How to Hire a Buyer's Agent?
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Finding the right home at the right price could be your biggest advantage: a good buyer’s agent on your side. But what is the problem? You can simply find a helpful realtor or call the name on the sign of a house that interests you.
The typical real estate agent, however, doesn’t necessarily have to work in your best interest. Like most commission sellers, dollars flow from an agreement. Any agreement. But there is another way: find an exclusive buyer’s agent.
What is the difference?
That’s not to say that working with a regular real estate agent is a bad thing. In fact, this is how most people find a home. And real estate agents have to follow certain state laws regarding ethical practices. But there is a difference between a real estate agent and an exclusive buyer’s agent.
Let’s break it down:
- A real estate agent often works for a company that can represent both sides of an agreement. In fact, agents are eager to show their firm’s listings first. The point is, they represent the seller, not you.
- An exclusive buyer’s agent often works for a company that doesn’t even accept seller’s listings. They are not encouraged to show you particular properties except the ones that best suit your needs. This means that the agent will also help you find houses that are for sale by the owner. A typical real estate agent will not do this.
What to look for in a buyer’s agent?
The obvious qualities that you will want in your representative are relationship, respect, and competence. You can often feel this during the first meeting or two. The specific terms of the relationship will be listed in the buyer’s agent contract.
Here are some terms to keep in mind:
- If a contract says that you are entering into a dual agency agreement, it means that the real estate agent and/or the company the agent works for can represent both the buyer and the seller. Although illegal in some states, this is still quite common and can lead to conflicts of interest. This is a stipulation in the buyer’s agent contract that you want to avoid.
- If the contract does not state that it is strictly a buyer’s agent contract, you should assume that the agent will be the seller’s representative and not yours.
You might encounter a designated agent contract. This is used when a real estate brokerage firm has an agent who works in the best interest of the buyer, while another agent from the same company may be for the seller. By signing a designated agency agreement, the buyer (or seller) allows another agent in the business to represent another party in the transaction. Agents who are appointed agents have fiduciary obligations to their respective clients (the buyer or the seller, but not both). It can work, but it can be a tricky situation.
How to hire a buyer’s agent during the coronavirus pandemic?
Have you ever noticed that when you decide you’re ready to start looking for a home, you see real estate agent listings everywhere? You might be waiting at the bus stop and see an officer’s face and contact details taped to the side of the bus. You might be driving and see several billboards on the side of the road! The reason you see so many real estate agent listings is that there are over 2 million real estate agents in the United States; 1.4 million of them are members of the National Association of Realtors.
With so many active and licensed professionals ready to help eager buyers, how do you choose a buyer’s agent from among millions of qualified professionals?
Step 1: Do your research!
Before you hire the first agent you find on Facebook who seems competent, you’ll want to do a little research first. There are several real estate sites on the internet that can help you find the top-selling agents in your area who can help you search for properties without leaving your home.
Homelight’s agent matching service analyzes more than 27 million transactions and customer reviews to find you the top three sales agents who understand the region, your needs, and local market trends. Then you can explore the agent’s profile, talk to them, and gather lots of useful information to help you make up your mind.
Some of the information you can expect to find in the profiles includes the agent’s years of experience, the average price, the neighborhoods in which they do the most business, and the awards they have won over the course of their career. You can even read reviews from previous customers.
Other methods of finding a real estate agent include asking for referrals from people you know have bought or sold a home in the past. You can even ask for references from professionals who do business with real estate agents (home contractors, mortgage brokers, and plumbers, for example). If you are an active member of the community, you can use community networks to find agents. Not only will you be able to find someone who knows the city, but you will also be able to meet them outside of the real estate agency.
Step 2: interview potential agents
One of the challenges of trying to recruit a buyer’s agent during a pandemic is not being able to shake his hand and have a face-to-face conversation with him. With that being said, you have the option of having a conversation with them over the phone, or you can use a service like Zoom or Skype to have a video chat.
When you do get to talk to an agent, be it via phone call or video chat, there are some important questions you’ll want to ask them regarding the coronavirus and safety.
Protecting the buyer
As these are uncertain times, it is important to have an agent who looks out for your best interests. They may accept an offer; However, if you find yourself in the middle of the deal and lose your job due to the pandemic, you don’t want to get stuck buying a home that you can no longer afford.
When interviewing agents, ask them whether or not they include a coronavirus clause in their contracts. This is something that many brokers across the country have started to do. The clause is designed to extend the timelines for home inspections, appraisals, and title searches. All of this is experiencing processing delays due to the outbreak.
If any of the buyers or someone in their household is immunosuppressed, the clause could require all parties to the transaction to disclose whether they have symptoms related to the coronavirus. It can even include detailed cleaning procedures.
Viewing a house
Buyers should also ask agents how they can view the home. No one wants to buy a home that is completely unseen. When you speak to an agent, you’ll want to ask them important questions about coronavirus and safety.
Step 3: Choose your agent
Once you have spoken with multiple agents, now is the time to make a decision. Decide for yourself which agent makes you feel comfortable.
An agent should be able to answer any questions you may have about coronavirus safety, market trends in the region, etc.
You might not have had a chance to talk to them face to face, but you can trust your instincts!
Be safe and hire a buyer’s agent during the coronavirus pandemic
No one really knows how this pandemic will affect the nation in the long run. But people will always need to find a residence.
Some people may wonder how the coronavirus will affect the economy and home sales in the short and long term. If the time is right for you to buy a home now and you are financially stable, a buyer’s agent can guide you through the process and make sure you are paying a fair price.
Whether you want to buy a home now or wait until the pandemic is over, you don’t want to do it alone. If you hire a buyer’s agent, you will have a professional who will guide you every step of the way.
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