What should I know before calling listing agents?

Asked by Claro, Los Angeles, CA Thu Oct 16, 2008

I am a potential first-time buyer in Southern California. I have 100% intention to use buyer's agency eventually around the time I am down to a few houses that I like to consider offering. I am planning to decide who to represent me by then and have them tour me again those houses I like to move forward.

However, until that point, I want to look and research on my own without any concerns or pressures. I am thinking to contact listing agents to show houses I become interested. Is there anything I should be careful for taking this approach?

Again, I do not mean to go through offering/buying process without buying agency at all. I want to learn enough about market and feel comfortable before getting anyone officially involved.

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Dorene Slavi…, Agent, Torrance, CA
Sun Mar 15, 2009
Hi Claro,
I understand how you feel. You can learn quite a bit without obligation here, on Trulia. Also if you go to http://www.activerain.com that is a site with a large section for consumers.
I would interview buyer agents if I were you. They can save you quite a bit of time and are a huge advocate for you. A buyer agent is representing only you (not the home seller) and should steer you away from "problems".
The best thing about a buyer agent is.....you don't pay them! They are paid by the seller!
Web Reference:  http://www.doreneslavitz.com
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Keith Sorem, Agent, Glendale, CA
Thu Oct 16, 2008
You have some very interesting posts here. I can understand why you might be thinking that your plan is the best, however I admire you for asking for input.

We get a lot of questions from Trulia from a lot of people in various circumstances. The questions that I see in most cases have a common thread - market expertise. Knowing the market is not something that you just pick up or absorb from talking with a few listing agents and seeing a few open houses. Even Trulia does not replace market expertise. That's why their business model includes Realtors.

A good Realtor will sit down with you, before you see a home, and analyze your needs and wants. Help you be pre-qualified. Help you determine your priorities, listen to your concerns. This consultation is very important for one simple reason. In most cases every home is unique. The market is always changing.
Once the Realtor knows what you profile is like, they probably have a pretty good idea of homes that will meet your need. The problem is that once the homes are sold, they are gone.

The biggest issue I see with buyers is that they think they have all the time in the world. "It's a buyer's market, there are lots of homes for sale, why do I need to hurry?"

The truth is that of the homes on the market in a given area, the 80/20- rule applies. 80% of the homes are over-priced and need work. Less than 20% of the homes are priced right, and fewer are in great shape. Do you want to put a lot of money into your new home, or should it be ready to move in?

I would estimate fewer than 5% of the homes currently for sale meet those criteria- priced rate and ready to move in. And you know that these homes sell in a few days, some are sold even before they hit the market. The marketing remarks so "sold before processing". Because the really good deals never get out of the sales office. Agents in that office find out during the preparation process and tip off their buyers and BAM!, they are in escrow.

So while you are planning and looking, the perfect house could be put up for sale, bought, and you'll never know. Even a FOR SALE sign may never go up, it happens that fast.

I do have suggestion. I would be happy to refer you a top Buyer's agent that specializes in your area that you can interview, no obligation on your part. Sort of like taking a test drive. In most markets a very small percentage of the agents do most of the work, so you want a full-time, professional that is not going to pressure you, but will tell you the truth and give you the inside track.

Best of luck to you!
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Michael Barr…, Agent, Irvine, CA
Thu Oct 16, 2008
Hi thee Claro, If you are looking at eliminating pressure then working with listing agents to see several homes is probably not the best way to do this. You will end up talking to several agents who are legally required to work for the seller and there is a possibility that you may receive inaccurate information about the market or property. If you are considering buying a property then a buyers agent will be able to help you , work at your pace with no pressure and be able to identifty the best properties that match your requirements. They will save you time and money.

If you would be interested in working with a real professional who will work for you let me know

Kind Regards
Michael Barron
First Team Real Esatte
(714) 552-6817
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Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Thu Oct 16, 2008

Your idea on the whole is excellent....and there is certainly enough information available to buyers to become independently informed.

It should be pointed out, that if your logic is to work without a buyers agent in an effort to avoid agent pressure, your approach is one that will probable subject you to additional pressure. Here why...... If your intention is to work with "listing agents" initially, it is likely that you will be working with as many agents as homes you find appealing. Each of these individuals WILL view you as their customer and persue you as a prospective buyer. As a matter of fact, a serious buyer because you have looked at their property.

Make no mistake, you will be pursued by each agent you contact for a showing! It's the nature of the business and customer leads are generated from "listings." So, if you preview 15 properties, it would be reasonable to believe that 15 agents will be not only looking for feedback on the showing and viewing you as a customer. This has the potential of becoming a inconvenience and huge distraction for your process.

On the other hand, if you elect to work with an agent you select through a series of interview type encounters, you have the opportunity to "train" this agent to meet your expectations, use your time efficiently, and focus on the house hunting process. All contact with the listing agents will be buffered by "your agent" that knows you would enjoy a feeling of involvement at a level you create.

Our recommendation is that by carefully selecting an agent to work with, one that meets your expectations, you will be able to enjoy a much better and thouough real estate experience. Revisit this part of your plan...

Good luck,
The "Eckler Team"

Michael Saunders & Compamy
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David Krecker, Landlord, Whittier, CA
Thu Oct 16, 2008
You are essentionally on the right tract. I would though point you rather to selecting a good agent to represent you rather than your approach. If you select the agent first you will have a very dedicated and motivated agent working on your behave and will accomplish much more for you in the long run. With my clients I teach and educate throughout the complete process, and earn there trust also. I treat them like I would want to be and provide them the tools to both research on there own and guide them also. If this sounds good to you feel free to conatct me to discuss more or visit my website and see what my qualifications bring to the table.
Web Reference:  http://www.centuryside.com
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Lawrence&She…, Agent, Plainview, NY
Thu Oct 16, 2008
Claro, Why do you feel that you would have any pressures from being represented by a buyer representative throughout your search? That's exactly what a buyer rep should be doing...helping you (not the seller) in the process. They can actually make it easier for you as they can help you with your searches and provide you with information that you may not be able to find out any other way!
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