Gofishu2, Other/Just Looking in Menlo Park, CA

How do I find a good agent?

Asked by Gofishu2, Menlo Park, CA Mon Apr 20, 2009

I've talked to several agents now and as a litmus test I asked them what they thought of the current market conditions. All gave me different versions of "It is always a good time to buy, qualified by but it is a personal decision." I've been in sales for years and find that response grating and amateur-ish. Here's what I HEAR when I get that line: It is always a good time to buy BECAUSE I GET A COMMISSION, but it is a personal decision SO DON'T BLAME ME IF PRICES GO DOWN. That sort of input is zero value-add. Actually, it is worse -- it make me question the agent's credibility. I'd rather hear them say, you know, it is quite hard to tell, there are 190 properties on the market now with very low volume, so that's a real concern, but if you need to buy now, well, you need to buy. I find this quite frustrating and frankly find better input on websites like socketsite (which only covers SF, alas). Anyone have any advice?

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32
Bill Mccord, Agent, San Jose, CA
Mon Apr 20, 2009
BEST ANSWER
You might consider looking up the profiles of agents active on this forum, then read back over some of the answers they've given to past questions. This would give you are feel for the person prior to making contact.
Bill
3 votes
Marcy Moyer, Agent, Palo Alto, CA
Wed Apr 22, 2009
Gofishu2,
If you are going to try to structure commission differently than what is offered to the agent via MLS I have a few suggestions for you:

1. Basing it on how close or far from list price will not always get you the best deal because list price can be much higher, much lower, or equal to market value. It would make more sence to pick some other objective means of determining how the agent did for you.

2. Make sure that if the agent is going to give you a rebate from his or her commission that your lender is aware of this and agrees. As you know, the seller pays the agent, not you, and the seller determines how much to pay the agent. If you are asking the agent to give you some of that money and your lender is not aware of that fact, but becomes aware after closing escrow you can all get nailed for lender fraud. You will have to sign something in escrow declairing any money being rebated to you. It is not that it is not legal, but it must be disclosed to the lender and they have rules about what the money can and can not be used for.

3. Also, to get my take on what makes a seller motivated you can go to 2 of my past blogs on trulia 'Who is Selling in Palo Alto?" In a nut shell the most motivated sellers tend to be builders or those that are selling vacant homes. You can also get great deals in short sales and REOS, but there are very few of those in PA at this time.

Good luck!!!

marcy
Web Reference:  http://www.marcymoyer.com
3 votes
828, Both Buyer And Seller, Palo Alto, CA
Tue Apr 21, 2009
Gofish2,

You asked a good question. As you said, no agent is truly objective due to interest conflict. You have to know the market and make your own decision. In addition, 2 ideas (from a firend) for you to consider:

1. Before you talk to an potential buyer agent, you can ask your spouse (or friend) to pretend to be a seller, call the agent to see what he/she says about selling. Then you call the agent, say you are a buyer and see what he/she says about buying. From the 2 responses, you can roughly know what kind of person she/he is.

2. Before you decide on an agent, you need to be mentally strong first. Most agents will apply some psych pressure on you. Some even set up an EMOTIONAL TRAP for you. For example, he/she keeps saying others are bidding up. Or after 1 or 2 failed offer, she/he will push you to give a much higher offer in the following offers. Do you believe that some homes have been bidding up 30% in some high end area right now while there is a lot high inventory on market (those homes are not in good condition at all)? Actually, the final buyers are not even close to be rich enough to ignore the price increase in those several cases.
1 vote
Debra (Debbi…, Agent, Livingston, NJ
Mon Apr 20, 2009
Ok...I feel compelled to jump in here. I always like to add my 2 cents - why stop now!

Gofish- For the record, I am not looking to kiss up, as I am not running for the position of being your next agent - I am way over here on the other coast--------> in New Jersey - way too far away (unless, of course, you'd like to move to NJ? ) No?? ok, then I hope you can find an agent to properly represent you!

So.......Here's a newsflash to all the laymen - agents are NOT fortunetellers - shocking, but no, we're not!!! Also - real estate is NOT an exact science......as you can clearly see from the numerous posts here on Trulia, Realtors and opinions come in all shapes and sizes..Opinions can change as the market is changing. No one can predict the future. Some think it's a good time to buy - some think it isn't a good time - no one knows what is going on with this turbulent economy! If I had any idea back in '99 that my own house would be worth 50% more a mere 2 years later - you can bet I would have waited to sell it! But, my crystal ball wasn't working that year! Unfortunately, it still isn't.

