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A Buyer's Agent

Why You Should Have an Agent Representing YOU!

Any real estate agent can sell you a home, but a good buyer's agent can offer advice on every aspect of your purchase, including details about realistic pricing and negotiation strategies.

What Can a Buyer's Agent Do
  • Agent's duty is to get the best possible price and terms for the buyer.
  • Agent must disclose all material facts about property (bad roof, plumbing problems, etc.)
  • Agent should disclose personal facts that indicate sellers will accept a reduced price (such as impending divorce, foreclosure, etc.)

Seller's Agents Have Different Obligations
  • Agent's duty is to get the price and sales terms sought by the seller.
  • Agent must disclose material facts.
  • Agent cannot disclose personal information about sellers without permission.

I can't afford to pay a buyer's agent.
You don't have to! Agencies usually share the seller's commission at closing, no matter whether an agent represents the seller or the buyer.

So how do you find a great agent?
  • Ask your friends for recommendations.
  • Don't grill an agent with pat questions. Having a real conversation is a much better way to find out if your personalities match.
  • If an agent exerts more pressure than you're comfortable with, move on.
  • The agent should pay attention to what you say about your needs and wants.
  • The agent should be responsive to calls or emails.
  • The agent should take time to answer your questions.

Experienced buyer's agents can offer many insights, but don't discount a new agent. They usually aren't working with as many clients, so they have a lot more time to spend with each one.

There are lots of good agents out there, so take some time to find someone you can work with.

Home Buying Myth Number 1
I'll get the best deal on the house if I call the agent listed on the For Sale sign.

Maybe, maybe not. That agent represents the seller and is contractually bound to get the best deal for the seller. That doesn't mean the agent can't work with you in a fair and professional manner as a dual agent, but it does mean you should not disclose confidential details to the agent until you are assured that the agent will keep your information confidential.

Bottom Line
If you tell a seller's agent the top dollar you will pay for a house, the agent must pass that on to the seller.

A dual agent cannot do that. Agency laws differ in every state, so take time to learn about agent duties and loyalties before you enter the home buying market.

Home Buying Myth Number 2
The agent told me I had to sign a Buyer Agency agreement before he would work with me, so I did, and now I'm unhappy with the relationship.

You might know you are a good match with an agent on the very first day you meet, but what if you aren't sure? If an agent asks you to sign an agency agreement before you feel comfortable about it, try one of these alternatives:
  • Ask the agent to work under a verbal buyer agency agreement for a short time. Some states allow this, giving you time to become familiar with the agent before you sign a formal agreement.
  • Ask the agent to write a buyer agency agreement that covers a very short period, a day or a week.
  • Find out if the agent can offer a non-exclusive buyer agency agreement. The agent would be your buyer's agent, but you would not be tied exclusively to her.
  • Let the agent continue to be a seller's agent--just don't disclose confidential information.

Bottom Line
If the agent will only work with you if you immediately sign a lengthy buyer agency agreement, you might be better off seeking another agent.

Home Buying Myth Number 3
I can find more homes for sale by calling lots of agents.

Maybe--but maybe not. If you are home shopping in a specific area, and the agencies belong to Multiple Listing Services, it means they all have access to the same properties.

Ask agents what areas they cover. Small-town agents might work a multi-county area. Agents in a city might restrict themselves to certain neighborhoods or subdivisions.

If you sign agreements with more than one buyer's agent, make sure the contracts are worded so that areas and duties do not overlap. For instance, Agent X works for you only in County A. Agent Y works for you only in County B.

Bottom Line
Researching and showing properties is time-consuming, so you'll get better service if you find an agent you like (within a given area) and stick with that agent.

Home Buying Myth Number 4
The agent with the most listings in town is the best agent to call.

Think about that. If an agent has that many listings to deal with, how much time do they have for buyers, especially buyers who might want to look at properties other than theirs?

Many top agents are turning to team systems, so time might not be an issue, but it's something to ask about when you interview an agent.

Bottom Line
A brand new (competent) agent can be every bit as effective as a seasoned pro. Someone working with fewer clients will have your needs in mind constantly. Hire the person, not a lineup of listings.