Before a Realtor actually agrees to help you buy a home, he or she will ask you to provide a pre-approval letter. This document from a qualified mortgage lender or bank confirms that you've been authorized to receive a mortgage loan. There are several benefits associated with obtaining a pre-approval letter. For one thing, this document will show both the buyer's agent and the homeowner that you're serious about buying a home. Furthermore, the letter will motivate the Realtor to work hard on your behalf, since there's a greater likelihood of earning a future commission. Another advantage to having a pre-approval letter is that the seller's agents will tend to focus more of their time and energy on someone if there's less chance of a deal falling through.
Having a buyer's agent in the picture is also important since he or she will be able to provide an objective point of view once you begin to look at homes. Prospective home buyers have a natural tendency to get swept up with the idea of purchasing a particular property. However, this can be a problem because some of a home's weak points may get overlooked as a result. Beyond giving you a needed sense of perspective about a property, Realtors will also gather information for you about the taxes, repair costs, school system and neighborhood associated with a particular property.
Once you decide on a home to purchase, your buyer's agent will act as the main point of contact in all price negotiations. A Realtor is well aware of the local real estate market and will fight on your behalf in order to get a fair purchase price. A buyer's agent may also initiate a title search in order to verify that the seller is legally authorized to sell the home.