Home Buying in Boston>Question Details

Lemon, Both Buyer and Seller in Boston, MA

What's the most important criteria when selecting a buying agent (and a selling agent?) I

Asked by Lemon, Boston, MA Sun Mar 16, 2008

would guess that you would want an agent that works in the same city/town as you are buying and selling in (read: potentially two different people.) Where to start?

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13
Many of the skills are the same for an agent to represent you in the role as seller or buyer. An agent needs to be1) knowledgeable about the real estate transaction in order to guide you through the process,
2) knowledgeable about the market and comps (more later), 3) have contacts w/ professionals who can assist (attorneys, loan officers, inspectors, etc.), 3) presentation, negotiation and communication skills to effectively represent your best interests and 4) a commitment to work hard for you.

A agent representing you as a seller must also have a good command of marketing, a good network and relationship w/ other agents, strong copywriting skills, knowledge of all of the internet marketing vehicles for promtoing properties and the ability to maximize these (often requires additional fees on the part of the agent), good skills in photography, photo editing, and computer navigation. Not all good buyer agents make good seller agents because some great buyer agents lack the addition skills as outlined in this paragraph.

In the first paragraph, I commented "more later" about market knowledge................ A great buyer agent, skilled in several areas as described above, can often outperform an agent who knows the streets and homes in a given subdivision. There are agents who know every street, but are unable to understand and interpret data, or use that information in presenting offers. Example: Agent knows every home, but isn't able to understand or convey average market times, list to sale prices, absorption rates, or explain why the level of inventory reflects the market performance. An agent who knows the general area, but may reference a map to find their way to a given property may be a much stronger agent that the one knows all the roads. An agent must also have good listening skills and be able to read non-verbal communicaitons. A good buyer agent will be able to discuss w/ a buyer their priorities and responses to different properties.

If you are moving from one neighborhood to a nearby neighborhood, it might behoove you to hire the same agent to represent you in both transactions. A great agent can navigate the data and be familiar with nearby neighborhoods. If the distance between where you are selling and buying is great, you might need to hire a different seller agent v/ buyer agent. Some agents do specialize in helping only buyers or only sellers, but that is less common than servicing both.

I suggest that you find a great sellers agent and have a candid discussion w/ them about their ability to effectively represent you in another geography.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 18, 2008
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Red Bank, NJ
MVP'08
Contact
... And ask to see their statistics. Including how many deals they do where they represent both the seller and the buyer in the same transaction (and what they get paid when they do this).
Web Reference: http://www.territoryre.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 25, 2008
Here are eight questions I think you should ask an agent before signing a buyer's agency or listing agreement.

1. How long have you been in the business?

Your Real Estate agent's experience is VERY important. A new agent will learn a LOT their first year, and will continue to learn more with every transaction. Don't automatically choose against a newer agent - they typically bring a lot of energy to the transaction, and they will have LOTS of time for you. However, if you do decide to use a newer agent, make sure they have a great support system behind them.

2. Are you a Realtor?

Not all Real Estate agents are Realtors. Realtors are members of the National Association of Realtors and must adhere to a strict code of ethics.

3. Do you hold any certifications?

There is an "alphabet soup" of advanced certifications that Real Estate agents can earn. While it doesn't automatically mean that they are a good agent, it does mean they are serious about their job.

4. Do you have a specialty?

Real Estate agents typically categorize themselves as either "commercial" or "residential" which are vastly different. And among Residential Real Estate agents, some agents will specialize in Buyers, Sellers, or Renters as some specialize in condos, first time buyers, high end properties, horse farms, investmednt properties, new construction or a certain geographical area etc.

5. May I have the names/numbers of past customers?

Take the time to call some of the agent's past customers. Be candid with them, ask about the agents strengths and weaknesses as well as their communication and negotiating skills.

6. Who is your Broker? May I call him/her?

Real Estate Agencies are moving towards the "mega-brokerage" mentality which means that many agents today have never met their Broker. If an agent doesn't have their Broker's cell phone number, find out who they will call if they run into questions.

7. How many sales did you complete last year?

A good agent will close several deals per calendar year. You want to make sure that the agent helping you through the largest purchase or sale of your life is an active and producing agent.

8. Is this your full-time job?

An agent who practices real estate full-time, day in and day out, helps ensure that your best interests will be the priority.

There are plenty of terrific Realtors out there. A good Realtor can make the difference between a great transaction and a horrific one. If you do not find your Realtor through a trusted source, then do your homework. Interview several agents. ask them these questions, compare their marketing plans and their production records.

