Home Buying in 95051>Question Details

Sparky, Home Buyer in 95051

Should we fire our agent?

Asked by Sparky, 95051 Tue May 12, 2009

We've had our agent for about a year now and he seems very hard working but overextended. He has shown us around to many houses and is quick to return emails any time of day, but every time we meet him he is 20-30 minutes late, which is a real problem when we take a long lunch or leave work early to meet him. In addition, the few houses we have put an offer on, he seemed to be pushing us to bid much higher than asking and higher than comparables. Is it unethical to get a new agent after he has spent so many hours with us? We are considering a discount agent since we always email him the properties we want to see instead of the other way around... we just need someone to open lock-boxes for us and write the offers and contracts.

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Dear Sparky- I am sorry to learn about your bad experience. Perhaps you need to review your expectation and goals with your agent to make your decision. You are not paying for the commission as a buyer. For purchase you are not married to any particular agent unless you are truly married to one! I am glad you are looking for a new home purchase. There is not a better time to do it then now esp. if it were
for your own home. The rate even for 30 year fixed can be lower than 5% for
conforming loan as well as the tax credit incentives. The most important thing for you is to proceed with the
right timing and advice with the professional who can assist you to win the trophy and prize for you. Good luck and cheers.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun May 17, 2009
In my opinion, an answer to this question requires more infomation. The most important being, have you told him of your concerns?
I'm wondering why it is that you have not found a property in the year that you have been looking. Being consistently late is indeed an issue but the fact that he's still in there with you shows me that he's committed.
A professional real estate pro is not there just to open the lock boxes. Facilitating the transaction is the major parrt of what an professional does for his/her client. You said that he has counseled you to offer higher than you want to. Perhaps, like in our market here in the Central California Valley, that's what it takes to achieve your goal. The fact that you are still looking points to the fact that you are not accepting the importance of this advice.
It is not unethical for you to choose another agent. And I truly believe that yo must be confident in the individula who you are trusting to guide you in one of the most improtant decisions that you will make. However, you may want to re evaluate your goals and your plan of what it will take to achieve that goal.
Good luck.........it is definitely the time to buy real estate!!
L.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed May 13, 2009
Than you for all the clear detail Sparky,

This really helps me understand "offers over asking" better.
There are always more details. Discount brokers do provide value if you want to do more of the required work to position your offer. Your need to have someone negotiate strongly, on your behalf, will be found with a full time professional that can demonstrate a track record more in line with your goals. The final offer price is of great importance yet, it should be equal to the terms of the purchase contract.

I hope you and your wife are successful attaining your needed representation soon!

Michael
http://www.MichaelRobertsHomes.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed May 13, 2009
Thank you everyone for all your help, I really appreciate it. My wife already put her foot down and said she definately wants a new agent. This really isn't a "horror story" of agents, which is why we were so torn. It seems like he is a hard working person who really wants to help, but he's trying to please too many people at once.

Like I mentioned, he's shown us a decent number of houses and is quick to return emails, but the breaking point for my wife was when we put an offer on a house last month. We found it on our own and went to the open house. We liked it and it was listed at $450K (resale, not foreclosure). We called him to place an offer and he called the sellers agent and found that they had 2 offers above asking already. He suggested we go $475K-$480K on our offer. We went home and checked compairables ourselves (thanks trulia recent sales map view!) and figured if it went above $465 we didn't want it. We put the offer in at $465K and got it. He took us around twice that week (late both times) to see other houses in the neighborhood to be sure of our price. During the inspection we found a major plumbing issue that left standing water in the crawl space for who knows how long. We asked him to put in a cancelation or try and negotiate a lower price. When we asked a few days later if he got a lower price he said no, the cancelation is moving forward.

