Posted in: First time homebuyer tips, Buying a home, Getting a mortgage

Five questions first-time buyers should ask when hiring a real estate agent

Agent showing first-time buyers a home

Key insights:

  • Be sure to hire a REALTOR® you truly like and trust. Don’t be afraid to trust your gut and keep interviewing until you find the right fit.
  • Make sure your Realtor knows the specifics about your market area. They should dig deep into your preferred neighborhood’s stats before expecting your business.
  • Ask if the Realtor works with a trusted lender who can get you pre-approved for a home mortgage loan.

Buying your home is likely one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make, so it’s important to partner with a trusted, knowledgeable Realtor who has your back — and your best interests at heart.

But, how can you find the right real estate agent to represent you as you buy your first-ever home? Here are five questions first-time buyers should ask as they interview and prepare to hire a Realtor.

1. How long have you been a Realtor? Do you typically work with first-time homebuyers?

Unlike some of the later questions we’ll share, there’s no right or wrong answer to this inquiry. But it’s important to understand that most Realtors start by working with buyers, including first-time buyers.

Then, as they begin to know more local homeowners and gain their footing, they transition their businesses to represent both buyers and sellers. Still other Realtors continue to work only with buyers for decades after they have been in the business.

When asking this question, consider their experience and look for cues about how the agent communicates and if they seem passionate about helping buyers find the perfect house. Even if they are new to real estate, past experience in related areas, such as marketing or sales, or local expertise can be a huge benefit. You can also ask them about their network, mentors and training. Together, their history and their passion will help you gain a better understanding of how your professional relationship could align.

2. Will you communicate via my preferred method?

In our low-inventory market for starter homes, fast-paced communication will be necessary to get an offer accepted on your dream house. For this reason, it’s important to discuss how you prefer to be contacted – and to share any communications restrictions you have.

In this conversation, you’ll want to mention if you cannot accept emails or phone calls during work hours, or if you simply prefer to be texted rather than called or emailed. Similarly, you’ll want to see if your agent is comfortable communicating in your preferred manner.

By setting these boundaries upfront, you’ll avoid the possibility of communication-related conflict or confusion in the future.

3. Can we get this done in a certain timeframe?

Whether you have a tight timeline or need to move out by the time your current lease expires, you likely have an idea of when you want to buy a home. Don’t be afraid to express that desire with your potential agent.

And if the agent balks at your timeline, listen to their reasons. If they’re concerned about available inventory in your price range, or their recent first-time buyers have had loan setbacks, they may be offering valuable insights for you to consider. Together, a great agent will help you determine a buying timeline that works for your needs and aligns with your best interests.

4. What do you know about the area where I want to live?

If you’re like most first-time buyers, you’ve probably been searching for available homes online to determine your ideal city or even neighborhood.

If the agent is already very familiar with the area, you can continue to ask questions about the market, including if homes are selling quickly or for above their initial asking price. The agent might not have all the details about your preferred area right off-hand. Be sure to request that they gather information and get back to you with their initial thoughts in a few days.

Part of being a great advocate for homebuyers is doing research, so it’s okay to request that your Realtor put in some work upfront before getting hired.

5. What kind of loan options are best for me, and which preferred lender do you use for first-time buyers?

First-time buyers have a myriad of loan options available to them, from government-backed FHA loans to VA loans (for military veterans) to privately-backed loans. The best way to determine your buying power, and which loan is right for you, is to get pre-approved on a loan as soon as possible.

When meeting to interview a Realtor, ask if they have a preferred lender they work with for first-time buyers and ask if they typically get their buyers pre-approved. If they don’t, be sure to learn why. Pre-approval is a smart step that helps you establish a sensible budget and understand the loan package that would work best for you in the long-run. It can also offer you a competitive advantage when it comes time to make an offer.

Need help finding a qualified agent?

Edina Realty has agents working in nearly every neighborhood across Minnesota and western Wisconsin that can help you find your dream home. If you are looking for a Realtor who specializes in first-time homebuyers or homes in your area, reach out to Edina Realty or one of our agents to begin your property search.

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Status Definitions

For sale: Properties which are available for showings and purchase

Active contingent: Properties which are available for showing but are under contract with another buyer

Pending: Properties which are under contract with a buyer and are no longer available for showings

Sold: Properties on which the sale has closed.

Coming soon: Properties which will be on the market soon and are not available for showings.

Contingent and Pending statuses may not be available for all listings