If I want to start looking to buy a house, how do I approach the agents? How does it typically happen? How do?

Asked by RG, Santa Clara County, CA Sat Jan 19, 2008

How do I talk to the listing agent? If my friend refers me to some agent, how do I talk to him, if he wants to show me his own listings or his firm's listings? If I want to buy in a good school district, will there really be any negotiations or will they just check if I can afford it?
Thanks so much

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Terri Vellios, Agent, Campbell, CA
Tue Jan 22, 2008
Greetings Dvs!

How exciting you are preparing for a wonderful journey. Here is a task list for you;
1) Ask around from others who have experienced the services of an agent. What they liked and didn't like about that agent. If they recommend the agent, ask why.
2) Visit open houses and get a feel for how those agents work.
3) Call and email agents - how responsive are they
4) Get referrences from any agent you are considering
5) Check out websites and Blogs
6) When you have narrowed down the agent get lender recommendations from your agent. Then meet with the lender and get pre approved for a loan. Ask about all the closing cost and your actual monthly cost, including taxes and insurance.
Below are some questions to ask the agent:
How Long have you been in a licensed agent?
Do you work with Buyers and Sellers? How many per year? How many now?
What other training have you had?
What areas to you work in.
Why should I choose you as an agent? You should expect to hear about experience, service, skills, etc.
They should also ask you a lot of questions and hear what your responses are
Be very honest with the agent, they will be better able to serve you armed with knowledge
You may also ask if they are a designated Accredited Buyers Agent
You and the agent should schedule a meeting to meet and go over the process and what is expected.
The agent should also discuss your lending options and those cost as well, along with inspections, the various contracts, and differences between communities.
Then stick with your agent. They will work hard for you knowing you are loyal and the two of you will build trust and possibly a lasting friendship.
Enjoy the process, home ownership is empowering.
Web Reference:  http://www.terrivellios.com
1 vote
Michael More…, Agent, Los Gatos, CA
Mon Jan 21, 2008

Buyers find their agents a number of ways, according to the California Association of Realtors, 68% of home buyers found the Realtors they wanted to interview on the internet. The next most common way was thur referrals then open houses. Trulia is a new forum and is a good start. If it helps I live in the 95014 area!

Good Luck
Web Reference:  http://www.mikemoresco.com
1 vote
David Blockh…, Agent, Los Altos, CA
Sat Jan 19, 2008

I would first talk to a lender to know how much you can afford and how the financing part of the purchase works. Armed with this knowledge then you must decide what your comfort level. I would interview a few agents to get a feel for how they work and what your expectations are. Tell all that you are interviewing that you are interviewing several agents. Go with the agent that you feel most comfortable with and who has at least a few years of experience under their belt. Note: new agents tend to have more enthusiasm but less experience. Experienced agents tend to be less enthusiastic but their experience can be invaluable.
Questions to ask: How do you work? How do I see the homes? will you show them or do I go out on open houses or both? How many years have you been helping buyers in Sunnyvale? Can I talk to a past buyer client? How much time will you take to help explain the process? How many clients are you currently working with? etc.
I would go to the agent's web sites and blogs. A blog is a better source of info on the agent because you can get better detail about them from how they write and what they write about. Good luck.
1 vote
Mountain Rain, Home Owner, 95014
Sat Jan 19, 2008
Hi Dvs, I recently bought in 95014 and I hope my answer could help you a bit. I told my agent what I was looking for, my preferences, how big, in what kind of neighborhood, in what price range, etc. He helped me to get a list of the properties that fit my criteria. Then I either go to open house myself during the weekends or go with him to look at the properties. I also searched mlslistings.com to go to open house that interests me. When I talked to the listing agent, I usually asked very specific questions about the property: roof, plumbing, permit for add-on, etc. You could get this kind of info from disclosure too but it's much faster to ask. In good school disctrict, when I bought last fall, it was still very hot, multiple offers, bidding highly over the asking price. Not sure of the season right now. Regarding affordablity, you could do a no-obligation pre-approval with a bank to show how much you can borrow. That helps in presenting the offer. Hope this helps and good luck! If you need a realtor, let me know.
1 vote
Ali Moein, Agent, Saratoga, CA
Sat Jan 19, 2008
Hello Dvs,

The first thing you'd want to do is select a Realtor. There are many factors in choosing a Realtor to represent you in a transaction. Here are a few:

1. Knowledge: The Realtor must be knowledgeable about the specific area you're dealing in and (s)he must have a total understanding of the market dynamics in your area.

2. Communication. The Realtor MUST be able to communicated all the details and keep you up to date with all the information at all times.

3. Trust, The Realtor must have integrity and be able to earn your trust.

4. Negotiation skills: This is where a good Realtor will save you a lot of money.
.... These are the top four.

The best source of finding such Realtor is talking to your trusted friends and family. Then you'd interview a few and decide which one you'll feel most comfortable with.

