These days, with all the information online at your fingertips, why should you work with a real estate agent to buy a house?

When I met my clients Harry and Melissa (I changed their names for privacy reasons) almost two years ago, they were frustrated. They had been house hunting in Westfield and Scotch Plains for a while, but it had not been easy. They were unfamiliar with the differences between the two towns and were not sure where to buy. Sometimes they had not gotten the chance to looks at homes they liked because listings went into contract before the first open house.

Harry and Melissa had spent countless hours looking at Zillow, picking houses that looked really good online. But in person, the listings looked different and didn’t match their needs. Once, my clients got into a multiple bid situation, ended up losing the bid because they did not have someone to guide them during the process. In the end, their hunt did not yield any results. It was understandable they were frustrated; Harry and Melissa were working long hours and raising a young child. They did not have time to search for their dream home while balancing their personal lives.

The first step I took with Harry and Melissa was to have a buyer’s consultation. This helps me assess Harry and Melissa’s needs and priorities in a home. After the consultation, we did a number of things:

1) I made sure that they got a mortgage pre-approval letter so they would be ready to make an offer immediately if they saw something they liked;

2) based on their budget and criteria, we narrowed down the specific locations to focus on;

3) I setup a service to email them daily new listings that fit their criteria so they didn’t have to waste time online;

4) I attended multiple broker’s opens (open houses for real estate agents when listings are coming out in the market) to preview all the listings that met Harry and Melissa’s requirements.

And occasionally, if a listing met their criteria but did not have a broker’s open, I would make an appointment to preview the place for them. I would synthetize this information and report back to my clients only with the listings that I thought met their needs. I would also send them the seller’s property disclosures, which are only available to realtors. The disclosures contain information (age of roof, furnace, etc.) that allows Harry and Melissa to further narrow down the properties they would go see in person.

All these steps we took greatly reduced the energy and effort Harry and Melissa spent on house hunting. They were able to spend more time with their child on weekends, leaving the planning and focusing on the minute details to me.

As you can guess, the detailed buyer’s plan and careful steps I took helped Harry and Melissa find a perfect fit without any of the hiccups they experienced while searching for a house on their own. Harry and Melissa are very happy with their new home. Now I am working with their friends to ensure that they’ll also have a smooth and seamless home-buying experience.