What does a buyer’s agent do?
An agent usually works with a buyer for a few weeks to several months, or longer. Agents:
- Introduce buyers to lenders and obtain pre-approval letters
- Email listings that fit the buyer’s requirements
- Call listing agents to determine availability
- Make appointments with seller before they show homes
- Drive the buyer from one neighborhood to the next
Finding a buyer’s agent
A common way to find an agent is through referrals by family, friends, or co-workers. However, if you are going somewhere new or no one can offer a referral, you can find agents through:
- Internet searches: When looking online, run keyword searches to narrow down your results. You can also look at websites like realtor.com. These types of websites have listings of profiles from agents all across the nation.
- Open houses: When at an open house, the agent hosting it may or may not be the listing agent. All you have to do it ask. Open houses are a great opportunity to talk to the agent and learn more about them. You can ask for a business card and look up their website later when doing a little recon.
Should you sign an exclusive agreement?
The words “exclusive agreement” may be nerve-wracking to some. However, there are a few things that you can do to make this process a little less daunting.
- Ask for a shorter term. Many agents might request a 90-day term. You are free to ask for a 30-day term, or whatever you can negotiate.
- Request a non-exclusive agreement. This may seem a little redundant for an exclusive agreement. What this means is if you decide to switch agents mid-way through your home search but end up buying a home that your first agent showed you, your first agent gets compensation. With this, both parties are protected: the agent is protected by establishing a procuring cause and you are free to pursue any opportunities that come your way.
- Grab a Cup of Coffee. If you don’t know how you’ll work with an agent, suggest getting to know each other first before signing an exclusive agreement. That way, you get to know the agent a little better and can see if you’ll work well together. Afterwards, if you believe the working relationship will be conducive, you can sign the agreement with a little more confidence.
- Specify areas and terms. If you’re unsure about where you want to move, specify certain terms in your contract. For example, you can specify a price range and a neighborhood for a certain agent. If you decide at a later point to search outside of those restraints, you can choose a different agent to show you those new locations.
Signing an agreement is not necessary. You should wait until you’re totally comfortable with your agent if you decide to go ahead and sign an agreement. Make sure you know all the terms and that they will work for you through each step of the buying process.