Home Buying in Lafayette>Question Details

Lily White,  in Berkeley, CA

We want to buy a house in the Lamorinda area and we are currently using a local real estate agent who was a referral from a family member.

Asked by Lily White, Berkeley, CA Mon May 17, 2010

The realtor is quite familiar with Lamorinda since he lives there (his kids grew up there), but I just don't feel we're getting the best out of him. He's not very engaging nor forthcoming with information when we see homes. I appreciate that he's giving us the "space" and not so overbearing, but at the same time, we need useful insights, etc. It has only been 3 weeks since we started. I feel like switching to another realtor, but don't know how/what the best way to do switch...Need expert advise.

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I've been reading a lot of good answers and advice from the previous responders. The main question I would consider, is, "how high up on your current agent's priority list are you, exactly?" He may simply be handling many buyers and sellers right now and is prioritizing the ones he thinks are serious over the ones he thinks are not yet serious. You should definitely give this agent the benefit of the doubt by conveying to him/her that you are indeed serious about buying.

One thing that many buyers fail to consider when seeking a buyer's agent is the role the agent's office environment can play in the buyer's success. What I mean by this, is that there are offices in which the agents tend to keep to themselves and work "alone" as they say. These tend to be the more cut-throat offices, in which each agent competes against the others to pull in the most buyers and sellers. They often do this without considering what is best for the customer/seller. The agent also manages to forget that their time is going to be split between, in many cases, too many buyers/sellers for them to handle alone.

While I can't comment on your current agent's branch/office environment, I can certainly claim that my current office hires quite a few agents who were simply tired of the cut-throat environments of their previous firms. We work as a team and are always making sure we are each meeting if not exceeding our buyer/sellers needs. If one of us is between transactions and sees that another agent in our office needs help finding a property for a buyer, for example, we always come to our fellow agent's aid without any thought of compensation. I recently did just that for one of my office colleagues. If this sounds like the kind of effort you are seeking from an agent, please let me know.

Kyle Quesnoy
Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Mason McDuffie
51 Moraga Way
Orinda, CA 94563
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 28, 2011
If you do not feel comfortable talking with your Realtor about your needs, visit some open homes in the area, look at the websites of people who have answered you from our Trulia family...talk to friends. Once you decide your new Realtor can assist you with the transition. I always believe in win-win situations. When you find the right person, you will know. Home buying is a fun experience! Enjoy! Sincerely, Ann Sullivan Realtor, MBA Coldwell Banker
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 30, 2010
Lily, did you have that tough discussion with your agent yet? About your expectations? I hope your agent made the necessary changes to keep your business. but if he hasn't I hope that you have found someone new. I had so many agents like yours, that's why I decided to become an agent. Let us know your progress. We are all hoping for the best for you. Barb
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 29, 2010
You certaintly can if you want. The biggest mistake buyers make when switching agents is to not be upfront and tell the agent that you are going to work with someone else. it is not appropriate for me to comment on your agent, obviously I do not know about the level of service you have been receiving, but sometimes it is simply a personality conflict. Adding some value to the process of looking at homes is important, even an opinion on its pricing (many are very overpriced). How is the home built, are there any signs of problems, etc. Costs that would be on the horizon to fix up items or make repairs, estimates on improvements. These are some of the things that help buyers make informed decisions.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 26, 2010
S. Brown

Buying a home is the most important thing you will probably do all year. Your REALTOR® needs to be your coach, mentor, guide, advocate, advisor and sometimes marriage counselor. You need someone that can point out issues when you visit homes, give feedback on neighborhoods and be a trusted confidant. It should be someone you can be comfortable with, explore ideas with, feel safe with and be confident in.

In other words, in addition to them knowing your market, you need to click.

It’s OK to say to someone, “I don’t feel that this is working.” You do it in all other facets of life and it should be no different here. Make sure you talk to them, let them know why you are moving on and then start interviewing others.

I responded to a similar link a few days ago – here is the link to that post – you may find it helpful.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 17, 2010

Real estate is a trust business and referrals are one way to gain that trust but perople and personalites sometimes clash. After a discussion of the situation with your current agent, be direct and forthcoming about wanting to moving on. As you can see by all the agents posts, we all know that people are different and have different needs and expectations. A creative person isn't going to work well with an analytical salesman or sales approach and vice versa.

Once the tie is severed, then interview several agents by phone. After talking to a few you will see the differences in approach and find a person that can best help and effectively communicate with you to find your dream home.
Web Reference: http://bob2sell.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 17, 2010
Hello S. Brown,

Every client is different and has different needs just as every Realtor has a different style of working. What needs to be done when you start a relationship with ANY professional, you need to lay down the guide lines as to what you expect. If you are still not satisfied, you can always look for another Realtor, just make sure you work with someone knowledgable. Just because someone has lived in a certain area for a long period of time does not mean he or she is an expert in that field. I would suggest you interview at least 3 different agents and start from there. I would love to have an oppurtunity to interview with you at your convenience. You can check my profile for my ceritfications. :)

Kamal Randhawa
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 17, 2010
Please, please, please.....have a talk with your agent. Lay out your expectations so that he clearly understands your preferred style of communications.

Too often, we have buyers who do the looking on their own online, and ask questions about what properties they like.....and that's the way they want it. That may be the reason why your realtor is giving you the "space". This is a good opportunity to sign up the clients to receive automatic email updates everytime a property meeting their requirements come up for sale,

On the other hand, some buyers need a bit more hand-holding. And if that's the case, that should be communicated too.

What kind of insights do you want that you think your agent isn't giving you --- like background on the property, estimated value, how much it was last sold, and if it's a short sale how many lenders?

