Home Buying in 94582>Question Details

Sampang1975, Home Buyer in San Ramon, CA

How do I know the agent representing me is working in my favor?

Asked by Sampang1975, San Ramon, CA Mon Sep 3, 2012

We are looking to purchase a home in San Ramon; the agents we hired in the past did only "mediocre" work - simply put, only putting together the contract (most of the time we were the one finding the properties. When asked for a showing, we were told to go by ourselves during the open house. Lastly, when requested to offer below the listed price, we were told not to waste time). So I am a little confused when I see posting of agents "emphasizing" how they will work in one's favor....how does this translate for buyers (like myself) in this sellers market?

Help the community by answering this question:


Hello Sampang,

I don't think it is fair to blame agents because you cannot get a home. This is a very challenging market for you and for agents. I have so many buyers right now who are trying hard to get a home. They are willing to write more than asking price offers, but they are still not able to get a home.

There are all cash buyers who don't even give the FHA buyers or conventional loan buyers a chance.
When the seller's agent tells me that they are getting multiple offers and some of the offers they have received are over asking price, I will immediately inform my buyer. If they tell me they still want to submit an offer at asking or under, i will not write the offer since it really will not be worth wasting anyone's time. I am sorry if that sounds harsh, but if you were the seller, that kind of offer would not even be looked at, right?

My buyers prefer looking at open homes since they feel they can cover more homes that way at their own pace. If it is not open, I make sure they see the home as soon as it comes so they don't lose the opportunity.

Meena Gujral
Achievers Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 31, 2013
Hi Sam,

I'm sure you must be frustrated by your experience. I believe however that your experience in mediocre work is the minority and the majority of how agents work. My advice to you is to sit down and interview a few local Realtors who know San Ramon and the neighborhoods well. Have an open and honest discussion of your expectations and align yourself with a seasoned professional who will work hard to find you the right property.

Once you've picked your Realtor and are fully committed to finding the right home for your family, allow them to LEAD you through the process of home buying. A seasoned Realtor knows the market and can advise you of the level of interest for a particular property and will go over comparables in details so that you can make offers which are competitive.

A Realtor who can offer you refrences from past clients and who has a long standing record of success will be what you will want to look for. These Realtors, you can be rest assured will be working in your favor.

Hope this is helpful.

Best Regards,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 13, 2012
Most Real estate agents are paid comission. Decide whether you want to work without representation: dealing directly with listing agents or if you want to hire your own agent. If you decided to hire your own agent, interview a few and choose one that you feel confortable. If you are interviewing agents, let them know that you are in the interview stage to select a buyer's broker.
Expect to sign a buyer's broker agreement, it creates a relationship between you and the agent, and explains the agent's duty to you and vice-versa. Only at that moment, you have an agent representing you and working in your favor.

I hope with this answer will clarify what you should expect from your Real Estate Agent.

Best of Luck,

Maria Cipollone

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 11, 2012
You need to be comfortable with your agent. Interview several prior to going with one. Change agents if you are not happy. It is a crazy market right now.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 11, 2012
Home buying can become frustrating especially in this low inventory market for San Ramon, CA. It is clear that prices are going up and you must hurry and be on top of your game. Depending on what the situation was for you, your agent could have been right about not writing offers below list price! If you don't trust your agent, change him. Clients change agents if they are not happy with the service provided. You need to find an agent that will go the extra mile for you. I hope all works out to your benefit and good luck with your home search.

Ken Doroodian
Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate
630 San Ramon Valley Blvd
Danville, CA 94526
925-497-0332 Cell
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 11, 2012
Understand Agency Relationships

It's important to understand what legal responsibilities your real estate salesperson has to you and to other parties in the transaction. Ask what type of agency relationship your agent has with you:

Seller's representative (also known as a listing agent or seller's agent)

A seller's agent is hired by and represents the seller. All fiduciary duties are owed to the seller. The agency relationship usually is created by a listing contract.

Buyer's representative (also known as a buyer's agent)

A buyer's agent is hired by prospective buyers to represent them in a real estate transaction. The buyer's rep works in the buyer's best interest throughout the transaction and owes fiduciary duties to the buyer. The buyer can pay the licensee directly through a negotiated fee, or the buyer's rep may be paid by the seller or through a commission split with the seller's agent.


