Friday, January 17, 2020
Rules for Working With Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents love working with people, but there are always clients who may unintentionally cross the line. Here are a few simple protocols you can use while shopping for a home that will keep you out of hot water and on good terms with real estate agents.
1) Understand Agents Work on Commission
- Very few real estate agents work on salary.
- Most real estate agents are paid commission. If an agent does not close a transaction, she does not get paid.
- Agents are not public servants and do not work for free. Do not ask an agent to work for you if you intend to cut the agent out of your deal.
2) Keep Appointments and Be on Time
Make your appointment time when meeting with a busy Realtor.
- Be respectful, use common courtesy and don't expect an agent to drop what she is doing to run out and show you a home. You are probably not that agent's only prospect or client.
- Do not make an appointment with an agent and then forget to show up.
- If you are running late, call and let your agent know when you expect to arrive.
3) Choose a Real Estate Agent
Choose an agent you like.
- Decide whether you want to work without representation, dealing directly with listing agents, or if you want to hire your own agent.
- If you decide to hire your own agent, interview agents to find an agent with whom you are comfortable.
- If you are interviewing agents, let each agent know you are in the interview stage.
- Never, never, never interview two different agents from the same company.
4) Do Not Call the Listing Agent If You Are Working With a Buying Agent
Do not call the listing agent if you want your own agent.
- Listing agents work for the seller, not the buyer. If you hire the listing agent to represent you, that agent will now be working under dual agency.
- If a listing agent shows you the property, the listing agent will expect to represent you.
- Listing agents do not want to do the buying agent's job. Let your buyer's agent do her job.
5) Practice Open House Protocol
There is etiquette to follow for an open house.
- Ask your agent if it's considered proper for you to attend open houses alone. In some areas, it's frowned upon to go to open houses unescorted.
- Hand your agent's business card to the agent hosting the open house. Sometimes this agent will be the listing agent, but often it is an agent also looking for unrepresented buyers. Announcing you are represented protects you.
- Do not ask the open house host questions about the seller or the seller's motivation. Let your agent ask those questions for you.
6) Sign a Buyer's Broker Agreement With a Buying Agent
A buyer broker agreement protects both parties.
- Expect to sign a buyer's broker agreement. It creates a relationship between you and the agent and explains the agent's duties to you, and vice versa.
- Ask about the difference between an Exclusive and Non-Exclusive Buyer's Broker Agreement.
- If you're not ready to sign with a buyer's broker, do not ask that agent to show you homes. Otherwise, a procuring clause may pop up.
- Ask your agent if she will release you from the contract if you become dissatisfied. If she refuses, hire somebody else.
7) Always Ask for and Sign an Agency Agreement
- Signing an agency disclosure is your proof of receipt. It is solely a disclosure. It is not an agreement to agency. Read it.
8) Make Your Expectations Known
Many agents are willing to drive buyers to see homes.
- If you expect your agent to pick you up at your front door and drive you home after showing homes, tell her. Many will provide that service. If not, they will ask you to meet at the office.
- Let your agent know how you want her to communicate with you and how often. Do you want phone calls, emails, text messages, IMs or all of the above?
- Set realistic goals and a time frame to find your home. Ask your agent how you can help by supplying feedback.
- If you are displeased, say so.
9) Do Not Sign Forms You Do Not Understand
Do not sign forms without asking questions.
- Do not feel silly for asking your agent to explain a form to you. It's her job. Many forms are second nature to agents but not to you, so ask for explanations until you are satisfied you understand.
- Do not sign forms titled "Consent to Represent More Than One Buyer." This is never in your best interest. Find another agent if this happens.
- Realize agents are not lawyers and cannot interpret law.
10) Be Ready to Buy
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.