Now that you’re ready to start searching, it’s time to figure out your method.

There’s websites, open houses, hiring a buyers agent, driving around on your own, etc. At last count, 94% of homebuyers start their search on the internet and actually take about 8 months before finally closing on a home. That’s a lot of searching.

If you begin your search on the internet, you might want to choose the website wisely. Some will start on because it seems so robust. I’d like to offer you a bit of different advice…we’ll call it an ‘insider’s tip’. Chat with your friends for a minute, either in person or via Facebook, email, Twitter, etc. See if they’ve had an incredible experience with an agent or particular company that they would like to recommend to you. If you do get a good recommendation, go to that agent’s website and use their site to search. Didn’t get any good recommendations? Take a glance at the companies in your area and check out their websites. If you like one in particular, you can either search through agent bios and pick one you think would be a good fit, or you can just start searching and you’ll be randomly assigned to an agent in the company. No worries, if you feel like you’ve gotten stuck with someone you don’t like, you don’t really have to use them. You are more than free to find someone else. What happens is that you get assigned to whatever agent has the listing you’ve clicked on.

Customers like the internet because they feel they can search without being hounded by an agent. Agents like the internet because their customers feel so comfortable searching on it. It’s a win-win. Feel free to tell whatever agent you’ve gotten in contact with your situation. For example, if you’re not quite sure what you’re doing, but would like to continue to search the web—-that’s just fine. We, as agents, just don’t want to run the risk of YOU feeling like we’re not there for you or not interested, so we try to contact you and find out your intentions. It’s all really harmless and nothing to be scared of.

If you’re more of the ‘driving around’ type, you will find quite a few open houses to go through on the weekends. Some websites now even show all the open houses in the area to help cut down on your drive time (and to make you like our site better). Open houses are nice…the agent will usually ask you to sign in. If you’re working with a buyer’s agent already or know someone you’re going to work with, just let the open house agent know. If you don’t have an agent yet, check out the one at the open house and see if they might be a good fit. The one thing you do know is that they’re a hard-working, dependable agent if they’re hosting an open house on the weekend. There’s nothing wrong with taking a minute to be friendly and see if you like them—-that’s what they want!! If you like them, take their info and give them a call when you’re ready. Mostly we hold open houses to make our sellers happy and to try and meet potential buyers. Most buyers don’t buy the home that’s being held open, so don’t feel bad about not liking the home and giving some good, honest feedback.

If you’d like to make things easier on yourself & faster, hiring a buyer’s agent from the beginning is definitely for you. A good buyer’s agent will take the time to chat with you, learn exactly what you’d like, advise you, and take you through any home you’re interested in viewing. In most states, hiring a buyer’s agent doesn’t cost you anything…they are paid by the seller at closing. Some companies may have an extra brokerage commission they charge buyers, but that is also usually paid at close. It takes a lot of faith for an agent to take you out and show you 30 homes without asking you to sign a buyer’s agency agreement. See, that agreement proves to others that we have a relationship with you and it helps guarantee that we’re going to be paid for our time and effort. Now, if you’ve met an agent and gone to a couple of houses with them and you find that you don’t really like them, please let them know…don’t just disappear. If you’re not comfortable telling them, call their broker and explain; maybe ask for a recommendation on someone else. We would prefer to know what we need to improve as opposed to wondering where in the world you went.

In Missouri, if you drive around and call the agent on the sign, and you’d like to work with that agent to buy the home they have listed; they will work for you as a Disclosed Dual Agent. This means they’re representing the best interest of both parties and keeping confidential information, confidential. In Kansas, they will be a transaction broker. Either way, if you’re comfortable working with the same agent the sellers are using, by all means, do so. If you’d rather have your own person looking out for your best interest, hire a buyer’s agent.

Next blog: Buying your first home, when you find THE ONE

Disclaimer: We sell real estate in Missouri and Kansas. Laws and contracts will vary from state to state.