When should I involve a Realtor? - When am I done working with a Realtor?

Asked by John Jones, Riverside, CA Sat Dec 13, 2008

Should I browse the web looking for homes, scope out the local paper, drive through a desired neighborhood looking for open houses and so on before I involve a Realtor with my direct needs and interests? When should a buyer involve a Realtor? When should a seller involve a Realtor?

At what point is a buyer and seller no longer in need of a Realtors assistance? Is it typical for a Realtor to help from beginning to the very end when the keys are handed to the new owner or title passed from seller to buyer?

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David Chambe…, , Saint Petersburg, FL
Sun Dec 14, 2008
I am suprised Rockinblu hasn't posted on here yet. Rockinblu has a list of questions for sellers that are pretty good The following is copied and pasted from one of his other answers:

"In choosing a Realtor possibly the first thing I would look for is some letters behind the name. These do lend some sort of creditability. Certainly having a referral to him or her is a plus, but is certainly not a sure thing. The agent that was referred to me by three friends was an absolute disaster. As far as choosing one on your own, drive around the neighborhood and look at signs to find out what brokerages are represented and look their site up on the web. Go to the agents roster and select a few. I would try to find the Realtor's listings on Realtor.com and see whose listings are the best described with and are featured listings with multiple photos and a virtual tour. From those use the criteria below. Some of the criteria are obvious, and couple not so much so.

1. Your call to the agent was answered, or returned in a prompt manner.

2. The agent showed up on time for the appointment, and was neat and professional in appearance.

3. Be sure to mention the names of other agents you have talked with, or will be interviewing. If the agent you are interviewing gives any indication that could be interpreted as a knock against the competition, he or she has failed on an important criterion. If, on the other hand, the agent is complimentary about his or her colleagues, that is a plus.

4. The agent should be prepared with facts and figures, marketing plan, and offer suggestions. When an agent says "This property is perfect. You don't need to do a thing to it," it could very well be a big red flag.

After finally finding four that have met all of the above criteria, of the four suggested listing price ranges choose between the agents that have the two in the middle. Of those two, choose the agent you felt the most comfortable with. There is a lot to be said about trusting your "gut." The reason I disqualified the one with the high suggested price is that it could be a good chance the agent is just giving the info that you want to hear to get your listing. Not a very honest practice. I threw out the low, based on the possibility that this agent is just looking for a easy and quick sale at your expense. However, easy and quick are not adjectives normally found used in this market. If all four or even three suggested prices would come in extremely close, just go with the Realtor that you have the best feeling about of the group.

ELV!S posted these great interview questions below on another thread. They should be of some help as well.

• How many homes, of my type, have you sold? (recently, 6 mos, 1 year, 5 years)
• What is your list / sale ratio?
• What is your average "days on market"
• What is your marketing plan for my home?
does it include internet (where?), do you offer multiple photos, virtual tours, color brochures
• Do you do open houses (why / why not / how often?)

• What is your price recommendation (why / how did you arrive at that / do you have comps to back that up?... do you have a "quick sale" price, and a normal sale price")
• What is your plan if I'm not under contract in 30 days / 60 days / 90 days ...etc....
• Why should I hire you? What do you bring to the table that's different than the myriad of other agents out there who want my listing.
• Will you offer a reduced commission (why / why not?)
• Are you a full-time agent?
• Do you practice dual-agency? (why / why not?)
• What do you think of Agent A and Agent B (the two other agents you're interviewing)
• Are you planning any upcoming vacations or are you going to be unavailable, and who is your back-up when you're gone?
• What weekly communication can I expect from you?

and lastly

• Is there anything I haven't asked you, that you think I should have?

A great post from a TruliaVoices Member named Alan in New Jersey brought this question to mind:
Will buyers have to sign in to view my property on your site?
The preferred answer is obviously “no.”

