No less than 3 months before you want to be in your new home, and perhaps as much as a year before, hire your buyer broker.
This is the real estate agent who will help you through every step of your selection and purchase. Who will advocate and negotiate for you, not the seller. Ask questions to determine that your broker knows the area well, the local market conditions, and the business really well. An experienced agent will usually be more knowledgeable than a new agent but we all have to start somewhere. If you do hire a new agent, ensure they have a mentor to help them help you . Someone with experience and knowledge.
Don’t be afraid to sign a Buyer Agency Agreement with the broker of your choice. This agreement outlines their responsibilities and duties to you, as well as yours to them. It spells out the rules of what you do for each other. It also tells the broker that they are going to get paid if they find and help you purchase your home. We all work for a living, don’t we? Important to note that if somewhere along the line, before your broker finds you your home, you are not happy with the arrangement, the agreement may be cancelled. Such cancellation must be done in writing and acknowledged. This is uncommon, however, and all will go smoothly.
Another benefit to having a signed Buyer Agency Agreement is that your broker will dedicate herself to you and finding your home. A buyer who is working with multiple agents or who doesn’t want to commit, will usually only get a mediocre broker to work with them. And who wants mediocre?
Good news! The buyer broker, while they work for you they are typically paid by the seller! Good deal!