The relationship between buyer and seller is one that could last a very long time. The dynamic home-buying process can take unexpected twists and turns, so having the right agent by your side makes all the difference.

Unlike a seller, who signs an agreement with an agent, a buyer rarely has anything in writing that binds them to an agent or requires an agent to perform particular tasks. This makes it important to choose the right agent, instead of just jumping in with the first one who comes along.

What’s most important is to go with your gut. This person will be a significant presence in your life while you search for a home. Above all, you must feel comfortable with them.

Here are some questions to ask a buyer’s agent before you start working with them.

How long does it take typical buyers you’ve worked with to find a home and close?

If he tells you that his typical buyers move quickly, within weeks or a month, he is probably used to working with buyers who’ve done a lot of independent research prior to engaging the agent. If he says it’s more like a year or longer, he is likely more patient and lets the home-buying process run its course.

In which towns or neighborhoods do you do the most business?

Agents tend to focus on where and what they know. Most have a solid knowledge of a few towns, and then a cursory knowledge of nearby areas.

Your home search can take you through multiple towns and school districts. If you start working with a real estate agent you meet at your first open house, and she only truly works in that town, someone else for another area may better serve you. But its better to have one agent throughout the process, which is why good agents typically cover a broader geography.

Do you work independently or with a team? Do you have an assistant?

Home buying is incredibly personal, so you want to make sure you know who you’ll be working with. It’s helpful to have the same person by your side during the journey so they can track your experience.

Ask your agent what her arrangement is and make sure you are comfortable with it. If she works with assistants or junior agents, make sure you won’t be pushed off to someone with less experience.

How do showings work?

There are multiple ways to see properties, and the most effective approach is different for every buyer and in every market. Some markets rely heavily on open houses, where buyers can see the home on their own. Others require private appointments or the use of a lock box to see homes. If the agent prefers that you leverage open houses as much as possible, but you desire a little more handholding, she may not be the agent for you.

How do you search for properties, and what’s the best way to collaborate or communicate?

Buyers don’t rely only on their agent to find properties anymore. What’s more, many agents encourage buyers to search online independently. Agents leverage their local multiple listing service (MLS), and will send buyers emails and alerts from there.

Good collaboration makes for a seamless process, so ask the agent how they collaborate with their buyers for searches. Finally, ask if they’re a phone, text or email kind of person. Identify an agent who works well with your own communication style.

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Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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