A friend told me this week that she'd never bought a house that wasn't a family home. She mentioned that she didn't know much about the process and assumed people just called the realtor for each house they wanted to see. As a realtor, I am often called by people who see a listing with my name on it and call me. However, with further questioning, I find out they already have a realtor. In essence, they've entered into an important relationship and have someone working on their behalf that is sort of an "ambassador" for them. That person makes contact with the realtor of the listing and works on behalf of his/her client. That "ambassador" is usually the person that requests a showing of the house and will take you to the homes you are interested in seeing, after scheduling the appointment for you.
If you don't have a realtor and want to see a house, it is fine to call the listing agent. The listing agent will show you the home and hopefully take you on as a client if that home is not the home for you. However, it is usually best to choose a realtor FIRST. That is an important relationship and you may be spending a good bit of time with the person you choose. You want to be sure you are both well-represented and choosing a person you'd enjoy spending time with.
It is fine to interview realtors, letting them know you'd like to meet them and interview them about their processes and how they will help you. They will meet you at your home or their office and have a presentation, explaining how they work with clients. This will often be followed by an interview of your needs....what you must have, wish for, your expected time of moving, where you are in your financing efforts, and how to best stay in contact with you. You want to be sure they are with a reputable company with a strong support systems in place as real estate is primarily a legal transaction. Your agent should be knowledgeable of the market, neighborhoods, schools, congenial, and communicative. One of the biggest complaints has to do with agents not returning calls nor staying in touch. It is an important relationship and the right match in real estate is essential. This will likely be one of the most important decisions in your financial life so you want to choose someone who brings confidence and knowledge to that important journey.
A good realtor listens to your needs, updates you on new listings, assists you with finding appropriate lenders, inspectors, repairmen....explains the paperwork involved in the transaction and advises you on the negotiations as they progress. A great realtor may go the extra mile...sending you info on restaurants, clubs, doctors, online neighborhood groups, best grocery stores...essentially treating you as you would a friend moving to the area.
This is an important relationship. This person will open doors to one of the most important spaces your family will inhabit. Choose a person who is truly putting your needs first and working to make your dreams come true.