Home Buying in Walnut Creek>Question Details

Joe, Home Buyer in Menlo Park, CA

I've hired an agent to find a house but I always find it before he does

Asked by Joe, Menlo Park, CA Wed Jul 4, 2012

I've hired an agent to help me find and buy a house in Walnut Creek but I always find new listings 1-2 days before he finds it. Why? Doesn't an agent have some advanced knowledge or pre-MLS info before the public knows about it? I just go to Zillow or Trulia and I know about the house before my agent does. He works for a large chain type of RE broker.

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41
Joe,

Unfortunately, there is no system in place that allows a selling agent to see the new listings before they are posted by the popular search engines, like Zillow, because their systems are updated with MLS information. There is crucial information, however, that only agents can see on MLS. These are private agent remarks and include any issues or special conditions. Also, this is where your agent will go to find showing instructions. I like to send my buyers a link to the MLS where they can search. I generally get positive feedback about it because it saves the buyer time by not looking at houses that may not be of their interest. Technology has taken over a portion of our job. It was created to make it easier for both buyers and agents but I understand that it can make you feel like you are doing all the work. It was a difficult transition to turn over the power of searching to my buyers. However, searching is the smallest part of representing them. Good luck!!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 12, 2012
Wow -- I know you've had a lot of people answer this question, but this is the truth: hire a new realtor immediately!! If your agent isn't interested enough to "hand pick" properties for you on a daily basis, you can do better ... seriously. Don't hesitate to contact me if I can help further. Julie Montgomery, RE/MAX Masters, Inc., http://www.jmontgomery.com. 303-906-3150 or jmontgomery@coloradomasters.com.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 8, 2012
Not sure how any other agent practices real estate or represents their clients. For me, this would be acceptable. I am constantly online 3-5 times per day checking the listings as they hit, become back on the market, have price drops. I constantly watch the market for my clients.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
I am very lucky to be a member of an MLS that allows me to send automated emails to my clients whenever a new listing or a listing whose price has been reduced on a daily basis. Not everyone is so lucky and to do such a search manually can be quite a task depending on how many clients you have looking. I also think you will find at the end of the day that your agent is going to do far, far more for you than just help you find the house. He or she will be working with you right through the entire buying process and the bulk of the work comes AFTER you have an accepted offer on a home.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 5, 2012
Like the rest of the world, the real estate world is constantly changing. Technology has contributed toward making housing information readily available to everyone. This is good but it contributes to people thinking they can do without an agent and purchase a home solo. As any agent would tell you, there is much more to purchasing a property than previewing housing possibilities.

As your agent to put you on an automatic search....most MLS's offer this service to their agents. It will automatically email you properties as soon as they enter the muiltiple listing service and won't even require your agent to do a search. This will keep you in the loop without having to extend any effort as well.

Good luck,

Bill
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 9, 2012
I don't think that agents are on MLS or other websites 24/7 but buyers can go on anytime they want and some are looking constantly even at midnite. An agent will find new listings that meet your needs every day, but if you want instantaneous response I believe that is unrealistic. An agent should find new listings every day. After working with buyers for awhile agents should know their clients need to be kept informed. Sometimes it becomes a contest of who can find it first. Does it really matter if you are a serious buyer and you feel confident in the agent you are working with?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 9, 2012
Seriously? YOU need a new agent -- someone who is pro-actively looking for the "right" house for you. Everyone thinks all "realtors" are the same. That's like saying all doctors are the same or all attornies are the same. Fire this person and find a professional that knows your area and your market. Julie Montgomery, RE/MAX Masters, Inc., Littleton, CO, http://www.jmontgomery.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 2, 2012
Amen, Julie. You said it a bit stronger than I, but I agree! :)
Flag Thu Aug 2, 2012
Interesting. What I have found when that happens to me, after researching the homes they have found on their own, is that the criteria is not what they shared. For example, a recent buyer was certain he did NOT want a home any larger than 2,400s/f. However, the property he found that I had not sent him was actually 2,600+ s/f, so it would not have shown up on the notification system I had him set up with. Actually, I continue to discuss with my buyers what their wants and needs are, as they do change during the home-search process.
Another way I find what we call "pocket" listings is do do some old-fashioned networking...picking up the phone and calling the many agents I know in the area. After 20+ years in outside corporate sales this comes second nature. And, I drive the neighborhoods to see any "Coming Soon" or "For Sale by Owner" signs.
A dedicated real estate professional does so much more than sit at his or her desk and look @ the local MLS. If you have any real estate needs in the East Bay, please feel free to contact me for professional guidance.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 2, 2012
Hi Joe,

You have many choices in the housing industry as well as Realtors. You may want to have a discussion with your realtor about what you are truly looking for so that they can better understand your needs and wants. He or she needs to know that you want them searching on a daily basis. All agents work differently. As an example, I get up every morning very early and one of the first things that I do is get onto my MLS. I am looking on a daily basis for my clients and if I see something that I think they might like, I immediately send it to them with a note with information about the property or comments. Clients sometimes find things before we do because it may be at a different price range or different specifications that what we were originally searching for. If that isn't the case, have a talk with your realtor or shop for a new one if you are that displeased. There are many agents willing to do what I do for all their clients.

