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Choosing a Real Estate Agent

Before you go looking at houses, you'll need to find a real estate agent. Hiring a real estate agent takes a little bit of time to do. You're making one of the most important financial decisions in your life and you want to make sure you hire the right person.

You can get recommendations for agents from family members, friends and co-workers you trust who have used that agent themselves in buying a home. You can also check the internet, newspaper listings, and "Homes for Sale" publications.

The best type of agent to look for are the ones who work in real estate full-time. Sometimes, the part-time agents may not devote enough time towards finding a home for you. You want agents who do this for a living full-time and will make sure that your housing needs are met. Also, because there is such a high turnover among real estate agents, you want to find several that have been doing this for at least the past couple of years.

Try to find agents that are licensed and have the Graduate, REALTORS® Institute series (GRI) accreditation from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Agents who have the GRI will usually have it printed on their letterhead or business cards. If not, just ask if they have this particular accreditation.

After selecting several agents, set up interviews with each one. The interviews don't have to be long, no more than an hour. During the interview, explain to the agent what kind of house you're looking for, what neighborhoods you're interested in, and the price range you're comfortable with.

Ask the agent if he or she is a buyer's agent. A buyer's agent represents the buyer only. Most agents say they represent the buyer and seller, which is called dual agency, but they really only represent the seller. These agents must legally negotiate on behalf of the seller and put the seller's interest first before yours.

Ask if the agent is an "exclusive buyer's agent". This type of agent only works with buyers and does not sell homes. Ask to talk with past buyers who have bought homes in the neighborhoods you're interested in.

After conducting interviews with all the agents, choose the one who answered your questions well and made you feel that you're interests were important and they're committed to finding that perfect home for you.

Michelle Roebuck provides mortgage and home buying advice for people with bad credit at Sign up for her newsletter at


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