First time home buyer is not sure about getting a realtor

Asked by KD, Sat Jan 19, 2013

I am a first time house buyer in Roseville, CA and have been looking on Trulia for the past few weeks. I have saved a couple of houses that look good. I am now at the point where i need a realtor but i may drop/stop looking if we don't like the houses or the houses exceed our budget. Since i am completely new to this, i am curious to know whether stopping our house search completely, while we are talking to a realtor, will cost us financially?

Finally, i would like to know - how to find a good realtor I.E. a realtor who can be relied upon, will suggest us good houses and has good attitude. He should have a mentality to rip-off people for his financial gain. I am being very cautious as i am very new to this.

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John Walin’s answer
John Walin, Agent, Libertyville, IL
Sat Jan 26, 2013
We as agents are not so powerful to make you buy a house you don't like or can't afford. Have agents describe agency law in CA, not sure how they define default representation, consumers, customers and clients and if they do full fiduciary care or ministerial acts and only give to access to homes , not advise and counsel. if its designated agency or sub agency, transactional brokerage or dual agency. If they are not competent in describing the difference in representation in their state, they are weak. In FL they do transactional brokerage and dont have to disclose it because it is presumed that the public understands in and outs of agency law and the code of ethics. Hey Mack, I'm back!
1 vote
Rasem Allan, Agent, Rocklin, CA
Thu Aug 7, 2014
Especially first time home buyer encourahed highly to hire an agent.
0 votes
Kriquette Ly…, Agent, Rocklin, CA
Wed Jul 31, 2013
Hi KD! It is a scary endeavor. Pick wisely and choose someone that you feel comfortable saying 'no' to! A good realtor will protect you, guide you and support you, not force you or make you feel obligated! Also, I highly recommend contacting a lender and also find a lender you feel comfortable with that same as your realtor. Get your financial situation reviewed and have them set you up with a preapproval and a letter so you are completely aware of how much you can afford.

This is your first time out so make sure you pick someone that will help you, educate you and most of all be there for you through the whole process.

Good LUCK and Enjoy!
0 votes
Robert Hight…, Agent, Chico, CA
Tue Jul 2, 2013
A buyers agent services are free to you, we are paid by the seller so it should not cost you anything to stop and start searching. As far as find a good realtor? Referrals are great but you have to do your homework. I would suggest that you Google questions to ask your realtor, and make a list of questions and go interview a few of the agents you have been referred to or have picked out.
0 votes
Scott Godzyk, Agent, Manchester, NH
Tue Jan 29, 2013
The place to start is by asking friends, family or coworkers. If that fails call around and interview a couple, see what they offer and make sure it is what you are looking for. it should be someone who will guide you through each step of the buying process which should be the 1st question you should ask if they offer.
0 votes
Ryan Hellwege, , Dallas, TX
Tue Jan 29, 2013
Interview Realtors, ask your friends and family who they would recommend. Your first home purchase you should definately use a Realtor so you don't get riped off. Realtors work for you!
0 votes
Jeff Marr, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Roseville, CA
Sun Jan 27, 2013
Kshitij D - you won't have any out of pocket costs (in nearly all cases) until you've gone into contract, and you're nowhere near that stage yet...

Both agents and loan officers work on a good faith basis....we (and especially the realtor) may work countless hours with you....if you decide, for whatever reason, not to continue with the home search process, there's no penalty for doing that other than you most likely will pay more later (with home values finally rising after about 7 years)...

I work in Roseville, let me know if you'd like to set an appt and we'll get together to go over the entire process in more detail!

best of luck, Jeff M
0 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Sat Jan 26, 2013
I don't know anything about Roseville, but most residential real estate agents are basically honest, decent people who care about their clients and want to do a good job for them.

I think if you are afraid of being "ripped-off," then it would be wise to avoid agents that go over the top with the promises they make to you. The secret of scamming people is that usually, people scam themselves by falling for offers that are too good to be true.

The secret on finding a good agent is this: keep interviewing agents (at least three) until you find one that you communicate well with; talk about your plans and your budget and your timeline and the type of houses you like and the neighborhoods you like, and then - interview one more.

All the best,
0 votes
Bill Hays, Agent, Cardiff, AL
Fri Jan 25, 2013
I am not sure how a realtor is going to rip you off when they don't get paid until you get your house. it is a team effort and you need to do the research you are doing to get a feel for values in the areas you are looking at.

A good place to start is referrals. Do you have any friends who have purchased recently? How was their experience and would they recommend who they used?

Open Houses are good too to gain perspective but never feel pressured to provide any email of phone number information - know that Open Houses are designed to generate relationships with people like you - buyers who that agent can help.

