Hire An
Agent

In this step we’ll explain what a real estate agent is, how to interview and hire the right agent for you, and how buyer agents get paid.

The skinny on real estate agents and the agency relationship

A real estate agent is a licensed professional who can negotiate and arrange every element of the purchase of your home. Your agent will legally represent you and be the rock you rely upon throughout the remainder of the home buying process. Therefore, it’s important to select someone whom you can trust and feel comfortable.

And, with more than 3,500 real estate agents in Northwest Arkansas, you can be very picky when choosing your agent!

Real estate agents are independent contractors. They work for themselves, can choose which firm they work for, and move between companies at will. 

Most agents in NWA are REALTORS (real-tors). REALTORS are licensed agents who belong to the National Association of REALTORS, the largest trade group in the country. Members of this group are held to high ethical standards of practice and must adhere to the REALTOR Code of Ethics.

An agent must work under the supervision of a broker. A broker is a real estate agent who has completed specific requirements granting them the ability to start their own real estate company and hire, supervise and train agents to work under them.  

 

When you hire a real estate agent, you and your agent enter into a relationship known as agency. This agency relationship is governed by a set of responsibilities that you owe to one another throughout the transaction. 

Learn more about agents, brokers, brokerage structure and the duties you and your agent owe one another here.

Review buyer etiquette when working with an agent here.

What to look for in an agent

It’s likely that a friend or two have already sent you the names of agents they love and trust. Referrals can be a great starting point for finding an agent, but before you engage them, be sure to determine if the agent is a good fit for the property you wish to purchase. 

Remember, the agency relationship created with your REALTOR puts them is a position to create legal obligations for you and have intimate knowledge of your finances, so take care with this important decision. 

Look for an agent who:

  • Is familiar with your town or – even better – your specific neighborhood,
  • Has experience helping homebuyers buy houses that are similar in style and price range to what you are looking for,
  • Offers services and conducts business the way you desire, and
  • Is professional and trustworthy.

 

WHY IS CHOOSING THE RIGHT AGENT SO IMPORTANT?

While many agent practices are regulated by their brokers and the AR Real Estate Commission, the types and extent of services offered to a client are determined by the agents themselves. Therefore, services and quality of services can vary from agent to agent, even within the same company.

It is often difficult to know an agent’s expertise from their title. The real estate industry is a primarily commission based profession with individual agents competing for your work. Take the time to interview a couple agent candidates to find out more about them and the clients they serve. Do they work primarily with buyers or sellers? Have they been in the business full time for 20 years or part time for 5 years? How many buyers did they help purchase a home last year?

Most agents have a specific niche. Many agents focus their attention on a specific market in NWA. Some are more versed in commercial real estate and don’t deal much with residential homes at all while another agent may only help buyers find luxury homes in Fayetteville. You want to make sure your agents niche is in line with the home you are looking for. 

For example, if you are looking for a lake home you will likely have a better experience with an agent who is familiar with the side of Beaver Lake you are interested in, lake properties, the market value of community vs. private boat docks, and restrictions enacted by the Arkansas Core of Engineers, etc.

There are different real estate contracts for different types of properties. Therefore, you want an agent who is familiar with the contracts needed for your specific purchase. 

 

As you can see, not all real estate agents are created equal in service, nor equally qualified to help you with your specific purchase. Don’t settle. Take the time to find the partner you will work best with and trust. 

To find the right agent you need to ask the right questions. 

Not sure what to ask? We’ve complied some common interview questions below to get you started. 

Plus, we’ve made the agent interviewing process in NWA even easier by asking agents these questions for you. Visit our Find An Agent Directory to see their answers and find the one that best fits your needs.

Interview candidates

How do agents get paid?

The majority of agents in Northwest Arkansas are paid on a commission basis and get paid at closing when the purchase of your home is finalized.

Buyers typically do not pay real estate fees (commission)! In Northwest Arkansas, the most common commission fee on real estate transactions is 6% of a home’s sales price, which the seller pays. The sum is typically deducted from the seller’s net at closing and then split evenly between your agent (the buyer agent) and the listing agent. Therefore, as a buyer, it usually does not cost you anything to seek the protection and representation of an agent.

There are some instances where a buyer could be responsible to pay for real estate services, such as when purchasing a home listed for sale by owner, new construction properties, or when soliciting the help of multiple agents. For examples and details go here.

Did you know that real estate agents often make a commission on referrals? Let’s say that you met an agent named Susan through a friend. She is professional and trustworthy, but she specializes in working with investors to find multi-family homes in Benton County. You’re in the middle of a corporate move and are looking for someone who specializes in new construction and suburban single-family homes in Rogers.

You can let Susan know that her expertise isn’t a perfect match for your needs and ask if she knows any agents who may be a better fit. If you work with her referral, she could still receive a nice commission on the purchase of your house.

Seal the deal

Once you’ve selected an agent, it’s important to complete the agreement in writing before getting started. To do this, your NWA agent will ask you to sign a document called an Exclusive Buyers Agency Agreementa contract outlining the terms of agency between you and your agent’s brokerage. This document gives your agent the ability to show you homes and represent you throughout the transaction (covering their liability in everything from giving advice to writing up an offer for you).

In order to complete the agreement, you and your agent will review the following items:

  • The names of all parties entering into the agreement
  • The type and price point of the property you are seeking
  • The length of the agency agreement (typically 6 months)
  • Real estate commission owed to the agent
  • Fees for cancelling the agreement

Lucky you to have such a great agent by your side! Now it’s time to start the search for your new home. 

MOVE TO STEP 4 >