Home Buying in Atlanta>Question Details

Sl, Real Estate Pro in Atlanta, GA

What exactly does a buying agent do?

Asked by Sl, Atlanta, GA Thu May 5, 2011

What exactly does a buying agent do? I feel like I'm doing all the work and research. 99% of the properties that we have seen were researched and shortlisted by me. When I tell my agent I want to see a home, then we set up a time and meet there. Even after that, I have to ask her for comparables. She does not send any tax records or official comparitive analysis or anything.. Just an email one liner with what has sold for how much (everything in her words) and the seller's disclosure if available.

This is just a candid question to all agents. How do I know if the buyer's agent is working in my interest? After all, she's going to get paid 3% commission of the total price so obviously if she's able to get me pay more money it will benefit her. I have also heard people suggest not to employ home inspectors that the agent suggests rather find someone on our own.

Do all buying agents ask or sign a contract with the buyer? My agent has not asked for one. Please share your thoughts.

Help the community by answering this question:


Thank you everyone for taking your time off and responding to my question. Yes, I am detail/fact oriented. I do a lot of research on the house, builder before I even go and see it. Guess there is no given rule as to what or how much a buying agent should or would do.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon May 9, 2011
I just gave out 4 thumbs up - Mack is so eloquent.

SI, you got one too - you are a detail oriented person who expects project management skill from your Buyer's agent. Seems like you are at a crossroads.

You know when you know - Mack's point about trust reminded me of the "reasonable man rule" that I learned in the construction business - "most people are reasonable people, including some of the medicated..."
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon May 9, 2011
We do what we can, Sl, and it varies.

Not every shop has a wide range of tools, and neither does every agent. The bare minimum is to represent you in a real estate transaction; value added services are a combination of your needs and the agent's ability to fulfill them.

You will never "know" if a buyer's agent is working in your interest; there are guidelines, as listed below. The thing is, you contract or enlist an agent to, as I said, represent you in a real estate transaction. Losing you the deal may or may not be in your best interests, so be careful what you wish for.

As to whether getting you to pay more benefits the agent, it does, but not enough to risk losing the deal, in which case, she gets paid . . . times three . . . zero.

I think it is stupid to work with an agent and not trust their referrals. You'll let them represent you on however much the house is worth, but you won't trust them to refer an inspector?

Trust is a two-way street. By that, I don't mean that it's reciprocal. A agent can be trust-worthy, but they can only control their own behavior. That another person doesn't trust them has less to do with the agent, and more do to with that person's ability to discern the agent's trustworthiness.

For example. You're an honest person, right? Do you think you can get a stranger to let you hold their wallet? You're trust-worthy, they don't recognize it.

All the best,
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat May 7, 2011
Thank you everyone for taking your time to respond. Even though we have not signed an agreement, I realise that she has shown me a lot of houses (even though I have been the one that has done all the research and shortlisted them). I did not want to fire her and move to someone else. But it does irritate me that she doesn't do any initiation on her own .

From the first time I met her, through a website, I waited for her to question me on what I want etc.. but she did nothing so I had to open up and tell her.. that is what I need etc.

When I discussed with a few friends of mine, they showed me how if they did say they like particular house, even before they go to see it, their agent would have done the homework and sent tax records, cma etc in proper documents as attachments.

The question about if to use home inspectors recommended by agents was an article I read on a popular website of 10 things to NOT do when home buying. It suggested that sometimes home inspectors give a good report hiding something from the report for favor or repeat business from the buying agent. Again, this is only what I read on the internet (I think it was an article on yahoo, I cannot remember, will try to find it and post a link). I don’t know what liability a home inspector will have for the report he gives. What if, he inspects and OKs a house and then a few months later you find a problem? Will you be able to go back and hold the home inspector accountable? I don’t know.

My agent recommended I get mortgage quotes from multiple people, of which one was her from her own bank. I did do a pre-approval with him too. What irked me after that was when the mortgage consultant discussed my financial aspects with my buying agent (even though she was the one that recommended him). Also, when we put an offer less than the asking price for a house, the mortgage consultant is also advising me that the seller won’t come that low from the price, you should get a pre-approval for the list price. I just don’t understand why the mortgage consultant has to give him comments about the offer price. How is that his business if I’m offering 70 or 80% of list price?

