To answer your question, yes, there are courses and designations that buyers agent can take. The one I have is ABR Accredited Buyers Representative. Plus good agents are constantly updating their education by taking courses that don't result in designations, just more knowledge to help you the buyer.
Having said that, the advise below is good. check out some of the trulia agents in your area, talk with several of them, express your concerns, needs, desires, etc and find one that you feel comfortable with. Of course recomendations from friends are a good source too.
Being represented on the buyer side is crucial to getting the best home with the best terms. A lot of people call an agent that has the sign in the front of the home. That agent is actually representing the seller and has a contract with that seller. You should be sitting down with a buyers agent and have signed contracts. Also that buyers agent should be talking with you on exactly what you want in a home and how much you want to spend. By having a good buyers agent they will run comps on the home to determine a price point of where you should make an offer. The other thing that agent should be doing for you is getting you the best terms on your contract.
I've specialized as a buyers agent for 4 years. I can promote your best interests in every way possible; fully disclose all the facts that might influence your decision to either buy or sell and negotiate on your behalf so you can get the best value for your money.
Give me a call to see how I might best be able to assist you.
The realtor should of explained to you how she would be representing you. In Michigan we use a Disclosure Regarding Real Estate Agency Relationships, which states on it that before you disclose information to a real estate licensee regarding a real estate transaction, you should understand what type of agency relationship you have with that licensee (agent). The document explains the duties of a Buyers Agent, Sellers Agent etc. The Buyers agent is to act solely on behalf of the buyer, a sellers agent acts solely on behalf of the seller. This is a form that is signed by the agent and either the buyer if you are purchasing or the seller if listing a property. If you as the buyer did not do this you were being represented as a Sellers Agent and the agent should of told you this. Now if it was the agents listing you would of been represented as a Dual agent and would have signed a form explaining that.
Other states may not work this way, I am also licensed in Florida and know that most agents there work as Transaction Coordinator with means that the Realtor is not acting as an agent to either seller or buyer but they do provide services to complete the transaction.
As stated below, ask your friends for referrals or interview agents before making a decision. I just interviewed an agent in Arizona for a friend looking to purchase a home so yes we do referrals.
@Marge, let me know it you work as a Buyers Agent
Good luck Peg
Pam Bava, Realtor
There are good agents and bad agents - the same can be said in all professions. I'm sorry the agent you had previously was not what you needed.
The best way to find an agent you are happy with is to ask friends and family if possible and interview a few to see who you are comfortable with. You can and should ask for references (especially since you've had a negative experience). If they won't give you references, don't hire them.
Most agents represent both sellers and buyers but there are some who 'specialize' in one or the other. They both take the same classes to get their licenses. Their experience (work with buyers or sellers more) is what would differentiate them being a 'buyers agent' or a 'sellers agent' (i.e. who do they have more experience working with - buyers or sellers).
Once you find an agent you are comfortable with (after interviewing a few), you can ask them to do an Exclusive Buyers contract. There should be absolutely NO reason they would not be willing to do a contract because it protects them as well as you. I always do an exclusive contract with my buyers.
I hope this helps and good luck in your search.
Answers below have great advice -
Another suggestion would be to utilize Trulia, as you are familiar with this site.
Go to the "Find a Pro" tab on the tool bar. Type in the city, state of interest. It will drop down - click on "real estate agents".
Review the agents profile, read their Q&A, Blogs, etc. When you feel comfortable with the information on the agent, contact them & set up a consultation. Sort of a mini-interview.
Have all your questions, expectations, and concerns ready. Remember, you are "hiring" them to represent - you - so take your time.
Many agents will have some sort of a buyer's or seller's packet with information for you. Market analysis, recent comp's, etc. If they show you letters of recommendation - ask if you could contact them.
Best of luck!
Getting recommendations for family and friends is a common approach to obtaining information about less than commonly used services. However, this is not always successful. Since individual's expectations vary the standards will differ as well.
Customers normally seek quality service...and should. From a practical stand point, this is impacted so greatly by the individuals values, sense of commitment, work ethics, and personal motivation level.
We often recommend that people seeking that perfect representation get in the trenches and do their own searc. This can be easily accomplished by attending open houses....not as much for seeing the homes but seeing the agents and how they operate, interact, think on their feet, and share knowledge during these events. Of course being prepared to ask a few of your own "canned" questions can be helpful as well.
Also, there is nothing wrong with going into your next experience with a list of expectations that can be shared with the prospective agent. If the feel they can handle them, you're ready to move to the next level.....if not, next!
Our recommendation...."control your own destiny."