Home Buying in Los Angeles>Question Details

Hilda, Home Buyer in Los Angeles, CA

how do i verify if a realtor it's a real one it's my first time buying so what should i look for before paying someone to find me my dream?

Asked by Hilda, Los Angeles, CA Mon Nov 2, 2009

home ?

Help the community by answering this question:


wow, how many ways can we all state the same few points....
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 24, 2009
Hi Hilda,

You have many good answers here!

An easy way to find out if the Realtor you are dealing with is a "real one" will be to ak him for his license number. You will then be able to research his number on the CA Department of Real Estate website under license look up: http://www2.dre.ca.gov/PublicASP/pplinfo.asp

Remeber that not all real estate licensees are Realtors... Realtors are real estate professionals who obey a Code of Ethics to best serve the interests of our clients.

Realtor.org Code of Ethics website: "When you enlist the services of a REALTOR®, you can be confident that you're being dealt with honestly. Every member of the National Association of REALTORS® makes a commitment to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public." http://www.realtor.org/realtororg.nsf/pages/consumersplash

Hope this helps and best of luck!


Kahina Faid
Shorewood Realtors
email: kahinalax@yahoo.com
Website: http://www.soldbykahina.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 12, 2010
interesting remarks Rochelle. you raise a couple of good points that might get lost here.

1. some offices impose "transaction fees". HUH?! the first time i saw that i laughed out loud. the deal was $600k sale and they were tagging a buyer with a $300.00 "transaction fee". i guess the $18,000 commission wasn't quite enough!

2. there simply is no nexus between agent competency and being a member of the Assoc. of Realtors. i choose to for business reasons but prospered nicely w/o them for almost 15 years. their economists embarrass me every time they make a pronouncement, but the fact remains that for a buyer looking to retain an agent, absent a solid personal recommendation from a trusted source, the agent with a string of Realtor initials after their name is a sign the agent treats the trade like a profession. i can tell you stories all day long of part timers and rookies that have turned what should have been routine deals into pure torment. if the agent is simply a member of the "union" that isn't enough. look for experience. Rochelles 9 years gives her about 5 times the experience of most agents out there.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 10, 2010
Since I posted two more agents stated that the seller pays the commission. I really think this is a disservice to our profession whenever this particular fallacy is stated.
If I am the buyer of a property and I'm operating under the belief that the seller pays the brokerage fees and I realze that it is the money I, the buyer, am borrowing and paying interest on, is what is usde to pay the fees - I'm going to feel lied to.
Both parties to the transaction have a stake in the brokerage fees. The seller has it reduced from the proceeds and the buyer borrows the money to pay it.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 10, 2010
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
As I've mentioned before, using or being a REALTOR does not guarantee an ethical agent. Buyers and Sellers need to find someone with a valid real estate license, REALTOR "union" member or not, who can be referred to from a happy client. I have been both non-REALTOR agent and REALTOR, and the only difference I have experienced is the extra cost for the privilege of having the title, and the ability to attend the member functions. Any real estate agent worth his/her license will have ongoing education and should have ethics in order to keep that license . That's what a potential client needs to learn about their potential agent. Unfortunately I have worked with REALTOR members who seem to have no ethics, but can claim to follow a special code of ethics simply because they have paid the membership fee and therefore have the title. Not only that, but if a broker does not belong to the Board of REALTORS, the agents in that office cannot either, because it's a closed system (again, like a union). If the broker belongs to the REALTOR board, all agents must also, personal ethics or none. So please everyone, stop beating this "must be a REALTOR" thing to death, because not everyone wants or needs to be a member of a union, no matter what status that title claims. We are all licensees and brothers/sisters in an honorable profession. I don't make my clients pay the office transaction fee; I eat the cost myself, as part of my personal ethic. I'm only in my ninth year as a full-time agent (a REALTOR) but I have great relationships with many agents, even outside my area, who I collaborate with because our common connection is making clients happy. And that is what we are licensed to do, after all. Thanks for reading.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 7, 2010
You’ve been told about the DRE to look up a licensee and you know that Realtors are bound by a code of ethics that is beyond the agent laws of the state. You likely also know by now the Realtors typically own the multiple listing service in your area. So how do you find the right one for you?
I suggest that you start by going to the open houses in the area you like. Talk to the agents in the home and see how well they can engage with you. You really want someone who can listen and answer questions for you in a way that truly communicates. Give them a task and see who follows through, you want a representative that does what they say they will do going forward. Look at the brokerage they work for and see if it’s in good standing in the community. Finally look at how engaged the Realtor is in the community. Do they live there? Are they active in local issues? Do they know how the schools are and the parks? Do they give time and energy to the betterment of the neighborhood and community?
Ultimately do you feel that they will represent you and place your well being above their own and do you trust the level of knowledge and skill they purport to have.
Gary writes,
Hang on, Hilda, it's most likely you won't pay someone to find you a dream home! Real Estate Commissions are nearly always generated by the listing contract, the contract by which a seller hires a real estate broker/agent to sell his house. In other words the seller is paying the entire commission and your representative is getting part of that commission.
Whoa Gary – The brokerage fees are paid out of the sellers proceeds but – big but here- the money that is brought to the table is the buyer’s money. Both parties in the transaction pay and it is a disservice to the public to keep passing this fallacy along.
It just seems that when you tell a buyer that they don’t have to pay for the services of a professional and that someone else is paying them you are headed for trouble. Think it through and I believe you’ll agree with me. You can talk about the contractual obligations and the MLS rules that set up cooperation but don’t start out trying to pull the wool over her eyes.
This is not a rant at Gary – he is only one of the thousands that continue to perpetuate this fallacy.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 19, 2009
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
Hang on, Hilda, it's most likely you won't pay someone to find you a dream home! Real Estate Commissions are nearly always generated by the listing contract, the contract by which a seller hires a real estate broker/agent to sell his house. In other words the seller is paying the entire commission and your representative is getting part of that commission.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 17, 2009
I'd like to make a distinction here - A licensed real estate agent is not necessarily a Realtor. You can verify real estate licenses at the Department of Real Estate website. I'd like to point out that it isn't perfect - my name, due to a glitch on their system, does not appear. I have tried to have this fixed numerous times, and have flown to Sacramento twice to get this resolved. Frustrating. You can, however, verify my license by calling the DRE, if you care to. But mine is the exception - not the rule. I'm concerned that I may have lost business because potential consumers may have checked and not found me listed there. But all of that aside....