As a first time home buyer since we learn everything on the go, it can get very stressful.. you want to be aware and cautious at the same time you don’t want to be paranoid and too apprehensive.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri May 6, 2011

When I saw you question pop up on my cell phone while I was waiting to meet with a client's attorney about some gnarly title issues on a piece of acreage he wants to buy, and my immediate response was "work 10 hours a day and be the last to get paid!"

Being an Agent right now, is really hard work. And the pay is not great. But that should be the Agent's problem, not yours.

All the previous respondents have given you good information, so let me come at your question from a different angle.

What I do as a Buyer's Agent is give clients what they ask for (as long as it is legal and ethical), and when there is information (or a service) that I think is important and they don't ask for it, offer it. I listen closely, ask questions and listen again. And ask more questions.

That's because what Jim wants from me is invariably different from what Jeff expects from our relationship. Factor in their spouses, and paying attention becomes my number one job.

So, my suggestion is that you have a chat with your agent what you want and if she is willing to commit to giving it to you. If she does not walk her talk, ask her why. It may be she is very busy and the amount of data you want on lots of houses relative to how much she MAY earn from selling you just one does not work for her business model. Or it could be that she does not know how to do research. Or it may be she's taking care of aging parents, or chronically ill kids, or ?????

Remember the old saw about what assumptions do?

What's important here is the quality of the communication between you. If, after discussing what you expect, she does not meet your requirements, then the two of you are not a good match. No judgement. Agents, like clients are human beings, and not all of us see the world (or customer service) the same way.

Since you don't have a signed Buyer's Brokerage agreement with her, you can fire her whenever you want. Even if you did have one, you could still, with written notice, terminate it and move on to another agent.

Hopefully you can get to a happy place with her, but if you don't, take some time interviewing your next Agent and be sure that you hire someone who sees the looking and buying process in a way that is consistent with yours.

Happy Hunting,

1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu May 5, 2011
Short answer, the Buyers agent in Georgia owes you their loyalty, honesty, confidentiality and has a fiduciary responsibility to work in your best interes. If you don't have a signed Buyers Brokerage Agreement then an agent is assumed to be working for the Seller. Any agent working with you to secure a home needs to deal with you in an honest manner, Buyers Brokerage Agreement or not. There are various levels of service but I think the comments below hit on the pertinent areas of representation. Some agents may not understand the level of information you would likt to have, I would discuss it with the agent and if they are unable to meet your level then find someone who will. It is not a bad idea to interview several agents and find the right on one for you!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu May 5, 2011
First of all we as Realtors are working for no one's interest, we work for the completion of the sale. Our job is to sell the property, that it be done legally and in a timely manner, and that all state and federal laws are met in the process. You as a buyer have an obligation to investigate and to find what is the best investment or home for your money, since it is your money that is going to be at risk. As a Realtor I can not guide or steer you in any direction, just list and offer common properties to the parameters you set! As a Realtor we can offer information on the fair market value of a property and we can offer tips to help make the home or property a stronger sell. We list, photograph and market a property. We show it when potential customers arrive. we set up the initial contract and we make sure the time line of the contract is met to the day of closing. We offer information on how to better credit, how to find down payment assistance, how to make an offer, and how to buy or sell the home you have or want. When all is said and done, the property comes to the new owner with clean title at a price you felt comfortable with, with all the recording done properly. We made sure you inspected the home within the time frame, got your financing on time and that the closing went without a hitch!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 17, 2011
A buying agent represent you, the prospective buyer, protecting your interest at all points in a transaction, helps you determine your buying power and identify qualified lenders, assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property, providing due diligence during the evaluation of the property, pointing out unnoticed features or potential problems, help you negotiate your purchase and guide you through the closing process, making sure everything comes together smoothly.

What a buyer agent does is like what happens when you purchase a car. Only you know your likes or dislike, but once the selection is narrowed down the sale person negotiate to make it happen. You need an agent that you can trust.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 12, 2011
Thanks, Lee!

Sl, inspectors do not provide warranties. Their contracts specifically limit their exposure to the price of the inspection. As for lenders sharing your financial information with your agent, it's a pretty common practice, and here in Seattle, our purchase contracts specifically authorize lenders to share your information with like, the entire world.