A subagent owes the same fiduciary duties to the agent's customer as the agent does. Subagency usually arises when a cooperating sales associate from another brokerage, who is not the buyer's agent, shows property to a buyer. In such a case, the subagent works with the buyer as a customer but owes fiduciary duties to the listing broker and the seller. Although a subagent cannot assist the buyer in any way that would be detrimental to the seller, a buyer-customer can expect to be treated honestly by the subagent. It is important that subagents fully explain their duties to buyers.

Disclosed dual agent

Dual agency is a relationship in which the brokerage firm represents both the buyer and the seller in the same real estate transaction. Dual agency relationships do not carry with them all of the traditional fiduciary duties to clients. Instead, dual agents owe limited fiduciary duties. Because of the potential for conflicts of interest in a dual-agency relationship, it's vital that all parties give their informed consent. In many states, this consent must be in writing. Disclosed dual agency, in which both the buyer and the seller are told that the agent is representing both of them, is legal in most states.

Designated agent (also called appointed agent)

This is a brokerage practice that allows the managing broker to designate which licensees in the brokerage will act as an agent of the seller and which will act as an agent of the buyer. Designated agency avoids the problem of creating a dual-agency relationship for licensees at the brokerage. The designated agents give their clients full representation, with all of the attendant fiduciary duties. The broker still has the responsibility of supervising both groups of licensees.

Nonagency relationship (called, among other things, a transaction broker or facilitator)

Some states permit a real estate licensee to have a type of nonagency relationship with a consumer. These relationships vary considerably from state to state, both as to the duties owed to the consumer and the name used to describe them. Very generally, the duties owed to the consumer in a nonagency relationship are less than the complete, traditional fiduciary duties of an agency relationship.

Fred Yancy, Broker
Crye-Leike Realtors
(678) 799-4663
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 10, 2012
I don't know about California-but in Arizona where it is a sellers market-going in below asking price is usually a waste of time. Unless a home is over priced-there are usually multiple offers going over asking price. Even in short sales if the seller accepts the offfer the bank counters. I have had lots of buyers want to go in at a lower price and they simply don't get the house. As you stated it is a "sellers market" in a buyers market you can offer less. I have stopped working with people that think they can write ridiculously low offers. (because frankly it is a waste of time)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 10, 2012

Which is the better agent? The agent that gets you INTO the home or the agent that makes you feel good about what you are doingand getting you INTO the home?

These two ideas are not mutually exclusive for agents but with some buyers forget the endgame (Getting into a home) while focusing on process (Writing at a price that may not be in sync with what is going on in the market).

There are many buyers who require a lot of service, they want to be chauffered around in the Mercedes when taken to see homes. They then want to be taken to lunch to discuss what they have seen. They will want and expect the agent to give expert knowledge and want them to leverage their reputation to get them into the home of their choosing. And of course, ask the agent to give back 30% of the commission and write the most rediculous offers. Honestly, there are times when this strategery pays off for the agent but its the exception and not the rule. From the agents perspective, there are a lot of fish in the sea. While this buyer is looking for the one house in one hundred that is get-able using this stratagy, an agent will "manage him" by cutting back on service where possible in the event this buyer is lucky. In the menatime those agents will be driving and having lunch with the more motivated clients and in the end making better offers and not having the commission nicked.

There are a lot of agents out there who may be hungry enough meet your exacting standards but every buyer has those standards when they enter a market. We are looking for the people who just wants to pay whatever it takes, buy the home and get on with life. (An agent can only dream of such a client). With some patience you will either lucky, get motivated or get frustrated and in the end do what it takes to get into this market.

That said what is our job? To get you in paying the least possible, reasonably protect you from purchasing a bad investment, and help provide or discover the information required to perform necessary due diligence.

So what does this mean simply put from me to you?

Price (commission), quality (experience) and service (service)... choose any 2.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 6, 2012
I agree with what Carl says and would like to add that the appraisal process will regulate whether you are overpaying on a property. It has the last word on what the appraiser says is the true market value. If you get into contract because you are aggressive then the pressure is still on for it to appraise.

There are many checks and balances in any market but if your goal is to purchase a great home, then value the advise your realtor gives you. We are your advocate and know how to navigate through this crazy, ever changing market.