Hope you have a great day,

Lillie Missbrenner, Realtor
Short Sale, REO and HAFA Certified
Better Homes and Garden

Cell: 925-628-9100
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 11, 2012
The internet is an interesting tool. Your agent like many others are not dealing with only you as a buyer. Keep in mind that he is working with both many sellers and buyers and can not possibly scour every home that comes on the market at any one given time. What I have found helpful for my clients is they are all set up with a broad description of what they want in a home for an automatic search. As soon as it is submitted it is sent to my client. I also have all new listings in my area sent directly to me so I can see them every morning. I will also search the expired listings to see if one of those homes meet my client requirements. Chances are unlike your local grocer who knows when the produce truck arrives your realtor is only going to know what is going on in his local market as far asa pricing etc and which loan programs are going to be helpful for you to look at in purchasing. It is not by any means that he is neglecting you or not performing as he should most realtors are juggling listings, buyers, showings, settlements, inspections, and Continuing Education classes not to mention farming for new business on a continuing basis to provide his buyers and sellers with homes and then finally he gets to sound an hour with the family before he starts all over again. There are fewer agents today than there were 5 yrs ago due to the downturn in housing. He will get you where you need to be if he is at all a caring agent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 11, 2012
Technology today has provided real estate consumers with the exact same information real estate professionals have. Matter in fact it is not uncommon for a consumer to see a property before an agent does. The MLS information is delivered to everone at the same time, and it is nearly impossible for a Realtor to be aware of every listing on the MLS. Let MLS technology keep you informed on new listings. Your real estate agent has a more important job to do...

Now the value you get by hiring a buyer agent, is an understanding of the local market factors that can serious affect the value of your investment. That local knowledge is not conveyed on line or searching the MLS. Local insight is crucial to finding the right home. Flood zones, insurance costs and erosion are MAJOR factors that affect price.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 11, 2012
Technology today has provided real estate consumers with the exact same information real estate professionals have. Matter in fact it is not uncommon for a consumer to see a property before an agent does. The MLS information is delivered to everone at the same time, and it is nearly impossible for a Realtor to be aware of every listing on the MLS. Let MLS technology keep you informed on new listings. Your real estate agent has a more important job to do...

Now the value you get by hiring a buyer agent, is an understanding of the local market factors that can serious affect the value of your investment. That local knowledge is not conveyed on line or searching the MLS. Local insight is crucial to finding the right home. Flood zones, insurance costs and erosion are MAJOR factors that affect price.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 11, 2012
In my office we are aware of listings prior to them being put on any public listing sight. Discuss this with the agent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 11, 2012
in our experience (which has not been a positive one) I can say that if your agent is not spending time finding you houses..she/he will not be spending time helping you on other parts of the deal. We are reaching our settlement date and our agent has dropped the ball so many times, its almost funny at this point. if you haven't signed a contract..I'd suggest shopping around for someone else.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 11, 2012
I agree with Annie. If your agent isn't working for you it's time to either let him know how you feel or start looking for a referral from a friend or family member for another.
Flag Wed Jul 11, 2012
Annie,

Spot on. Same here, we find the properties 24 hours before our agent sends the new MLS listing to us by automatic email. We use Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin which seems to be faster than her huge RE chain, i don't know why. And... if she does find us something within her network, that means there is a dual-agency problem.

>Annie, Home Buyer, Philadelphia, PA
>our agent never once sent us properties. we constantly were sending her mls #s and asking for her to set up showings...and now with all the hard work we did..we now are cutting her a huge check at settlement
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 11, 2012
Joe,

Every now and then a client of mine will find something before I've seen it
, but this is generally because he or she sees a "coming soon" sign
hung on a home, or an unadvertised (via MLS) listing on something like Craigslist.com. When a client sends me a link to a property I haven't already seen or recommended I'm not serving them as I should.
Flag Wed Jul 11, 2012
Unfortunately That does happen especially if you are an eager buyer who's looking to buy soon. Sometimes not all the time but sometimes Realtors get busy and they don't have the man power to help everybody all in the same day. I would tell your Realtor how you feel, give him/her a chance. Wish you the Best!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 10, 2012
I promise I will find your property faster than you do, it is just a matter of working harder. We are just that good, our staff is committed to getting you the answers you need to find a new home to buy or sell. EXperience EXcellence and you will never have this problem again.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 10, 2012
our agent never once sent us properties. we constantly were sending her mls #s and asking for her to set up showings...and now with all the hard work we did..we now are cutting her a huge check at settlement
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 10, 2012
Julie

is spot on.


best of luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 9, 2012
Joe,
How would ya like the cold hard truth?
On a given day an agent gets 2 - 6 new leads a day.
Of those leads few get pre APPROVED with a lender.
These are the leads agents work. In other words if you are ready to go so are they.
If you are already approved, you should be getting emails of properties in your email from your agent.
Now if you are approved for a loan, ya you might want to find a new agent.
If you are not approved for a loan, you need to do that first and then see your agents actions.
If you feel tainted about your agent now, perhaps you should move on.

