In search for a Buyer's Agent in Costa Mesa. How do I approach a potential agent and what do I need to know about Buyer/Broker agreements??

Asked by Sandyshino, Costa Mesa, CA Fri Aug 19, 2011

As I get closer to reaching out to potential buyer's agents, I need to know more about how to approach agents and their buyer/broker agreements. I've read about what I need to look for when selecting an agent but I think I need advice specific to my situation. I am a first time home buyer but the purchase will technically be a "joint tenancy" with my dad. After discussing with our CPA, we decided that this is the best option for me. We want to put in a GOOD deposit to keep monthly fees relatively low and ease financing. I want to show the agent that I am SERIOUS about purchasing a house soon. I understand that many agents will want to arrange a buyer/broker agreement right away. How flexible are these contracts? Is there a fee? What happens if I found the listings myself and viewed them on my own via open houses (which I have done already)? Am I committed to the agent for these properties as well? Can I get out of a contract if I'm not happy with the service?

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Keith Jones, Agent, Seal Beach, CA
Fri Aug 19, 2011
I like the idea of going to Open houeses and having face to face conversations with agents. It doesn't need to be as formal as an actual job interview. Howevere since you have already started agent communication via this site, you may want to start contacting those agents here who have offered to help. Your buyer broker agreement can very easily be cancelled if you feel that your agent is not doing a good job for you. Youi are not committed to an agent that you meet at an Open House. By the way, I disagree with the agents that seeem to think that a Buyer Broker is some sort of evil document. It is a commitement from your agent to do their job and a commitment from the buyer not to have 10 agents looking for the same thing. If you don't use one that is fine but to paint the picture of agents that dio use them as wrong is a disservice to our business.
2 votes
Jeanne (Geni…, Agent, Virginia Beach, VA
Fri Aug 19, 2011
Some agents charge a fee from the buyer when they sign a broker agent agreement with a buyer. Some don't.
Remember that an agent is going to feel better about the relationship if he/she feels that you are committed to work with one person. Agents are reluctant to work without an agreement. A buyer who is not signing the agreement gives the impression that they will go with more than an agent. We are paid by commission only, if we do not sell, we do not earn a living. I, myself get a signed agreement by do not require for a buyer to pay anything, where the $$$ amount is supposed to go, I write good faith. I also will release a buyer from the (usually 6 months) agreement if I feel that the buyer is no longer comfortable working with me (so far it has not happened). I do not want to keep someone into a "relationship" not working out. It can only go sour. You need to have a good feeling about the person who is going to represent you. Remember one thing, an Agent is not supposed to tell you what to do, but is supposed to provide you with all the information and knowledge you need so you can make the best decision for yourself. An agent can also recommend a professional loan officer working for a reputable establishment. If you are looking at houses on your own you are going to open yourself to possible mistakes (which in real estate can be huge) and situations where you won't know what to do without the proper advice. If you have an agent working with you it will make the procedure a lot easier. You can have a buyer/broker agreement in which you can add more verbiage, as to you reserve the right to termite the agreement if you are not content with the service provided, and other terms you might entertain.
One big no-no, don't have an Agent find you a property, show it to you, advise you, and then termite the buyer/broker agreement to go being the agent back and negotiate with someone else (including the seller).
You would not like to be working for a couple of weeks or a couple of months and have your boss tell you, sorry, I am not paying you. You are in a good position. Just be a little trusting, the majority of real estate Agents are honorable people. Go with a Realtor, (this means your agent belongs to the National Association of Realtors, and have a code of ethics to abide by), you would not think of using a lawyer who doesn't belong to th ABA, would you? I hope I helped you a little with my answer. If you want I can refer you to a Realtor from Keller Williams in your area. Let me know.
2 votes
Danny Murphy, Agent, Huntington Beach, CA
Fri Aug 19, 2011
Good morning Sandy,
I am glad to see that you are asking a lot of questions and doing your home work. Picking the right agent is very important. Making sure that you have a comfort level with them and understand their experience level is also key. Not all Realtor's ask for a Buyer Broker agreement and some do. What is important is that if you choose a Realtor that asks you to sign anything, read it and fully understand it. If you are not comfortable with something, never sign it.

A Buyer Broker agreement is simply an employment contract between you and the Realtor. Many Realtors do not use them because they are not familiar with them, they do not understand them or they do not want to be held accountable to them. A Buyer Broker agreement protects you in many ways as the consumer. First being that if you hire a Realtor with a Buyer Broker they are now required to show you every listing on the market regardless of commission being offered by the Listing agent. This is how we are paid. The listing agent secures a listing with a Seller and they offer a commission to the Buyers/Selling agent for bring them a ready, willing and able Buyer. Agents, listing or selling, do not earn their fees until escrow is closed and they have successfully assisted you through your home buying or selling process. . Second, they have to perform to the agreement or yes you can fire the agent for none performance and can now hold the Broker and the agent accountable to their agreement.