Suzanne Looker
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 5, 2012
Comment: We are looking to purchase a home in San Ramon; the agents we hired in the past did only "mediocre" work - simply put, only putting together the contract (most of the time we were the one finding the properties.
A: Not unusual at all for you to be the one finding the properties – most Realtors will put you on an MLS autofeed so that you can choose the ones you want to see – we don’t want to take the risk of you missing out on any potential homes. Many buyers are also receiving autofeeds from other Realtors and search websites – this approach is actually what most buyers prefer because they can pre-sort homes and then only see the ones they are actually interested in.

Comment: When asked for a showing, we were told to go by ourselves during the open house.
A: Perhaps your Realtor was showing homes to other buyers – when I am available, I will meet my buyers at any open house they want to preview – I really need to be able to watch clients as they preview homes to get a better idea of what they are actually looking for. If your agent is able to attend open houses with you but won’t, then that’s a bit tacky, in my opinion. However, we see this all the time when hosting open houses – most buyers coming through already have an agent. We never ask why their agent is not with them.

Comment: Lastly, when requested to offer below the listed price, we were told not to waste time).
A: Totally agree with this – most homes on the market right now are going over asking in multiple offers – what advantage could you possibly have if you write under asking price when there are other offers on the table? You hire a Realtor to be a coach and mentor through the home buying process – if they recommend you write over asking price after running the comps for you, why would you not listen to their advice? They are involved in the home buying process as a vocation – if they don’t know more than you do, then find one that does and go with their advice. If you want to get a home, that is …

Comment: So I am a little confused when I see posting of agents "emphasizing" how they will work in one's favor....how does this translate for buyers (like myself) in this sellers market?
A: Is the object getting a home or getting a good deal? In the current market, I’d focus on getting a home. If you try to get a “deal”, then you will most like be wasting everyone’s time, including your own. And in the meantime, prices are going up – if you don’t figure out how this works now, expect to pay a lot more in the months that lie ahead.

I translate “working in your favor” as giving you honest advice about what you need to do to get a home and then writing offers that are competitive with any other offers that may be on the table. Keep in mind, you may pay more than for any previous sales for comparable homes BUT you will have a home. And your sale will be the new comp for the neighborhood and everyone after you will be paying … MORE. That means instant equity for you once you are in your home.

Whether or not you choose to follow an agent’s advice is up to you. And ultimately, whether or not you get a home is up to … you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 5, 2012
EXCELLENT response, Carl! Kudos.
Flag Wed Sep 5, 2012
Firstly you should feel that your agents will go to bat for you 110%. You should feel that they have your "Best Interests". When talking with agents you should explain what it is you are looking for with a Realtor and also what is communication is best suited for you both.
In this Sellers market you have to be on the ball as a buyer as sellers are looking at offers within 5-10 of going on the market. Your agent should be in constant contact with the agent who's property you are interested in, finding out what it is the sellers are looking for and how many offers. It is also okay for the your agent to ask who the other offers are from. A experienced agent learns how other agents write up offers so you know what you are up against.

As for writing low offers. That depends on the circumstances of the property and an agent who is working for you and not just a commission will do whatever it takes within reason to guide a client to make the best decisions.

If you need help please contact me.
JoAnn Wheeler
925 699 3337.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 4, 2012
Your buyers agent should be working for you. Sounds to me like you need to meet with some agents and clearly state what your expectations are. If you don't like the answers you get keep interviewing agents until you find one that understands your expectations and will meet them.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 4, 2012

First and foremost, an agent has a FIDUCIARY duty to you. Simply put that means the agents is required by law to represent your best interest. Of course it doesn't always happen. If an agent tells you that making a lower than list price offer is a waste of time they also then need to explain to you why they believe that. It is very possible that it would have been a waste of time. The market is red hot right now. However, that agent owes you an explanation. That is the essence of being an agent. We are here to inform, educate and advise. Once we've done that for you then we take our instructions from you. We don't tell you what to do, you tell us. If your agent is unwilling to write that offer and unwilling to show you homes then it sounds like you have agent who is not very interested in having your business or he/she is too lazy to take the time to inform, educate and advise you.

Buyers who are new to the market often times don't know what the best course of action is. How would they? They are not in it all day every day like we are. In my opinion this is precisely why buyes (and sellers) hire an agent. To inform, educate and advise.