A Realtor, is a licensee who is a member in good standing with the National Association of Realtors. There is a definite advantage to the consumer for using a Realtor over simply a licensee, because as a Realtor, I have access to one of the most powerful legal networks on earth for information, updates, forms and guidance to help my clients. Agents don't have to be Realtors to use the MLS or actively sell real estate. Since, as the buyer, you are not actively paying the commission, but rather the seller is, generally, then I would recommend that you insist on a Realtor, and either someone who has many years and hundreds of transactions to their credit, or at the minimum, is teamed up or supervised by someone who has.

Best of luck with your search,

Jeri Creson, Broker
TotalAccess Realty Advisors
(818) 448-1298
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 12, 2009
Hi Hilda, in regards to finding a Realtor, each Agent's website will likely list accreditations and client testimonials. These sites, as well as a review of their Trulia answers will give you good insight into the depth of knowledge and experience of each individual.

Note that DRE licensees are NOT bound to a Code of Ethics; only Realtors take that oath, which can be viewed here:

You can check to make sure an Agent is a Realtor by going here:

Additionally, you can check for Agent DRE violations here:

While not required to receive excellent representation, consider searching for a Realtor who is also an Accredited Buyers Representative here:

Best, Steve
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 3, 2009
Well you can always Google them!

Search the name and license of the Realtor you are considering and see what comes up.

I recommend meeting the agent at his or her office to see if your personality types match up. You will be spending a lot of time with your Realtor and should be able to communicate well.

If you are interested we can meet this week at one of our 22 offices in the Los Angeles area.

It's your move!

