House hunt with a buyer's agent

For sale sign with sky in background

If you're purchasing a home, don't go with just any real estate agent: Get a full-time buyer's agent.

One of the advantages of working with a buyer's agent is that you're less likely to have conflicts of interest.

Unlike agents who represent buyers and sellers, buyer's agents won't steer you toward a home that one of their clients has listed or that's being represented by an agent they're working with on another deal.

When brokers are trying to buy and sell homes, it's hard to know what all of the connections might be and feel confident that your best interests are being represented.

You should never have to wonder: "Is my agent pushing me to buy this home because he wants to curry favor with the selling agent? Are they working on another deal together where their roles are reversed?"

Start by looking for what's called an exclusive buyer's agent, which means he or she works for a real estate office that only represents buyers.

You'll never have to wonder if you're being shown homes that other agents in the office are selling so that the brokerage will earn all of the commission from the deal.

Be sure and ask whether they're a Certified Exclusive Buyer Agent (CEBA) by the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents.

Although that doesn't guarantee you've found a great agent, it means they've received additional training on buyer-based negotiations and have closed a minimum of 12 transactions as an exclusive buyer's agent.

If you can't find an exclusive buyer's agent in your area, go for a buyer's agent at a traditional real estate office.

In this instance, ask whether they've been certified as an Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR) by the National Association of Realtors.

An ABR also has had special training on how to negotiate on a buyer's behalf and must have completed at least five transactions serving solely as a buyer's agent.

You should wonder about any agent who claims extensive experience as a buyer's agent but hasn't become an ABR or CEBA.

Here are some other smart moves for finding the best real estate agent.

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