Buying Your First Home? Step 1 – Find A Great Buyer Agent!

February 15, 2023

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Years ago, when I wasn’t a Realtor, I bought my first home!  It was many years before the internet was available to help with the search for my Realtor to help me!  It was years before there was even a thing called Buyer Agency!

So how did I find the Realtor I used?  I looked in the yellow pages, I went by offices that were near where I was renting or where I thought I would want to buy a house, I talked to the real estate company’s Agent on Duty that day!  I would have asked friends – but, like me, they were all renting and didn’t have a Realtor they could refer me to!

Today’s buyers have many options out there to find a Realtor to help them buy their first house – there is the internet and lots of sites like Zillow, Trulia,, Google, NextDoor!  Many buyers will go to open houses and talk to Realtors to see if who they like!  Some buyers will drive through neighborhoods and jot down all the names on the signs that they see in these neighborhoods, then go back and look them up on the internet!

Is searching online at sites like Zillow, Trulia, the best way?  Maybe!  But this can take a lot of time to research names – and, at the end of the day, you still haven’t talked to them and you still don’t know much about them other than what you have seen on the internet!  In many cases, the only Realtors that get featured on these sites are the Realtors who are willing to spend some serious dollars to get featured on these sites!

If you go to open houses, then at least you have talked to the Realtor and gotten a bit of feel for them and their personality!

So how do you pick a Realtor to be your Buyer Agent?  Remember, the Realtor you use to help you with your home purchase is one you should trust and one you feel comfortable with!  After all, not all Realtors are the right fit for all people!  Not only do you want someone who is good at their job, but one you like and trust because you will be spending a lot of time with that person!

So however you decide on your Buyer Agent or two that you think you would like to work with, meet with them!  Over the years, I have met with my buyers in so many different places – Panera, my office, even talking long times on the phone or even over Zoom!  Send them an email or call them – see how quickly they respond!  If they don’t get back to you quickly, that may be a bad sign!

Next, interview the Realtor with specific questions – see how you like their answers!  Here are a few questions you may want to ask the Realtor:

  • How long have you been selling real estate?  If they have a lot of years experience, they have probably encountered lots of different situations over the years!  Being a new agent doesn’t mean that they will do a bad job, but an experienced agent will potentially know how to handle situations that may arise!
  • Are you full or part time?  A Realtor who is part time may not always be available to answer questions or respond to other agents and to you in a timely manner!  With the way our real estate market in Richmond has been, this can potentially be the difference between getting an offer accepted or not even seeing a new listing!
  • How knowledgeable are you about the area?  Your Buyer Agent should know the areas you are looking in so that they can advise you about the house, potential resale in the future, pricing, etc
  • Do you typically work in my price range?  There are big differences in homes built for the million dollar homebuyer and the first time homebuyer!
  • How will you help me find my home?  All of us work in different ways – so knowing what your Buyer Agent will do to help you with your home search will help you decide if this is the Buyer Agent for you!
  • Do you have a team of professionals – and do I have to use them?  A good Buyer Agent can refer you to reliable professionals to help you with everything you will need to get your contract to closing.  This includes inspectors, lenders, insurance professionals, contractors, etc!  Requiring you to use the Realtor’s recommended professionals may be a red flag!
  • What makes you different from other Buyer Agents in the Richmond area?  There are a lot of Realtors in the Richmond area!  You want to know what will make one Buyer Agent different from all the others in the area!
  • Do you have any designations – if so, what are they and why?  I have a lot of designations – and to many buyers, this looks like a meaningless alphabet soup!  But I have that these designations have helped me to keep up with the changes that have happened to the real estate industry over the years!  It has helped me be a better Realtor for my clients!
  • What are your thoughts on Dual Agency?  Dual agency occurs when you have the same Realtor handling both the buyer AND seller on the same transaction!  This can potentially cause a conflict!  If the Buyer Agent you are considering using does practice dual agency, ask them how they will represent you in this type of transaction!
  • Will you show me all the properties for sale?  A good Buyer Agent will always show you the properties for sale that meet your criteria!
  • How do you get paid?  I have seen on many sites Realtors saying that it doesn’t cost anything for a buyer to use a Realtor to buy their next house!  But this is really not a true statement!  The way a Buyer Agent gets paid is as follows:  the listing agent and seller will negotiate the commission that the seller will pay the listing agent to list and market their home (think of this as the listing agent’s “salary).  When the listing agent puts the home into MLS, he/she offers to pay a portion of his “salary” to the Buyer Agent!  The commission is built into the price of the house, so really you are paying for the Buyer Agent to assist you, but having a good Buyer Agent assist you on this biggest financial transaction should hopefully make you feel that it is money well spent!
  • Do I like you?  After everything is all said and done, if you are good with the answers that the Realtor gave you to the questions above, then the final decision should be – do I like you and trust you?  Because you will be spending a lot of time together while looking for your next home!

Buying a home is a process!  And it can feel very overwhelming if it is not something you have done before!  The hard part of buying a home is not finding the home – it is sometimes getting the contract accepted and the transaction to closing!  A good Buyer Agent will not only help you find the right house, submit & negotiate on your behalf, refer you to reliable professionals & help overcome any obstacles that may come your way during the home buying journey – but they will also offer you emotional support so you are assured that you have someone who has your back and is not in it to make a quick commission!