Lots of agents say interview agents - the thing to be aware of in that regard is that agents are trained sales people. They work on memorizing scripts and overcoming objections and so you know that they have most if not all the answers ready to go for questions a first time homebuyer is going to ask. That's why I go back to the referral approach. A good friend who is like you who can refer you to a realtor they were happy with is a higher chance of success.
0 votes
Ute Ferdig -…, Agent, New Castle, DE
Tue Jan 22, 2013
The way I see it, choosing an agent to represent you involves more than just asking a bunch of test questions. It's easy to make promises, but only time will tell whether the agent will live up to the promises. Since you are a first time buyer, you will also learn about what you need from an agent as you go through the process. You will learn what is involved in buying a home and what kind of assistance you will need from an agent. Not all first-time buyers are created equally. Like with all relationships (business or otherwise), there is the getting to know phase. I think one of the keys to a successful agent-client relationship is good communication and mutual respect. Make sure you let your agent know what you expect and what kind of assistance you may require. You will also have to be prepared to act quickly when a house that meets your criteria comes on the market and that you will have to compete with other buyers. It's not uncommon for sellers to receive multiple offers and you may be outbid quite a few times. When that happens, some buyers lose faith in their agent and they think changing agents will increase their chances at getting their offer accepted. In most cases, it's not the agent's fault when the offer does not get accepted. It's just the reality of a real estate market with low inventory.

Since we only get paid when escrow closes, we can't afford to work with buyers who will drop us after investing weeks of our time. Therefore, agents also have to choose their clients carefully. I think it won't take you long to determine whether the agent you chose is the right agent. It's not really difficult to figure out what drives an agent (customer service or just making a sale), but you have to spend some time with the agent to see if he/she is a good fit for you. Good luck with your house hunting.
0 votes
Robert Spino…, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Mill Valley, CA
Tue Jan 22, 2013
Kshitij D.,

I'm going to cover this topic in my homebuyer webinar on the 5th of Feb. It's free and the link to register is below if you'd like to join. Of course if you have questions before that time, please let me know. I'm on the finance side, so I work with a lot of buyers and their agents and I think I can provide someone helpful insight on questions to ask when choosing an agent to represent you in your purchase.

Best of luck,

Rob Spinosa
RPM Mortgage
0 votes
Allyn Terpst…, Agent, Roseville, CA
Mon Jan 21, 2013
A good Realtor is a key component in a successful transaction. Checking on Trulia is a good start for finding the right agent for you ... I would suggest reading client testimonials from satisfied clients and calling a few agents that you feel would be a good match for helping you find just the right home for you and your family.
0 votes
Teri Andrews…, Agent, Auburn, CA
Mon Jan 21, 2013
Hi Kshitij,
In general a Buyers real estate agent (not all real estate agents are Realtors, but that is another story) is paid out of the Sellers proceeds. There are exceptions of course.

As a first time homebuyer you should be able to choose an agent that you can communicate well with, and is willing to answer all your questions. The process can be a bit overwhelming for many new buyers. Set your expectations for the agent and the agent should set theirs for you. I would encourage you to be up front with the fact that you are not certain you will purchase, but you are still in the feasibility stage. Many times I take a buyer out once and then they realize they are not quite ready and we pick up in a few months or a year.

Interview agents by seeing how they answer questions here, visit open houses, and once you find an agent stick with them. While it is true we don't get paid until the sale is closed, most of us want to help our clients find the best home for their needs and know it sometimes takes awhile.

"He should have a mentality to rip-off people for his financial gain." did you he should NOT have?
0 votes
Morgan Larson, Agent, Folsom, CA
Sun Jan 20, 2013
Hi K-
It definitely sounds like your needing some guidance. A real estate agent will be able to get you ACCURATE information about which homes are available for sale, how many offers are on that current home, the process of purchasing a home, etc. the difference between agents is the SPEED at which they get this information to you.

As far as working with someone who has a mentality to rip-off others, doesn't that mean they'd stand to rip YOU off? I think working with someone who is honest and knowledgeable about today's market is going to be of best benefit to you. For instance, did you know that inventory has dropped 60% in the last year, price's are rising, and most homes are receiving multiple offers? Yes, a strategical agent will be to your benefit.

Most buyer's goals are the same - find a great home, for a great price, in the time frame that's ideal for them. When I sit down with new client's (yes, I spend approximately 1/2 hour to an hour before ever looking at a home) I go through the whole process so that we are comfortable wth each ther and they are comfortable with the process and what to expect.

If you'd like to schedule an appointment, please don't estimate to call. Happy house hunting!

Morgan 916-241-8788
0 votes
My NC Homes…, Agent, Chapel Hill, NC
Sun Jan 20, 2013
Great questions and I wish more first time buyers thought as you do. In terms of finding a great buyer broker to help you (regardless of where you live) check out the link below.