Victor Quiroz
Web Reference: http://www.victor4homes.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 2, 2009
Be carefull when you contact a realtor, ask for a license. In NJ I contact one who still $500 from me in cash the first day I saw him. His name is Javier Sierra, Colombian. He work in the area of North Berger, NJ. I gave the money to him, because someone that I know gave me his information. I never see him againg since the first reunion.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 26, 2011
Why would you pay a Realtor to find you a home???? The Realtor should be working to earn your business and if they aren't willing to, you need to fire them and find one who will.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 3, 2010
WHAT are the characteristics of the real estate sales agent most suitable for the job of finding you a home? A large portion of this decision is based on your own personality. Do you want an agent who does high volume but who will have a staff of assistants handle most aspects of your sale? Or would you prefer an agent who is more devoted to meeting your personal needs? Does the agent have a specific plan for representing you? Does the agent have a proven track record? Does the agent's company have a plan for helping you to avoid litigation? Does the agent take extra care in assisting with obtaining inspections and explaining disclosure documents, since inadequate disclosure is the source of 95% of real estate litigation? The guidelines below are designed to assist you in making a decision based upon your individual needs.
1. Do you want an agent who does a very high volume of transactions?
ANSWER: Agents who do high volume have lots of signs in the community and usually generate a large number of calls from those signs. Typically they are busy and well organized. High volume agents will be present when there is an offer presentation. The balance of the time you will be dealing with an assistant who may or may not be licensed. Typically, high volume agents do show property because they cannot adequately cover a large buyer pool alone. Consequently, they must rely on their assistants, buyer agents, and other staff to assist you.
2. Do you prefer an agent who will give your personal attention or who approaches the real estate business as a numbers game?
ANSWER: If you are the type of person who prefers a "more personal touch," you will not want a "numbers game" agent. An agent who is focused on personal service does fewer transactions, but is personally available to handle problems as they occur. They will also be more likely to be present at open houses and showings. Agents who provide their clients with personal attention do not list and sell as much property as those individuals who are "doing the numbers." Be especially aware of agents who are doing only a few transactions a year. These individuals are not actively negotiating on a regular basis and may not be able to represent you as well as someone who is actively involved with clients.
3. Do you have a written commitment of the services you will provide for me during the search for, and the escrow on, my property?
Answer: Ask them for their "Buyer's Pledge" which will include the services they will provide throughout the course of your purchase, including progress during negotiations, regular updates during escrow, as well as coordination of obtaining financing as necessary. If they are unwilling to commit in writing to what they will do, look for an agent who will give you a written commitment and then follow it.
4. Would you mind giving me the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the last three to five Buyers you have represented?
Answer: Call and ask the past clients the following questions: (a) Was the agent accessible to you when you felt you needed their attention? (b) Did the agent show you every property that met your needs, regardless of whether it was a retail sale, REO, short sale or for sale by owner?. (c) Did you feel that this agent was a strong negotiator? (d) Did your agent listen to your concerns and do their best to address them? (e) Would you recommend this person to your friends?

Best of luck,
Deborah Bremner
The Bremner Group at Coldwell Banker
REALTOR, 00588885, ABR, CDPE, eAgent, CSP, SFR, HRC, CRE
(O) 310-571-1364 DIRECT
(D) 818.564.6591
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 3, 2010
- Check with the DRE for license status
- Check with their Broker
- Google them!
Web Reference: http://www.victor4homes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 2, 2010
I am not a realtor I am a real estate agent and I know how to spell as well. A realtor is a member of the national association of realtors. Your buyer side agent will get paid at the close of escrow not before and it will not come directly out of your pocket. Interview a few and pick one you feel comfortable with. Personally I would only deal with a buyer referred by someone trustworthy. Too many tire kickers out there.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 17, 2010
1. Interview a few local Realtor's in the areas you are searching.
2. Ask for and call past client references.
3. Hire someone with experience.
4. Find someone you connect with and like
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 15, 2010
Referring to Jed's answer regarding commissions, technically this could be true for many transactions. So, to say that buyers in CA usually don't pay brokerage fees was the oversimplification I identified it to be. While there may not be a line item on the typical buyer's closing statement indicating brokerage fees, deals can be structured so those seller's costs could be wrapped up in the sales price of the home (mark up) or by the way of fees that the seller insists on transferring to the buyer. So, in this way, a buyer might indirectly pay. That is why it is so important to ask questions, have a great negotiator for an agent as well as keep a sharp eye out for "hidden" costs.