It is important to know that not all agents are alike nor do they all work the same. My partner and I meet with all of our clients before ever taking them out to see homes. The reason for this is so that you have the opportunity to interview us for the position to be your Realtor and that you are comfortable with how we work and make sure we are a good fit for you.

It is very important to note that when you are hiring a Realtor, we have more than one job of just finding you your home. We find you the home, negotiate your offer, negotiate throughout the transaction, and make sure that you are comfortable with the home and assist through a successful close of escrow if the home is still the right home after you have done your due diligence and inspections and there are no major defects with the home. The process of buying a home in lengthy and should be fun and enjoyable. Here is a brief example of what we do as your Realtor from beginning to end.

1. Meet with client to interview for the position and make sure the client is clear as to how I work and what to expect based on the client’s needs and time frame of moving.
2. Create Search for myself and client
3. Preview all available options for my client and weed out all homes that will not meet the client’s needs.
4. Follow up after each preview and give client a report of findings and schedule appointment to show any homes that fit the client’s needs as soon as possible based on client time frame.
5. Show the client the homes
6. If client likes the home go back and review the market and comparables to identify the best negotiating strategy for submitting an offer to potentially purchase the home.
7. Call the listing agent to gather whatever info is necessary to better understand the Seller motivation
8. Report back to Buyer and write the offer and all supporting documentation
9. Call the listing agent and ask to present the clients offer in person
10. Present offer to the Seller and listing agent and continue negotiations
11. Once negotiations are complete, congratulate the client on wining the home and start the escrow process
12. Open escrow and send all required paper work to the lender so they start the loan and order the appraisal
13. Schedule home inspection and any other inspection the client feels necessary, check in with the lender
14. Review all disclosures with the client so they are comfortable with the home and make sure there are no major problems with the home and check in with the lender
15. Negotiate any repairs if necessary and check in with the lender
16. Confirm all repairs are done, make sure loan is approved and docs are on the way
17, Client signs all loan documentation and escrow sends back to the lender
18. Loan funds and records
19 Escrow closes
20. Buyer gets the keys to their new home!

There is so much to the process and I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to interview for the job of being your Realtor and answer your questions in more detail.

We have many testimonials of our success and how we work for our client's at our website, I encourage you to check us out there, review our resumes and what our clients have to say about us.

I hope to hear from you soon.


Jade Beardsley
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1 vote
Sharon Paxson, Agent, Del Mar, CA
Wed Aug 24, 2011
Hi Sandy - this is a great question. Many agents and brokers use buyer/broker agreements in todays times. However, you have brought up some good questions. If you are not satisfied with the service, then I understand that you would want to make a change.

In todays times with the internet, everyone has access to the listings. However, a Realtor can guide you through the home buying process. Also, many agents do hold open houses to meet prospective buyers, because those are typically the ones who are looking at the homes.

I think you will find that a number of Realtors are flexible with buyer/broker agreements, however if an agent invests a significant amount of time in working with someone, they would appreciate the loyalty.
0 votes
Connie Bramb…, Agent, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Fri Aug 19, 2011
Hi Sandy,
Great that you are taking the time to do things right for yourself. You just simply need to talk to the agents first. Going by Open Houses is a great way to meet agents. Then once you have found one you are comfortable with stick with that person. Finding a home is not as hard as one might think. If you are forthcoming with the information the agent needs to know they should be able to find one in short order. That is when the sale starts. Then you need to get the offer accepted and your loan through. This is where your agent does the real work. Interview them, see how they work. Also I read you are buying with your dad. If he is not intending to occupy the home you will need to go 20% down. I see you said you have a good down payment, is that 20% or more. You can still buy with less and both be on title but you will need to go FHA then, or VA if you or your dad can do that. Don't be afraid to ask questions, "How will you get my offer accepted over someone elses?" "Will you follow my escrow or turn it over to someone else?" Ask anything that is a concern to you.
Good Luck with the home search,
Connie Bramble
0 votes
Ted Zervouda…, Agent, Huntington Beach, CA
Fri Aug 19, 2011
These are all great answers as well. Make sure you have your pre approval from the lender you would like to use for the financing of the home purchase. There are some issues that the underwriter with the lender will need to work out when there is what is called a non occupying co-borrower or gift letter. Having all of the little issues with the lender worked out and have all the paperwork compiled that might be needed can save many headaches once you find the home of your dreams and the Realtor you choose can successfully get your offer accepted by the seller and in some situations, (short sales) have your offer accepted by the bank as well.
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Tim Kunze, Agent, Huntington Beach, CA
Fri Aug 19, 2011

