What should I look for in a "buyer's agent?"

Asked by BJ, Oxford, MI Mon Apr 28, 2008

We have started to look for our first home. We're currently renting, so there's no contigency sale to be concerned with. We have excellent credit and sufficient down payment to secure financing. Considering how soft the market is, we'll likely be a bit aggressive, and we need someone to represent us well. What questions should we ask? What should we look for in an agent?

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Alan May, Agent, Evanston, IL
Tue Apr 29, 2008
There are lots of good questions that you should ask a potential buyer's agent.

• How many homes, of my type, have you helped purchase? (recently, 6 mos, 1 year, 5 years)
• What is your list / sale ratio? (this will tell you if they're an effective negotiator)
• How will you communicate with me?
• How often will you communicate with me?
• Will you send me listings via e-mail?
• Will you help me, if I (or you) should find a FSBO?
• Do you require me signing an Exclusive Buyer's Agreement? Why/Why Not?
• Why should I hire you? What do you bring to the table that's different than the myriad of other agents out there.
• Are you a full-time agent?
• Do you practice dual-agency? (why / why not?)
• Are you planning any upcoming vacations or are you going to be unavaible, and who is your back-up when you're gone?

and lastly

• Is there anything I haven't asked you, that you think I should have?

There, that should get a good interview going.
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Tracy Kirkley, Agent, Olive Branch, MS
Mon Apr 28, 2008

My first suggestion would be for you to ask friends & relatives who have recently purchased a home what they thought of their agent. Referrals are your best source of great agents.

Here are a few questions you could ask:

* How many buyers have you helped in the last 6 months . . . may I contact them? (This will help you determine what type of experience they have and how comfortable they are with their own performance)

* Are you a full time agent? (You want to be sure to work with someone who really treats this as a career and is accessible to you when you need it. Also, full time agents typically have more experience than part-timers.)

* What type of advanced negotiating training have you had? (Find out if they have training in addition to their experience.)

* Do you work with investors? (Many times agents who work with investors need to be a little more savvy with their negotiating . . . and they may have great sources for deals.)

Hopefully this will give you a good starting point. Another thing for you to consider is that being overly aggressive in your negotiations isn't always in your best interest. Have your agent pull a market analysis to help you evaluate if the asking price on a property is reasonable. Many sellers have started pricing their properties to really sell and becoming overly aggressive may actually cause you to miss out on a good deal. A good agent can help you with this.

Best wishes!
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