Risa Liebster, Realtor
Keller Williams Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 10, 2010
First things first, you shouldn't have to pay your agent to help you buy a home, the seller is usually the one whoh pays for the commissions.

If you have questions about your agent, like if they are real or not, visit their office. You can also talk with their broker/manager. Or you can check witht the local board of Reatlors in the area and see if they are listed with them.

If you are not comfortable with your currrent agent, see if a friend or relative can refer you to someone they know. If you still cannot find someone, you can either check with the local board, or you might try finding one on Trulia who works in the area where you are looking.

Good luck.

Cashin Company
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 10, 2010
what you are paying is the time to spend with a professional.
prepare a list of questions, quiz each about their knowledge, and patience.

Most agents are looking for serious customers so they achieve the results that translates to get paid.
Most of the time first time buyer taking an agent 1 or 2 years of time.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 7, 2010
The buyer doesn't pay the agent's commission. It is part of the seller's closing costs. Some agents will charge the buyer a commission, but don't do that. There are too many good Realtors out there to help you. You can check with the Department of Real Estate to find out if the currently hold a license in the state of California. I think the most important advice I can give you is that you and the agent have a great realtionship and understand each other. That can make this experience a great one! Some of my best friends that I have now started out as my clients, and now I am going to their children's birthdays's and family BBQ's. My motto is "Buildng Real Estate RELATIONSHIPS for a LIFETIME!!" Good luck to you, and if there is anything I can do for you please feel free to call.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 6, 2010
jed makes an important point. while the legalities are nice to debate the fact is that the deal pays the commissions. the specific division of commissions is now a term on our Calif Listing contract where it was not previously. this is a nod to the fact that most homes sold are by way of a co-op arrangement with the nexus being the MLS and that the sellers want to have a say in the offered commission.

i've seen many deals go down where there was only one agent and a lower commission paid for that reason. i've seen deals that were marked up as well to cover the buyers agents commission. there is a field in our local MLS for that situation specifically. we call it a variable commission. this is an acceptance that many agents are crafting commission structures that accommodate the many ways a deal might develop.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 19, 2009
Hi Hilda,
How are you? As a first time buyer the whole process can be really scary. The first step is to find an agent that you trust that has experience and knowledge to help guide you through the process. As a buyer you have the luxury of working with the agent of your choice as the seller pays for the agent's/broker's commissions.
There are several classifications on sales agents on which I will elaborate below.

A sales associate or agent ( Not a Realtor® ) is an agent that has a license from the CA Department of Real Estate. If you would like to verify if the agent is a Licensed Real Estate Agent in the state of California you can go to the California Department of Real Estate http://www.dre.ca.gov and look under the Consumers list and click on License Status Check. This is the most important license as without this the agent cannot be an agent at all.
A Realtor® is a TITLE that can only be used by an agent or sales associate that is a member of the National Association of Realtors®, the California Association of Realtors® and their local board of Realtors®. With these memberships the agent is certified as a Realtor®.
My advice to you is to find an agent that you feel comfortable with that is working for a reputable Real Estate Brokerage firm. These well known companies usually give further training to their agents and are constantly updating their agents on any new laws or procedures.

I would be happy to meet with you to discuss what you kind of property you are looking for.

Ambra Bisconti
Coldwell Banker Previews International
Beverly Hills
(310) 498-2151
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 16, 2009
Hilda, I hope you've been able to find an answer in all the helpful comments my colleagues have submitted. To simplify, barring any rare and unusual circumstances, in California the buyer does not pay the real estate agent that represents them. It is the seller who, upon close of escrow, pays their broker's/agent's commission which is then split with the buyer's representative. Great, huh? A Realtor® here in CA is a member of the National Association of Realtors®, the California Association of Realtors® as well as their local board. A non-Realtor® agent simply holds a license from the CA Department of Real Estate. To determine if someone is truly a Realtor®, all you have to do is a web search on the NAR website at http://www.realtor.org/directories and then click on the "find a Realtor®" link. Then you simply type in their name - voila! Finally, it is important to interview a good number of Realtors® to ensure you obtain the right fit.

