Only a broker or an agent who is a member of the National Association or Realtors (NAR) can be called a Realtor.
All of the above can represent you as a buyer's agent. It doesn't matter to you whether a buyer's agent is a broker an agent or a Realtor. You can be an agent with 25 years of experience working for a broker with 10 years experience. Some who have a brokers license have no interest in opening their own office.
In searching for a buyer's agent to represent you, Look for someone who does business in the city or town you want to buy a home in. They will know the little details like which areas of the town have a high water table, building permits that have been approved near your house, the personality of the city departments. If you're contemplating heavy renovations or zoning use changes, you want to know how hard it'll be to get that done. Are there major city or state projects planned that will affect the value of the home you buy?
A local agent or brokers who's worked in that town for many years is more likely to treat you right since they'll want repeat business from you.
Finally, a long time local broker or agent will know more things about the owners of the homes that are on the market than an agent that doesn't do a lot of business in that town. They may remember the last time a home was on the market. They may have shown a home you like to another one of their buyers and failed to put a deal together. They may have tried and failed to get a listing that you're interested in. They may know what's underneath the vinyl or aluminum siding. They may even know things about the home the current owners may not know. When you sit down and compare the home you like with recent sales, a local real estate person has most likely been inside the comparables!
If you're buying a multi-family home, also look for an agent who owns one. They can be a great source of tips on choosing the best rental locations and tenants.
I'm biased toward full-time real estate professionals over part-timers. If there's a very well priced home that you like and you think it'll sell fast, you don't want your buyer-agent working their "real job".
Sign a contract that specifies what cities or towns your agent will represent you in, and how your agent will conduct a search of properties. If you're looking in different towns with different buyer agents, this will save duplication of effort and commissions due.
Good to hear from you again. The word Realtor is trademarked by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). To be able to use that word, you have to be a member of NAR. It's a control thing, no way around it.
Brokers typically are the business owner of a real estate firm, and brokers often have agents working for them. Any contract you sign for buyer representation will be between you and the broker, even if the broker assigns an agent to work for you.
Many, many brokers and agents are members of NAR, and are thus technically allowed to use the word Realtor in their advertising. That doesn't mean that brokers and agents who aren't members of NAR are a bad thing. In fact, I'd be curious how they are able to get access to all the MLS data without being NAR members...another control thing from NAR...as in nearly every case to be a member of NAR, you have to be a member of the state association of realtors, and you have to be a member of a local board of...you guessed it...Realtors. Big club, lots of players.
I'm biased, so take this with that in mind. Read up on Exclusive Buyer Agents. Check out the Newsweek article at:
Go to the NAEBA website at:
for more good info.
Good stuff, great representation for buyers, no conflicts of interest.
I think you may be stressing this a little too much, it's less complicated than it all sounds. In New York, at-least in the City and even Brooklyn most agents don't ever sign any contracts with a buyer to represent them. # 1 there is no law that they have to sign anything. By you both agreeing to work together makes it a verbal contract, and assuming you are a motivated buyer who has been pre-qualified already it would be in the brokers best interest to work with you to find you a home. If you find a broker who is not trying to pre-qualify you, I suggest you work with another. What alot of experienced brokers who now a days, and it's happening more and more now is that they make up their own Buyers Agreement Contract for one simple reason, many buyers are not loyal, they try to work with 2 or 3 brokers thinking that each will show them something magical, so in order for a broker to protect them selves and not waste any time they have buyers sign an agreement.
Forget the terms Broker, Realtor, Agent for now, they are all pretty much the same to you, as long as you feel comfortable with a broker and find them to be knowledable enough or find you all the answers you seek thats all you should concentrate on. Make sure they listen to your needs and wants and ask you all the right questions. If you are looking to buy a year from now, it would probably be tough for a broker to sign any agreement with you, if you are motivated now and can put in an offer on a home in the next 30 to 60 days if you were to find exactly what you seek, than you can absolutely ask for a contract.
As far as I'm concerned there are no specific contracts, each firm will probably have a variation of one, or the legal can write one up for them if it's demanded.
Think of it this way, when a broker is working with you to buy a property, it's their job to get you the best deal that they possibly can, if there is room for negotiation. And a respectable broker wont try to pull one on you for two simple reasons, they are doing their job the way they should be in your best interest and they will want repeat business from you in the future.
Good Luck, and get pre-qualified with a Mortgage Broker if you haven't yet. I seen many people who think they can afford a million dollar homes, put in an offer and get rejected for having weak financials.
The designation of "Buyer's Agent" is too loosely used to say that they only represent buyers. I have seen buyer's agents who also take listings. In the end what you want has nothing to do with whether or not the agent represents buyers only, buyers and sellers, or sellers. What you need is an agent you trust, who is under contract with you to represent your interests, and has proven to do so in the past.