As to whether you incur any financial obligation to a buyer broker that depends on the broker and the agreement you may sign with them. 95% of the time the answer is a simple, "No" as the vast majority of brokers only get paid when a transaction is successfully closed and their commission {Payment} comes form the Sellers proceeds. That said there are other business models and some buyer brokers request a nominal payment (think $250 - $1000) up front which is then credited back to the buyer at closing. It's not a common practice but it's one I'm aware of.

There's no reason you should sign a buyer broker contract when you first meet with a broker and any that pressure you to do so aren't worth working with. They should expect to take you out once or twice after your initial meeting to make sure you're both comfortable working with each other. In short they should earn your confidence or simply put, they don't deserve your business. When it's time to sign a contract I would still argue there is no reason to sign one for more than 30 days, you may not buy a home in 30 days but you can always renew. I'm a high volume broker closing on average 1 transaction a week, Typically I don't ask for a buyer broker agreement longer than 2 weeks, I've never had a buyer walk away from me, but I've been known on occasion at the end of two weeks to let buyers go. Short contracts work both ways and if I decide for any reason that I don't want to work with someone then I don't want a long term contract committing me to do so.

I would suggest (as I'm sure any good Broker you decide to work with will) that within the first week after interviewing and deciding on a Broker to work with that you speak with a lender (Your Realtor can suggest several to you) and get formally pre-approved so that you are in the strongest possible negotiating position once you've found a house and are ready to make an offer.

I wish you the best of luck and happy house hunting.
0 votes
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Sun Jan 20, 2013

No need to worry! Your concern is normal....

We recommend that buyers continue with both searches simultaneously. How? you ask.
By attending various open houses you have an opportunity to view each subject property and see the agent in action. Going to these open houses with prepared questions can be an eye opener.
Questions should test their knowledge of the local market and appreciation for the real estate business.

One of the question I like best in this forum is, Outside of this home and your company's listings, what are the best home values in the area? Ask for specifics....

You can generally get a pretty good feel for their ability by how they interact with visitors and the information they share.

Be sure you target a full time agent and one that is not a "weekend warrior." The difference in the level of service is immense.

Good luck,

0 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Sat Jan 19, 2013
What kind of mentality should he have, Kshitij?
0 votes
A friendly mentality and more importantly he/she must be think from the buyer's perspective. Seller is of course important but since i will be investing in the property, he/she should be 100% honest and transparent about a home.
Flag Sat Jan 19, 2013
Charlotte Ma…, Agent, Rocklin, CA
Sat Jan 19, 2013
At TEAM Patterson Realty we help clients who are new to the home buyer process all the time. We work to exceed your expectations and help you with your goals.
To answer your question, there is no financial cost to you to work with a realtor to buy a home. The home seller pays the commissions for the realtors.
Please check out our website for useful home buying information and see if any of our realtors would be a good fit for you!
0 votes
Hillary Moff…, Agent, Rocklin, CA
Sat Jan 19, 2013
You absolutely need to find a good realtor before you become serious about home searching. SInce interest rates are low there are a lot of buyers out there wanting to buy! Also inventory of homes for sale has been at very low levels so you need to be ready to buy/put in offers so that if a house comes on the market you are ready to make an offer. I personally love my jobs as a realtor and the best reward for me in it is to find the homes for y clients. There is nothing like the feeling of being able to hand them the keys to their new home. My clients come first and foremost. I would love to meet with you or talk to you further to tell you more about myself and how I work with clients and the steps you need to take to get an offer accepted in this challenging market place. Also just to note prices have steadily increase over the past few months, so if that continues, delaying your search will cost you more money as home prices increase. Trulia is a great source to look at homes, however in this market where homes are moving so quickly you really need to work with a realtor who has access to the most up to date status of the home and whether its still an active listing or already in pending. Trulia will show you homes that may not necessarily still be on the market as it changes so rapidly.

"Your Satisfaction is my Success" is my motto!
0 votes
A realtor who is looking out for YOUR best interest is the one you want. Buying a home is a huge leap....yes sometimes we need comfort and reassurance but a good realtor will never push you into a home. Also, being a good realtor takes a willingness to exceed expectation. Being available is a big part of that. Not every agent practices in the same way and not every buyer has the same needs or expectations. The key is finding the right one for you. You really do need an agent, I hope you find the perfect match and walk away with the home you wanted and a friendship with the person who helped you get it.
Good Luck!
Angelina Curtin
Century 21 Foothill
Flag Fri Nov 8, 2013
Hi Hillary,
Do you go by the same statement - " there is no financial cost to you to work with a realtor to buy a home. The home seller pays the commissions for the realtors." If so, how soon can we meet fo further discussions?
How much experience do you have for introducing and understanding new home buyers?
Flag Sat Jan 19, 2013
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