Home Buying in San Francisco>Question Details

Scott, Home Buyer in San Francisco, CA

How can I find an agent that would be willing to write an offer for me?

Asked by Scott, San Francisco, CA Wed Jan 14, 2009

I have found a house I want to put an offer in on. This is not my first home purchase, so I really just need an agent to write the offer for me. Thus I think the agent should get a smaller fee than the normal ~3%, which will help with my offer price. What is common for a buyers agent? I have an agent from my last home purchase, but havent approached him yet, because I want to know what a good fee might be.

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Hi Scott,

In California, the buyer's agent commission is paid by the seller. When the listing agent and the seller sign the listing agreement, both parties agree on a commission - typically between 5% - 6%. As many of my colleagues mentioned, everything is negotiable in real estate. However, generally speaking, the listing agent will advertise 2.5% - 3% commission to the buyer's agent.

Since you found the property on your own, you may request a portion of the buyer agent's commission be credited to you. With that said, most good real estate agents will not agree to a reduction of commission.

Here's why:

Finding a property is becoming a much smaller part of the service that agents provide. The internet has empowered buyers to shop the inventory. In addition, many San Francisco agents will hold their listings open each Sunday from 2pm - 4pm.

The service we provide is much more of a professional consultative expertise. In order to really be at the top of one's game, a good agent will invest in continuing education, effective client education materials and portals, and the infrastructure required to provide the highest quality service.

With all due respect to you as a home owner and seasoned real estate investor, the process is constantly changing. California has a very litigious system and San Francisco has an even great hyper-sensitive to real estate sales. A good real estate agent will save you much more money than his or her commission.

Best wishes!

James Testa
Paragon Real Estate Group
415.515.6097
jtesta@paragon-re.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 25, 2009
Klaus,
Speaking of insulting the intelligence, don't use San Fran as the name of this City. Five more letters is not a lot and it will not mark you as lacking the class that the City conveys.
Be aware that many many people who are very iintelligent use full service agents to good effect. Many of us agents are more experienced at negotation than the client is and when in a transaction it is very beneficial to have an advocate that is operating for the clients benefit. One can ask for the moon and stars above much more easily when you, the principal, can send in a surrogate to do the asking. Professional, removed from the emotion of rejection and able to fathom the nuances of the reaction of the other side. Smart people use agents to good effect.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 21, 2009
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
MVP'08
Contact
Hi Scott,

You should definitely try to use these 3% as an additional leverage. I am thinking of two options:

(1) Hiring a real estate lawyer who writes up the offer. The offer limits the sellers commission to 3% and asks for a price reduction of 3% ( = buyer's agent commission). Lowering the purchase price by 3% will also save you some property taxes over the years. (You will save $342 per year on a 1M property in San Fran- not much but something!)

(2) You could use a commission rebate/refund company. Just sign up on their web site, submit your preapproval letter and they handle the offer process. Once the deal closes they collect the 3% buyer's agent commission and refund e.g. 2% back to you. For instance, on a 1M property you will get a check of 20K in one or two weeks. Here are two of the bigger, established firms:

http://www.buysiderealty.com
http://www.redfin.com

Good luck!

PS: Posts like "The agent is typically paid by the seller and there is no out of pocket cost to you..." are an insult to intelligence of educated buyers. Only really dumb buyers would not tap into the 3% buyer’s agent commission.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 20, 2009
Scott--I agree with Sally and Jed. Contact the agent with whom you worked previously, and propose how you would like to work together. Keep in mind, however, that transactions are not as easy as they probably were when you last purchased a property in San Francisco (assuming you have purchased in SF before). You will want your agent to get you through the rest of the transaction, I am guessing, which may end up involving a lot of additional decisions and negotiations. So before you dismiss these sorts of services, I would recommend talking through the purchase with your agent. You may find that there is more to the matter than simply writing an offer. I have never yet been in a transaction wherein I simply wrote an offer for a client. Good luck, in any event!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 15, 2009
Jed is right, Scott. A lawyer would be much less expensive as they charge an hourly fee. You can always negotiate with any Agent for this purchase to help you with costs associated with the purchase. No one can give you a percentage that would work for all Agents.