But then that's the rub isn't it, finding someone who fits the bill. While I am currently an Exclusive Buyer's Agent, which is unique in that we operate under the National Association of Exclusive Buyer's Agents (NAEBA) and we're commited to never take listings, even having the designation as an EBA does not mean that one "fits the bill" of representing your best interests.
Your best source is to talk with friends who have used an agent that they believe, regardless of the circumstances, represented their best interests, all the time. Again, even though I am currently an EBA, any agent who has integrity, and has proven it to people you know, should be able to help you.
Some things you can consider inquiring about: Select an agent that does not do Dual Agency (a.k.a. Intermediary Status) under any circumstances. Dual Agency is similar to the same law firm representing both the prosecution and the defense - it's simply a bad idea and it should almost never happen. Select an agent that has experience in the area and in the type of property you're interested in. Similar to a lawyer, ask for the agent's past 10 clients contact info (this is different than asking for just any 10 clients). You want to know how their recent performance has been.
When you find the right agent, enter into a buyer representation agreement so that both your and the agent's responsibilities are clearly defined. And be sure the agreement can be cancelled at any time.
Hope this was helpful,
Concerning your dual agency question about Buyers Agents also listing properties for sale and if this is a conflict of interest. (The difference between a Broker, Realtor, Real Estate Agent seems to have been answered already.)
Some states allow "Dual Agency" such as In Illinois and Nevada (I'm licensed in both states) where one agent can represent both sides in the transaction with your complete consent (disclosure) and Permission. If you are uncomfortable with this, you can specifically not consent to it. (The other party has to allow it also.)
If your Buyers Agent shows you properties that they have listed for sale and represents the seller, (If New York state licensing laws permit dual agency) I would assume that they have to disclose this to you from the beginning and explain the situation to you and what it means..
The procedures are pretty much the same for Illinois/Nevada with a slight variation in the actual disclosure -- I assume the procedure is not too different for other states that do allow it.
Could it create a conflict of interest? ... we do them and we've never had a problem but there are a lot of responsiblities involved. (The liability skyrockets in this type of transaction and some brokerages won't even allow their agents to do them even though the state licensing laws allow it.)
You'll need to understand that if you want to purchase a property that your buyers agent has listed, that their first responsibility will be to the seller and confidential information known about the seller is not to be shared with you... (this should never be done anyways.. ever..)
Basically, the seller would be the client and you would be the customer in this type of transaction... It still means you must be treated with absolute fairness with a high level of ethics but once again... the seller of the property receives priority.... but it does not mean take advantage of the buyer...
For buyers brokerage agreements -- we use them and they are exclusive. Your benefit, (our clients anyways) is you receive priority over all the other buyers not under contract asking questions, wanting searches done, they can call at 1 A.M. with a question keeping them up all night, etc...
Whatever you want (our clients under a Buyer Agency Agreement) is first priority on the "to do" list and it also means doing more specific research on properties and providing opinions of value.
We are much more loyal to the buyer that commits to an Exclusive Buyer Agreement and that's just been learned from experience. A really good buyers agent not begging for business is going to want the same which should tell you something about their level of expertise.
If I was looking to buy real estate in another state, there is no doubt in my mind that the first agent I would be more likely to use is the one that requires a Buyers Agency contract in place. It just tells me right up front that they have the confidence and experience to ask for it... meaning they have better things to do then possibly working for free.
Hope that helps answer your conflict of interest and buyers agency question...
A buyers broker is a licensed real estate agent who has declared to represent only the buyer in a transaction. The buyer is then commited (by contract) to pay the so called buyers agent. There are specific contract to hire a buyers broker. I can email you a standard agreement to review. Not to pitch the job, only for review. This space is too limited to copy and paste.
In most cases the buyers agent will be paid by the seller at closing, but with a contract you can assume the agent is solely working for you and in your best interest.
An Agent that is Contractually obligated to represent a Buyers interest is any agent that you sign an exclusive Buyer Broker ageement to represent solely you in a real estate transaction. Your state licensure laws will govern what your obligations and the obligations of the agent. Beware that once you sign such an agreement you may be obligated to use that agent even if some other agent may also assist you. Basically you agree to only use that agent.
Hope that clarifys the name game and the Buyer Broker aagreement in the real estate business.
Mike Davis, Principal Broker
Bergen Basin Realty
5817 Ave N
Brooklyn, NY 11234
Please note: this is not a function of the National Association of Realtors, or any real estate company, this is required by the New York Department of State, in order to offer consumers protection and comprehension at the first substanive contact with a real estate agent.