And lastly, for everyone out there. I strongly recommend that you do NOT allow the sellers agent to represent you in a market that heavily favors sellers. The agent's loyalty will be with that seller. It's a very different story when the market is more equalized and everyone needs each other equally as much. But in this strong sellers market the seller and the agent will have more buyers lined up behind you. They really don't need you all that much and you will have very little leverage and very little loyalty from the seller's agent. Make sure to have your own agent in this type of market.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 4, 2012
Asking for a showing and then being told to go to the Open House is a bit much, I agree. If your agent told you there was an Open House coming up and suggested that you may prefer to see the home at the Open House, that would be different. Still, your agent should be responsive to your needs and hopefully should have sat down with you well before seeing any homes, to discuss how the agent works and to discuss your needs and expectations.

Given all this, in a hot sellers market, such as we have in San Ramon tight now, a good agent will provide you with a Buyers Market Analysis on any home you have an interest in, so that you can see what it will probably sell for in today's market. That may well be above list price, although not always. Additionally, your agent should advise you on how to structure the offer in such a way that you have a good chance of acceptance - It is not always just about price.

And as others have said, it does no harm to take up references.

Finally, I suggest you ask any prospective agent how many buyers and sellers they are working with now. Buyers in particular take up a lot of an agent's time, so you may find an agent working with only a couple of buyers will do a better job for you than one working with six or seven.
Bernard Gibbons

Bernard Gibbons, J. Rockcliff Realtors
DRE License # 01331583
Phone (925) 997-1585 - bernard@bernardgibbons.com


P.S.: Don't be confused by Maria's comments below. I am not arguing about the content of her reply but I should mention that there are few Exclusive Buyers Agents in our area
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 4, 2012

Exclusive Buyers Agents work solely for buyers avoiding the conflicts of interest in the traditional seller oriented purchase transactions. This unique relationships of comitted trust and cares assures buyers the best possible home buying experience. This type of agreement ensures that the interest of home buyers is protected in every step of the Real estate Transaction.

If you did not sign this agreement before, the Agent that you work with before got paid by the seller, no by you.


Maria Cipollone
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 4, 2012
When an agent represents a buyer, he or she is supposed to "work in your favor" at all times. But he or she is also supposed to counsel you. In the sellers market like we are in now, the agent may advise you about the most probable price that you can get the property for. Perhaps asking you "not to waste time" sounds a little arrogant but there is a better way to put it to you.

Buyers' agent is expected to to accompany you to look at open houses and deal with the listing agent directly. I don't know the circumstance that he or she asked you to to go open houses yourself. Was he or she busy on a particular day? if so, maybe he or she just didn't want you to miss the opportunity. But if it is just laziness, you should look for another agent. You don't have a contract with him or her.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 4, 2012
It sounds like what you expect is not what you are getting. I think it would be wise to communicate what you need from your realtor. If after you chat, you still aren't satified, do not give up. There are plenty of hard working realtors more than willing to go the 'extra mile' for their clients. It's a good idea when interviewing to ask for references or go online to read what they have posted. Their past clients are a great barometer of their performance.

Suzanne Looker
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 4, 2012
There probably should be some discussion between your expectations of what you will do and what the agent will do

Some buyers prefer to do the looking on their own -- so we give them the tools to search. For example, by signing them up in Listing Book to automatically notify them when properties meeting their needs become available for sale. We also help them customize their search

If they find something they're interested in, we search information about the property, even prepare comps to let them know the current market value of the property

San Ramon is hot, hot, hot! Even agents are surprised when they receive multiple offers at above list price. But if the listing agent already priced the property aggressively in order to stimulate a bidding war, and you come in writing an offer below or at list price, knowing that the property is indeed worth more, then yes, you would be wasting your time. And most of us realtors will tell you that.

You have to understand what it means and how to compete in a seller's market.

I tried to share some information with potential buyers, especially those who wonder why their offers were rejected even though they wrote an offer over list price. Take a look. Maybe this will help.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 4, 2012
unfortunately, there is often a lot of lip service provided online that some agents will do us all proud, and live up to.......and some, sadly, will not.

As the saying goes, you may need to kiss a lot of frogs.............so...........interview a few agents first...........get a sense of how responsive and professional they are.

You can even ask for references from apst buyers.......and...........if you're not comfortable, or feel your best interests are not being represented or served..........do not hesitate to move onto the next agent!!

(do not sign any agreement that will keep you from moving onto someone new - if asked to sign an exclusive buyer's agent agreement - make sure you have a out clause)

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 4, 2012
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