Motivating Your Agent to Find the Home of Your Dreams

Suppose you're shopping for a home. You've found a terrific real estate agent, who comes highly recommended, really knows the market in your preferred neighborhood, is a sharp negotiator and has an action plan to help you find a great home. Trouble is, dozens of other people are also
clamoring for this agent's attention. How can you make yourself an A-list prospect and get some extra attention and service to boot? Here are five suggestions:

1. Get pre-approved for a mortgage. 
Buyers who haven't demonstrated their financial ability to purchase a home won't be a high priority for most top agents. That's why a simple loan pre-approval letter, preferably from a well-respected local mortgage broker, is a must. A pre-qualification letter is helpful, but not nearly as strong a motivator as a pre-approval letter.

2. Be loyal.
Agents admit they work harder for loyal buyers. Don't work with multiple agents in one area at the same time. If you decide to switch agents or if you're house hunting with two agents in two distinct areas, disclose the situation to both agents. If you visit an open house, sign the guest book and write in your agent's name and telephone number. If you spot a new for-sale sign or a new listing on a Web site, ask your agent to get the details. If you decide to check it out yourself, mention your agent's name.

3. Know your own priorities.
Some agents get frustrated with buyers who seem clueless about what they need and want in their home. Before you start house hunting, make a list of your priorities and discuss each item with your agent. Write down the non-negotiable items that you must have, and the amenities that you'd like to have, but could forgo if the other minimum requirements were met. When you start touring homes, be as specific and direct as possible in communicating what you like and don't like about each home.

4. Be open-minded.
Agents work harder for imaginative buyers who can see beyond dead landscaping and hideous wallpaper. The perfect home for you could be hiding behind a decor you can't stand. Ask your agent what it would take to upgrade, remodel or redecorate an unappealing home that happens to be in the right neighborhood and the right price range.

5. Be ready to act fast.
Some buyers want to move into their new home within a couple of months. Others won't be ready to start packing for two years. People who are planning to move sooner rather than later will be a higher priority for most real estate agents. Buyers who aren't encumbered with a home they need to sell also get more attention. If you intend to move quickly, make that intention known to your agent and act on it.