This is the eighth of ten articles set to run in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder between April-June 2023.
This week as the Minnesota Homeownership Center continues its series on achieving sustainable homeownership, we’re dipping into what you should look for in choosing and working with a Realtor®. As is the case with lenders, you need to make sure the real estate agent you choose to work with will take the time to listen to you and really work to accommodate your unique needs, aspirations and desires.
Yolande Klutse is a real estate agent with Fulton Realty in Minneapolis. “Growing up in Togo, West Africa, I witnessed my mother invest in land, build homes, and rent them,” Klutse says. “So naturally, I thought Real Estate was the path for me.”
Klutse works to make the home buying process as smooth as possible for her clients, priding herself on efficiency, attention to detail, clear communication and the ability to get things done. And she offers these tips to today’s prospective homebuyers:
- Make sure you find a real estate agent, and a lender, that understand our ever-changing market and what it takes to win the deal.
- You can never start your homebuying journey too early. If you are thinking about buying a home in the next six months to a year, now is the time to start asking questions and getting yourself educated.
- Be patient and flexible with the homebuying process, from the first day of house hunting to the closing table. You may have a few offers rejected before you and your agent find the right house.
- You also want to have a great support system in place for yourself, as the home buying process can be an emotional rollercoaster.
“Home buying can definitely be stressful,” Klutse says. “My goal is to take the stress away from the client and find them a house they will be excited to make into a home.”
Klutse’s advice is solid. She adheres to the Get Ready, Be Ready school of thought which enables prospective buyers to prepare for the purchase of a home in advance. This can be achieved for free with the help of the Minnesota Homeownership Center’s Homebuyer Advisors Network. Our HUD-approved advisors and educators offer customized, one-on-one financial reviews to determine your mortgage readiness, and lay out a road map to fixing any problematic issues that may be present before applying for a loan. Once that’s been taken care of, they’ll work with you to get pre-approved for a loan amount so you and your agent know what’s possible. This way, when the right home comes along, you’ll be able to put a strong, solid offer on the table for consideration. And in our competitive market, this could make the difference between winning and losing.
Kim Smith-Moore is another Realtor® working in the Twin Cities. A Minneapolis native and former banking executive, she was responsible for managing more than $700 million in grant program funding which helped to remove some of the barriers to homeownership. By partnering with the Minnesota Homeownership Center and others to prepare people for the buying process, and by developing and overseeing down payment assistance programs, Smith-Moore helped to create more than 20,000 new homeowners over the course of her banking career.
Having been a practicing Realtor® working on both the agent and banking side for more than 20 years, Smith-Moore encourages interviewing more than one agent to find a great match:
- Ask how long they have been licensed. An agent that’s been in the business for a good amount of time will be able to anticipate problems before they arise, and will have tried and tested negotiation techniques.
- Ask if their real estate work is a full-time or part-time gig. Many part-time agents do a great job, of course. But full-time agents tend to have more experience and more transactions under their belt. They also can dedicate more time to being responsive to your needs.
- Ask if they can share a few of their past clients as referrals. As with any professional you’re considering hiring, it’s always smart to ask for recent references. During these conversations, make sure to ask the references how they felt about the agent’s communication style, how long it took them to find a home, how helpful the agent was at every stage of the process and whether or not they’d hire the agent again.
- Ask whether they are a listing agent or a selling agent. Many agents work as either buyer specialists or seller specialists. While it’s great to find someone who specializes, an agent who does both could offer some great insights on both sides of the process.
- Ask about their knowledge of the current market. This tells you the agent’s experience working under today’s market conditions, with higher interest rates and a buyer’s vs seller’s market that’s in flux.
- Ask if they are familiar with the areas(s) where you’re looking to purchase. Your agent should be knowledgeable about the area you’re looking in. Communities differ in terms of what types of homes buyers want, what types of homes sell, and so on. Make sure your agent is familiar with these unique factors in the area(s) where you want to buy.
- If you are seeking down payment assistance, ask about their knowledge and experience working with these programs. You will need someone who has experience in this area and who has been successful using these types of programs for their buyers in the past.
Smith-Moore’s advice is solid as well. The bottom line is, you are in control when it comes to choosing your Realtor®. Buying a home is likely the largest financial transaction most of us will ever make, and finding the right agent can be the difference that makes your dream a reality.
Homeownership is possible. We can show you how.
For more information on the Minnesota Homeownership Center and its advisor and education services, visit www.HOCMN.org.