My wife says he isn't helping to find properties, he isn't helpful determining what to bid, and he isn't arguing the best price for us. I say he was quick to call the other agent, write up the offer, show us other houses a few days later... he isn't realtor of the year but he is putting in an effort. I guess it doesn't feel right either to have him put this time in already and then dump him. Like going to best buy and talking to the sales guy for an hour about a TV and then going home and buying it from amazon.

To clear up what I meant by discount realtor, I meant the ones like redfin and zip realty where they expect you to do a lot of the leg work, but they give you a portion of the commision as a rebate after the sale.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed May 13, 2009
I have to agree with Grace here. My opinion as a customer is that your broker no longer can fulfill your needs. In reading your post, I was looking for key words.

For example, you said "every time we meet he is 20-30 mins late", so it is not something that happens once a while, but rather a recurring theme and he might have an issue with timeliness (some people are just like that), so I don't see this being solved even with a face to face talk with him.

The fact that you made a "few offers" in this market is actually a LOT and not too little. Buyers in this market are being more selective and patient with their decisions, especially during the past year. I know of many people, who have only put offers on a house after 6 or 7 months searching. So, you certainly are a serious buyer.

He might indeed be good and be busy, but he is certainly not appreciating you as a customer, and seems to be more concerned his other customers at this point.

Many pros here had mentioned you about the services that a full service agent can provide and that's what you wanted at the beginning - but this broker has been anything but that. You had to do much of the work he was supposed to deliver, including searching for properties and emailing him instead of the other way around. Thanks to him, you had discovered that you yourself can do many of the things that a full service agent can do and realize that with the experience you have now you can go with a discount broker.

Finally, there should be no need for you to confront him on these issues - a good experience professional like many claim he might be - should know that he cannot be late to appointments, that he needs to be more proactive in helping looking for properties, and represent your best interests and needs. These should be natural to him, not something that you have to teach him.

My suggestion - move on and find someone (whether full service or discount) that can better represent you and treats you with the attention that you deserve.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue May 12, 2009
I have to chime in here. I will tell you that if your agent is busy good for him, that means he's a good agent. People want to use him and therefore he must be doing something right.

You may want to ask yourself some questions before you decide to ditch your agent:

You have been looking for homes for a year and have only put an offer on a "few houses" why is that?

When you put an offer in your agent is encouraging you to put in a higher offer, perhaps you are only putting in offers on properties that are grossly underpriced and are being out bid and he is trying to help you get the property?

Your agent is always late. Well maybe his office is not close to the area where you are looking. But 20-30 minutes late, that is unacceptable, if that was me I would call in advance, and be so embarrased that I would be sure that it would never happen again.

If this is habitual then maybe it does say some thing about your agent, but if he has legitimate reasons, such as meetings that he has to leave early in order to accomodate you on your lunch hour then that seems more acceptable.

If you feel that your agent is not working for you and doesn't have your best interest in mind then you should dump your agent.

If you feel you can trust him and he is competent you should keep your agent let him know that you expect them to be on time when you make an appointment.

Good luck
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue May 12, 2009
I understand your frustration. I feel you should consider another agent, however, since you have spent lots of time with the first agent and it appears that he has been somewhat attentive, you might give him one final chance. I feel you should confront him with your disappointment about his tardiness and also ask him to explain why he is seemingly not concerned about your overpaying for a property with obvious stats that do not support his recommendation to bid higher. I believe in giving notice if you decide to change agents, maybe with the thought of loosing you as clients, he will be more respectful of your time and finances...and might still turn out to be a good agent for you. Good Luck! BB
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue May 12, 2009
Hello Sparky and thanks for your question.

I'm going to go against the grain here, and my apologies to my colleagues, but if you have been unable to find a home for the past year with your current agent, and feel--as you have already noted above--that things just aren't 'clicking" with him, you are certainly within your right to begin working with someone else. Take a few minutes to contact your agent, and let him know that you will be making a change and explain why--keep it professional and you'll both benefit from the conversation. All agents understand that not every buyer we work with will buy a home from us, so it is okay to make the change.

