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Why You Need a Buyer's Agent to Get a Home

That means you can shop around by calling the seller's agents for properties that interest you. Once you've looked at six or eight homes represented by different agents, you should have a good pool to select from, as most agents will be eager to help you find another home if you don't buy the one they showed at your first meeting.

What to look for? Diligence is probably the most important characteristic. A good agent who thinks you are a serious buyer will offer to show homes that might fit the bill and will keep in close contact as properties are added to the listings. A good agent will take your criteria seriously and not waste your time with listings that are too expensive or too far from your workplace.

Once you meet with the first group of agents, you'll quickly find out which ones are eager enough for your business. But avoid the over-eager -- anyone who pressures you to sign an exclusive contract before you are ready.

Ultimately, the agent who shows you the home you buy is entitled to a commission, so be ready to sign a contract eventually. As with all contracts, it's important to study the terms.

While a seller's agent may demand a contract for 90 or 180 days, a buyer's agent should be willing to settle on a shorter term. And, while the seller's agent will expect an exclusive right to list the property, you can insist that the contract with the buyer's agent allow you to work with others.

The buyer's agent should share the commission only if he or she finds you the home you buy, but not if you managed without the agent's help. If someone else unearths the property, or you buy from a builder or developer, or from an owner selling without an agent, your buyer's agent should not be entitled to a commission (unless, of course, you ask for some other type of help, such as guiding you through the appraisal, inspection, mortgage application or closing).

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