Choosing a buyer's agent is an integral part of the home buying process
This is, after all, the person that you will be working with to help you find your dream home. Doesn't it make sense to meet with them first to ensure that they know what you're even looking for in your next home?
When asked to meet prior to viewing a property that you see online or drive by, look at this as a sign that the Buyer's Agent is invested in putting themselves to work for you. This consultation is useful to clarify the home buying process, setting expectations on both sides, and laying the foundation for a smooth, happy client/agent relationship.
Every home buying process has a unique set of opportunities and challenges, and can be stressful for buyers and sellers, and sometimes even the agents involved. You are not only choosing an agent, you are also choosing a trusted advisor, and putting a plan in place up front will help ensure a smooth, and more enjoyable, transaction. It has been my experience in the past that this consultation can save a tremendous amount of time in the buying process. It allows for a non-stressed time to go over the buying process and what to expect during the transaction vs being asked to hurriedly sign something that you are unsure of, in order to try and get an offer accepted.
The first step of a Buyers Consultation would be an in-person meeting to get acquainted. It may be at a local real estate office, your home, or at a place like a local coffee shop. Based on your availability as well as the agents, it is a time to discover whether or not your schedules mesh, and how flexible the two of you might need to be in the future to coordinate time together to look at homes.
Typically, a buyer's agent will ask a lot of questions, consider this your "buyer's interview". The information collected during this phase of your time together is vital, as it's how the agent will collect all the necessary info to help find your dream home!
What type of home would you like to purchase? Location? The number of bedrooms and bathrooms? Is the yard size important to you? Are you looking for move-in ready, or are you willing to do a total remodel? What size home are you're looking for? What is your price range? Have you been pre-approved for a mortgage? What are your top five priorities?
The National Association of Realtors states that 93 percent of buyers consider "knowledge of the purchase process 'very important'" when choosing an agent. The consultation allows you and your Buyer's Agent an opportunity to walk through the home buying process. It allows for a time to go over the steps to home-ownership, from making the first offer, to closing day and everything in between.
For most agents, setting your communication expectations right of the bat is extremely important. How do you like to be contacted? Text/email/phone... all of the above? Are there any times that are off limits, or would you expect to be informed around the clock? All things to discuss during your consultation.
Once your Buyer's Agent has answered all of your questions, you can now move on to your Buyer's Agency Agreement. Typically, you might sign an agreement for a certain amount of time that you have hired them as your agent. Now they can get to work for you! The agreement will spell out the agreement from time limits, compensation as well as what your home search criteria are.
Now that the process has been spelled out, expectations have been set, and a foundation laid, it's time to get hunting! Taking the time to have a buyer's consultation is a great step to finding the house that you want, in the time you want it.