Looking for advice on changing realtor

Asked by Natasha, Houston, TX Tue May 15, 2012

We've been working with a realtor for a few months to find a new home for us in our area. We've looked at several, made offers on a few, but nothing has worked out due to poor timing or not offering enough. I've recently found out about an agent that specializes in the neighborhoods we're looking in, lives in the neighborhood we want the most, and who I know could find us something quickly, maybe even before it hits the market. Our current agent works all over, and while she's a great person (and a friend of ours), doesn't have the same grasp of the market in our desired neighborhoods. How do we change agents tactfully without hurting her feellings? I think we will get a lot of benefit from working with this other person, but I hate to think we would have worked with the other one for a while on showings and offers and she will end up getting nothing.

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Margie Johns…, Agent, Cypress, TX
Wed May 16, 2012
Integrity on both the part of the agent and the client is so important in this business. It sounds like your current realtor has worked hard and diligently for you in a market that is heating up. I wonder how you met the other agent you mention. So many times I have held open houses and had buyers come through that are working with other agents and I try to respect the relationship that they have with their agent. Your promotion of the other agent sounds just like words that would come out of the mouth of a self promoting agent. That's not a bad thing, that's what we do; sell ourselves to prospective clients. You won't know anything about us unless we tell you. But before switching agents ask yourself if the reason you have not successfully purchased a house yet is primarily because of your actions or inactions or your realtors. If your realtor has dropped the ball and advised you poorly by all means have a discussion with them, be honest as to why you are switching realtors and move on knowing you treated the last realtor respectfully. If the first realtor has been on top of each home of interest and advised you properly and you insisted on low balling or delayed the process in some way thereby missing out on each house, I would discuss your concerns about the neighborhood you have finally zeroed in on, let them know about this other agent and if your current agent doesn't feel they can advise you as well, perhaps a referral fee can be arranged so your current agent is rewarded for getting you this far. No matter what you do you must talk to your current agent. In your case you not only stand to loose integrity but also a friendship if you don't respect the commitment of your current agent to your needs.

No matter which realtor you work with, multiple offers are becoming the name of the game, you will need to have your mortgage pre-approval ready and up to date, funds ready to tender your earnest money and option fee and a mind set to be decisive. If your agent has researched the price and it is reasonable don't low ball. Homes in good condition and priced at market are going quickly; sometimes for more than list price.
Web Reference:  http://margie.garygreene.com
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Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Tue May 15, 2012
Natasha, I kind of worry that your understanding of how well agent #2 "knows all about the houses you've looked at," "(has) communicated with all the sellers agents," and "keeps in touch with agents who sell in the area" isn't quite what you think it may be.

But - what really matters is your satisfaction. If you want to go with agent #2, then - all power to you. But for other people who might be reading this thread, I feel strongly that they should know that literally, most of us are "in touch with agents" who sell in just about every area, "communicate" with the seller's agents, and "know about all the houses."

In that - these agents send us automated feedback requests when we preview of show their listings (we're in touch), we meet at broker's opens or exchange feedback calls with one another or even do deals with each other (we "communicate"), and have access to the MLS and maybe visit "all the houses" - or at least some of them - at broker's opens or by previewing ("we know the houses"). It's not just "neighborhood experts."

All the best,
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Natasha, Home Buyer, Houston, TX
Tue May 15, 2012
Wow, thanks to everyone for sharing your knowledge - this has been quite an education. I should say that Agent #1 is not incompetent, nor do we have a personality conflict. We appreciate the fact that she hasn't been pushy or self-serving. We lost out on the houses for varying reasons, and thanks to my acute 20/20 hindsight, I feel that we won't repeat our past mistakes. That said, the market is really heating up in our area, and when we do see something we like we're going to have to jump on it immediately. I do know that Agent #2 knows all about the houses we have looked at, has communicated with the sellers agents, and keeps in touch with agents who sell in the area, which is not the case with Agent #1. My perception, correct or not, is that she may be able to help us get a jump on other buyers. I may see if she will be willing give Agent #1 a referral bonus, since our experience with #1 has educated us quite a bit. And I agree with those who advise against doing business with friends - I thought this process would be a lot easier, we'd get in a house, she'd get her commission, and everyone would be happy. Lesson learned.
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Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Tue May 15, 2012
Maybe, but I doubt it.

As listing agents, we generally believe that we will get a minimum of one of three listing appointments we go on. If you drive through the neighborhood of your choice, and find that this neighborhood expert has one in ten or one in twenty signs, then their local expertise might not be as helpful as you believe.

Still. What you could do is to tell your agent that you're going to hook up with another agent, but you will insist that the new agent give her a referral fee. Then, when you go to the new agent, explain to them that you'd love their help, but the first agent has done a good job of educating you and you're ready to go.