All the best,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 9, 2011
SI - Thank you for responding. All I can say about any recommendations that we give to clients, is that we would not recommend anyone that we would not use, or have not used, personally. The Home Inspectors we recommend, we have used in our personal property purchases. The lenders we recommend, we have used to finance our own properties. We want our clients to be in the best hands possible & if we wouldn't use them for our own real estate transactions, why should they?
Tell your agent, you want & expect more. Lay it on the line. They are working for you.
As a first time Buyer, you need guidance.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 6, 2011
Hi SI,

Probably time to find a new agent. A good buyer's agent will already have researched taxes and comps for a home you like....before being asked. When we represent a buyer we are doing a lot more than just opening doors. At this point....I would NOT sign a buyer broker agreement....you aren't happy with the representation.

A buyer's agent is important to a buyer, we have a fiduciary duty to make sure you are being protected...both at the offer period (knowing the comps and costs) but also during the process. We help you with inspections and repair requests....lender issues etc.

My suggestion is to interview a few agents, or at the very least have a solid heart-to-heart with this agent and get a better understanding.

Good luck,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 6, 2011
Check out my blog detailing why you should have a buyers agent!

If you are not happy with how your buyers agent is handing showings and research on properties you are interested in, then have a frank conversation with her about it. You have not signed a contract so you are currently free to use someone else and she will know that. Do keep in mind that for any home she has already shown you, she would be due the commission if you move forward with a purchase.

Regarding the home inspectors - normally the agent will give you a short list (3-4) to chose from. These are people that she has seen do a good job for other clients. If you know someone (or ask for references from friends/family) that is great too, but I don't see a reason you wouldn't use someone she recommends.

Good luck!

Sarah Nathe
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 6, 2011
A Buyer's agent is the expert in the area where you are looking. The agent listen to what you are looking for and what is important to your needs. With all of the information gathered, then it their duty to find homes base on the buyers criteria. Once you find the right home, the agent work has just begun. Contract, local rules and laws apply to when purchasing a home. It's the agent's job to make sure that the buyer is protected when buying a home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 6, 2011
Helen Davis in Newnan pretty well succinctly summarized what you should know. We might also add that State law prohibits Broker from representing Buyer as a client without first entering into a written agreement
with Buyer. And you really should interview multiple agents until you find one in which you feel best represented. Our commitment is to treat all clients as if it were our own money being used to purchase .. or own home being sold. And we would give you referrals to confirm that
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 6, 2011
SI -Well in a perfect world, all buyers would sign contracts. Some do, some do not. I can tell you that we only work with Buyers who are willing to sign contracts, because we do a lot of work to get them the best house at the best price. We are willing to commit to them & want a commitment to us.
Our job as buyer agents is to educate our clients to the current market and a big part of this is selecting the best properties for their needs & wants. It's always nice to have clients who do their homework and know what they want. Our job is to help our clients narrow down their search & locate the best property for them. Once we do this we will prepare a CMA of the active, pending & sold listings in the immediate area to help them come up with the value of the home & what they should/are willing to pay for a property. As a client, we will recommend qualified Home Inspectors, that we have used many times over, because it's in the best interest of our client. We only recommend people that we have used personally & that have done a great job for us & our clients in the past. That being said, a client can pick whomever they want, we just suggest who we know & have done lots of business with. Hope this helps.
The Marie Souza Team - Top Selling on Cape Cod
Cape Cod Real Estate Services
Phone: 508-790-2000
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 5, 2011
Wow! Doesn't sound like you are being represented and guided through the home purchase process. It is our responsibility to assist you thoroughly from home search to after closing, we have a duty to educate our clients so
that they can make a well informed decision. CMA's, tax records,
community info and much more are tools that we use to help our clients

A buyers representative is obligated to be honest and trustworthy, so I would hope that an agent wouldn't do something as unscrupulous as price hiking.. good luck with your home search.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 5, 2011
Hello SI;

Well, buyers agents find, negotiate, and assist with closing. We make sure all paperwork is correct from the listing agent. She should be sharing all pertinent info on all properties you are interested in. Nothing should be in her own words. There should be supporting documents to back up her claims. Yes, there should be an agreement/contract signed. Have you been shown any property by this agent? If you are interested in a particular property and before an offer is submitted you should be shown or given a CMA of the properties so you would know the price or your offer is competitive.

Long and Short of thing, if you had an experienced thorough Buyers agent this would not be an issue. You might have to seek someone that would assist you with the info you desire. Experience pays off at the end.

Tye Jones
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 5, 2011
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