Harold Sharpe - Broker
So Cal Homes
(951) 821-8211
harold@socalhomes.biz
http://www.socalhomes.biz
California Department of Real Estate Broker License # 01312992
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 8, 2012
Your Realtor needs to link you to the same MLS that he or she uses. That way you will get current and updated listings as they happen. Realters pay an annual fee to be able to have this service.
Trulia and Zillow do have great information but the lsting on these public sites are not always current. Also Realty Trac will list properties that may never come on the market. You will see pre foreclosed properties in a general area and expect your agent to get the information before it does come on the market. The property has to be on the market in order to purchase it.
You need to have a heart to heart conversation with your Realtor about this.

Good luck
Pam Bava, Realtor
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 8, 2012
It could be one or a combination of the following reasons:

1. You are more proactive than your agent.

2. The search parameters are different. You might have provided certain specifics and he is only searching within those details. If you've broaden your search from what your agent has, then, yes your search criteria would yield more results, not necessarily what you wanted.

3. Many agents work on commission only. Perhaps he is a very busy agent or someone who is working multiple jobs to make ends meet. This does not make him a "bad" agent.

4. A "good agent" versus a "bad agent" -- you will know when you have had the opportunity to work with a true professional who has a true passion and strength in real estate and all that goes with real estate. Not just being a sales person, but actually saying and doing in a level above all the rest. This "good" versus "bad" is also subjective. If you have been used to a lower cut of steak and then you finally have the best, you would feel cheated. But if you've always had the lower cut of meat and never tasted best, then you wouldn't know what's best.

I hope this has helped you to a certain degree in your pursuit of the perfect property. Home is what you make of it. Someone's vision could be blurred for a moment, but not a lifetime.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 7, 2012
I agree with the suggestion to communicate with your agent. Does he have an automatic search set up for you? If so, what does he have set for the time to deliver the email. This could be immediately to once a week. What is the criteria?

Is your agent full time? Does he network with other agents? Does he utilize any exchange websites utilized between other agents to give him a heads up when something is held off of the market?

Then understand that not all agents put their listings on the MLS right away. Some may want to double end or they are preparing the home for market and will list it on other websites.

With the fast pace of today's market, it is a team effort. Years ago finding the home was the hard part. Now with the internet finding the home is only the beginning. Structuring your offer, presenting it, negotiating, project managing are the refined skill set your agent needs to have.

Just because he is 10 miles away doesn't mean that he isn't the agent for you. Have a meeting with him.
Web Reference: http://www.terrivellios.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 7, 2012
You and your agent are looking same information, Now may be you searching before him.MLS listing is available for agent but agent can share with you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
Communication is the best elixer, so please communicate with your realtor about your expectations and if still not resolved, find a realtor that you feel confident with.

Most of us cover a broad area, (would go broke if limited to one city), however, we can get inside information about areas from each other. It's a tight community of active, professionals.

Good luck to you,
Suzanne Looker
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
the agent should have you on an automatic email list of new listed places so you both get ASAP ..That is what i do ..I am in South Florida(HOLLYWOOD, HALLANDALEBEACH, DANIA BEACH, AVENTURA, SUNNYISLES ETC)..IT IS TEAM WORK !!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
Not necessarily. You do need an agent that knows the market in Walnut Creek but some agents cover a very small area, while others cover a wider area.

I am based in Danville and represent buyers from Orinda to Pleasant Hill to Pleasanton. But I know other agents who do all their business in Blackhawk or Lamorinda or in East Contra Costa County.

Often, the distinction is price points rather than local geography. An agent who mostly handles million dollar plus transactions may be a poor choice for a buyer in the $500K bracket, for example.

It certaily pays to ask an agent about his knowledge of the area before deciding who you want to represent you. And as others have sais, set out your expectations ahead of time.

Bernard Gibbons

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Bernard Gibbons, J. Rockcliff Realtors
DRE License # 01331583
Phone (925) 997-1585 - bernard@bernardgibbons.com

http://www.BernardGibbons.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
Thanks to all of you for your replies. My agent is not in Walnut Creek but is in a neighboring city about 10 miles away and he seems to be unfamiliar with the neighborhoods in WC. Should I be looking for an agent based in WC?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 6, 2012
Please remember that agents are far more than house hunters. Finding the right house is just the start of the process.

