The buyer's "agent" has your "agency" or your interest in mind. They represent your interest in a transaction, they negotiate a deal that benefits you, and warn you about things that may look strange or improper. Before all that, they also sit with you and learn your needs and wants in a home, find homes that match those needs and then study comparables to see what is a fair price for you to offer. They organize the process of home inspections, termite inspections, supply information required by some lenders. All of that at NO cost to you.
A sellers agent represents the sellers interest exclusively and looks to get the best posible price for the seller they represent.
Some people go driving around and call the agent feaured in the sign in the yard. That person listed the home and represents the seller. My recommendation is you interview a few agents until you find the one that makes you feel comftable and who you can trust, then use them as your buyer agent to represent your interest in the purchase of your next home.
There are several things a buyers agent SHOULD do...
The 1st step would be to help you acquire your pre-apporoval on your loan. They should refer your to "reputable" loan mortgage brokers and or banks they may have a business relationship with. this will help determine your down payments, closing costs etc. and determine what the right home value range you should be looking at. It would be a total waste of time to preview homes at $300k when you could only truly afford homes in the $225 range.
The next step would be to interview your wants, needs and desires in looking for a home. by this I mean there are certain you need in a home, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2 car garage, you NEED this for family reasons etc. Then they should determine your wants, ie pool, bonus room, den... things that would be nice to have, but are not deal breakers, and then assess your desires, ie a specific neighborhood community or area.
Once this information is gathered a detailed search for homes would be done based on the interview and lists would be provided. Routes mapped out and Appointments then can be made. You would be also advised on certain communities fees, such as HOA and CDD, and also a look at potential new tax rates. I even go as so far as to get you an approximate insurance quote.
After we have sen the homes and you have an idea of which one or two you were to choose, a thorough market analysis would be done on the home to put a target on an offer price. Offers can be structured to include the seller contrbuting money towards prepaids and closing costs. The contract is then re-viewed "IN DETAIL" with the buyer, signed and then presented to the selling agent.
The contract is then presented to the sellers, they have three options, reject, accept or counter.
Assuming all the details of the contingencies are worked out, the buyer would then need to have a home inspection done. I personally attend EVERY home inspection, as I have a working knowledge of what the inspector is doing AND point out things that may be a concern for you (the buyer).
If issues arrise on the inspection you'll be assured a good agent will be back to the bargaining table, looking to get these items fixed!!!
It's then up to the agent to maintain a dialogue with the selling agent, title company and mortgage company... a GOOD agent stays on top of potential problems. Was the survey ordered? Title ordered? Any issues with title? Is the loan being processed? Appraisal ordered? etc... any of a number of reasons could stall a closing or evening force a dispute and loss of escrow!
Before I became an agent I never understood that most of our work is done after a contract is signed!!!
A few days before closing we schedule a walk through to make sure all repairs were completed and the home was ready for sale!
Once we have a closing scheduled and HUD documents (closing statements) we would review them thoroughly for all fees and charges. I've had many posponed closings because the final numbers were incorrect!
If all the numbers are correct we should be clear to close and you walk away with a new set of keys!
If your not getting this kind of service then find a new FULL TIME agent!