When choosing a buyer agent to help you purchase a home, there are things to look OUT for, and things to look for. Today, we’ll talk about the former.
The job of a buyer agent encompasses many tasks, and when done correctly is not easy. Being a good buyer agent means keeping abreast of the market, constantly searching for possible homes, thoroughly researching those possibilities, evaluating them for you and with you, negotiating the contract, coordinating inspections, and much more. It is a very detailed job and a huge responsibility.
Unfortunately, not all agents work this way, so the buyer experience varies widely. Firstly, there are agents would rather not work with buyers at all, and prefer only to list houses. While this seems strange to us, as we love working with buyers, we think that agents who feel this way are at least honest about it, and far better than agents who don’t like buyer work, but do it anyway. If an agent tells you they prefer not to work with buyers, ask them to refer you to a buyer agent they trust. They will almost certainly be glad to do so.
Many buyer agents find houses for their clients, but only by doing a very superficial search. They typically take the most basic requirements and send the buyer a huge list of properties, without doing any additional screening. Often, this is done via an automatic “set and forget” software function. The MLS system keeps sending search results, with no further action or attention on the part of the agent. The buyer, not having any guidance, usually picks a long list of possibilities from the mass of houses constantly arriving in their email, then calls the agent to come show them. Such a “shotgun” approach is a huge waste of time and resources, yet is very common. We’ve seen agents have people look at 15 houses in a single afternoon! One buyer came to us after being shown at least a half dozen homes by another agent. The problem was that NONE of those homes were eligible for the type of loan the buyer was using! The former agent didn’t bother to check this first, so the buyer lost a huge amount of time in their search for a house. Unfortunately, we see this superficial level of service quite often.
Over the years, we have spoken to buyers who said, “Yes, I have an agent. They told me to just drive all over looking for houses myself and to check the Internet, until I find one that interests me. Then I call them and they come show me the house and write an offer if I like it!” These buyers were doing all the work themselves, with their so-called “buyer agents” simply showing up afterwards to open the door and write an offer. This is appalling, and is the most extreme example of how a buyer agent is NOT supposed to act!
When you are ready to start looking for a house, seek and find a GOOD buyer agent, one who will work hard for you and act in your best interests. If you have an agent, but find yourself doing the work yourself, and/or getting no results or analysis from them, then it’s time to move on. If they are uncommunicative, and don’t seem interested or willing to put forth a lot of effort for you, then it’s time to move on. Good agents are out there, so there’s no need to leave the purchase of your future home to anyone else.
In an upcoming post we’ll describe what to look for in a good buyer agent, and the things they should do for you throughout the entire process.