Please communicate your concerns first and give your realtor an opportunity to make it right....don't let it fester. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 17, 2010
Not every one clicks with everyone else. I would start by talking to him about what your expectations are for being contacted and see if he is willing to meet your expectations. (though I always ask my clients how often they want to hear from me, and how they would prefer to be contacted...). If you have set up the expectations, and he doesn't change, just let him know that this isn't working out, and you will not be working with him any longer. This is a business, and constructive criticism can help him, and you need someone you trust on your side to help you through this biggest financial decision of your life - buying a home.

Before I became a realtor, I was working with an agent to find me a home, but I found that I was doing all the looking, I was doing all the calling and asking about the homes, and she never responded to emails sent saying "I'd like to see this house." I finally gave up contacting her, and never heard from her again. I found another agent by going to an open home. So check out open homes, talk with agents here on Trulia, and see who will better meet your needs. Good luck - you have the right idea, and I'm sure you will find a great agent who appreciates you and your business.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 17, 2010
Hi S. Brown,

Like any important relationship, communication and trust is vital. I would be very honest and just let him know that you don't feel the dynamic works well for all of you. Actually, this happens often and if he is truly a professional, he will understand. I know that for me, I would not want to represent the interests of a client that didn't want to be working with me.

Having said that, I would sugget you interveiw a couple realtors, now that you know what you don't want), and find one that you intuitively trust and look forward to working with.

Suzanne Looker
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 17, 2010
I would be surprised if your agent is not getting a subtle message from you that all is not well. If you are uncomfortable with your relationship your agent likely senses your discomfort. Get it out in the open, as suggested by others on this forum. Establish expectations for feedback and communication. Your expectations may be unrealistic or your agent may not be capable of providing what you legitimately need but you won’t know if you don’t talk about it. You may be able to move ahead with a clear understanding of what expectations are between you and your agent.

On the other hand, a conversation may provide an opening for your exit from the relationship.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 17, 2010
Hello S. Brown:

From the language you use, it sounds like your personalities are not a great match with your agent's personality. Although knowledge of local markets is important in an agent, I think it is equally important that buyer and agent are "on the same wavelength".

Assuming that you don't have signed buyer agency agreement with your agent, you are free to switch at any time but to be fair to your present agent, I think you should explain to him that you don't think you are getting what you need from him and you have decided to switch. It would not be very fair to fire your agent without telling him.

Now when it comes to finding another agent who will work in te way you want to, I suggest you check out the web sites of some agents who cover Lamorinda. A good agent generally manages to get their personality across on their web site. Maybe visit some open houses as well and talk to agents there. There is nothing wrong in interviewing two or three agents before you decide who you want to work with.

Good luck in your house hunting.

Bernard Gibbons

Bernard Gibbons, DRE License # 01331583
J. Rockcliff Realtors, 15 Railroad Avenue, Danville, CA 94526
Phone (925) 997-1585 - bernard@bernardgibbons.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 17, 2010
We rarely use buyer broker agreements in this area, so you probably do not have a legally binding commitment with this agent. Nevertheless, asking your current agent for what you need is certainly your best first option. He might be operating with a set of assumptions that either are not correct, or are no longer correct. For instance, perhaps he assumed that you were casually looking, and did not understand that you want a deeper view of the market and those particular properties. From an agent's point of view we are always trying to assess what our clients need and tailor our efforts to that. Not everyone wants the same level of service at every point in their search. You already have this connection, try to cultivate a little more by stating your needs more directly and see if he is responsive. Then you can move on if you are still not getting what you want. Your new agent can come from personal referral, as you have already seen. You can also check out agents at open houses, even houses that you are not particularly interested in buying. Agents holding open homes are not just trying to sell that house; they are just as much engaging themselves in a long series of job interviews with every person who walks through that door. Try visiting some homes in the area that are both above and below your price point. See if you are getting a good sense of how that agent works. Keep their business card, make some notes on the way out, and check up on them using the internet later that day. Then follow up with the top two or three later in the week to discuss what you need and how they work. With very few exceptions all agents have access to the properties ont he market. Any of us can show you, sell you, anything. But it's your choice as to who you hire to counsel you in that process. You should feel that you are dealing with someone who is interested in your welfare above all else, responsive to your needs, and in whom you can place your trust. Good luck in your search.

Licensed Real Estate Broker, Realtor®
Red Oak Realty
Cal. DRE Lic. #01273793
e-mail: art@artwhite.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 17, 2010
Why not consider having a conversation with your agent, express all your concerns, discuss your expectations, etc.; if you have no signed agreement with your agent, and no satisfaction, you are free to choose whoever you wish--choose your agent with care.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 17, 2010
As the other agents suggested, I would attempt to speak with your current agent candidly about your concerns. If you decide it is just not a good match, then interview some local Realtors that know the Lamorinda area well. You may want to attend some Sunday open houses and see if you click with any of the Realtors.

Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 17, 2010
Talk to your agent and explain what you'd expect. Very similar to the way you presented it above. And be specific. You say you need useful insights. That's a legitimate issue, but can mean different things to different people.

And different buyers need different levels of support. There's another thread on Trulia right now about how Realtors present comps to buyers. And the opinions FROM THE REALTORS run the gamut from: "I do a detailed analysis of similar recently sold properties" to "I do very little, since a serious buyer ought to already know what he/she wants." So different agents really do have different approaches when dealing with buyers. It's not that one way is right and another is wrong, but clearly, for an individual buyer, some ways are better than others.

I do suggest you talk to your agent first. But if you then decide you wish to switch, inform the agent. It may be as simple as that. If not, talk to the agent's broker. Explain the situation.

Hope that helps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 17, 2010
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Burke, VA
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