These websites provide an arena that allows posturing, cheerleading and sharing of information. I believe, most agents genuinely try to answer questions to the best of their ability - some have more ability than others, but that's the case in every profession. I am so tired, though, of seeing agents bashed for saying it's a "good time to buy "- guess what? If you want to buy now, it IS a good time, for the various reasons listed by others, for YOU to buy.
If you feel that it is a better business decision to wait a year or so...then WAIT ! Every market is different throughout the country. Every client has different needs. Are many markets going to dip more before going up again? Probably. Most of the talking heads and experts believe that to be true. But even those experts don't always agree. Ok, so now what does one do? I advise my clients based on their indiviual needs, wants and financial situations. There is no simple right or wrong answer.

Now, to address another issue often brought up in this forum.......here's another newsflash... I fully admit I list and sell houses to make a COMMISSION - commission NOT a dirty word! I work to earn a living, and real estate is my profession, and the way in which I earn that living. I make no apologies!. I also happen to work very hard, but I love what I do...I am honest, upfront and a straight shooter with my clients. It must be working for me, because after 24 years in the business, most of my business is through personal referral. I just get a bit peeved when I hear realtors getting critiqued for trying to earn a commission -ie: earn a living - doesn't everyone want to get paid for what they do?

Buyiong or selling a home is probably one of the, if not the, largest transactions a person will ever be involved in - hats off to the agents who work long and hard getting the job done!
Ok - I feel great now..........haha.........I have vented..... feel sated, and am ready to go to sleep!
Sweet dreams all.............
1 vote
Sean Dawes, , Philadelphia, PA
Mon Apr 20, 2009
I think an agent should not try and pretend to know all as you said they can delete things. If they are honest and willing to admit they dont know everything then that is a good sign. But they know the right people to have for a support team if they were to be presented with a situation they need help.




Sean Dawes
Long and Foster Real Estate Inc.
Web Reference:  http://www.SeanDawes.com
1 vote
Grace Morioka, Agent, San Jose, CA
Mon Apr 20, 2009
Hello Gofishu2 and thanks for your post.

Finding an agent can be a very difficult thing, and, alas, none of us knows the answers to all of the questions out there. When faced with the inevitable "what do you think of the market?" question, many of us are responding with "it's a good time to buy, but it's your decision," and it's understandable how that answer came to be.

Truth is, in a market such as this with more volatility than stability, your danged if you do (say to buy) and danged if you don't (recommend buying). The only thing that any potential client remembers is that "you" (professional Realtor) recommended buying and then prices went down ('bad, greedy" Realtor--you just wanted my commission), or you did not recommend buying and the prices went up ("bad, uninformed" Realtor--now you've lost me money) . Realtors are not economic market prognosticators and are ill-equipped to serve as one, so we can only speak to one issue at a time, and that's whether or not we feel that it's a good time to buy now. Given what prices were a few years ago, and what they are now, it is not an unreasonable response on the part of any Realtor to say that buying now would be a good time whether you use us (as agents) or go it alone. If the theory of "buy low, sell higher" is the means of making money, then no one can argue that this is a good time to buy. If, however, one's personal home buying theory is "buy at the lowest point, sell at the highest point" then you're likely never to purchase a home or make any money because finding the theoretical bottom (or top) oftens means only seeing it in one's rear view mirror.

So while I can appreciate your frustration both with the current market and the lack of financial interpretations from the Realtors with whom you've talked, please understand that the information being given to you by most Realtors is not incorrect and we are seeing some of the best prices for homes in years. If you can, purchase now--even if it is not the "bottom"--your actions would likely result in a return on your housing investment in the future.

I wish you good luck in finding both a qualified Realtor and a great home!

Sincerely,
Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty
1 vote
Janie and Jo…, Agent, Palo Alto, CA
Mon Apr 20, 2009
Hi Gofishu2,

My advice would be to talk to friends and colleagues that you trust that have bought or sold real estate in the last year or two and get a referral from them (if they liked their agent!). Most people treat a referral as a reflection on themselves so most won't volunteer a name unless they liked the person and thought he/she did a good job.

There are many excellent agents in this area (and many I'd care not to work with). Your challenge is to find one that fits your work style, etc. and go from there.

