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When you are ready to buy a home, a real estate professional can help you sort through all the important details, financial and otherwise, involved in the home buying process.

A real estate broker will be well acquainted with all the facts about a neighborhood that matter most to you. For example, you may be particularly interested in the quality of the schools, the number of children in the area, the safety of the neighborhood, public transportation access, traffic volume or some other issue that affects you or your family.

Your realtor will help you figure out a price range you can afford and search classified ads and multiple listing services for homes you’d like to see. With inside information and immediate access to homes as soon as they are put on the market, the broker can save you hours of wasted driving time. When you’re ready to make an offer on a home, the broker can also point out ways to structure your deal to save money.

The real estate broker will explain the advantages and disadvantages of different types of mortgages (though better to leave that to a loan broker), guide you through the paperwork, and be there to answer last minute questions when you sign the final papers at closing. And the best part of using the services of a real estate broker is that they’re free! Brokers receive a commission which is paid by the home seller, not you, the buyer.

Steps to Choosing a Realtor

You’ll want to start searching for a broker as soon as you decide to buy a home. Talk to several, and find someone you think you’ll be comfortable working closely with.

Here are three proven ways to go about finding a broker that’s right for you:

1.  Ask for referrals: Many of your friends and relatives have probably bought and sold their homes through brokers. Make some phone calls and get the names of the real estate professionals they’ve had good experiences with.

2.  Search by area: You can find out which brokers specialize in the kind of home or the area you want by looking in the Yellow Pages or your local newspaper’s classified real estate ads. Or, drive though neighborhoods and note the brokers’ names on the “for sale” signs.

3.  Comparison shop: Talk to several prospective brokers, ask questions about the areas and types of homes in which you’re interested. Do they seem knowledgeable? And, most importantly, is their personal style a “good fit” with your own?

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