Good luck!

http://www.MaryCraneProperties.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 22, 2008
1. Your comfort level with the agent(s) who will represent you.
2. Someone with a track record.
3. Someone who can provide client testimonials.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 20, 2008
If you are BUYING only use an exclusive buyers agent and if you can, try and hire someone who works for a flat fee. This way you know 100% that they always have your best interests in mind. Next up is find out their history: How many transactions have they done (buyers they rep'd) , what is their average discount on price (how much -on average - do they negotiate off the listing price) - this will give you an idea of their negotiation skills - how long they have been in the business, etc. Have a meeting (or simply a phone conversation) with the agent and see if you "connect. "If you choose to use an agent that is traditional (represents both sides of the transaction) find out how many transactions they do and choose the one who does the least dual agency.

If you are SELLING you need to hire someone with incredible marketing skills, someone who knows the market enough to have great pricing strategies and someone who knows how to stage a home and get the word out. Next up is same as above, find out agent statistics: how many deals they have done, how long have they been in business, what is their sale to original price ratio (i.e what is the average discount they usually sell homes for off original price) - this will tell you if they have a history of advising pricing too high and then the property sits. Meet with them and see if you connect. Lastly DO NOT feel pressured into a 6% commission!! There is no standard commission so this is wide open for negotiations ... dont let the agent tell you that the higher the commission the better chances of getting buyers agents in the door (this is BS, they will come if the property is priced right and staged properly). Tell your listing agent you are not comfortable with dual agency (when they represent both sides of the transaction) so if they bring a buyer direct tell them the commission drops to 2% and if it is internal to the office it is 3%, or tell them you don't want them representing the buyer in the transaction at all.
Web Reference: http://www.territoryre.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 18, 2008
ooppss... Where to start?

Get to know agents through their blogs, answers on Trulia, and how they respond to inquiries made via phone or internet. Does an agent provide you accurate and thorough info? Are they quickly repsonsive? Do they know their market? How well do they understand the real estate transaction process. Hint: Production alone is not a guarantee of knowledge, skill, or commitment. No experiencce is scary for you, the client........you need to rely upon this agent. In other words, don't look for the person who sold the most. Look for the agent who will represent you the best.

When you begin dialog w/ agents, let them know you are reaching out to several agents and are in the process of looking for an agent to represent you. Once you determine your representative, let all of the other agents know. Agents work on commisison. If you are off and running w/ your selected agent, be fair and honorable to the other agents so they can direct their energies in a more productive manner.

Go to open houses and see how agents handle themselves.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 18, 2008
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Red Bank, NJ
MVP'08
Contact
A buyers agent summarized..they treat looking for a home or business as if it was theirs. They negotiate on your behalf as if they were fighting for your childrens toys in the playground of life. Their idea of making money is saving you a ton.

A sellers agent maximizes the best of what a property has to offer. They grease the wheels to find ways to help a buyer get a property...from assistance with possible financing, to clearing any issues with insurance, etc.

Hope this clears up the distinction.
Web Reference: http://iansellsnola.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 18, 2008
The buyer's agent is representing you in the transaction. The listing agent's primary duty is to the seller. A buyer's agent cannot disclose certain information to the seller's side e.g. how high an offer you are willing to make. The seller's/listing agent will not disclose how low of a price they will go to. If you walk into an open house or answer an ad specifically for a particular property, you may be dealing directly with the listing agent and they do represent the seller's interest. If you are shown a home by an agent you have been working with (or you have a buyer agency agreement with) and it turns out it is their listing this is definitely dual agency. If you want to make an offer, the agent must let you and the seller know the relationship he/she has with both of you and this is known as disclosed dual agency. Sometimes, a listing agent may not want to handle your offer and he/she will have someone else in their office (e.g. a manager) handle the offering--especially if there is more than one offer on the table. Some listing agents are just that and won't handle dual agency. In any case for the above, when ever you are dealing with the listing agent to make an offer, the agent must act fairly with both parties. Often, a buyer thinks they will get a better deal or preferential treatment by dealing with the listing agent of a property they are interested in. This is not really the case. Often, a listing agent usually feels more comfortable representing the seller only and is happy to work with buyer agent.. If you hire a buyer agent, you usually get a very motivated agent working on your behalf to get you the best possible price and terms. Throughout the entire purchase process, including inspections, the buyer agent is usually willing to go to bat for you with any situations that may arise. One word of caution, make sure the buyer agent is being offered the same rate of compensation that the listing agent would have made, since offers being made by the listing agent or agency (sometimes referred to as "in-house" offers) will be an unfair advantage to them since the seller won't have to pay out as much commission on an offer of the same price as yours. This is known as 'dual commission arrangement.'
Good luck with your decision. I hope I have been of some help.
Sandra Bolcar
RE/MAX VILLAGE SQUARE
Upper Montclair, NJ
973-744-7722
sandra@thecrosskeysteam.com
click here for a market snapshot of towns you are interested in:
http://www.homeinsight.com/Widget/default.asp?WK7JL36V3VLE
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 17, 2008
Lemon,
I agree with the replies below and would add a couple points on the listing side: Back in the "old days" (ie: before 2000) hiring a listing agent that lived and worked in your direct community would be advised, but I would argue that phenomenal marketing can more than make up for a non-local agent today. Someone who is taking full advantage of all the marketing opportunities that today's technology offers. In my opinion there are only two factors that ultimately influence a positive selling experience. One (1) is pricing. Your home must be priced accordingly in order to sell and this is based on market data, not what "the sellers would like to get" or "what they think it's worth". The most beautiful home in the best neighborhood will sit if it is not priced correctly, especially in a challenging market.

