Buyers should give careful consideration when choosing an agent to represent them in the buying process. When dealing with the most important investment of your life you want a strong advocate rather than someone who merely shows you houses and encourages you to buy. The agent whose name appears on the advertisement or sign for the property you have an interest in represents the owner or seller of that property so their first obligation is to that person.
Most buyers will appreciate the value of having their own Realtor represent them when preparing to buy real estate. The Realtor knows — or should know — the ins and outs of negotiating contracts, how to recognize value, what pitfalls to watch for and whom to recommend as members of your team. When choosing one, take care to get to know the agent by interview, just as you would any contractor who you will trust with large sums of money in order to get a job done.
Some things you might like to know may include the level of education the agent has achieved; have they taken a number of relevant classes that are not required in order to better serve their clients? What is the most challenging transaction they have been involved in and what was the outcome? The answer to that question will likely be quite revealing — letting you know what to expect of that party when you face challenges in your own transaction. If your agent is new, did they go to their broker without delay for advice regarding how to handle the difficult situation or did they “wing it” and get lucky?
Experience is not always the best teacher as people in an industry for an extended period of time may become jaded and develop a cavalier attitude about transaction-related challenges. Even worse, they may be set in how they go about doing things and unresponsive to what you need from the relationship. It is better to establish your expectations up front rather than discover difficulties in the middle of the buying process.
Is the agent available to show you properties at times that will not negatively impact your work schedule? Will they accommodate your children or adjust their schedule around the times you have child care? Will they search the Multiple Listing Service and recommend houses to visit and advise you of which are more desirable explaining the circumstances that influence that desirability? Are they only intending to show you properties that their brokerage has listed or does the list of homes they recommend viewing include a good cross section of listings from a variety of agencies? Are the properties they recommend within your price range or are they trying to stretch your comfort zone by showing you houses beyond your requested budget?
When you prepare to buy a house you should consider that you are building a team to help you. We have discussed your lender and title company in recent weeks. Often those relationships will be from a pool of folks recommended by your Realtor and hopefully with the reasons why they receive the agent’s endorsement. They should also be ready with a list of inspectors they trust as well as specialists for inspections or testing beyond the abilities of a typical home inspector.
It is your right to know the level of service that causes the agent to recommend members of your buying team so ask questions. If you find your Realtor is not as interested in your well-being as they are in making a commission, fire them! Call their broker — who is ultimately responsible for all their agents’ actions — and asked to be released from any contractual obligations you may have with that brokerage. Usually the broker’s desire to maintain a good reputation will cause them to accommodate your desire.
Trust an expert … call a Realtor. Call your Realtor or visit www.cdarealtors.com to search properties on the Multiple Listing Service or to find a Realtor member who will represent your best interests.
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Kim Cooper is a real estate broker and the spokesman for the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors. Kim and the association invite your feedback and input for this column. You may contact them by writing to the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors, 409 W. Neider, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815 or by calling (208) 667-0664.