Good Luck,

John Barman (yes, I'm a Realtor)
Coldwell Banker
650.380.8440
Web Reference:  http://www.babblingbrook.com
1 vote
Marcy Moyer, Agent, Palo Alto, CA
Mon Apr 20, 2009
Gofushu2,
I love your question! If you go to my website http://www.marcymoyer.com and click on the link Why Should I Buy? you can read an article I wrote about this topic. It was written last fall when conditions were a little different than they are now, but a lot of it applies.

You can also read my blog where you can read what I have put in print about my feelings about the market week by week.

I love real estate, and believe in the long term financial viabilty of owning one or more homes. But I also believe that you should buy a home for the long term and pay it off, which is not what a lot of other agents or mortgage brokers feel.

I also have hundreds of additional opinion, but feel free to read what I wrote, and stand behind and let me know if you have any questions.
Marcy
Web Reference:  http://www.marcymoyer.com
1 vote
Vera Gonzalez, Agent, Sterling Heights, MI
Fri Jan 28, 2011
Gofishu2,

Here is how I put it to people yes it is an investment the value of the house is the value of the home. If I have 5 kids I do not want to live in a 762 sq ft home. Good schools are a value, how close it is to their jobs or family.I really do not care how much the person spends. MY JOB AND ONLY JOB IS TO PUT A PERSON /FAMILY IN A HOME THEY WANT TO BE IN!!! Market condition or personal conditions? It is all a matter of perspective. I only care that people will be in a house that suits there needs and hopefully they listen and do not overextend themselves so I am selling the same home 2 years later after it has been foreclosed.


Good luck,

Vera
0 votes
Julie Real E…, , Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Sun Apr 26, 2009
Dear Gofishu2, one word. INTERVIEW, INTERVIEW INTERVIEW.

Good Luck!

Julie Lozano, Realtor
Prudential California Realty
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
calljulielozano@yahoo.com
0 votes
Adrian Cheng, Home Buyer, 02143
Thu Apr 23, 2009
If you can get friends and coworkers referrals, use them. Otherwise going to open houses and chat with agents. More than likely you will eventually find a good one. The agent should look happy (not under financial distress to make a sale happen), should be very knowledgeable, very analytical and very patient. You should feel very comfortable working with him/her before you hire him/her. I happened to find an agent that suggested I take government assisted home buying class. I met many great professionals in the home buying process that way (attorney, mortgage broker, home inspector, etc). Ask your agent about these programs. I found many agents don't know about those programs. If your agent don't know about these programs, more than likely they are not updated on the market and not updated on the mortgage guidelines that change very frequently these days.
0 votes
Bob Sendel, Agent, East Islip, NY
Thu Apr 23, 2009
I'm going to say that market conditions and is it a good time to buy have NOTHING to do with each other! The personal decision comment is actaully somewhat correct. Mind you, I'm in New York, so I really don't care about your litmus test.

Every one has different reasons for buying or selling, so different motivations exist. What may be a good time to buy for one, may not be a good time to buy for another.
Web Reference:  http://www.bobsendel.com
0 votes
Rex Osborne, Agent, Raleigh, NC
Thu Apr 23, 2009
You just did. All you have to do is contact me.
http://www.rexosborne.com
919-880-7516
0 votes
Grace Morioka, Agent, San Jose, CA
Wed Apr 22, 2009
Hello 828, why don't you email me as I'd prefer to entertain any questions or comments from you directly, and not dilute the responses to Gofishu2. I will say, however, that the market began declining in June 2008 (not October); I purchased in 94087 area near Los Altos; did NOT pay over $1 million, did take into account seasonal declines (which, by the way, did not happen this year in this unusual market). Further, respectfully, I feel you are taking my comment out of context. The comment I made pertained to "me", "my decision to sell", and are "my opinions" based on "my" personal experience, and it was not a general statement intended to be reflective of every area in Santa Clara County. Again, I'm happy to entertain any further comments you might have on this matter, but let's take it off-line and allow Gofishu2 to get responses intended for him and his question.

Many thanks!

Sincerely,
Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty
0 votes
828, Both Buyer And Seller, Palo Alto, CA
Wed Apr 22, 2009
Agent Grace,

You said so much about how objective your are. However, just one sentence makes all your words meanless : "It has proven itself to be true, and my home is currently worth $50-60K more than the day I purchased it in November, 2008".