You are so far ahead of most buyers! It would be a pleasure to assist you in finding and getting through escrow on your first home. As far as a buyer/broker agreement, most ethical Realtors will allow you out of the contract for almost any reason as long as you have not entered into a purchase agreement with a seller. As Realtors, once we take on a client, whether buyer or seller, we put a lot of time and effort into researching and finding the best properties or pricing and marketing their home. That's why this agreement exists in the first place. Personally, I don't require one and depend on the integrity of my clients and their appreciation of the hard work I put in on their behalf to keep them through the entire process. There should never be a fee to the buyer for the work his/her agent puts in. The buyer's agent gets their commission through escrow from the seller. Finally, you have no commitment to an agent holding an open house unless you agreed to have them represent you.

As suggested, one way of meeting agents is by going to open houses. This also helps you see what is available out there in your price range. You should also check out agents online either through various web sites (agents, brokerages/companies, etc.) or through sites such as Trulia, Zillow and

Finally, once you've narrowed down your list to three to five Realtors, you should interview each one. You really won't be able to do this at an open house because there will be many distractions for the agent holding it.

Another consideration as far as open houses are concerned, you will, most likely, be meeting listing agents although I frequently hold open houses for other agents. You will want to give serious thought to whether you want to work with a listing agent who would be inclined to show you his/her own listings first. Most of us out here think it's a really good idea to have separate agents for each side of the transaction to protect the interests of each client. Although we are bound by our code of ethics to uphold our fiduciary responsibilities to every client, a listing agent's first responsibility is to the seller.

That being said, I wish you luck in your search and home buying experience,


Tim Kunze
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0 votes
Sheri Manarr…, Agent, Aliso Viejo, CA
Fri Aug 19, 2011
Hello Sandy,

First let me say that it is great to see that you have done your initial research and talked with your CPA! You are going into this with your eyes open! First time buyers are usually alittle like a deer in the headlights....buying a home can be overwhelming! This is the main reason to have an experienced agent!! Especially in our current market with short sales, and foreclosures which come with their own set of problems to be aware of during the process!

Buyer/Broker agreements are just agreement between the buyer and agent stating the length of time the agent will represent the buyer. It protects both the buyer and the agent. I would say honestly that even without a broker agreement is the the duty of any agent representing a principal to represent you to the fullest of their ability. A broker agreement also protects the agent to some degree. If he or she is representing you and taking you out to view many homes, you can understand that they would like to know that they are your agent of record!

You do not have to sign a broker agreement. It is a good idea, however not a requirement! I would also state that the most important thing is that you are comfortable with the agent! Just like anything if you feel comfortable with the person it makes the transaction much more pleasant!!

Yes, you can get out of the contract if you do not like the agent, or they are not representing you to their fullest ability!

Feel free to contact me should you have any questions, I would with alot of first time buyers!

Sheri Manarrich
0 votes
Jeri Anghel, Agent, Springfield, MO
Fri Aug 19, 2011
Yes you can get out of the contract by talking to the agent or their Broker. You do not need to sign a buyer broker agreement til you feel comfortable with the agent you choose and you do not need to be pressured into that agreement. Take your time and choose the right one from the start. Interview and shop them no need to hurry, when you are ready to do a contract make sure this is the one. A good agent you recognize by how quickly they respond to phone calls and questions. They will be in
formative and knowledgeable about the area. Good Luck! Jeri Anghel 714-732-7747
0 votes
Ron Thomas, Agent, Fresno, CA
Fri Aug 19, 2011
I answered your other question too:
I am not trying to get your business, I am too far away, but reading the answers here; you have some excellent people to choose from:
You can tell a lot about them by their answers; I would have a hard time choosing.

Good luck and may God bless
0 votes
Christine Do…, Agent, Costa Mesa, CA
Fri Aug 19, 2011
Sandy - As a first time buyer, I would want to be certain that you have an agent who enjoys working with first time buyers and understands their concerns and the questions that come up as you go through your first purchase.

If you are concerned about broker buyer agreements, don't sign one. You will find that many agents don't require them. The reason an agent asks for a broker buyer agreement is the concern that after showing a client a number of houses and spending much time with them, that buyer might walk into an open house and buy with the listing agent. Really what the agent wants is loyalty as long as they are providing good service to you.

