Choosing the right REALTOR® to guide you through the home buying process as your buyer's agent is pivotal in making the process as smooth and successful as possible. With the real estate market being as vast and complex as it is, we strongly believe that finding a good buyer's agent becomes not just beneficial but necessary for both experienced and first-time home buyers. This guide sheds light on each step of the selection process, from understanding the role of a REALTOR® as the buyer's agent in your transaction to making the final decision on who to trust with the search to find your dream home.

What is a Buyer's Agent?

Debra Mangum
Debra Mangum

A buyer's agent is a licensed real estate professional who looks after your best interests in the home buying process. As West & Woodall REALTOR Debra Mangum explains, "Our buyers become like family to us. We're going to do everything we can to make sure you get the best price and that the process of buying a house goes as seamlessly as possible. If issues do come up with the house and/or the seller, we're going to be there every step of the way to make sure that you have a knowledgable, experienced perspective to guide you."

Real Estate Agent vs. REALTOR

A real estate agent is any licensed professional who helps clients buy, sell, or rent properties. All real estate agents and brokers in North Carolina are governed by the North Carolina Real Estate Commission and the North Carolina Real Estate License Law and Commission Rules. The commission has the authority to discipline agents for violations such as misrepresentations, conflicts of interest, and discriminatory practices.

A REALTOR is a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), which is the trade association that represents more than 1.5 million real estate professionals. All REALTORS have to abide by NAR's strict code of ethics and standards of practice when representing buyers and sellers. They often have access to additional resources and training that can benefit their clients and are held to a high level of professionalism and ethical standards.

In short, all REALTORs are licensed real estate agents, but not all licensed real estate agents are REALTORs. All West & Woodall agents are REALTORs.

Importance of Choosing the Right REALTOR When Buying a Home

Matt Lawing
Matt Lawing

Choosing the right REALTOR to serve as your buyer's agent is key for a successful and smooth transaction. West & Woodall REALTOR Matt Lawing says, "A buyer's agent is the only person in the transaction who is advocating for the buyer's best interest. This is the largest purchase most people will ever make. Having someone who has been through these transactions dozens of times to give advice during the home-buying process is invaluable in helping you through it."

Matt notes that many people just call the listing agent for each home they want to see. "If you are just starting your search, this can be fine as long as you remember that that agent represents the seller and is bound by law to do what is in the seller's best interest. When you're ready to buy and are getting serious about a home search, a buyer's agent can keep your needs in mind and help you find houses to look at based on the criteria you've given them and conversations they've had with you."

Value of a Buyer's Agent

Janet Marks Breedlove
Janet Marks Breedlove

While it is certainly possible to buy a home without a buyer's agent, having one makes the process much easier to navigate. According to our agents, the primary value that the right real estate agent brings to your homebuying process is that they can save you time, effort, headaches, and often, money. West & Woodall REALTOR Janet Marks Breedlove says, "Buyers' agents serve as an advocate throughout the process. Negotiations are key when it comes to making the offer and then again with negotiating repair requests." REALTOR Liz Schoeneberger adds that "a buyer's agent can provide guidance throughout the home buying process, help negotiate the best price and terms, navigate complex paperwork, and offer insights into the local market conditions."

In addition to their knowledge and expertise, a buyer's agent can provide an objective perspective. Because they are not emotionally invested in the purchase, they can offer impartial opinions about the pros and cons of different properties. This can be particularly helpful when making difficult decisions or evaluating potential risks associated with a property.

Jeanette Hussey
Jeanette Hussey

West & Woodall REALTOR Jeanette Hussey says, "If I see something that I think could be of concern, I'm going to mention it. My part of the puzzle is to show you things and make you aware of them so you can make an informed decision.”

In addition to providing all of these services, Debra points out that there's also the role of being "a bit of a counselor and shoulder to cry on. I can't separate it from just being a business transaction because you spend so much time together, and I get to know them on such a personal level. I consider it an honor and privilege to get to be part of my client’s lives in this way."

How to Choose a REALTOR to Buy a Home

When it comes to choosing a REALTOR to work with in buying a home, there are several key criteria that should be considered.

Proper credentials

In North Carolina, all real estate agents must be licensed by the state. When choosing an agent to work with, make sure they are licensed. Working with a licensed agent ensures that they have the necessary qualifications and expertise to represent you properly. It also provides you with a level of protection in case anything goes wrong during the transaction. You can verify an agent's license status by checking with the North Carolina Real Estate Commission.

Experience and expertise

A skilled REALTOR will have the knowledge and experience to guide you through the buying or selling process effectively. They can provide valuable insights and advice to help you make informed decisions. According to Janet, "The agent's history and experience speaks volumes." If an agent is new to the profession, they may still have a lot to add to your home buying process, but you'll want to make sure that they have a strong network of experienced REALTORs that they can go to for knowledge and advice if needed.

Local market knowledge

A local REALTOR will have a deep understanding of the market conditions in your area. They can help you identify the neighborhoods that are the best fit for your needs, pricing trends, and comparable properties to ensure you get the most value for your money. In addition, a good agent will set realistic expectations for the types of houses that are available in your price range.

Strong Communication Skills

Liz Schoeneberger
Liz Schoeneberger

Effective communication skills help in establishing trust and fostering a positive relationship with clients and negotiating the best possible deal with the seller and seller's agent. Liz adds that finding a real estate agent with strong communication skills means that they are also a good listener and are able to truly hear what you're saying.

Strong organizational skills

A buyer's agent needs to organize property viewings and showings for their clients. Strong organizational skills are important in keeping track of different properties, scheduling appointments, and managing clients' time efficiently. There is also a lot of paperwork and contracts that have to be managed.

Access to resources

A professional REALTOR has access to a network of contacts, including lenders, inspectors, and contractors, that can help streamline the buying or selling process. They can connect you with reliable professionals who can assist with your real estate transaction.


The REALTOR that you choose should be available when you are. Debra says that this means, "If your primary times for being able to see houses is nights and weekends, then you want to find a REALTOR who is available at those times. You also need to be able to trust that they'll answer your call." If your REALTOR is going to be unavailable for showings or any length of time, they should have a strong network of other REALTORs in place that can fill in if needed.

A good reputation and referrals

According to Matt, the best real estate agents have a good reputation and a strong track record of satisfied home buyers that they've worked with. "Some of my favorite clients have been connections from past clients and friends. A good way to start your search for a REALTOR is to ask a friend who has recently bought or sold a house who they used and if they had a good experience. A personal connection goes a long way in getting the conversation started because you don't feel like you are giving information to a complete stranger."

Bottom Line for Buyers on How to Find a REALTOR

Overall, finding the right REALTOR is essential for a successful and positive home buying experience. Take the time to research and interview potential agents to find someone who aligns with your needs, goals, and communication style. Finding the right real estate broker can make a significant difference in the outcome of your home purchase, so choose wisely.

For more information on how a West & Woodall agent can help you find your dream home, contact