I am assuming your home in good school is in Zip 5014 or 95129, worth more than 1 million. Your home was bought last Nov. We can assume it went for sale in last Sept or Oct when the price just started to dip. How did you get the conlcusion about 50-60K increase from last Nov. The home price above 1 M is not what a seller asks in today's market. Now it is common that the sale price fluctutes more than 5%. You may argue it is average, then how did you get the conclusion of 5-6% average increase? Show your numbers? Also remember to put out seasonal adjustment? Are you suggesting the home price has increased 5-6% in the high end in the last 3 months or so?
0 votes
Mission Viejo…, , Mission Viejo, CA
Wed Apr 22, 2009
You not only have to disclose to the lender but all parties to the transaction. There are many times I have to tell a buyer not to buy or a seller not to sell. Can I tell all of them not to do it right now, wait a year? No, of course not, there are reasons that they may need to move and sell or buy. When a seller hires me to sell their house can I tell every buyer don't buy now, of course not. Would I tell you not to buy it, Yes! You aren't buying because you want a house or a home, you want a guaranty that you will not loose money on the deal. No one can give you that but with the help of a good agent and the information you collect you will make an educated decision and that is all we can do.
0 votes
Gofishu2, , Menlo Park, CA
Wed Apr 22, 2009
Thank you for your helpful comments Marcy. I'd been told there were disclosure requirements if you get a refund from the buyer's commission. Now I understand better why. I read your post on whose the motivated sellers are in Palo Alto several weeks ago - right after I drove by the 4 "monster" spec houses on Parkinson...
0 votes
Gofishu2, , Menlo Park, CA
Wed Apr 22, 2009
828, your tactic number 1, enlisting a spouse posing as a seller to call the agent, is very mischievous ;-)

So I met with an agent this morning, referred by a friend, in an established well-known firm here. It was like listening to Comical Ali during the Iraq war. He talked about low-interest rates, tons of properties to choose from, Palo Alto is different from all other markets, real estate has historically alway gone up in the long run (um, so has the cost of living), etc. It sounded like he got his talking points from this classic Coldwell Banker memo from late last summer proclaiming "the stars are truly aligned for today's home buyer but those who languish on the fence may miss the proverbial boat," posted on Matt Holder's site here: http://www.lynandmatt.com/Buyer-Resources/Buyer-Suggested-Re… (Matt, you might want to pull this off your website, though it does nicely illustrate the role the real estate agent industry played in the bubble). I let him give this spiel, and then told him there are nearly 200 listings, 82 in 94301 alone, with an average listing age of 68 days. I said I've read the current Case-Shiller report for the Bay Area and am pessimistic about real estate but need to buy in the near future. I said wanted to target properties offered by sellers who were in weak positions who had listed their properties for a long time. He had me quickly tour a few properties so he could geta sense of what I was looking for. But he really didn't have any insight or information that I didn't have already via the web, except that he was able to more reliably pull the info about the listing history and past sale prices (there are gaps in the info provided by propertyshark, redfin, zillow and the like). It was like shopping for a car where you already know as much or more than the salesman but need to go through them to close the deal, except in this case the agent is getting 3%. He was a gentleman throughout and very likable, but I left with mixed feelings: somewhat annoyed that I'd wasted my time (and his) with another Pollyanna who really didn't have much value to add at this stage of the process, but somewhat sad that here was a decent guy who's business model is facing real challenges brought on by new technology and a declining market. Not that sad, though, he had a REALLY nice car...

Oh, also we didnt' get into any details, but he seemed fairly open to creatively structuring commissions, to my surprise.
0 votes
Grace Morioka, Agent, San Jose, CA
Wed Apr 22, 2009
Hello Gofishu2 and everyone!

It's easy to say that Realtors are simply salespeople with an incentive to get everyone to sell and everyone to buy. Truthfully, no one who is truly a real estate professional will ascribe to this particular operating procedure. I have, many times, sat down with clients and potential clients, reviewed their financial situation and--at the end--recommended that they not sell their home because their capital investment would be at risk. I have further worked with buyers on a fixed-fee basis, not as a commission, and have, plenty of times recommended to clients that they wait, that a home or area was not priced correctly, or that they consider other areas. I do this because, frankly, I am a real estate professional and am in this for the proverbial "long haul."

