This is the swimming pool at the clubhouse near the house, we finally ended up buying.
We were pretty educated consumers, having bought and sold a number of houses over the years, but when you come into a new area, it is almost impossible to figure out the housing market yourself.
Most people don't really understand what real estate agents can and can't do for you. It turns out they can do a lot for you, if you're serious and know what you want.
Figuring out what you want and where you want it, unfortunately for you and for some of the real estate agents that you meet, may take some time.
In our case it took nearly three summers before we gave up on Beaufort and found an area more suitable to our wallets. Yet I spent so much time with real estate agents, that I learned to appreciate the job they're trying to do and ended up becoming a Realtor® myself. You might want to check out the difference between a plain real estate agent and a Realtor® before you get serious about buy property. Realtors® have a code of conduct. Most real estate agents are Realtors®, but some aren't
Some of the other lessons that I've learned might save you both time and money.
First off you need to understand that real estate agents have some rules which you really need to understand before you start looking at houses. A real estate agent can represent the buyer or the seller, or both. The best way to understand this is read the "Working with Real Estate Agents" page on the North Carolina Real Estate Commission website.
When you first meet with a real estate agent in North Carolina and start describing your real estate needs, the agent needs to immediately explain to you the various types of agency that might be of benefit to you in your real estate search.
Had we been more sophisticated when we started looking for property, we would have likely found a very good buyer's agent and let him or her do much of the searching for us. Of course you really need to know the general area where you want to look. Most real estate agents have very good local knowledge, but their area knowledge may or may not be as strong.
Real estate agents live and die by their reputations, so the best way to find a good one is to start asking questions of people who have either just bought or sold property. However, if that is impossible, you can get a recommendation in most small communities if you just keep talking to people. Don't be afraid to check agents out on the web.
There are some very hardworking people like myself who have just become real estate agents. We have some different talents than some people who have been in the business for year. Check out both types before you commit.
I would not be embarrassed to walk into a real estate agency and ask to interview some agents. There's almost always an agent on duty, you can start with that person and if you feel that person doesn't meet your needs, ask to see some other agents or find another real estate agency. Most real estate agencies of any size have gotten to that size by delivering good service. With a newer or less established office, you just have to ask more questions.
We actually got some references for the first real estate agents that we worked with on North Carolina's Crystal Coast. However, we ended up buying our house with the help of an agent we met by just walking into a real estate office that had a house listed that we wanted to see.
She did such a great job on that house, that we worked with her a few more weeks and were able to find the right place after a couple of marathon house viewing sessions.
Good real estate agents are experts in what they do. If you have a buyer's agent working for you, they will do everything possible to get you the right house, in the right spot at the lowest possible price.