Where can you find a good real estate agent? You can ask your friends and family or your loan officer. You can also consider Redfin.com. Redfin is an online and offline service that can provide you with a real estate agent. You can select houses to tour from Redfin website and a real estate agent tour the houses with you. At the end of an escrow you will get the refund (or rebate) from the house listing in Redfin website. However, some states ban brokers from offering cash rebates to consumer. (click here for more details)
My experience with Redfin real estate agents was that they were responsive to my inquires but they were reluctant to discuss on offer amount other than providing hard facts (such as recently sold house prices, etc.). Overall, I was satisfied with their service but for my next real estate purchase I hired a real estate agent who was just as responsive and offered a bigger refund at the end of escrow.
You are not required to have a real estate agent, and real estate agents do take a big commission. Nevertheless, it is recommended to hire a real estate agent especially for your first purchase because the process is complicated and risky. Real estate agents get paid only when there is an actual property transaction, and the commission only comes from a seller. Ask the real estate what they can give you back after the purchase transaction. Compare that to what Redfin promises to give back to buyers for each property if Redfin covers your area. Ask your real estate to at least match what Redfin promises if their initial offering is not higher than Redfin’s.
** For the below property listing from Redfin.com, $6,489 commission refund is promised (highlighted in green) **
Some real estate agents such as Redfin’s agents only allow you to have one active offer at a time and other real estate agents allow multiple offers at a time. Besides the industry tradition, please consult with each real estate agent for their offer methodology and process.