As for the optomistic viewpoint of many Realtors now about purchasing, I am actually a college educated, former "Big 8" CPA trained accountant who is now a Realtor. I am an avid stock investor that has, thankfully, made money in the past year, and my personal specialty is in budgeting for new and continuing housing developments. So to say that my background is heavy in finance and accounting would be accurate. Like you all, I chose to sell a home last year and purchase one this year. I did so because, for me, the financial information led me to believe that now was a good time to move up. It has proven itself to be true, and my home is currently worth $50-60K more than the day I purchased it in November, 2008. Also, we're now in a better school district, a larger home and a better town than where we had previously lived, and because my window of ownership is likely to be a decade or more, I'm not as concerned about an additional 10 percent drop in prices because I am certain that in 10 years, my investment will yield more than satisfactory returns.

So, if I sound optomistic about the market, it is because I am taking the long view of real estate for both my clients and myself.

As for finding a good Realtor, Gofishu2, you can find one that will work with you for remuneration satisfactory to both you and the agent (and his/her broker--because it is the broker who must approve all contracts and fees). Because you are working more "creatively" than most agents are accustomed in terms of a commission, you will need to interview more than a few Realtors to find the appropriate professional, but I guarantee that the proper person is out there for you.

Do take the time to look around and find your perfect home and the perfect agent. I wish you good luck in your house hunt!

Sincerely,
Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty
0 votes
Damndamn, Home Buyer, 95050
Tue Apr 21, 2009
Gofish2,

my experience has been different from jonp's. i found a traditional agent with my fee conditions.

i suggest you post a thread here describing what you want as fee structure, and you will receive many agents applying for it (include some agents who voiced against this)!

i agree with jonp about being knowledgeable. in fact, i go one step above and say until you know about local market conditions as good as an average agent you see/hear, you are not ready to buy!
0 votes
Bill Mccord, Agent, San Jose, CA
Tue Apr 21, 2009
Sorry to lose you. This has been one of the most interesting dialogues in a long time.
Just one parting statement. When you get seriously invoved again it would be smart to learn what the professional Realtor (not every agent is a Realtor) actually does for a standard commision, then work together to agree on what you want from them, and what you are prepared to do for yourself. There is no good reason why this ahould not be a mutually adventageoug collaboration.
Good luck,
Bill
p.s. By the way, the answer to the question "is it a good time to buy"? is "it depends".
0 votes
Gofishu2, , Menlo Park, CA
Tue Apr 21, 2009
Jonp, thanks for your thoughts. Yep, I think you're right about wasting time trying to change the comp structure for traditional agents. The attraction of a Redfin-type outfit isn't so much the lower commission as it is the hope that their comp structure might better align the interest of the agent with mine. Who knows, perhaps that doesn't really matter too much. I think I may take a break and pursue a more pleasant activity like shopping for a watch in Times Square.
0 votes
J R, , New York, NY
Tue Apr 21, 2009
I find that kind of response grating also, but I'm willing to bet if you asked every agent in my office about current market conditions, I wouldn't be the only one to give you an honest opinion. My honest opinion is that the market will continue to decline for the near future, possibly the next 9 months-1year. After that my opinion is that it will remain flat for a number of years ("number" as in "many"). As another agent here said, news flash! we do not have crystal balls. Based on my recent buyer activity I wouldn't be surprised if things levelled off sooner, but I wouldn't hold my breath either.

Find an agent who can give you statistics to back up their opinion. You sound well informed, I'm sure your own opinion is just as good as any one else's. What you may not have is up to the minute statistics or a feel for the traffic, but it sounds as if you read the papers and hear the news, just like I do.
0 votes
Jonp, , Palo Alto, CA
Tue Apr 21, 2009
gofishu2 -

I think it will be very difficult to persuade a traditional agent to accept a non-traditional compensation scheme. I wouldn't bother trying; big waste of time. So that leaves 2 options: (1) find a Internet-based broker (Redfin, ZipRealty, etc.) who will accept less compensation, or (2) find a traditional agent who can offer sufficient value-add to truly earn their compensation.

Personally, I tried #1 for a while, but although it was cheaper, I never felt they could give me sufficient advice about local real estate micro-market conditions. In other words, I wanted to pay a bit more for better advice. So then I tried traditional agents: the first agent you already know about.... and the 2nd agent was really good in giving me a lot of "inside" knowledge not generally available to the Average Joe who is surfing the Internet for real estate info. She was more expensive than a Internet-based broker, but I felt she was able to find me the best deal possible in a declining market.

