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You've done you've done your initial research and figured out where you want to buy, what your requirements are and how much you're willing to spend. What's next? Well, you can only learn so much from looking at listings on the web. Seeing some of them up close and personal should be making its way to the top of your agenda. Since most homeowners might not appreciate an unsolicited knock on their front door (and they might not even be there to answer), you'll require the services of an agent.
What exactly do they do?
Think of them like personal tour guides that tailor your museum going experience to your set of requirements. When you first meet them, a good agent should be filled with questions: Where are you looking? What amenities do you want? How much can you spend? Basically, the same questions you asked yourself at the beginning of your search (and maybe even a few you didn't think of). They'll use the criteria you provide to come up with a group of listings in the hopes of finding a good match. They'll also stay on top of new properties hitting the market. If something comes up that you might like, they'll bring it to your attention with a quickness.
How do they get paid?
You didn't think they did this out of the kindness of their heart, did you? These folks get paid for their time an effort...but only if you sign the deal. Their fee is generally a set percentage of the commission that the seller's broker receives for a successful sale. So, you can understand why it's in their best interest to show introduce you to properties that are a good match.
How Do I Find One?
Start with personal recommendations and referrals. There are thousands of agents out here and not all are created equal. It's better to go with one that somebody you know and trust has had a positive relationship with. Think of it like dating: Would you rather be set up with someone that's been vetted or someone you met by happenstance? Sure, you can always take your chances, but sometimes it's better to go with what you know.
And, as you might expect, agents appreciate these type of referrals as well. Any good agent should be working hard on your behalf, but if they already had good experience with someone in your personal network, they might exert a little extra effort. For one thing, they want to keep those recommendations coming. For another, they'll be less worried that you'll end up wasting their time. They do work on commission, after all.
If you're in the unfortunate (and unlikely) position of not being able to lean on friends for a referral or two, you can only always use a message boards like the one found on StreetEasy to ask for advice. Be forewarned, posting a question like "Can anyone recommend any good agents" will most likely be met with a few of them responding with "Me!"
· Curbed University [Curbed Hamptons]