As I've written many times here at Trulia, for clients who seek limited Realtor intervention and who are willing to do a lot of the "legwork" of finding suitable homes themselves, then it may not be necessary to use a full-service real esate professional for your home buying experience. In those cases, using a Realtor as a "facilitator" can be just the ticket to buying your home. Keep in mind, however, that in doing so, you will be required to be more "participatory" in the process of buying your home and that experience can be both rewarding and time consuming. I've written about using a real estate facilitator here at Trulia--check out my blog here or at the web address below. Facilitators typically charge only 1 percent on the sale, but, again, will require more buyer participation than in a more traditional "full service" Realtor relationship. It's not for everyone, and there will always be those who are better served by a full-service agent, but it is an option worth considering.

Good luck and happy house hunting.

Sincerely,
Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty
Santa Clara, CA
Tel 408-426-1616
Area Pro Realty
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue May 12, 2009
Sparky,
A few thoughts I have when I see this type of question. The agent has been working hard for you, but has been late- if you haven't already, speak up, let him know that you've taken time from work to meet with him and you need him to be on time.

Price: if for your area you are at the current "hot" price, properties may in fact be selling higher than list with multiple offers. Ask him to run you some sold comps for the neighborhoods you are looking at. He may know that the list price is low (possibly the sellers are trying to generate multiple offers?), so you feel comfortable ask him to give you some data so you know why he is encouraging a higher offer.

Searching: It is true that you are able to search the MLS on your own (thanks to all of us agents that pay a bundle to maintain that data base and make it available to the public ) I encourage it because for example I don't know that in my clients heart they always dreamed of a classic craftsman when they had me looking in 50's ranch neighborhoods until they find one on the internet and change direction.

Discount agent, what type? since the agents are generally paid out the sellers proceeds, would that help you? Really compare the services offered by the brokerages.
There is a lot more to the process than opening lock boxes and writing offers, there is getting it to the point that the sold sign is on the lawn and the keys in your hand.

If you feel you can't work with him, at least allow him to refer you out to another agent, then at the point you do purchase that agent will pay him a referral and his year of work will at least be somewhat compensated, remember he has not been paid (yet) for all the time he has put in with you.

Good luck, and have fun searching!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue May 12, 2009
Sparky,
For starters, using a "discount" agent to represent you as a buyer doesn't make any sense since the seller pays for your agent's commission. Unless things work drastically different where you are from, if so, please forgive me. Keep in mind that you get what you get what you pay for. If you are disapointed with your agent, then put your concerns on the table. Maybe he will make more of an effort to show up on time. Also, finding and aquiring a home is a team effort between buyer and agent. The fact that you are sending the listings that interest you is good, but you still need a qualified agent to help you through the process. Therer's a lot more to this than opening lock boxes and writing an offer. One more important question...have you signed an employment agreement with the agent? If so, check the terms and expiration. A little communication goes a long way. Sorry for your struggles & good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue May 12, 2009
Sparky, I know I have been late to appointments. Sometimes due to the demands of previous appointments.

I appreciate the fact that you are willing to ask such a profound question here. Have you REALLY shared with him what you need, desire and expect? That is an absolute must for everyone to remember!

If you ask him to provide those for you, you will make huge strides in your search and subsequent purchase. Lockboxes and contracts are important...the escrow process and negotiations are far more demanding than anyone here is willing to spend the time to tell all the horror stories.

I will share a short version of one. Short details and sad ending. This happened to an agent in an office I worked in just a few years ago. .

True Story: A buyer chose a home and bought from this agent. The Seller disclosures were completed properly and the agents did what most do everyday. 20 years prior, a septic tank was covered up and the sewer connected to the city service. Well, the Seller did not know and neither agent "walked the property". The system was not evident. No one really paid any attention. Until the buyer was landscaping. Short end....The cost was nearly $500,000.00 in Legal fees and remedy. Agents have value that is not always evident. There are many more similar cases.