What caught my attention, actually, was the problem of missing out on houses by not offering enough. This is one of the most difficult balancing acts that an agent faces: our clients want the house, but they don't want to pay too much. If we urge them to bid high, we risk being seen as self-serving; bid too low, we're ineffectual! C'est la vie!

Anyway - it's your purchase, you can do what you want, but I think the honorable thing to do is to make sure your old agent gets a referral fee from the new agent. If the new agent doesn't agree, then . . . maybe they're not the right agent for you, after all.

All the best,
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The Stephen…, Agent, Portland, OR
Tue May 15, 2012
As long as you are not in a contractual agreement with them, I would look elsewhere. Or better yet, ask to talk with her Principle broker, let them know you would like to work with someone else in the same company, that way she can still receive referral commission - a little bit of money for her work so far.
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David Tansey, Agent, Houston, TX
Tue May 15, 2012
This is way too important not to be represented by someone you trust. Bite the bullet and tell her the truth. It will likely be a good learning experience for her too.

You might ask the new agent to share a referral fee with her for the work she has already done.
Web Reference:  http://www.DaveRealty.com
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Kevan Pewitt, Agent, Houston, TX
Tue May 15, 2012
With a little time, your buyer's agent should be able to quickly learn enough about the neighborhood to effectively find you the home you want. What you should keep in mind, is if you switch to a neighborhood agent that is showing you their own listings, they will have to act as an Intermediary. If they act as an Intermediary and do not designate another buyers agent to represent you, they will not be able to give you advice in the negotiation process, which will put you at a disadvantage as you will be effectively representing yourself in the transaction. It is very unlikely that this other agent will be able to show you many homes before they hit the market. Buyer's agents represent the interests of the buyers only and your typical buyer will receive better service when using one. I hope this helps you. You can get more tips on buying Houston real estate at http://houstonprimerealty.com/buying/
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Al Geffon, Agent, Houston, TX
Tue May 15, 2012
It's an awkward situation (which is one reason why I usually refer friends to other agents) but the addage about mixing business with friendship holds true (not unlike buying a car from a buddy) ... so tell her exactly what you're stating here. Not every situation ends in a sale ... and putting in lots of time while receiving no compensation is simply part of the business.

From an agent's point of view, I have terminated relationships with buyers and sellers (thankfully only a couple in my career) due to that lack of "connection." Just recently, after showing over a dozen homes to a client/friend, and having a couple of lowball offers fall through, I concluded that we just weren't a good fit, and let her know that I didn't think I could help her. She actually appreciated it, and has found another agent ... what will come of it is uncertain, but at least neither of us is wasting time (our own or each other's). Who knows ... your current agent could be thinking the same thing. I'm certain that it's no fun for her either.

I wish you well, and am certain that you'll find the right home soon.
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Sunny Goode, Agent, Houston, TX
Tue May 15, 2012
Do you you have a signed representation agreement with your agent ? Regardless, communication and honesty is key. Being she has put in so much time with you, it is only fair you dicuss your dissatisfaction with the outcome. Ask why she thinks your offers have not been accepted. Voice all of your concerns. Tell her up front you are considering another realtor that was recommended to you because things arent working out. It may be time for you both to move on. If you have a signed agreement there is an addendum for termination, explain it isnt anything personal but you need results, and you have given her enough time. Most of all do not go behind her back with another realtor, this is not the way to resolve your issues. You may offer her an agreed upon fee for her time already spent as good intention and save your friendship, then move on. Good luck!
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Jeanne Weaver, Agent, Houston, TX
Tue May 15, 2012
If you have no buyers rep, and you explain to her why you are going with the area expert, she should understand. Be prepared, though, for hurt feelings. A nice gesture might be a restaurant gift card or a gas card to let her know you appreciate the time & expense she spent showing you properties.

One thing you might consider, did you lose out because you were not willing to offer what it takes to get the property - unless your agent persuaded you to lowball, the fault might not be your realtor. Just a thought.
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Natasha, Home Buyer, Houston, TX
Tue May 15, 2012
Thanks for the feedback. I should add that we haven't signed any agreements with the first agent.
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I agree with Jeanne Weaver, it would be a nice gesture to give her a gas card.
Flag Tue May 15, 2012
Perfect! Happy home hunting!!!
Flag Tue May 15, 2012
Kevin Ortega, Agent, Houston, TX
Tue May 15, 2012
Just being honest goes a long way. When I first start, I was told directly that I was not helping them as I didn't have much knowledge on the neighborhood. I accepted it and they thanked me for my effort. I appreciated it so much that I was able to refine my skills. I will never forget how much I appreciated their feedback. I developed my skills and I have helped them with investment property two years later.
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Dallas Texas, Agent, Dallas, TN
Tue May 15, 2012
All about business JUST make sure if you have buyer's rep agreement you have that canceled .

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