Do I have to sign a contract for my realtor to take me seriously?

Asked by BusyHomeBuyer, 95035 Tue Dec 4, 2012

I've been working with a realtor for more than 3 mo. without signing a contract, we contact each other pretty regularly but it seems like recently the response time to my questions about certain properties are slow. I mean, I know it's a seller's market and they might be choosing the better client. What should be my expectation for a response to phone/ email?

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Kawain Payne, Agent, Seal Beach, CA
Fri Dec 21, 2012
Hello Busy,

Your agent should be getting back to you before the close of business on the day you call/ text or email him/her.

I am a little concerned you have been looking for three months and have not found anything yet. Have you written any offers?

While you have a right to proper response time from your agent, please keep in mind that if he/she has been showing you homes on a regular basis for three months, and you have not submitted any offers, your agent may be beginning to think you are more of a looker vs a serious buyer.

If your agent thinks you are not motivated at the present time they have every right to devote more of theor time to other clients.

Best of luck to you.
Kawain Payne, Realor
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Sally Blaze, Agent, Eugene, OR
Fri Dec 7, 2012
Dear BusyHomeBuyer:

I am sorry you are not getting the response time you prefer. The first thing I would do is talk to your agent about your expectations on response time. There can be many reasons for a slower than usual response.

Sally Blaze
Alain Pinel Realtors
DRE 01856137
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Steven Ornel…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Wed Dec 5, 2012
Hi BusyHomeBuyer,

Perhaps maybe it's as simple as the Listing Agent(s) are not returning calls or emails from your Agent which is increasing the delay of getting back to you.

Bottom line: When in doubt, ASK!

We certainly do not know what's going on with your Agent and while there are numerous guesses based on experience below, only he/she can truly answer your question.

As far as a response time, with all the ways we can communicate, I would say no more than 1 hour when NOT in a meeting.

Good luck with your search and hang in there!

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Teresa P. Tan, Agent, Milpitas, CA
Wed Dec 5, 2012
Hi busyhomebuyer,
No need to sign a contract with your Realtor. Personally, I dont think I would like to work with a client who is working with me just because of a Buyers Representation Agreement. Not to give excuses for the slow response time, we do get busy especially if we are in the middle of negotiations with lenders or handling REO properties.
It's true inventory is very low right now. Response time can vary. If it is really an emergency, response time should be asap. Or 3-6 hrs is ok. You are actually under no obligation to stay with a realtor if you are not satisfied with the service.
Goodluck in your homebuying! Thank you!

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Prasad Bodas, Agent, Newark, CA
Wed Dec 5, 2012
Hello BusyHomeBuyer,

Your Real Estate Professional has duty towards you to respond and communicate as efficient as he/she can. In my practice I always use different method of communication in terms of telephone (most preferred), email or text message (with client's consent). It is better for client to have multiple ways to communicate and it helps me. As stated by my fellow Realtors contract is not required and with or without that in place communication is important. To conclude communication should be within reasonable time and method could differ based on the question you are asking.
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Annie Nguyen, Agent, Fremont, CA
Wed Dec 5, 2012
What is your expectation of the response time? Are you ready to make the offer ? are your Realtor and you looking for properties within your budget? May be you need to ask your Realtor why is it too slow to receive his response back. I feel like there are some misunderstandings there that you should discuss with your agent. May be your agent feel like you are not serious enough to make commitment . As for signing the contract for your agent to take you seriously, actually it is not a contract but just an agreement from you to promise to work with your Realtor who will spend all the times working for you, He or she will help you to find the best deal on the market. Just a matter of ethic that someone who is spending their time and effort to get someone what they want , that person should be compensated for their time spent. Everybody has to work to support their living. It is just fair enough for them to get paid what they worked for. As a buyer, you don't have to pay any dime for the service your Realtor provided. Then when they work for you they need to get paid for their work right? Would you like to work for free? I bet the answer will be no. No one to work for free unless it is a charity work. Realtors work hard to earn a living like everyone on this planet does. The house inventory now is pretty low comparing to previous year. You already said it is the seller's market then you definitely need a good Realtor to work with you to handle all the negotiations to get you the best deal. Like J @Greensboro, NC said this agreement shows good faith on both sides, so without this mutual agreement you can't expect the other party to work all his/her heart out to help you while they don't know if they spend your time looking for deal for you they would get paid at the end. There is no motivation here. You know what I mean. Good luck with your house searching process.
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Kyle McDowell, Agent, Jacksboro, TN
Wed Dec 5, 2012
Different areas have different practices, however trust is critical to any relationship business or otherwise. If you have found someone you feel you can confide in then entering a buyer representation agreement with that individual allows both the realtor/agent and the buyer to proceed further if however you aren't getting results now from this person perhaps you need to find that type of help then do the agreement.
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J, Agent, Greensboro, NC
Wed Dec 5, 2012
I believe your realtor takes you seriously regardless of a contract. Your realtor may be working with other clients who are currently buying property. Your relator obviously trusts that you will work with them when the time comes. Perhaps, you should trust your realtor that they will be there for you when you are ready to purchase. Without a contract that shows good faith on both sides, there are really no expectations of either of you. Good luck to you!
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The Medford…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Wed Dec 5, 2012
A contract should not be required to have your Realtor take you seriously. In reality, in the current market, a competent buyer’s agent can work with a large number of clients because there are simply not very properties to show. If you feel they are not giving you enough time or responding slowly, then I’d simply ask them what is going on.

