The #1 Reason It Is Difficult to Find Your Dream HomeThe headlines in real estate today all revolve around one major point: there is a shortage of homes available for sale. Price appreciation
Selecting A Buyers Agent
In the first article I went over some background on what it takes to be an agent and some very general information. Now I would like to get into the nuts and bolts of selecting a buyers agent.
Your looking to buy a house. Perhaps you have been on one of the various websites that shows what houses are for sale ( Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, homes.com). You found a couple that you may be interested in... now what?
First some information on those websites; Because they are not "live" the information you are seeing may well be out of date. These are great websites, however, to begin your initial search. They should give you an idea of how many homes are available in your price range, where they are at, what styles are "hot" in your area, etc. In most cases, for you to look at any detail on the home you are going to have to register your name and email with the site to get further access. Just so you know, that information is then "sold" to local realtors in your area so they can contact you and offer their services. Not a big deal. You need an agent and so you want to be contacted.
Important things to look for in a buyers agent:
* Time commitment: Be honest with your agent about what you are looking for, what price range, and when you expect to find a home. Working with a buyer is a HUGE time commitment for an agent, it involves a great deal of leg work and time in the field. Many agents PREFER to be listing agents working with sellers because of this fact. The time commitment that an agent must give to a buyer is huge. Find out how many other clients he or she is working with, what kind of time the agent can devote to your home search, what other commitments that the agent has on their calendar, etc. Be reasonable. Don't expect an agent to be devoting a huge chunk of their time to you if you don't plan on buying for 6 months or a year. Conversely, If you need to have a home purchased by the end of the month and you are talking to an agent that is dealing with several other clients, has huge time commitments in their personal life and may only have time to show you properties one or two hours per week, find another agent!
* Be Prepared: Most agents will NOT show property unless the client has a preapproval letter or a prequalification letter. Some, like myself, don't demand that, but since I do consider my time valuable, I will take you out once without one of those documents but then before we go out again I will insist you get pre approved from a lender. Don't worry about not having a lender. Realtors work with mortgage companies all the time and should have plenty to refer you too. Don't feel you have to rely on the referrals. Any internet search will result in dozens of companies for mortgages. In addition to the pre approval letter start putting together documents the lender will need, ( W2s, taxes, etc). As with any purchase, shop around for the best deal!
* Don't be shy about interviewing a prospective buyers agent: You will be working very intimately with the person and sharing very personal information. You will also be spending a lot of time with the agent on showings. Make sure this is someone you enjoy being around. Ask them questions. How long have you been in the business? What unique skills do you bring to the table to help me in finding a home? Try to feel out the person on who they are and what kind of an agent they are. When I am working with a buyer I never consider myself a salesman. I am NOT selling anything, since I have nothing to sell. I have always considered myself a sales facilitator, I am there to show you properties you are interested in, give you all the information I can not only about the property but the surrounding area, and then help to negotiate the absolute price for the home that you decides best meets your needs. I have seen other agents who doggedly show and then try to sell EVERY property to a given client and then become exasperated when the client doesnt make an immediate positive decision. This always saddens me. As a buyers agent we represent YOU the buyer. We are here to show you properties that meet your needs in a given area, assist you with information about that property and then help you negotiate the best price for that property. We are not there to sell you ANYTHING.
* Ask for references: Not often done in the industry but any experienced agent should be able to put you into contact with previous clients who can speak of their work.
* Ask about how they get paid: This seems uncomfortable, but it need not be. Typically the buyers agent gets a percentage of the overall commission paid by the seller to their agent. More and more in the industry, however we are seeing brokerage firms tacking on an additional fee ( sometimes called a transaction fee) to buyers contracts. There are agencies who charge a flat fee to the buyer which is generally paid to the agent at closing and is part of your closing costs. You have a right to know what money is being spent where when you are purchasing real estate.
* Buyer representative contracts: It seems everyone is cautious about signing a contract. Rightly so. Most brokerage ask their agents to have their prospective buyers sign a buyers representative agreement. Most say simply that the buyer is designating you as their exclusive representative in all their real estate purchasing transactions for a given period of time. Why? It is not uncommon for a realtor to work diligently to find properties for a client, have a client unwittingly stop by an open house and be talked into making an offer on a property by an agent who may or may not know that the buyer has already been being represented by an agent. So that agent has worked diligently to assist this buyer in finding a home only to be left in the lurch in the final purchase. Not fair. I never have a prospective buyer sign any agreement on the first meeting or the first showing. After working with the buyer a time or two and we have begun to develop a relationship I do ask the buyer to sign our agreement. At this point they know me, know my firm and how we work and if they feel comfortable and want to continue working with a top notch agent and brokerage firm they should feel comfortable making this commitment.
These are some basic tenets in finding and working with a buyers agent in purchasing real estate. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or issues that you need assistance on regarding buyers agents.
Deirdre is a Broker and co-owner, with her husband Steve, of EXIT Realty Champions in Davenport - the closest office to Disney World Orlando! With 12 years of experience over a broad range of real est....
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