A good Realtor is your guide on a exciting journey and (s)he wont let you make the wrong decision.
1 vote
Realtor, ,
Sat Jan 19, 2008
Hello Dvs, You should let an agent know what it is you are looking for in a home. Any particular school, bedrooms, square footage etc.... Let the agent know what you expect from them also. A good agent will always negotiate on your behalf and look out for your best interests. It is important to be pre-approved before you actually start looking for a home though. If you want more information, I am located in Cupertino and I can give you some free materials on how the entire buying process works.
1 vote
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Wed Jul 31, 2013
And, it was asked FIVE YEARS AGO (nod to Ron Thomas), so maybe it didn't need to be resurrected?
0 votes
Resurrecting things is not all bad. How to approach a buyers agent is a real life dilemma that happens every day. So this is not some stale issue. I try not to be a critical person. You will sell more homes if you get off the damn laptop and try to go out and meet people. Not everyone is into computers.
Flag Wed Jul 31, 2013
Betty, Agent, Saratoga, CA
Wed Jul 31, 2013
Well, right off the bat this sounds like a question written by a real estate agent. The answers on here are all self serving and end with an advertisement. So, if you are real and this is a real question then run the other way when these types approach you. You don't want to talk to them. Don't worry about "approaching" an agent. They'll come to you like flies on fresh manure. Just some advice from an old gal who's been at this a long time.
0 votes
Michelle Car…, Agent, Coppertino, AL
Fri Dec 28, 2012
First determine what you want in an agent-write a list of qualifications. Friends and colleagues can be a good source of agents to consider.

There are agents who specialize in representing buyers, such as ABR's (Accredited Buyer Representatives). A true buyer agent will help you explore all options that fit your criteria, including the agent's, firm's and all other properties for sale, including for sale by owners and other off-market opportunities.

In the superior school districts it can be a bidding war situation to be honest. There will be negotiations, just likely to be in the upward direction over the asking price.
0 votes
Carla Muss-J…, , Portland, OR
Wed Jun 27, 2012
If you're buying a home why aren't your working with your OWN Buyer's Agent?!?

You realize the listing agent is contracted to represent the sellers/owners, right?

You realize the listing agent has NO fiduciary duty to an unrepresented buyer. They have a fiducary duty to their clients, the sellers, however.

No buyer can have the seller's agent "negotiate" for them, the buyer. That's a conflict of interest and is a major breach of ethics in every state.

Most people (consumer, customers, clients) do not understan the common law of real estate agency. But to sum it up . . . Buyers are NOT represente in a real estate transaction by the Seller's agent. Period end of story.

Good luck trying to play Realtor and going to drectly to the listing agent because you think you can "negotiate" a deal. HA HA HA

Exclusive Buyer Agency -- 100% Buyer Representation / 100% of the Time
No conflicts of interest
No potential conflicts of interest
0 votes
Robert Lei, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Sun Dec 12, 2010
Many people have already answered most of your question, so I'll just focus on the part that they have not answered yet. Yes, good school districts are still in high demand even during this downturn. However, even good school district do experience a slight bit of the effects of this economy. I've compiled trend data in Cupertino school district neighborhoods and can show you that even the best schools have had a slight gradual dip in prices. Which particular neighborhood are you interested in?
0 votes
The Medford…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Sun Mar 21, 2010

Great question! There are a number of good ways to meet a great REALTOR® … it’s just like finding a good dentist, accountant, plumber …. and so on.

Here are my favorite ways:

(1) Ask trusted friends or family members. They will more than likely know someone and will give you non-biased answers. If they used a REALTOR® and actually remember who it was, that’s a great sign – it means that the REALTOR® did something to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack and has worked hard to stay in touch after the transaction closed. Both are the types of things you are looking for. Quite frankly, most people totally forget who their REALTOR® was within 6 months.

(2) Use sites like Trulia.com – read blog posts, answers to questions – you can quickly find someone who looks like they know what they are talking about. If they appear to be interested in answering questions and being an online resource, great. If they are just saying, “Pick me!!”, move on.

(3) Use sites like HomeGain.com – they have an agent evaluator program where you can read profiles from a number of REALTORS® - it allows you to look at experience, number of transactions, areas covered, customer feedback and so on. It’s a great way to find an experienced agent and it’s free. There are a few sites like this out there.

(4) Ask trusted professionals – your accountant, banker, doctor – all usually have relationships with REALTORS® they trust. You’ll get some good references this way – professionals recognize other pros in other fields by the quality of service they bring to the industry.

(5) Open houses? Quite frankly, I don’t think this is as good a place to locate a good REALTOR® as the others above. The reasons are simple: (i) most of the agents holding homes open are rookies and not the listing agent – they are there for one very simple reason – they are not currently out driving buyers around (weekends from 1-4 are prime times to have buyers in your car). They are (ii) there actively looking for new buyers. If I were you, I’d be looking for more experience – especially in the crazy market we find ourselves. You want a REALTOR® that has closed a lot of buyer transactions in recent months – they will have the skills necessary to effectively help you. This is not a normal market – you need a top-notch pro on your side.

A couple more thoughts:

(1) Get preapproved AFTER you find a good REALTOR®. In many cases, a good REALTOR® can point you to a great lender – one they know and can trust. I prefer working with lenders I know – I can get hold of them on weekends, if necessary, and a trusted relationship built on years of working together make every transaction easier.