If there is even a remote chance of you eventually going FSBO, try to make sure that in the listing agreement that the Realtor protection period is short as possible. Try for 30 days, and that a protected list of buyers is given to you within a 3 business day period after the expiration of the listing. This should be written in the agreement. Finally, remember commissions are negotiable. Good luck"

I do not thing you should go FSBO but didn't want to exclude anything because it is someone elses post.
I think everyone should have some type of representation.
2 votes
Randall Sand…, Agent, Charleston, SC
Sun Dec 14, 2008
Hi John - Find a realtor who has good references and current ones...not from people they sold 5 years ago or even 1 year ago. This is a fast paced changing market and you need expert representation to protect your interests. A good agent will be with you from the beginning to past the end, my business comes mainly from referrals, I keep in touch with my buyers and sellers and help them with issues way after the sale of the home. If you need a referral for a good agent, just drop me a note or give me a call.

Happy Holidays,

Randall Sandin, 843-209-9667, rsandin@carolinaone.com
2 votes
Betina Forem…, Agent, Austin, TX
Sat Dec 13, 2008
Dear John,
It is nice when a future client has done some research online first, but its not necessary. I assist my clients from start to finish. I feel it is my responsibility to help them with each step of the process. Since I do this everyday I have experience on my side. I ask a lot of questions to get a feel for what they want and create a home search tailored to that specific client.

In fact I often help my clients long after the closing. I had a call last week form a client I assisted July 2007. They wanted a reputable electrician and I put them in touch with a wonderful Master electrician in the business for 29 years. I helped another client find out about Reverse Mortgages and locate an expert loan officer that specializes in Reverse Mortgages.

About 50% of my business is relocation and I love introducing new people to my city. Please go to my website and check out my testimonials. If you have more questions, just give me a call or send an email. My number is on the website.
Web Reference:  http://www.BetinaForeman.com
2 votes
David, , La Jolla, CA
Sat Dec 13, 2008
If you do everything you propose in your first paragraph you will invetiably ask why is the agent earning their money if you do all the work. They you will focus on commission and not your actual goal of owning a home. Then animosity will set in once you start talkling to agents that dont want to help because you are focused on commission and not getting the best deal.

Long story short, you are a buyer and not a realtor. Hire a professional that has bought and sold at least 20 homes in the last 18 months.

Tell your agent exactly what you are looking for and let him pound the pavement for your next home.

So to answer your question, hire an agent when you are ready and qualified to buy. If you are just tire kicking and got in your head, "Im in a wait and see mode in the next 18 months" dont waste an agents time...
2 votes
David Chambe…, , Saint Petersburg, FL
Sat Dec 13, 2008
A Realtor can be involved in the whole process but you should do some of your own footwork and become an educated buyer/seller.

Going to open houses is a good way to shop for agents you can qualify them on the spot with no obligations. It also shows they are active in the community and might actually know something about it.

A seller should not proceed with selling their home without an agent unless they are very familiar with real estate marketing and disclosures. A seller at a minimum should use a real estate attorney to help with the disclosures. On the marketing end an agent typically has the infrastructure already in place.
2 votes
Rita Fong, Agent, Marion, AR
Sun Dec 14, 2008
Hi, John,
When do you want to use a Realtor to represent you is all depends on how much help do you need from us. Every client is different and they have different circumstances, some likes to look by themselves and some likes a Realtor to find properties for them. Maybe you need help from a mortgage lender and want a referral from a Realtor. My job is Not just to help my clients in selling and buying, I work with my clients, not just for my clients. As long as my client needs me, and I can help, I will be there. If you don't have a Realtor represent you and want to know who to pick, there are many ways to look for a Realtor who you want to work with.
1. Word of mouth, ask for referral
2. Go to different agent's website and check their client's testimonial and see if their opinions about the particular agent is the kinds of service you want from a Realtor.
3. Reading the agent's profile can tell you something about the agent also.
4. Last but not least, go to talk to different agents in person and see how they interact with you and see which "style" you think will work best for you.
In a standard transaction, the Realtor should work with the client from the beginning to the closing. Personally, I work with my client even after the closing, way after their closing. I am not just a Realtor to my clients, I am their resources, friends, information centers......etc, haha.
I am sure you will find a good Realtor to help you with your real estate matters.
Have a good day.
Web Reference:  http://www.ritafong168.com
1 vote
Voices Member, , Benton County, OR
Sun Dec 14, 2008
John,it's really very simple IMHO. You are making a large financial decision. A decision that lately a lot of people have regretted making. It's your money and your responsibility not anyone elses.

