Local Realtor, or someone from the outside?

Asked by Ari, 20007 Wed Jan 21, 2009

My wife and are (hopefully) going to be first time homebuyers in the near future. We know where we want to live, and I've been looking at listing for a few months just to try and get a feel for prices and home styles in the area. We're ready to call a realtor to use as a buyer's agent and start looking. I've noticed that the vast majority of the listings I've seen in the area I've been looking are posted by 2 realtors. (The two of them have the market pretty much cornered). My question is should I hire one of them, or would it be better to get someone from the outside? I can see how using of the two locals might be beneficial because they know the area, (I'm sure they know each other), and a lot of the listings would be their own. On the other hand, they have a definite advantage to move their own listings, and to sell them for more. An outside realtor might be better able to give me an unbiased perspective. What do people think?

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Tanya T Lewis, , Baltimore, MD
Wed Jan 21, 2009
You should contact them and maybe others that you have come across in your search. A vast majority of agents that have that many listings concentrate on the listings side, but may have a designated buyers agent as well. Some do show houses, but many concentrate their time on the listing & marketing of those homes. I recommend talking to friends, family or co-workers that have bought a home in the last few years & see if they liked their Realtor. Ask for testimonials from past clients from any agent you are considering, but most of all, find someone you click with. You will be spending a lot of time with this person & putting a lot of trust into that person. Of course every Realtor is going to say pick me, but you should pick the person you are most comftorable with! Good Luck, now is a great time to buy, interest rates are low, housing inventory is high & that makes negotiations so much easy for the buyer!!!
1 vote
Arthur Hardy, Agent, Beltsville, MD
Thu Sep 24, 2009
Your question is a good one but I will suggest it is misdirected. The buyers realtor is working for you. The listing agents you are talking about work for the seller. You need a good buyers realtor that has a first time homebuyers program. You have done some of the work, now is the time to work with a buyers agent to take you all the way to your new home. The unbiased perspective you seek is going to be a realtor who is focused on your purchase and not the listing agents sale.
I have a great first time home buyers program if you are interested. Give me a call or email and I will be happy to share it with you.

Arthur Hardy, Realtor
W.C. & A.N. Miller Realtors
4910 Massachusetts Ave NW
Suite 119
Washington DC 20016
(202) 362-1300 office
(202) 362-3164 fax
(202) 895-2860 direct
web arthurhardyjr.com
email arthurhardy@LNF.com

Know of anyone thinking of buying or selling a home? Referrals are greatly appreciated.
Web Reference:  http://www.arthurhardyjr.com
0 votes
voices member, , 21117
Wed Jan 21, 2009
Hi Ari,

First, let me say that I am always so impressed by savvy first time buyers like yourselves! You really seemed to have done your homework! I would be honored to work with you to find your first home, but if I am not the realtor you ultimately choose, please take this advice. You absolutely should have your own buyer's agent. A listing agent has only one goal and that is to negotiate and work on the behalf of the seller. Also, many buyer's don't realize this, but you don't get a better deal by not having a realtor. In fact, the seller's agent will be paid their commission as well as the commission of the buyer's agent. So the seller does not save money in that case.

Another thing I firmly believe is that you are not always better off going with the "top" agent in an area. In fact, I think just the opposite is the case. An agent who has a completely full schedule cannot devote the time and energy that you so deserve. You will be penciled in with their other clients. When I personally work with a first time buyer, I intentionally do NOT take on more than 1 other client at the same time. I pride myself on my excellent customer service and availability. I have been in this business for 3 years and one of the reasons I got into it is because of the experience my husband and myself had with buying our first home. We worked with one great agent and one terrible agent. When I began, I vowed to be loyal and efficient and today I can honestly say I am proud of the agent that I am.

I truly love my job and can't imagine doing anything else! If you want an agent who will work for you, give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to talk further in order to gather your needs. Whatever you decide, congratulations on this big "move" and best of luck!

Lisa Devnew
0 votes
Tamara Kucik, Agent, Washington, DC
Wed Jan 21, 2009
You should hire someone to represent you as a buyer's agent, and one with a lot of experience as a listing agent and as a buyers agent -- each role brings different market knowledge.
If you think that the 2 Realtors you mention might be good candidates for representing you, ask them how they would handle the situation should you be interested in one of their listings. Also ask for references from former clients
Web Reference:  http://www.tamara4homes.com
0 votes
Bruce Lemieux, Agent, Gaithersburg, MD
Wed Jan 21, 2009
Hi Ari,

I believe that you'll get the best representation by a Realtor that knows the local market. You want someone who knows the neighborhoods and the homes -- this is a big plus. Here's a couple other thoughts:

1. Many 'teams' have a person that manages listings with one or more agents that work only with buyers. So when you contact the listing agent, you may well be referred to another team member. Big teams are like organizations all to themselves.

2. Interview a couple. Having market knowledge is very important, but finding someone that 'clicks' with you and truly represents your interests is critical. The right agent will work hard to understand your needs, and he/she will be very responsive.

3. Sign a buyer agency agreement. In this agreement, however, make sure that you can cancel the agreement without mutual agreement from the agent. Be up front and honest with your agent. You'll be committed to your selected agent, but let them know that you will terminate the agreement if it doesn't work out (e.g., he/she continues to show properties that don't meet your needs, pushes his own listings, is not responsive, etc.). Don't get tied into a relationship that doesn't work *for you*.

4. Find a good, reputable mortgage provider *now* and get pre-approved. You do not have to select your mortgage provider until you get a home under contract, so you can shop around for rates later (still - stick with a *local* mortgage broker). Know exactly what you can afford, so you don't waste your time looking at the wrong homes.

Good luck. I'm sure you will be fine -- you're asking all the right questions!
Web Reference:  http://mocorealestate.com/
0 votes
Tiny Varner, , McLean, VA
Wed Jan 21, 2009

Both Catarina and Robyn are correct. You're more likely to get better representation if you use an agent other than the listing agent. Get recommendations from friends and colleagues and then interview the agents. Communicate your expectations and ask what they will do for you. Good luck, and please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Web Reference:  http://www.TinyVarner.com
0 votes
Catarina Ban…, Agent, Chevy Chase, MD
Wed Jan 21, 2009
get somebody who is familiar with the area and has sold (or even lived) there, but is not necessarily one of the dominating listing agents. They have a strong incentive to keep prices up because that advertises/recommends them to other potential sellers. You want somebody who can put these things in perspective and will give you a more objective analysis of the market data in that neighborhood. (All agents have access to the same data, but there might be a selective bias.)
The idea that a listing agent can give you a better "deal" by throwing part of the co-op commission in for you is usually psychological manipulation as well.
Good luck!
Web Reference:  http://www.BannierHomes.com
0 votes
Robyn Porter, Agent, Bethesda, MD
Wed Jan 21, 2009
Ari - This will be one of the biggest purchases (and investments) of your life so you should definitely work with a Buyer's Agent to represent your interests in the transaction. A listing agent represents the seller of a property. Get recommendations from friends and relatives. Ask around. Interview any agent before you work with them.

On February 7, I will be hosting a First-Time Buyers seminar...one of many in a series. I do them on a monthly basis. The one next month will be held in Dupont Circle. The seminar will also focus on FHA financing, for those buyers with limited resources for a down payment. I am happy to email you references for people who've attended the seminars, as well as past clients. Please feel free to contact me directly at 301-320-8349.
Web Reference:  http://www.robynporter.com
0 votes
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