Find the Right Home Buyer's Agent

Having someone to represent you in the home-buying process can help.

If you're shopping for a new home, there are several things you can do to ensure that the process goes smoothly. Start by figuring out what you can afford to buy (our calculator will help). Then get preapproved for a loan. And consider enlisting the help of a buyer's agent. The May 2010 issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance has tips on finding the right one:

Think of a buyer's agent as a matchmaker who will introduce you to prospects you might otherwise have missed, help find the best home for you, and protect your interests.

Look for agents who have earned the Accredited Buyer's Representative (ABR) credential (visit www.rebac.net (opens in new tab)) or who belong to the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (www.naeba.org (opens in new tab)), whose companies don't take listings from sellers. Interview agents for a good fit. The best ones will interview you, too, to scope out what you really want and put together a package of homes.

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An agent may ask you to sign a buyer's broker agreement, which outlines your rights and responsibilities to each other. Although agents may ask for a term of 90 days, you can negotiate a shorter one. Don't sign if agents won't agree upfront that they will end the relationship if it isn't working.

To learn more about what steps you should take before and during your home search, see Shop Smart.

Cameron Huddleston
Former Online Editor, Kiplinger.com
Huddleston wrote the daily "Kip Tips" column for Kiplinger.com. She joined Kiplinger in 2001 after graduating from American University with an MA in economic journalism.