer.
The right real estate agent will make you feel like his only clients.
My favorite aspect of our agent was his ability to make us feel as though we were his only clients, even though he was working for one of the busiest real estate groups in our city. He took most of my phone calls, and if he couldn't, he'd be sure to call me back quickly. He was willing to accommodate our schedules, so he would willingly show us houses after 5pm or on weekends. I never got the feeling that he wasn't being genuine with us or that he was schmoozing so that we'd buy a house with him, but he made us feel special from the first showing through to closing.
First-time homebuyers are put in a very vulnerable position in which a real estate agent could easily take advantage of their naivety. On the contrary, our real estate agent was a true advocate for us, ultimately helped us get a great deal on the house we wanted, and taught us a lot about real estate along the way.
More from this contributor: