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Finding a real estate agent.

How do you choose a real estate agent? According to a recent industry survey, most home buyers ask friends, relatives, and business associates who have recently bought a house in the area under consideration for their recommendations. A small percentage of buyers use newspaper advertisements or simply go to a realty office. A smaller percentage yet find an agent at an open house. To help you make a fully informed choice, here are some other suggestions.

Interview several real estate agents from different firms to find one you're comfortable with. (An agent won't mind the fact that you are doing comparison shopping as long as you are up-front about it.) Find out if the agents are familiar with the area you are interested in, how long they have worked there, and whether they specialize in houses of any particular type or price range.

If an agent suggests driving out to look at houses before establishing what you can afford and what you are looking for, find another agent. The best agents want to be as efficient with your time as they are with their own. A good agent will try to help you determine what you can afford from the start and will direct you to lending institutions you can call to find out the amount that you are qualified to borrow.

"The main thing an agent wants is honesty," says Joanne Ernstsen, former president of the Denver Board of Realtors. "I want to know what you really need--for example, how many bedrooms are essential? Then I'll explain what that means in terms of price, and how much you'd need for the down payment, closing costs, and monthly mortgage. I try to give clients information to help them search in the right direction."

Though it's tempting to get several agents looking for houses for you, it may be unwise. An agent loses interest in a hurry if she or he makes an appointment for a client to see a house only to learn that the client has already seen it with another agent. "The one who is loyal to me will get my first call," says San Francisco broker Elizabeth Pfau.

A real estate agent may represent more than one party in a transaction. Many states have recently passed legislation requiring agents to disclose whether they represent both the seller and the buyer.
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Title Annotation:Special Report: The Endangered Western Home
Author:Gregory, Daniel
Date:May 1, 1993
Previous Article:To buy or not to buy: that is the question.
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