The following post may help you see what I mean:

I WISH You Would Use My Lender - 6 Critical Reasons Why You Should

(2) Interview at least three REALTORS® - I won’t provide a list of questions here – you can find countless lists on Google – interview them and go for the one that seems to have the experience and meshes with you as an individual. Don’t all for hype and promises – remember, you are dealing with sales persons!! Get written testimonials, references … and a written Buyer’s Philosophy. This means they’ve taken the time to put down, in writing, how they will serve you. You want to work with someone who has taken the time to think through the buying process and has written down their thoughts and buying process in a way you can easily understand. You want to be able to see, in writing, what you can expect the agent to do for you. It’s amazing how many REALTORS® don’t have this.

(3) Don’t sign buyer-broker agreements that don’t have an escape clause. If you are not happy with your REALTOR®’s level of service or you don’t mesh, you need to be able to move on to another. Also, avoid agreements that guarantee the REALTOR® a specific commission – this could end up costing you more than you bargained for. I have no patience with REALTORS® who try to lock you into an exclusive arrangement that protects them at your expense.

If you do your homework, you’ll more than likely be VERY happy with the results. Here are a few posts that may be helpful:

Why You DON’T Want A Dedicated Buyer’s Agent

How NOT To Buy A House – 6 Important Rules For First-Time Buyers

Use The Gut, Luke (The Most Important Thing To DO When Buying A Home)

Good luck with your search!
0 votes
Erica Glessi…, Agent, San Jose, CA
Sun Mar 21, 2010
Start out by going to open houses. Normally when you meet an agent you like, you'll know it. Just like when you meet someone you like at work.

The listing agent's phone number is listed on most of the marketing material, so to speak directly to a listing agent, just go on http://www.REIL.com (the Santa Clara County MLS website), identify homes, and call the listing agent connected with any given home.

Buyers agents often hold open houses to meet new buyers.

If you want to break into Cupertino, you will find it a seller's market at the more affordable price points (under $900K). What this means is you may need an agent who is relatively aggressive and effective. You may need to offer within a few hours of a home being posted for sale on Craigslist or the MLS, before it even shows up on the MLS if possible.

If you want to buy in a good school district right now, for a good price, we are seeing multiple offer scenarios right now. This means your buyer negotiations may not be as broad as in the less desirable school areas. For instance, Sunnyvale 94087 in general feeds to excellent elementaries in Cupertino and Sunnyvale, and Cupertino high school district high schools. So, you will be working hard to get your offer accepted and your terms may need to look like "As Is" vs. lots of negotiations.

Now if you wander a few miles over to 94085 or even 94086 in Sunnyvale, you're going to find an easier path buying but the schools won't be as strong.

There is a pocket of Santa Clara 95051 that feeds to Cupertino schools, and it is one small corridor where sometimes you can get into Cupertino schools for less than $700K. This is the area near Lawrence Expressway and Stevens Creek Blvd. Two such homes are on the market right now.

You can also meet with an agent, let them show you a few homes, and see if you click. You don't have to keep a buyer's agent if you don't feel good about how they are working on your behalf. If a buyer's agent shows you a home and offers for you, that's a contractual obligation to keep that agent. But if you see a few homes and just don't feel your interests are being served appropriately, you may then find a new buyer's agent for you. In Santa Clara County, seller pays agent fees.

Good luck!


Erica M Nelson
Education Specialist
Keller Williams Silicon Valley
0 votes
David A Podg…, Agent, Boynton Beach, FL
Wed May 21, 2008
There are hundred of ways this CAN happen. There are hundreds of ways that you could do this wrong.

The BEST way to succeed is to just start looking around and asking around. Only ask those people you respect though... many people have "a cousin in the business"... but you want a Pro.

you could also work backwards which should be forwards... find your mortgage broker first - get prequalified and then see if they can refer you to someone that they know does a great job.

with your questions - just get your own agent because the listing agent is already getting paid a fee that they should be splitting with someone that specifically represents you and your best interests.
0 votes
Nina Daruwal…, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Wed May 21, 2008
There are steps in a home buying process. Firstly you should find out from a Lender/Mortgage Broker what is your affordability, I can refer you to an exceptional Lender who can PLAN your Mortgage for your comfort payment needs. Then you can start looking for homes, with your Realtors guidance within that price range, and meeting any other criterias you may have. I work By-Referral basis and this is a good way. I live, work as a full time Realtor with Coldwell Banker, and am involved with the community in the City of Cupertino, I am also Public Safety Commissioner with the City, but work all of Santa Clara County- as needed. You have to feel comfortable with your Realtor, as by the end of the transaction you become friends....my clients/friends from NZ still email me.
If you want to just talk - call me, Nina Daruwalla 408-773823, if what i have to say seems good, we can meet, if not I will wish you all the Best, and walk away. Be well and safe.
0 votes
Blah, blah, blah. I'm so wonderful. I'm the best real estate agent that ever walked on the face of the earth. All he/she wanted was some advice....not a damn ad and self promotion. How phony can you get. Yeah, be well and safe and get real!
Flag Wed Jul 31, 2013
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