No, agents don't have any 'pre-MLS' knowledge as a rule, unless they know a few from their office. We learn about properties when they hit the MLS.

If your agent is not scouting properties for you, or sending you automatic alerts directly from the MLS, then it might be time to find a new agent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 5, 2012
My clients sometimes find homes before me....but not often. Our MLS sends me listings before they get to Trulia and Zillow. Maybe he's not searching for you properly?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 5, 2012
Not all agents work their business the same, and so I am wondering how you found your agent, does your agent have a presence on the web. Since you are looking out of your area, I'm assuming your agent is in Walnut Creek. If not, then you should ask your local agent to refer you to an agent in Walnut Creek who goes to the regular agent tours and will know what's coming up on the market.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 5, 2012
There is nothing wrong with more than one set of eyes looking for a home. A For Sale By Owner might pop up in a neighborhood where you live and your agent wouldn't know about it. Many homes are being prepared for sale, but are not advertised until they are "showcase" ready. Are you looking in a specific neighborhood? If so, has your agent sent out letters to all those homes in that area, indicating that he has a ready, willing and able buyer (with financing in place)? As for Zillow, I have never trusted, not put much credence in that site. Their data seems to lag about a month or more. Has he put you on a "drip" campaign, where you receive the MLS information the same day he does?

Mike McCutcheon
Dudum Real Estate Group
925-457-3209
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 5, 2012
Finding the house is only the beginning as to why you need a Realtor. I am not sure what criteria you used to pick your Realtor but I would hope experience in contract negotiations and escrow follow through were part of the equation.
I handle many clients at one time and with today's technology sometimes my client's find the house first.
But that is because I am handling things like negotiating the transaction and making sure your lender and escrow company are doing job so you have no problem keeping inline with contract deadlines so you don't loose your deposit.
Web Reference: http://www.LauraCoffey.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 5, 2012
It's sp easy to set it up so that you are automatically alerted when listings matching your criteria come up for sale (or come back to market, or have price change).

The first question to ask obviously is if your search criteria are very specific and are these known to your agent...or do you find various properties that are different from what you mentioned to your agent that you want.

We have the ability on our MLS to set up an automatic notification. Additionally, through Listing Book, you as the client, can even make changes to your own criteria as many times as you want.

Ask your agent about Listing Book.....http://www.listingbook.com/home/

And if you're still not satisfied, you may want to also search....for a new agent. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 5, 2012
I suggest you discussion this issue and I beleive your agent will able to do a great job for you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 5, 2012
Great question... I can only speak from experience. If you have given your realtor the correct perimeters of what you are looking for, you should not be finding them first. Many times clients change areas, price points and other search criteria and therefore the automatic email MLS search neglects to find it. You may want to check in to make sure both if you are on the same page.

Good luck to you in thievery fast paced market!

Suzanne
Web Reference: http://SuzanneLooker.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 5, 2012
Suzanne, You're right, this is a high paced seller's market in Walnut Creek so that is why it is so crucial for a buyer to find out the new listings so that he/she may investigate it and bid on it immediately. Yes, my agent does send me automatic MLS alerts but why is it that I found them first? My agent is not in Walnut Creek but about 10 miles away in a neighboring city. Does that make a difference? He also doesn't seem to know the neighboroods in WC very well.
Flag Fri Jul 6, 2012
In this day and age, new listings can be found by the general public as quickly as by an agent. Having said that, your agent should find them as quickly as you do though, and the market here in Walnut Creek is such that you need to move quickly when you see a home you like.

As mentioned by Suzanne, you need an agent for much more than just finding the right home though. This is the easy part (!) Negotiating the price, repairs etc., dealing with the documentation and any problems that arise in the course of the transaction and more are all part of the agent's job.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 5, 2012
he apparently is technology challenged. i can put your criteria into my system, and it will send it to you immediatly when the home comes on the market. Trulia and Zillow and otherb sites like that run about 24 hours behind, because my system sends from the mls, they pull from the mls, but it takes a day. in this market, that can be too long! find another agent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 5, 2012
Hi Joe,
That is an excellent question to ask your agent. Be sure and let the agent know your expectations.
Good luck,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 5, 2012
Lolzzz.......ohh that's really very funny. I think you are very lucky. Well sometimes its happened, might be the house which is in their knowledge is not up to your expectation or above your expectation so in that case delay happens, its not a big deal.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 5, 2012
Not all agents have or know all the new listings coming on the market. A good agent will know what the upcoming inventory is in his/her brokerage. Your agent should have a good knowledge of the area and be a specialist hopefully. The Internet today often empowers the consumer with an abundance of information, however local knowledge and often relationships with other agents can help get you the house you want.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 5, 2012
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