Canstar Blue research shows the majority of Kiwis are happy with their real estate agent. For first home buyers, here’s how to choose your first agent.
You can research homes to buy online until you know exactly which street you want to live on – but generally you still need to go through a real estate agent to conduct the sale. The right real estate agent can help you buy your first home quickly and efficiently. The wrong agent might botch the transaction, leaving you homeless.
So how do you find and choose a good real estate agent?
Look for a first home specialist
It’s not an easy market at the moment for first home buyers, so call in the specialists if you can. Many agents have multiple specialities (first home, housing types, particular suburbs), so don’t be afraid to ask agents what their sweet spot is. You need someone who can really help you find and snatch up your first home.
A specialist will usually not be someone who is only working part-time. You need someone who can jump on new listings and show them to you immediately, and chase up the response to your offer from dawn till dusk.
Ask for recommendations
As Mark Sumich of Cahill Real Estate told the NZ Herald, “The best criteria is personal reference.” 65% of survey respondents said they would recommend their real estate agent to a friend, so asking around is definitely a good start.
Sumich added, “It’s critical to get someone who you can trust, especially when the market is difficult, because you could be in for a three-to-four-month relationship. Ask your friends who they have had a good, trusting relationship with.”
Pick a winner
View the most recent Canstar Blue NZ award winner for most satisfied customers in a real estate agent.
Avoid your rellies
Don’t pick a relative to do the job if you can help it. We know it seems like it must make things easier, but real estate sales are fraught with tension and many things can and do go wrong. You don’t need that kind of frustration and resentment creeping into a family relationship.
Interview three or four agents before picking one. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions to see whether they’ll do a good job for your situation:
- Are you a member of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ)? What code of ethics do you comply with?
- How long have you been buying and selling in this area? (You don’t want someone who is learning on the job with you.)
- How many listings do you currently have on the go? (Look for balance – they have enough homes to offer you a good range of choice, but aren’t too busy to help you look through them.)
- How many homes have you sold in the area I’m looking at? Can you please give me a list of properties sold in the past 6 months, listing the asking price and the sales price for each property? (They need to know what prices are realistic, and they may even be in touch with people who are thinking of selling but haven’t put their home on the market yet.)
- How often – and how – will you communicate with me? (This needs to suit your timeframe for buying and moving in, and fit around your working hours.)
- Can you provide references or testimonials from your clients from this year?
- How much will it cost me? (Look for the agent’s commission and ask about any other fees.)
Look at the price tags
When you’re looking in the window of a real estate office, look at what their highest and lowest listed property prices are. Does your price range fit somewhere in there? Your first home search is likely to get more attention from an agent if their main clients are in the same price bracket as you.
Check the Public Register for complaints
The Real Estate Agents Authority has a searchable Public Register that you can use to find out if a particular real estate agent has had any complaints made against them.