Why waste your time visiting multiple real estate offices in-person when you could connect with a qualified agent in just a few clicks online? These days we shop for groceries, book telehealth appointments, and even buy cars from the comfort of our couch. For would-be homebuyers itching to start their house hunt, digital resources can help simplify and streamline the process.
There are some important things to keep in mind before committing to an online real estate agent, but that shouldn’t be a dealbreaker. On the contrary, online real estate services provide massive convenience and you can get superb quality in your home-buying journey — but you need to ask the right questions.
“Not all agents are created equal,” says Compass real estate agent Demi Lee Antelo. And this is something to keep top of mind especially when browsing for an agent online. Because of the “lack of entry barriers” in the digital space, you might be more likely to encounter under-qualified hobbyists or even long-licensed veterans who aren’t up-to-date on relevant developments in the housing market. These players are red flags.
Alternatively, you can also find full-time agents who do this for a living. “This is the kind of agent you want to look for when searching online," she says.
Antelo notes that essential qualities of a great agent include: a license, of course; bona fide experience; knowledge on the current market (especially since it’s become so intensely competitive); a strong ability to read and write up contracts, and, perhaps above all, a fierce protection of your money that’s on the line in a potential transaction. This “true professional” shouldn’t be distracted by a day job, should be responsive to calls and texts, and be gung-ho about scheduling showings of new properties so you don’t miss out on an opportunity.
Luckily, Better is a digital homeownership company that’s transparent about everything you need to know when picking an agent. Better has streamlined the whole process, from getting an agent to finalizing your mortgage. Their team of experts at Better Real Estate aren’t pushy about linking you with an agent, and they offer sensible advice for navigating the homebuying and refinancing process.
Better echoes many of the same rules for home buyers that Antelo and other experts underline.
Ready to make the leap? Here’s keep these three tips in mind.
1. Do your research
Shop around and look for agents in your area who have positive reviews. Evaluate agents to see if any stick out to and speak to your wishes. Do they have specific experience that overlaps with your needs? That could be an indicator that you’ll work successfully together.
2. Interview the agent
As Better notes, “7 out of 10 homebuyers don’t even interview their agent.” That’s a big mistake. While you might be focused on the home itself, that extra step of interviewing agents can save you a lot of wasted time. “Ask [the agent] how long they’ve been in the business, if they do the job full-time, how many sales they’ve had in the last 6-12 months (in this market, they should have a substantial amount), and ask them for proof. Ask them for references from past clients,” Antelo says. “This is always a good indication of the type of agent they are.”
3. Make sure the agent explains the whole process to you
No question should go unanswered. A solid agent will be able to offer key insights, helping you to find the right home and the best deal. As in any business, empathy is always a plus when it’s wielded for excellent results for everyone. If you suspect an agent is giving you the cold shoulder or brushing off your concerns, the solution is simple: walk away. Find someone who understands your non-negotiables and knows how to help you stay focused on sticking to your priorities.
“This market is wild,” Antelo concludes. “It's constantly changing. Properties aren't sitting on the market too long, and oftentimes they’re receiving multiple offers. A true full-time professional agent will want to educate you and make sure you don't waste your time.”