Again, you have to make your own decisions about investing in real estate -- you should NOT expect an agent to make real estate timing predictions for you -- and just remember that agents are salespeople who always see the glass as half full, not half empty. But once YOU decide to purchase something, there is no reason not to seek out (and pay for) the best advice possible. I personally never got the impression that a Internet-based broker could give me all the localized knowledge and advice that a "traditional" agent could.

BTW, I never let the agent negotiate for me. I gave them all my instructions, and they merely presented the offer. Then they would bring back to me the counter-offer and other seller requirements, and I would brainstorm with my agent on how to proceed. So my point is that you have (or should have) a lot more control than you think.
0 votes
Gofishu2, , Menlo Park, CA
Tue Apr 21, 2009
Jonp, I think you hit the nail on the head: realtors are optimistic salespeople. When you combine this with a commission-only comp structure, it defies the laws of human nature to expect that you'd get objective input on current market conditions. That's just the way it is I suppose. I guess it is easy enough to filter out and ignor their bias to buy when making a decision on the timing of a purchase, but, as you discovered with your first agent who seemed overly inclined to have you pay a premium in order to close the deal, it seems it is just about impossible to filter it out when they are negotiating on your behalf. This is a classic business problem, and I believe the solution really lies in revising the comp structure, notwithstanding the aspirations of the many high-integrity real estate agents. Do you (or anyone else) have any experience or thoughts on working with Redfin, which I understand does not use the same sort of pure commissioned sales structure that traditional agents require. I spoke to a traditional agent this morning and proposed a comp structure that would have paid her on a sliding scale such that she'd receive more cash the greater the discount off of list price. She was visibly annoyed at the suggestion (which would have paid less than full commission as the sale price approached list price, but MORE than full commission if the discount off list was big enough) and she kept objecting that the structure would be at cross purposes to what I was hiring her for: purchasing a property. Then she went all used-car salesman on me with loaded deflections like "you need to decide now whether you're ready to make an investment in a home or not."
0 votes
Jonp, , Palo Alto, CA
Mon Apr 20, 2009
Referrals from family and friends you trust are best. No question about it. A good buyer's agent will give you more information / data than you can find on Internet web sites. Examples include (1) off-market listings where you have a "jump" on everyone else, (2) calling the listing agent to determine what kinds of terms the sellers may want to have (besides price), and (3) really knowing the local micro-markets (there are at least 9 in Palo Alto alone) and which builder / seller is motivated to sell and who is not. Our first agent had a simple solution to bidding: pay more if you really want it, because a small price premium will wash out in 10 years. We thought that was ridiculous We found a much better agent who was very diligent and thoughtful about the pro's and con's of each situation, and laid it all out for us. At the end, however, remember that agents are salespeople and are generaly optimists, and it is 100% up to YOU to determine whether or not to part with your hard-earned cash.
0 votes
Gofishu2, , Menlo Park, CA
Mon Apr 20, 2009
Matt, I recognize you from a very long thread where someone asked in Sept of 2008 whether they should buy or wait till 2009. I also recall an initial response that seemed very bullish to me. Another poster,
Vani, wrote in December after the market continued tank, "It is unfortunate that Matthew felt compelled to delete his earlier responses so that no one can see what his original response was." Sure enough, I didn't see any of your first responses to the September post. But even in December your view was "it is fairly reasonable to believe that should you buy now, the average homeowner will see healthy appreciation before the sell or refinance." Now this is a much more subtle response, replete with vague quantifiers like "healthy" (1%, 15%, 35%?) and weasel words (please pardon the expression) like "fairly reasonable to believe", but it still sounds like a Pollyanna prediction to me. So what's up with the apparent deletion of your earlier responses to the poster's question? And do you stand by your later December view that still remains posted? I know I'm putting you on the spot, but your earlier responses seemed earnest enough (although I disagreed with them) and I'm genuinely curious what your view is now.

Here's the thread: http://www.trulia.com/voices/Market_Conditions/i_would_like_…

Sorry all if this is off topic...
0 votes
Norman Aless…, Agent, San Jose, CA
Mon Apr 20, 2009
Hi Gofishu2,
Why don't you just email or call a few of the agents here on trulia that look half-way decent to you and look like they have the experience and knowledge in the area you wish to make a purchase in? See what they have to say, it couldn't hurt.

