When to Get a Buyers’ Agent

January 29, 2010

While hosting an open house last weekend, I was asked by a guest, “When’s the right time to start working with a buyers’ agent?” and it occurred to me that others may be wondering the same thing, so I wanted to share my thoughts…

It’s never too soon to sit down and talk with a buyers’ agent. Most people begin their house hunt by browsing properties online and visiting open houses to get a feel for what’s out there. This is a great approach and I strongly recommend that buyers do as much “reconnaissance” as possible, so that when the right property does come along, you are knowledgeable enough to assess its worth and feel confident making an offer. While you don’t necessarily need a Realtor at this early stage, it’s a good time to begin establishing a relationship with one. A good buyers’ agent will be happy to sit down with you to talk through your wants and needs, raising issues you may not have thought of, and providing guidance and focus for your search.

When you begin your search in earnest, a buyers’ agent will help maximize your time and energy. Realtors know the inventory, and regularly preview properties before they’re advertised–in this way, a buyers’ agent can alert you to homes you may not have otherwise known about. On the flip side, your agent can also save you a lot of time and aggravation by helping you rule out homes that don’t meet your criteria or have deal-breaking aspects. This is especially critical for condos, where financing is subject to owner occupancy ratios, association budget/reserves, and restrictions on multi-unit ownership and mixed use.

Finding a buyers’ agent now prepares you for future opportunities. You never know when your perfect home will come on the market, and when it does, you’ll want to have a Realtor you trust at the ready to provide counsel, negotiate on your behalf, manage the transaction details and pull the deal together. The Cambridge/Somerville market can be competitive–especially in the “starter home” price range–and desirable properties often receive several offers after the first open house. With a good buyers’ agent in your corner, you’ll be well-positioned to secure the home of your dreams!

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