Why don't you just call your former Agent directly? He or she should be happy to help since you have been a good loyal client. If that is too awkward, then just ask him/her (upfront) to write with offer for a certain commission amount and refund the remainder to you (as the Seller pays both sides of the commission). If that is unacceptable to your former Agent, then contact others. But give your first Agent a chance!

Cheers,

Sally
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 14, 2009
Scott,
Hire a lawyer or look to the fee for service brokers. Full service brokers can negotiate fees but they can't negotiate the fiduciary service they owe you and everyother party in the transcation. The brokerage has to carry the E&O insurance on the transaction etc.
If you think that you are as knowledgable as an agent and therefore do not need the expertise and protection, then go to the other options mentioned.
If you want the protection of an agent, then go ahead and negotiate. If you did the work to find the property there is no reason why many of us would not be willing to do the remainder of the work for a negotiated amount.
Beware of solutions that no one else knows and also be prepared to point out that although the brokerage fee is paid out of the sellers proceeds it is the buyer that brings the dollars to the table.
Good Luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 14, 2009
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
MVP'08
Contact
Scott- The agent is typically paid by the seller and there is no out of pocket cost to you. I am a broker and would be happy to write the offer for you. Give me a call and we can work something out. 415 368 6008. Kevin
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 14, 2009
Hi Scott. I've got a few ideas for you, but I'm not willing to share them with my competition. Fell free to call me at 415-370-7195. I'm very confident I can get you the whole 3%.

I'm a native from the city and work S.F-San Mateo. Visit my personal web site and take a look at my testimonials. I can give you names and numbers from past client who will speak on my behalf.

My entire business plan is "The Art of Negotiation, with the results achieved".

Best,

Dave Tap Tapper
Realtor
Cashin Company
http://www.Davidtapper.com
Web Reference: http://www.Teamtapper.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 14, 2009
Scott,

Pretty much everything is negotiable in Real Estate, including commissions. However, there is usually a lot more to representing a Buyer than just writing an offer, and once we represent any client regardless of scope there are also liability issues. In my opinion you should be more concerned with your Agent/Broker's negotiating skills and experience in the business than having them reduce a fee that the Seller has already agreed to pay. A good negotiatior will get you the best deal, and a knowledgeable representative will help you avoid getting into a unit/building that may have issues. You also need a representative behind you that knows San Francisco as business is done differently here. I would interview a few agents/brokers and see who is the best fit.

We are happy to provide no-strings consultation. Our contact info is below:

Sincerely,

Lance R King/Managing Broker
415.722.5549 Cell
lance@fixedrateproperties.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 14, 2009
If the property is listed in the SF MLS, the buyer's agent is entitled to the commission amount listed in the MLS. That may be 3%, 2.5%, 2%, or some other amount, depending upon what was negotiated by the listing agent at the time the listing agreement was signed. My experience has been that transactions are most successful when there is a high level of trust between the principal and their agent. If you have a great relationship with your previous agent, they might be a great place to start. You may also want to ask friends who have purchased recently for their agent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 14, 2009
Email Scott Pierce at scott@sfcondomap.com.
Web Reference: http://www.sfcondomap.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 14, 2009
Scott agents are not aloowed by law to discuss exact or specific commissions rate as enforced by the Sherman anti trust laws, however i can tell you that you can negotiate anything with a buyer broker including your commission. It is not uncommon for a buyer to ask teh agent to pay a certain amount for writing the offer, and then anything over that which is offered to the buyer broker by the listing agent can be applied towards your closing costs or taken off the price. You should know that even if an agent just writes the offer there is a tremendous amount of liability associated even with just that. You can also ask the buyer to be a trasactional broker, non agent or facilitator depending on your state laws regarding representation. This way it takes the liability from them and back to you as the buyer. Start with a phone call to teh agent you already worked with, good luck with your purchase.
Web Reference: http://www.ScottSellsNH.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 14, 2009
Research the best firm in the city. Recognize realtor names off signs in the areas you are looking at & research them. Look for someone you feel comfortable around, that has good internet presence & is knowledgable about the area. Call a few agents, ask about the area or home and see how they react? Then you can committ to one you like. Chris Hoskins Broker/Realtor - NC
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 14, 2009
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