Regards,
Allyson
0 votes
Gofishu2, , Menlo Park, CA
Mon Apr 20, 2009
This is just a response to the various helpful responses from the agents who responded (though I'd sure love to hear from non-agents). Several suggested the referral method for choosing an agent. That's what I've done twice, but since the sources bought 6-7 years ago they believe their agent's advice about bidding hyper-aggressively was the best ever. I think it is easy to confuse lucky advice with good advice and when I dug deeper about what sort of analysis they received there didn't appear to be much at all other pulling a couple comps off of MLS. Still, referrals do help to weed people out.

I've just got to point out the pluck of the agent who responded to my complaint about how unhelpful Pollyanna agents are by responding, astonishingly, that "there has never been a better time to buy" and then managing to come up with three positive reasons for buying now without even considering a single negative, like, the fact that inventory in Palo Alto is quite high, there are very few sales right now, the portfolios of high-end buyers are in the tank right now, and there is a large wave of alt-a loans coming up for reset. This was a great example of the sort of response from an agent that will now just make me walk away shaking my head.

Finally, one response (which I tagged as the most helpful) suggested reading through the posts of the various agents on this board, which I've done in the past and will do more of now. One problem with this, I'd point out, is that it appears that posts can actually be deleted. I recall reading a series of posts by an agent several months ago that stood out for me because they seemed so comically bullish. But then they apparently disappeared as the market conditions worsened over the following months. At least now he's presenting more sober view, but is difficult to assess the credibility of agents if they can erase their past recommendations instead of owning up to the fact that they got it wrong that time. Another reader noticed this and pointed it out too -- I'd be curious if others have info on this.
0 votes
Norman Aless…, Agent, San Jose, CA
Mon Apr 20, 2009
Hi Goishu2,
My name is Allyson and I work mainly as a Buyers Agent so I'll give you the advice I have given often to others, The high end market is still declining so if you HAVE to buy try and get the expected decline priced in ( you would run recent sales to do this). If you don't have to buy I suggest you put in 2 searchs one for actives and one for recent solds that way YOU can see what the market is doing and you don't have to take my or any other realtors word for when is a good time for YOU to buy. Also so you know this would apply to mid-level homes also (unless they are in a good school district).Now Low end homes are a screaming buy on the nicer ones in fairly decent areas. They will afford you the best "deals".
I hope this helps, if you would like assistance with you searchs please feel free to contact me or go to my web site.

Regards,
Allyson
408-705-6578
allyson@homesbyallyson.com
0 votes
David Tapper, Agent, Burlingame, CA
Mon Apr 20, 2009
Great question. The best way is to get a personal referral from a friend , family member or a co-worker who has workded with the agent recently.

If that doesn't work for you, I would suggest these two things. Call and ask for the broker of 2-3 respectable agencies and ask him/her who they feel may be a good match for you. Then check that agents web site and interview them.

The agent you choose should be experienced with a wealth of knowledge and should know the area you are looking in.

If that doesn't work, I'd call the local Board of Realtors. If it's in San Mateo County, call SAMCAR, the San Mateo County Board of Realtors. Ask them who the top perfomers are in the city where you want to buy and start your interview process from there.

Who ever you decide to work with, make sure you ask to speak with some of their past clients so you know exactly what you are getting. You cannot afford to make a mistake in real estate. It's too expensive.

Great question, good luck.

Dave "Tap" Tapper
Realtor
Cashin Company
http://www.DavidTapper.com
650-403-6252
Web Reference:  http://www.TeamTapper.com
0 votes
Barbara Asco…, Agent, Metuchen, NJ
Mon Apr 20, 2009
Hello Gofishu2,
I can understand you frustration. You are looking to the professionals in the field to guide you and would expect an answer that shows you the depth of their expertise. I don't believe the best agents in the industry are looking only to make the commission on one deal. All good agents are looking to build their business, including the most important aspect of our business, which is referral from satisfied customers and clients.
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I think the best answer to your question about current market conditions would be that there has never been a better time to buy a home for the following reasons. Interest rates are at an all time low, there is an $8000 tax credit for those who purchase and close before the end of 2009, and ,because the market has been somewhat slower, there is an abundance of inventory out there allowing you to choose from the best and perhaps negotiate a great deal. Each of these reasons can be explored indepth, however,I hope this quick answer is helpful.
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