There is not generally a fee to enter into a broker buyer agreement. If there is any fee, it results from the difference between the commission paid by the seller and the amount of commission listed in the broker buyer agreement. Usually a buyer's agent is paid by the seller, and there isn't a fee to the buyer. Please see the link below for an article I wrote about this.

As to whether you are committed to an agent for homes you found yourself and then viewed at an open house, you are not likely "committed" if you haven't signed a broker buyer agreement or an offer with them. With the open house, the listing agent might be able to claim procuring cause (meaning they were the reason you went to the home, and they were the reason you bought the home); however, that is not likely to happen where you just viewed an open house.

If you choose to sign a broker buyer agreement, make sure to insert a clause allowing yourself to cancel the agreement if you are not happy with the agent after giving him/her notice and the opportunity to fix the problem

If you have any other questions, please let me know. I have lived and sold homes in Costa Mesa for over 10 years. You can reach me at 714-319-9751. I agree with what Karen said above, you can learn a lot about agents by reading their blogs on Active Rain or on their websites.
0 votes
Karen Parsons…, Agent, Laguna Beach, CA
Fri Aug 19, 2011
Hi Sandy,

First of not sign a buyer/broker agreement. I never use them. I believe strongly that I need to earn my business with the buyers as we go....and really, who wants someone to keep working with you because they HAVE to. Yikes.

Next....there is no fee for buyers to use real estate agents, the pay comes from the seller as a cooperating broker commission. Normally it's a split of the total commission with the listing agent. And be careful about using the actual listing agent on a property, you will not save any money that way....the listing agent just gets double pay, and they have to represent the seller first, so you really need your own agent. So even though you've found some homes, you will save nothing by trying to do it yourself, or through the agent.

In fact....if a buyer of mine is interested in one of my listings, I refer them to another agent I trust for the negotiations, it's just too tough to be impartial.

My suggestion is to look through some blogs here and on Active Rain for agents in Orange County. Costa Mesa has such unique neighborhoods, so you want one of us who has worked there often, I love Costa Mesa and lived there at one time.

Read what we write in our blogs and how we answer questions here...then reach out to a few and see who "clicks" with you. I also have a great lender who I refer first time buyers to....she is very good about finding the best programs and helping you really understand the process. Let me know if you would like a referral.

0 votes
Tracy Wilson, Agent, Reno, NV
Fri Aug 19, 2011
Sandy, I never ask my buyer's to sign this agreement. Many companies may but please be careful with this. As I said before it is all about the relationship. If it is a good fit it will work out. Agents only get paid when a deal closes. The commission is paid by the seller not you as the buyer. If you find an agent that will commit the time to finding you the perfect home just be honest with the agent as the work they put in for you will not pay off until you find a home. If you begin building the relationship and walk in to an open house to buy a home from an agent holding an open house, that is the reason for the agreement and why some agents use it. If you start working with an agent and things aren't working out just tell them and move on to another one. I hope you are finding some good advice and I look forward to hearing from you. Please call or send me an email. I will be holding open house in Costa Mesa this weekend, maybe you can stop by. Have a great weekend.
0 votes
Bob Phillips, Agent, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
Fri Aug 19, 2011
Sandy, you shouldn't have to sign a buyer's broker agreement.

If you hadn't brought that subject up, your agent probably wouldn't even have thought about it. If the agent you select wants you to sign such a commitment, FIND ANOTHER AGENT.

I made suggestions in the other thread, as to how to select your agent. Go back and at least re-read my first couple of posts on that matter.

You are NOT committed to working with an agent from an open house. Don't even give them your name or contact information - doing so will just subject you to being pestered by them incessantly.

All the advice you need to find your agent was in the other thread - the one about an agent in a specific area.
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0 votes
Sally Picciu…, Agent, Tustin, CA
Fri Aug 19, 2011
Buyer broker agreements are a funny thing. Some companies in Orange County (one large company in particular) train their agents to get them and even have been known to sneak them in without the buyer really
understanding what their signing.

Beware of that! The agreement is designed for loyalty. Agents could potentially working hard for you and then you walk into an open house and buy from another agent. Some agents don't require the agreement because they would rather develop a relationship of trust with their client. I tend to work that way. I don't want to work with someone who doesn't want to work with me whether I have an agreement or not. If you do end up signing one, watch the time frame. Don't sign for too long and add a specific term that you can exit with a written notice but agree if the agent showed you a property prior that you would respect that.

Feel free to call me and I will discuss this with you.
0 votes
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