I hope your Realtor appreciates your value as his client and remedies your concerns.

Michael
http://www.MichaelRobertsHomes.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue May 12, 2009
Sparky,

I am going to change Terri's working a bit but her point is the same. The best salespeople get the most money, that doesn't meant you will be attracting the best agent.

As a buyer it makes no sense to get a discount brokerage. Seller determines the commission level at the given offer price. While it is a true statement the buyer ultimately pays the commission, indirectly, you save nothing since an agent gets paid nothing if he is not closing transactions.

The fact your agent is pushing price implies trying to compensate for other weaknesses in either the contract or, sorry to be harsh, you the buyer. One way FHA buyers compete in multiple offers is to push the price (let's discuss how the real estate bubble was created) to incentivise sellers to select a buyer with a weaker contract, down payment or financing.

I would suggest if you let your agent go, have a discussion with him about his tardiness and lack of success first.
Web Reference: http://bob2sell.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 7, 2009
Four months later... Did you buy?

I'd like to address the thought of Discount or Rebate agents. Agents - some are good and some are not, regardless of how much they get paid. The reason they are paid is not to send you listings and open doors. The true level of skill is in how the contract is written, their market knowledge, communication to you and all parties, inspections, and the list goes on. They need to be your Advocate not a Dictator. When the client is given non bias information they will make the right decision for themselves. Reading through the many post on Trulia one will see there is a pattern where the client doesn't understand the contract, their options, the process, these are clients who's agent most likely is not giving them the skill and service they need.

Regarding Accredited Buyers Agents. I've taken and pass the requirements and after two years I stopped paying the fee which allows me to call myself an ABR agent. The classes are great and any agent who has completed knows what is expected of them. So when interviewing agents, understand what the designation is, ask the who, what when and how of it.

Lateness is unacceptable. I've had clients do the same to me. Once, forgivable, but regularly, not. Respect is carried to the Seller as well who has set aside time for your showing.
Web Reference: http://www.terrivellios.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 7, 2009
Its also unethical and unprofessional of your agent to ask you to bid higher than asking price or comparables. This itself shows that he is NOT RELIABLE. Remember the higher he asks you to make an offer, higher his commission (so why won't he ask you to bid high??). He is not to be trusted.And if he shows late most of the time, that means he does not respect your time and you as a client. After all you are the client. He is supposed to work for you and in your interest. I would just let such a agent go, than take the headache and hassel of working out the differences. (BTW, this is not a question of working out differences, its a plain question of agent taking you for granted). As for the gas money and showing houses, its part of their job and they do get paid well (2.5% or 3%) of the commission. Do not feel any guilt. Just let him go. He will realize and maybe his next client will not suffer like you do. If he really wants your business, he would value you as a client. He knows that you are with him for 1 year and if you have tolerated him for so long, you will keep tolerating him for coming years. And do not go on comments like why have you not found a home in 1 year. The question should be "Why has your agent not found a home in this 1 year's time?" He already knows your budget and criteria. Fire him. And yes, as you see most of the posting online, you need to work with someone who can give you some commission back. Talk upfront about this before you hire your next agent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 5, 2009
Its also unethical and unprofessional of your agent to ask you to bid higher than asking price or comparables. This itself shows that he is NOT RELIABLE. Remember the higher he asks you to make an offer, higher his commission (so why won't he ask you to bid high??). He is not to be trusted.And if he shows late most of the time, that means he does not respect your time and you as a client. After all you are the client. He is supposed to work for you and in your interest. I would just let such a agent go, than take the headache and hassel of working out the differences. (BTW, this is not a question of working out differences, its a plain question of agent taking you for granted). As for the gas money and showing houses, its part of their job and they do get paid well (2.5% or 3%) of the commission. Do not feel any guilt. Just let him go. He will realize and maybe his next client will not suffer like you do. If he really wants your business, he would value you as a client. He knows that you are with him for 1 year and if you have tolerated him for so long, you will keep tolerating him for coming years. And do not go on comments like why have you not found a home in 1 year. The question should be "Why has your agent not found a home in this 1 year's time?" He already knows your budget and criteria. Fire him. And yes, as you see most of the posting online, you need to work with someone who can give you some commission back. Talk upfront about this before you hire your next agent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 5, 2009
Hi Sparky,
You know, it doesn't take long for a really good agent to get overwhelmed by the many details that are required in this profession. Many agents will hire office assistants, which is vital.
I would suggest in all fairness that you have a frank discussion with your agent and let them know your feelings.
An excellent buyer agent does much more then just open lock boxes or write offers. An buyer agent can save you money and use their experience to assist you in making a wise decision on your purchase or investment. You need one that has the time to take care of you professionally.