Risa Liebster, Realtor®
Keller Williams Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 8, 2009
Funny you should ask...

I wrote an article on exactly this topic which I think you could bookmark as a guide to reference whenever you consider evaluating a perspective Real Estate professional to work with:

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 26, 2009
i always advise folks to ask their acquaintances for a recommendation of someone they have dealt with successfully before. NOT just someone they know has a license...lots of folks have those.

it's up to you to decide if you prefer they be a member of the national association of realtors. that association has some excellent credentialing programs that few agents take advantage of (myself included) so if they have a nice string of initials after their name it means they've spent extra time, money and effort to add to their knowledge base. those credentials are a good be that they are above average.

then...get someone who has LOCAL knowledge of the area you are looking in...ask them for some addresses that they've transacted in the zips(s) you are shopping in. it's important that they know the area so they can advise on value.

ask them how long they've been in the real estate business. i think ten years is a good place to start...this is a big deal. even though you won't be paying them directly, you can easily get an agent with long and deep experience for the same "price" as a newbie or part timer.

ask them if they are full time or if they are just dabbling in it. i know lots of agents who cannot make a good living in the trade who still try to do deals and they are a real nuisance to deal with due to job pressures from their other job. they cannot return calls timely, deal in business hours, handle inspections diligently...you don't need to put up with that. you need them out doing your bidding while you are working.

i like my agents to be college educated. i won't be popular with the agents here saying this but the business is a BUSINESS and the degree means they have some smarts and the diligence to work toward a goal.

cpongratulations, it sounds like you are going to treat the selection of your agent like you are the boss hiring an employee...because that's what you're doing.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 25, 2009
I agree! You should not have to pay a Realtor to help you in finding your Dream Home. A Realtor may ask you to sign a buyer’s agreement because there are so many buyers out there that abuse the privilege of working with a Realtor. Some will use the Realtor to find a property then walk away or get their friend (who is usually from another area) to do the paperwork and close the transaction.

Another thing that we must remember, not all Real Estate Agents are Realtors. We tend to use the word Realtors these days for all Real Estate Agents but there is a difference. A Real Estate Agent usually has more latitude and does not have all the checks and balances as a Realtor. Simply put a Realtor has to abide by the code of Ethics or there can be dire consequences.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 24, 2009
I would like to add that the best source to find an agent are the local residents, if you know people who live in the area that you want to live in, ask them who they used or who they would recommend. In most neighborhoods there are usually a handful of local, seasoned agents that have really good reputations.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 24, 2009
ditto - asked and answered....always go to your state licensing board (website) and you are just a few clicks away to finding out who is licensed and who is not. Always do your due dilligence.
Web Reference: http://www.olmedohomes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 24, 2009
Hi Hilda,
I have to jump in on this one. While all of my predesessors have very good and valid points, one of the things I think you should keep in mind is how comfortable you are with the Realtor you choose! Don't work with someone who intimidates you! You need to be comfortable with this person, and not shy about asking what you might feel is a dumb question! When you meet with your agent the first time, pay attention to your comfort level. Do you feel like they are talking down to you or are they helping you understand what can be a very confusing process? Do they treat you like you are their only client, regardless of how many they have? Go with your gut! If they have the skills, and you like the way you feel around them, choose them!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 24, 2009
Hello Hilda. Let me put another perspective on REALTOR vs non-REALTOR licensee.

I am a REALTOR. That's because the broker I work with is a member of the local Board of REALTORS so I am required to join, and it can be very expensive. I also used to work with a broker who was not a menber of the Board, so I was not a REALTOR at that time. And I can tell you that the licensed agents in my office back then were "at least" as ethical (or more) as some of the REALTORS we did transactions with. Having the REALTOR affiliation does not guarantee you will have an ethical agent. We are expected to be, but so is the U.S. Congress.