It could be, as Pacita pointed out, that your parameters are unreasonable in the current market. As an example, if you are an FHA buyer and are asking about properties that are not FHA approved, your agent might be reticent to keep looking up properties they know you cannot obtain. Or you are trying to find a deal and the agent knows the price you will offer will be too low. There could be any number of reasons – ask.

If your Realtor says, “I’m just really, really busy”… then maybe you need to look for someone different that has time to spend on you.
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Brian Ripp, Agent, Fremont, CA
Wed Dec 5, 2012
Have a talk with your Realtor.
My opinion is you should be looking at all the homes in your price that you feel are worth looking at - with your Realtor. Then make a written offer on the home you like best. If you don't get the offer accepted, move on to another home of your liking. You should be looking at the inside of homes at least twice a week if you really want a home.

good luck,
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Laura Coffey, Agent, Santa Clarita, CA
Wed Dec 5, 2012
You either have a bad Realtor or maybe your Realtor does not take you seriously.
In most areas inventory is low with multiple offers on everything.
If you are not prequalified and writing offers above list price to get them it's possible your agent is giving up on you.
If that's not the case discuss with them your issues and if they don't listen - dump them.
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Ashley Carri…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Tue Dec 4, 2012
Hello BusyHomeBuyer,

The market is still hot. Too many buyers and not enough inventory to supply the high demand right now. That is not an excuse for your realtor to ignore you. He/or she should follow up with you right away if there is a listing you are interested in. I'm assuming that your realtor already has you Pre-Approved for a loan (if you are not paying cash), they know what type of home you are looking for and know what areas you are interested in? If not, then your realtor may not have you very high on their priority list because they are waiting for you to be prepared. Most "offer deadlines" are only a few days after the home is listed on the market. That is how quick homes are selling in the bay area in this current market.
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Philip Cabral, Agent, San Jose, CA
Tue Dec 4, 2012
You shouldn't have to sign a contract to be taken seriously. I have never once required a contract of my clients unless needed in an offer.

Being a multiple home buyer prior to me becoming an agent I make it my policy now that I am an agent to call/email my clients back within 6 business hours. Keep in mind, there is usually some research or numerous phone calls involved with each question that I factor in and complete within those 6 hours.

Good luck with your house hunt.
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Pacita Dimac…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Tue Dec 4, 2012

How "slow" is his response time? More than an hour? More than 24 hours?

If he doesn't respond right away, like within an hour of your call or text, he may be engaged in other activities, not necessarily working with other clients. We do have classes, sales meetings and conferences to attend as part of our continuing education.

I'm wondering if your realtor is also thinking the same thing -- are you taking HIM seriously? Do you listen to his advice? Are you focused on your search? Or are you looking for all kinds of properties in several cities?

The best thing both of you can do for each other is to focus on the type of property and budget range for your search. If you aren't clear on what and where you want and what your budget range is, it's like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Make one more attempt and set expectations. If you are still unhappy or dissatisfied with your realtor, and since you apparently didn't sign a buyer broker agreement, you'll see that there is a number of realtors who may want to give it a shot.

Good luck.
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