What a lot of buyers don’t realize is that you don’t have to call the name on the sign of a house you see, you don’t have to use your second cousin’s boyfriend, and it’s not a requirement to work with friends or family. Heck, you can’t swing a cat in this city without hitting a half dozen REALTORS, so the odds that you already know one are good. The odds that you know a great one might be a little lower.
That’s why we recommend that you interview several buyer’s agents before deciding who you’re going to work with.
Questions to ask when hiring a New Orleans buyer’s agent
Is real estate your full-time occupation?
We’re not knocking part-time agents, by any means. When folks get started in this business, they often have to keep another job until they’ve trained and been mentored and have created a steady flow of clients. What this question is really designed to find out is if your potential buyer’s agent is available to you. An agent who still tends bar on weekend nights probably is. An agent who has a full-time 8-5 job probably is not.
How will you help me find the right home?
A great agent will hold a buyer consultation with you. Sitting down and learning everything they can about your wants, your needs, your budget, your lifestyle, your deal makers, and your deal breakers. After the consultation, they will set you up on an MLS search (all of the homes listed with agents in the metro area) and notify you of any new listings that meet your criteria or any existing listings with price changes that bring them down into your budget. That’s the bare minimum you can expect. If you hire a great agent, they will also network with other agents for upcoming listings that haven’t hit the market yet, and keep an eye out for properties they think are over-priced that might present an opportunity for you.
Do you have a team to support you?
When we talk about a team, we don’t mean that your agent is part of one of those big agent teams. We mean do they have someone that can pitch in for a last-minute appointment if you need one. A mentor that helps them continue to learn and grow. A broker that’s available for contractural issues should they come up. A list of vendors like home inspectors, a great termite guy, a video plumbing person, and the ever-elusive handyman. Your agent’s team becomes your team, so choose wisely.
How will we communicate?
I’ve gotta be honest here. Lack of communication is the biggest complaint against REALTORS, year in and year out. It’s important to know upfront when and how your agent plans to communicate with you. They should be asking you how YOU want to be communicated with, but it’s also important to know your agent’s boundaries. If they don’t answer the phone when with another client or in a closing, that’s a great boundary to have. If they simply don’t answer the phone, that’s a red flag. Consider how quickly they responded to your interview request as a baseline for how they likely communicate and respond to everyone else.
Once you’ve chosen your New Orleans buyer’s agent, be loyal. Please. Agents don’t get paid until they successfully get you to the closing table, with keys to your new home in hand. A good agent will have spent days and weeks and sometimes even months helping you find a home, negotiate an offer, weathering inspections and appraisals, and guiding you through the closing process. If they are good enough to show you around, they should be good enough to get paid for their efforts.