So indeed, not all licensees are REALTORS, even though it's a term the public uses as an overall description (like we use genetric coke, jello, kleenex, etc. when the product isn't actually that brand). A non-REALTOR licensed agent is every bit as legitimate as a REALTOR. We used to have a saying in my former office: "We as licensed agents come by our ethics naturally; REALTORS have to buy theirs." (Referring to paying dues to the Board/NAR/CAR to be able to use the word REALTOR)

So though I have been a REALTOR for years now, I advise to not hesitate to use a general real estate licensee. We all do the same job. We are all licensed by the State. The State requires standards or lose your license. You can almost consider it this way: a REALTOR is part of a "union"; a non-REALTOR is not part of a "union". Is being in a union important to you, to work with that agent? Just make sure the broker is legitimate, the agent is licensed with no disciplinary action on his/her record at the DRE, and has experience or works with an experienced agent if he/she is new.

And as others have stated, in 99.99% of all purchases you as the buyer do not pay your agent a commission from your pocket - the seller's listing contract covers that.

Sorry to carry on so - just tired of the general bashing of non-REALTORS (Brothers and Sisters all).

So Hilda, go out and find your home. Just keep in mind that your buyer's agent only gets paid at close of escrow. We work for you at no cost to you. So please use only one agent that you feel comfortable with, and please remain loyal to that agent. It's tough for us finding suitable homes to show you in this market, just as it is for you to find one to make an offer on (or many tries).
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 24, 2009
Find The Right Agent For You!

I took some time today to look thru a buyers eyes and see what they should look for in finding the right agent to work with. This can be tough sometimes when your looking into a new area, especially a resort area like Myrtle Beach. In areas where it's primarily a local market it's much easier, friends referrals, civic clubs etc.

1. When you find an agent online, take the time to read their bios, read their client testimonials if they have them, their areas of expertise, their designations and anything else you feel pertinent. They are going to be representing you in most likely the largest investment of your life.

2. Shoot them an email or give them a call, I suggest a call, you can tell a lot about an agent by how fast they respond to either of these. It lets you know that your business is a high priority to them. You deserve the best customer service and a professional agent will provide this from the very first contact. You see, their success depends on your success and only your success.

3. Ask plenty of questions, their years of experience, their designations, their areas of expertise, local knowledge, past experiences etc. This will help you and the agent build trust throughout not only the search experience, the offer, the escrow period but even after the close if you might need help with local trade resources or having friends and family who need the same services that you needed. You'll have complete confidence when you tell someone that they can feel safe and protected by using your last agent.

4. This one more or less falls on you, share all of you and your families needs for the home your seeking. Give as many details as you feel pertinent, no matter how small. I'll promise you as an agent I certainly appreciate these things. Your personal likes, hobbies, interests etc. can be very valuable in locating the right area. You see, my success is totally dependent on your successful experience. This business operates on relationships as well as homes.

5. Last but not least, keep the lines of communications open at all times. This might open up things you have in common with each other and take a little of the stress out of the experience. Buying a home is a stressful task and a good professional agent will eliminate a lot of it for you. Let us handle some of it, that's what we do best.

In closing, when your ready, make that call or email and be choosey who represents you and your family. It doesn't cost you a single penny to have the best agent represent you, I only get paid for results.

See you at the closing,



(843) 267-2702
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 24, 2009

Being a first time home buyer can be really scary! You may find that it is hard to know who you can trust. As stated by my fellow Realtors below, you should not have to pay a Realtor to help you find your dream home. You actually get their services for free which is pretty cool! I know you must be saying, "What's the catch?" In this situation the only catch is finding a Realtor who is going to do a fantastic job for you and make you a priority. You should visit the Department of Real Estate web site and check the license status of any agent you decide you would like to work with. This way you will know they are licensed and in good standing with the State of California. You should also have a face to face meeting with your Realtor and let that be an information session where you ask questions and get the answers you need to put your mind at rest. Also this is the time to get to know your Realtor and explain what your home buying needs are. Remember that it is really important to remain loyal to your Realtor and only work with one Realtor during your home buying process. Loyalty between a buyer and a Realtor is so important. The bond you form with your agent will be one of the most critical things that happens and it will make a good Realtor work extremely hard for you to help you find exactly what you are dreaming of! Good luck to you in your search!

