The number of existing homes sold last year in the U.S. reached a 15-year high, as 6.1 million homes hit the market. And the trend shows no signs of slowing down.

As a first-time home buyer, you’ll likely have to overcome many hurdles on your homeownership journey. One of the first is finding the best real estate agent. But if you think all agents are created equal, think again. The top agent for you will vary based on your budget, location, the type of property you’re looking for, and more.

Ready to find the right Realtor for the job? Here are three tips first-time buyers should keep in mind.

1. Keep It Local

Are you shopping for a home in a big city or metro area? Then it’s a good idea to narrow your search for an agent to the specific neighborhoods in which you’re hoping to buy. While Realtors might have general knowledge about the entire city, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re familiar with the neighborhoods or markets you’re eyeing.

An agent with localized experience is a valuable resource. Indeed, they’ll be better equipped to give you key information about a neighborhood, better understand the cost of homes in the area, and provide details about nearby school districts and employment opportunities.

2. Get Clear About Your Expectations

Before you meet with a potential real estate agent, you’ll want to talk with your partner about expectations. While many couples discuss the fun features they desire in a home, like an updated kitchen and bath or an open floor plan, they don’t always talk about the bigger details.

Would you be willing to look at a duplex or condo if it met your wants, needs, and budget? Do you want to find potential homes on your own, or would you rather the agent brought listings to you? In this tough market, are you willing to put an offer in on a house that doesn’t hit every point on your list?

You’ll want to discuss these things with a real estate agent before they get to work for you. Thus, ensuring you’re on the same page before meeting with potential agents is important.

3. Be Open About Your Budget

Perhaps the most important tip you can follow is to set a budget before looking for an agent. And not just a general budget; you need something detailed that includes how much you’ll put down, how much you’ll set aside for closing costs, and what you’re willing to spend on your dream home.

Not only will this information be important when you start seeing houses, but it can also help you find the best real estate agent. In particular, a real estate agent search service makes exploring agents in your area easy. It considers your location, the type of property you’re looking for, and your budget. That way, you can get matched with an agent familiar with houses and neighborhoods at your price point.

Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent

If you’re a first-time home buyer ready to start shopping, these tips can help you find the right agent for the job. Of course, today’s housing market is super competitive, making it prudent to act fast and intelligently to secure the best home. Doing so may be tricky, but having a top real estate agent who will apply their skills and knowledge to match your wants, needs, and budget is indeed the secret to success.

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