First of all, I'm sorry that you're concerned about getting "scammed". Most real estate agents are honest and ethical and do their jobs with great pride. Even seller's agents - even though they work for the seller - are bound by ethics to treat the public fairly and honestly. However, I would suggest working with either a Certified Buyer Representative (CBR) or Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR). Both of these designations are acquired by taking the requisite education. If you are concerned that about the costs, in most cases, any agent -either buyer's agent or broker's agent - is usually compensated by the seller according to the terms of the listing agreement between the listing company and the owner and is paid at the closing out of the proceeds. You should interview a few agents and ask them to provide you with references from previous buyer clients. If you are looking to purchase in Brooklyn, Queens, or Long Island, I would be able to assist you. Good luck!
Certified Buyer Representative
Senior Real Estate Specialist
Century 21 Princeton Proprties
Just tell the agent up front that you want her or him to sign the official NYS Agency Disclosure Form that says that they are *your* BUYER'S AGENT. You don't pay anything for this, it's not a contract, it's a government form, but it does put everybody on notice that this particular agent represents the best interests of you, the buyer. It doesn't even obligate you to work with that agent at all, or ever again; it's just a clarifying document.
In fact, by law agents are supposed to present this form--which declares exactly who the agent is working for-- to you at first substantive contact.
When you meet an agent holding an open house, that agent is working for the seller of that house, obviously, not for you. Nothing wrong with that, but if you confide in that agent, did you know that this agent actually has a legal obligation to take your information back to the seller? It's not a scam, really it's not, but it can sure feel very disloyal if you as a buyer are affected by this.
A common example is when a buyer tells a seller's agent, "I am offering $X, but I really want this place, and I can go higher than that." If you tell that to a seller's agent, well, let's just say that your odds of paying only $X are pretty small!
By contrast, your buyer's agent must hold your information confidential. So you can tell your agent you know you're getting a huge bonus next month, and the agent will not tell this to the seller of the place you've fallen in love with.
Any agent who wants to work with you, as your buyer's agent, is free to do so. My advice would be to find an agent near where you are looking, and meet with a couple of them to see if there's a fit. Then you both sign the Agency Disclosure Form. THEN you can go out and start looking!
Please visit my blog for more information on buying in New York City:
Karla Harby, VP
Rutenberg Realty NYC
If you engage an agent in your service and you feel that an agent has acted unethically you can go to the Board of Realtors and request a review and/or file a complaint. Hopefully, knowing this, you can feel more at ease in selecting a realtor. Good luck.
2/ Get a referral from someone who like, trust and respect
3/ Ask the agent for referrals and if a new agent, speak to their broker
4/ Be aware that an agent can have more than one allegience 1/ to seller, 2/ to buyer, 3/ to both. Either way the information MUST not be shared.
5/ Due diligence - search around for yourself to get familiar with what is in the neighborhood in which you are interested. This will be your home an agent is a facilitator.
Take the same approach the home sellers use when they are looking for an agent to sell their house. Review the agents working in your area and start to create a list of agents to meet and create a list of questions. Find agents the are a CBR Certified Buyers Representative or ABR Accredited Buyers Representative. Those two designations are featuring agents who specialize in working with buyers and in the buyers best interest. Ask these agents to review the completed home purchases they have completed with other home buyers. Ask the agents if they can arrange a conversation between you and their past clients. Ask the agents to review the process of how they work and what they are going to do to help you purchase a home. Do they have a team of attorneys, home inspectors, mortgage representatives established to guide you to the correct professionals needed to fit your requirements the best. After speaking to a couple of agents, you will find from the conversation and answers they provide to your questions who is the right agent for you. Just a litte bit of legwork will pay off with a great relationship and home purchase.
Best of Luck.