Wendy Rich-Soto, Realtor
Main Street Realtors
Long Beach, CA
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 20, 2009
Hilda, to your question.and concern.

To find out if the agent you have in mind is a licensee in good standing?

Here is the website of the California Department of Real Estate D.R.E.


This shows you only if that person has a Real Estate License in good standing.

It’s not telling you, if that Agent is a Realtor.

A Real Estate Licensee (Agent) is not a Professional Realtor, unless he is a Registered Member in good standing of a Board of Realtors.
CAR, California Association of Realtor and NAR. The National Association of Realtors and is complying with the Code of Ethics.

That means that Realtors must comply with the Code of Ethics, the Bylaws and Guidelines of the Board of Realtors.

A Realtor must always act in the best interest when presenting or counseling a Client.

Ryan Gussman, Realtor, SRES, e-PRO
Altera Wilson Real Estate
Northridge, CA 91324
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 17, 2009
If you have someone in mind that you would like to use, but you are not sure if they are a Realtor, you can always go to


which is the California Department of Real Estate and search by name for the person you are looking to use. You will also find that they have info on any infractions that have been brought against that agent.

As far as looking before you pay some one, as a buyer you are not paying anybody to find that home for you. They work for you and are paid by the seller. It is really a win win for you to contact a Realtor first.

For a good article with advice on buying your first home I would reccomend you go here:


Good Luck,
David Cuevas
Prudential California Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 12, 2009
Talk to your friends and family, they might know of a Realtor® that helped them find or sell their dream home.

Best Regards,

Jes Sierra, B.Sc.
Century 21 Beachside
Chino Hills, California
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 5, 2009
One of the best ways to pick an agent is to go to open houses and see which agents you click with. See how they talk to people, how they communicate with you, ask them questions about your concerns and see how feel about the answers they give. Pay attention to how attentive they are to you and your needs. The thing about agents is that they are people and all people are different. You just have to see who is a good fit for you.
Also, I have noticed to some agents telling you to look at their websites and see there accreditations and client testimonials and although this is a good idea, keep in mind that some agents that have done some much and are working with some many other clients may not be treating you as a priority. Sometimes the newer agents are just as knowledgeable, if not more, and are a lot more available to focus their attention on you.
Most of all, just look for some that keeps in strong, easy communication with you and some you feel will hear you concerns and desires and will facilitate a smooth transaction. Buying your first place should be a joy not a headache.
Best of luck with the house hunt and please feel free to contact me if you need any assistance.
Samantha Cavallari
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 5, 2009
Hi Hilda, thank you for your question. A buyer does not pay his or her agent. The agent gets paid by the seller upon successful conclusion of escrow. There are exceptions of course, but in the vast majority of cases, this is how it works. With that said, an agent works for you without payment until s/he finds you a property and walks you through the entire escrow process and then and only then s/he gets paid. If an agent asks for a payment upfront, you know there is something wrong. An agent may ask you to sign a broker-buyer agreement which says s/he is to be paid X% at close of escrow, but the payment comes later and it is ok.
But I guess your main point is how do you know to find a good realtor. First, ask if s/he works full time as an agent. What is the agent's experience, schooling, the georgraphical area of work, where s/he lives & how long. Meet with at least a couple. And don't automatically hire the "listing" agent who represents the seller of the property. A lot of problems occur when the listing agent represents the buyer at the same time. I would love to answer any questions you may have and if you are in West LA or San Fernando, my partner and I would love to help you find your dream home! Hisako Lisa Muramatsu, Keller Williams Westside 310-869-7159. Check out my website http://www.LisaTheRealtor. My e-mail is hmuramatsu@verizon.net. Best of luck to you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 4, 2009
Hi Hilda,
All Agents are licensed by the State of California. Many of us are also memeber of CAR and NAR (California and National Realtor Associations)
I normally will meet clients for the first time at my office (your potential agent should have one). I carry my DRE license with me, which I would gladly show to anyone who would like, it is also required on all printed material including our letterhead and business cards. Also ask to see their references, either letters or by calling previous clients
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 3, 2009
Hi Hilda,
First of all, congratulations on stepping up and becoming a first time homebuyer. Your timing could not be better: interest rates at historic lows, along with buyer incentives and values at some of the best we've seen in almost a decade.
Finding a Buyer's Agent that really knows there stuff is important.
The first thing is, trust your instinct. How do you feel in their presence? Are they genuinely interested in your process? Can they take the time to answer your questions? Do you like them?
Second, are they a member of the board of Realtors? The REALTOR® you work with could be one of your most valuable resources. Under state law, you must have a license to represent a buyer in a real estate transaction. While all Realtors are licensed, not all licensees are Realtors. Unlike many real estate agents who are simply licensed by their state to do business, REALTORS® have taken additional steps to become members of the national and local board of REALTORS®, have taken additional training and have agreed to act under and adhere to a strict Code of Ethics. And having a Realtor in your corner may just be the edge you need to get the home you want.
Third, do they have a team in place of other professionals to help you with each phase of the transaction? You will need a lender, an escrow office, a title officer, a notary and a transaction coordinator. It's a good idea to review each of their qualifications to be sure that excellence of service is the standard.
Fourth, be very clear about how much you will pay for each service. Is the seller paying for any services? Be sure you get an estimate of costs up front, known as an "estimated closing statement".
Fifth, after you have chosen your Realtor and the team, ask for references from them, and call those people. Ask about their experiences, and if they were satisfied. Did the Realtor deliver as promised?
Sixth, check with the local board of realtors or the Department of Real Estate to be sure that their license is in good standing. The Realtor you're interviewing should give you their license number and a phone number for you to contact to verify them.
Last of all, do they work with first time home buyers? How often? First time homebuyers have special needs, for information, knowledge, and explanation. Nothing should be taken for granted. Make sure the Realtor you choose will be able to meet those needs.
By doing this homework up front, you can be confident you will have an exciting and joyful home buying experience.
I would love the opportunity to interview for the job of working as your Realtor. Would you give me a call?

