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How to Find a Real Estate Broker or Agent - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

How to Find a Real Estate Broker or Agent

By Jim Sulski, Studio One Networks

For homebuyers, choosing the right real estate agent is crucial. However, few homebuyers -- or sellers for that matter -- pay much attention to choosing a real estate professional who can successfully guide them to the right home.

The right agent can be enormously useful to a homebuyer. The agent can help scout out prospective homes, negotiate contracts, be a source of referrals to various professionals, and facilitate dozens of other details. Best of all, a buyer's agent is paid out of the closing proceeds of the home -- not out of the buyer's pocket.

When an agent or broker winds up representing both the buyer and the seller in the same transaction, it's called a "dual agency" situation. And, there is often a conflict of interest.
Because listing (also known as conventional) agents are paid by the seller, and represent the seller's best interest, they cannot put the buyer's needs first -- ever. So if you're a buyer and you use a conventional agent, you may not have anyone re presenting your interests in the deal. All agents are required to disclose whom they represent before a deal gets underway. Make sure you know whom your agent really represents.

There are several ways to find a good agent. Start by talking to fri ends, relatives and neighbors who have recently purchased or sold a home (specifically those in the neighborhoods you're interested in). Ask those people how often their agents checked in with them, whether the homes they showed them were on the mark, and how easy the agents could be tracked down with a phone call. A dedicated agent should return calls within an hour or so.

Also, ask how well the agent handled the negotiation process, and how much hand-holding was available during the closing pr ocess. Many agents today will charge buyers and sellers a fee for handling closing documents above and beyond the commission.

Other ways to find an agent include: looking at ads in neighborhood newspapers, turning to various Web sites, and visiting neighborhood open houses to meet different agents and see how they work. D

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