A buyer's agent can help you find homes, tour them, make offers, and gather everything you need for closing. They have access to the MLS — the primary source for listing homes — and sometimes they know of houses for sale that haven’t yet hit the market.
And the best part: there's no out-of-pocket cost to working with a buyer's agent.
The only way to know if an agent is right for you is to interview and compare a few of them. Take reviews from friends, family, and referrals into account — but arrive at your own opinion.
Use an agent matching service
Agent matching services usually ask you for some basic information about what you're looking for, including:
Area you want to live
Type of property
Your priorities, such as speed or the best deal
You'll then get a list of local agents who you can contact at your own convenience. No need to go out and find them yourself!
What’s more, some services offer cash back incentives for buying a home through one of its recommended agents. This money can then be used toward important expenses, such as closing costs.
👍 Interview at least 2–3 agents that you’re matched with to ensure you’re finding the best fit.
Ask for referrals and recommendations
If your friends and family were satisfied with a real estate agent in the past, they might recommend some to you. (Plus, asking your own network can save you a lot of time.)
Talk to people who have recently bought or sold a house in your area and price range. And ask the realtor if they're still familiar with that neighborhood. Even if the agent is reputable and was successful with your friends and family, your situation may be different or the agent may have gotten busier.
Contact a real estate brokerage
Finding and interviewing agents on your own can be more time-consuming (and risky) than using an agent matching service or getting a personal referral, but it gives you total control over the selection process.
The benefits of a brokerage are in its size and coverage: numerous agents working within the same market. This tight coverage makes it easy for agents to communicate with each other, home sellers, and even other brokerages about the type of home you’re looking for.
You can search for local agents on Google and Zillow by location and specialty. Check for reviews and testimonials. Call a few up — or meet them in person, if you can — to get a feel for them and see how they would address your goals as a buyer.
What to look for in a buyer's agent
At the very least, your agent will help you find homes that fit your criteria, set up tours, and make offers. But for the best experience, you'll also want them to walk you through loan pre-approval and closing, negotiate on your behalf, and connect you with specialists when needed.
If you’re looking for a stellar agent, here are some green flags to watch out for:
Deep knowledge of your target market
There’s no substitute for local expertise. When an agent’s office isn’t limited to the four walls around their desk but extends outward to the streets and neighborhoods where you’d like to buy, you have a better chance of finding a home that fits your needs — before someone else does.
👍 Look for agents who have 8+ years experience in real estate (the industry median). Every agent has to start somewhere, but it doesn't have to be with you.
Communication and responsiveness
If an agent is too busy to answer your emails or calls, you might miss out on listings and end up feeling neglected. A good way to judge an agent’s communication is to look for their reviews on sites like Zillow and Google. An agent with a poor history of responding will more than likely have complaints about it.
Strong network of local connections
Great buyer's agents can connect you with listings from sellers, as well as other pros to help you with your home buying journey. That can include mortgage lenders and home inspectors.
A genuine interest in what they do
Successful agents are fundamentally curious: they’re reading, researching, and staying on top of local trends — because they want to. The very best might also have an interest in architecture, construction, and home building.
Questions to ask a buyer's agent
We recommend interviewing at least 2 to 3 agents before making your final choice. This initial interview will help you decide how experienced the agent is, how well they communicate with you, and how they differentiate themselves from other agents.
👍 If you’re not impressed by the agent in your first interview, it’s okay to walk away — even if they're from a big or popular brokerage.
Here are some questions to consider asking:
How long have you been working as an agent in this area?
In other words, how many of your clients last year ended up buying a house with you?
Are you a full-time or part-time agent?
On average, how long does it take you to help a buyer from start to finish?
Do you have references from past clients?
How do you help buyers stand out?
What is your negotiation strategy? How does it work?
What are your hours?
Can I see your real estate license?
Do you have any additional credentials or certificates?
» MORE: Questions to Ask a Buying Agent