Deborah Bremner
Certified Short Sale Professional
Coldwell Banker Brentwood West
11999 San Vicente Blvd. Suite 100
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(D) 310.571.1364
(C) 310.422.4288
(F) 310.820.1457
Blogging at: http://TheBremnerGroup.com/blog
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 2, 2009

Both responses are nearly correct but I need to make some clarifications. First, in 99% of transactions the seller pays the commission to both the listing and buyers agents. If you purchase a FSBO (for sale by owner) then you will be responsible for paying your agent their commission.

Second, do you mean how do you verify if someone is a real estate agent or a REALTOR? Not all agents are REALTORS, but all REALTORS are agents. The REALTOR designation is held by only about 50% of real estate agents. They hold themselves to a higher standard of excellence and ethics. I highly recommend that you hire a REALTOR not just a regular agent.

I would be happy to help you in your home search and can answer any other questions you may have. I am a licensed agent and hold the REALTOR designation. You will find my contact information on my website:


Thank you,

Peter Stewart
Keller Williams Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 2, 2009
Hi Hilda,

You can go to the California DRE site at http://www.dre.ca.gov and enter the person's name to verify they are an agent. As a buyer you NEVER pay anything up front to find a home. If and when you find a home you are qualified from your lender to buy, your buyer's fees are paid through escrow when your loan is funded.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 2, 2009

Alexandra is correct that you can find out if someone is licensed by going to the state website. However, if you are looking for a Realtor, then you would need to search the CA Association of Realtors website. http://www.car.org Here you will be able to search for people have specializations or speak particular languages and have taken the time and made the commitment to become a Realtor, not just an agent.

Linda is also correct in that in our market the seller pays the commission in about 99% of the residential transactions.

Your job is to interview agents to find the one that is the most knowledgeable about the home you are looking for and knows your area. Make sure that you talk to him/her about the area you are interested in and be sure that you are comfortable with him/her.

Good Luck,

Web Reference: http://www.charityar.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 2, 2009
Hi Hilda,

You can go to http://www.dre.ca.gov and then click on "REAL ESTATE LICENSE LOOK UP"

If you are looking to interview another agent here is my contact info.

Alexandra Parra Rivera
lic# 01763911
(323) 482-0705
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 2, 2009
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