The second item (2) is marketing and "marketing" encompasses everything from how other people find out about your home for sale to the first impression buyers get when they walk in the door. Seek out a listing agent with a comprehensive marketing plan and a concrete pricing strategy. A sign in the front yard, an occasional open house and an MLS listing just isn't enough anymore and should not be acceptable.

Thirdly (wait...didn't I say there were only two things???) your agent should be competent and capable enough to get you through the negotiations and paperwork once the offers start coming in.

Call people. Meet with different agents. Ask tough questions. Call their office at an odd hour and see how quickly they call you back. At the end of the day you're going to get a strong "gut" feeling about certain people you meet with. In my experience (not just in real estate) I've always learned to listen to my gut (and my wife for that matter....).

Good luck, and feel free to call my office at 2am...I'll get right back to you! : )

-Mike
Web Reference: http://www.30Jefferson.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 16, 2008
to get the best service .... to hire someone with a niche in each type of transaction, someone who's passion and results are on that side of the transaction only.
Obviously if you have an agent you adore, no big deal in using them both times but when buying with that agent they need to make sure their best interests are met ($$ included) and same as when buying ... two very different sides of the transaction that have 2 very different needs. Education is KEY and most buyers and sellers don't realize all their rights and options.
Web Reference: http://www.territoryre.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 16, 2008
There are many important issues to consider.
I would think for a seller, a history of results for past clients is in order.
Consider interviewing agents and especially with a buyer's agent, having a gut level personal connection can sometimes help assure that the advice and guidance you get is in synchronicity with your personal needs and values.
Why choose two different Realtors if you're selling and buying in the same town?
Web Reference: http://www.boulder-buzz.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 16, 2008
If you are BUYING only use an exclusive buyers agent and if you can, try and hire someone who works for a flat fee. This way you know 100% that they always have your best interests in mind. Next up is find out their history: How many transactions have they done (buyers they rep'd) , what is their average discount on price (how much -on average - do they negotiate off the listing price) - this will give you an idea of their negotiation skills - how long they have been in the business, etc. Have a meeting (or simply a phone conversation) with the agent and see if you "connect. "If you choose to use an agent that is traditional (represents both sides of the transaction) find out how many transactions they do and choose the one who does the least dual agency.

If you are SELLING you need to hire someone with incredible marketing skills, someone who knows the market enough to have great pricing strategies and someone who knows how to stage a home and get the word out. Next up is same as above, find out agent statistics: how many deals they have done, how long have they been in business, what is their sale to original price ratio (i.e what is the average discount they usually sell homes for off original price) - this will tell you if they have a history of advising pricing too high and then the property sits. Meet with them and see if you connect. Lastly DO NOT feel pressured into a 6% commission!! There is no standard commission so this is wide open for negotiations ... dont let the agent tell you that the higher the commission the better chances of getting buyers agents in the door (this is BS, they will come if the property is priced right and staged properly). Tell your listing agent you are not comfortable with dual agency (when they represent both sides of the transaction) so if they bring a buyer direct tell them the commission drops to 2% and if it is internal to the office it is 3%, or tell them you don't want them representing the buyer in the transaction at all.

Good luck :)
Web Reference: http://www.territoryre.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 16, 2008
Here is a site from the National Association of Realtors that may help you. http://www.realtor.com/Basics/Buy/Looking/Realtor.asp?poe=realtor

Glenda Marks
Queencitygal.com
Web Reference: http://www.queencitygal.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 16, 2008
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