You need to know what your choices are and when you want to buy, you need to know whats going on in the market you are looking at. Then you will be able to judge what a realtor tells you and make an informed choice in which agent you are most comfortable working with. That agent will be able to provide you the best service because you will be able to give them a clear plan to work with.

Remember, it is your financial committment (not your agents) and it is your future at risk so not preparing yourself is foolhardy at best.

Good luck, Dunes
1 vote
Grace Hudson, Agent, Canyon Lake, CA
Sun Dec 14, 2008
Hello John, I agree with the other Agents who have written responses as well. Here is what I would like to add. I think shopping for a Realtor is every bit as important as shopping for your new home. You want to choose a Realtor you can trust is looking out for your best interest and not their own. Why is this important? Because you need someone who will look into the areas that you would like to move to with a critical eye on your behalf, such as you have a school district you would like to stay within, you want a low tax area, you want the best deal and don't want to over pay, you want to resale the home in 5 years what should you look for in resaleability, you want to retire in this home and so many other things that you as a Buyer may consider when purchasing your home. You want to work with a Realtor you can trust who will look for your personal preferences and needs. Your Realtor can also look at the most recent Comp's in the area you are considering and let you know if the asking price is to high or now days to low (meaning a teaser rate to get multiple offers to raise the price of the home) and then you have full knowledge for placing an offer at an amount that makes the best financial sense. Your Realtor is part of your team to find that perfect home. It is always great when a Buyer does their research online because only You really know what You really want and we as Realtors do our very best to guess what it is you may like. Once you show us what you are looking for then we can narrow it down to the best of the best specifically for you our client. When I have Buyer's I also go with them to sign their loan doc's to make sure the other part of the team, the Lender, is also looking out for my clients best interest Only. At the end of the transaction our favorite part is handing you the keys to your new home =)... There is a lot more in between that we do as well but these are just some of the things that are important to you when looking for a home and a Realtor to work with. Once you find the Realtor you personally want to work with stick with that one and be loyal because they will be loyal to you too.
1 vote
Dp2, , Virginia
Sun Dec 14, 2008
I agree with David C and Betina. Also, I'll add that doing some homework before you work with a realtor will help you a few ways. Some people don't know what they DON'T want, so it's virtually impossible for them to tell a realtor what they DO want. Use the web, and check out a few homes to get a survey of what's out there. This way you'll be more ready (or prepared) to work with a realtor, and you won't end up doing what some buyers do--asking the realtor to tell them what they want. Believe it or not, this happens more often than one might think, and it often results in frustration by both parties.
1 vote
Jerri Furniss, , 43081
Sun Dec 14, 2008
Dear John, It might be helpful to think in terms of time frame. If your intent is to be in a home within the next 90 days, then I would definitely recommend you hire a Buyer's Agent now. Doing some of your own homework is always a good thing; it makes you an educated Buyer. But at some point, it will become too time consuming; that is where your Agent will save you time and some aggravation! Since you are visiting Open Houses, talk to these agents and I'll bet you'll find someone you will feel good about working with to help you find a home. Let them walk you through the process and explain "how they work." I suspect you will walk away with a sigh of relief and a feeling of "now I can enjoy looking for a home!"

I hope this is helpful. Best of luck!!
Web Reference:  http://www.jerrifurniss.com
1 vote
Betina Forem…, Agent, Austin, TX
Sun Jul 26, 2009
Hey David, I am sure Rockinblue will chime in at some point. He is not one to be left out. He is probably having more fun outside at some live music venue. Give him a little time, he will make an appearance.
Web Reference:  http://www.BetinaForeman.com
0 votes
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