Best of Luck to you
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 18, 2009
You need to work out the difference with your professional agent together. Evidently your agent wants your business so he gets his gas money back and time devoted over 1 year span without any results or compensation. Most agents, however, do enjoy working with clients when the buyers are ready.

The price range of interest to you is very competitive. 19, 40 and 56 offers are common. Many first timer home owners and investors have jumped on the wagon making sure they don't miss this once in life opportunity of $ chaos. There are 2500 accepted offers in San Jose last 30 days. I wish you are one of them. When you want the house you need to pay the going price. Yes, there is a recession and many unfortunate have to sell. I have not seen a slow down still.

I do have several comments:
Are you thinking about buying a home or you are really sure you are ready? Why you have not been able to find something you like and get it after that long? All homes in this area are track homes. You see one you know what to expect on the next property.

Most sellers have the inspection report available for buyer before you make the offer. Is this the case? If not why even bother to view the property? In most contracts if a defect is found that is not disclosed by seller, you either ask for a "repair" or ask them to credit you based on the replacement cost with a written estimate from a contractor.

It sounds like your agent and you both are not skilled to find your dream home. The results and frustrations are evident in your posting.

Realtors have to work several times harder to keep up with the reduced income. If you think you have the Internet tools and skilled to venture on your own, may be you identify the candidates and let him to preview and your nod and go after it. You probably don't realize it few realtors drive clients all over town anymore. The Internet gives you an edge to explore and make an offer is just a formality on what you liked. Find one bid on it and try another until you get your home. If you still find it difficult to find your dream house, take a break and look for them when there is more inventory.

Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 25, 2009
Dear Sparky,

YES! Get rid of your agent. In this market, there is NO reason for your agent NOT to be placing YOU as his/her TOP priority when you have an appointment. It is not unethical for you to fire your agent, as long as you are not planning on trying to purchase a property your agent has already submitted an offer on, for you. Buyer's agents are expected to work hard because they get paid well, by the Seller. Buying a home is a big decision, and you should have someone helping you who understands and cares about that!

Good luck!
Web Reference: http://www.crestico.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 13, 2009
Sparky,

You should definitely fire your agent. I grant that he might still be competent and he might have good intentions for you, however, he has failed to gain your faith in 1 year. It's his obligation to keep you happy and still do good for you. if he does only one of these two, he doesn't deserve your work.

Put in other words - you can find an agent who will do good for you as well as keep you happy.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 13, 2009
Good for you, it's a great time to buy! Rudeness is never acceptable, and promptness is part of the exceptional sevice you deserve. If you decide to part ways with your agent, please consider an Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR). This specially trained Realtor will provide client level, not customer level, services. Your agent should be letting you know the moment a suitable property comes on the market, and shoring up your offers with viable comps. Also, s/he should perform due diligence for you regarding taxes, deeds, covenants, etc. Look for an ABR at http://www.rebac.net. The new agent can pay the current one a referral fee, if they arrange that. Best of luck!
Web Reference: http://www.rebac.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 12, 2009
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