Working with a Buyer's Agent
Learn exactly who a buyer’s agent is and the importance of hiring one to facilitate a home purchase. Also included are sample interview questions, tips on how to work well with a buyer’s agent, and identifying important agent qualities. Learn how to successfully find, work with, and secure a home purchase with a buyer’s agent.
What is a Buyer’s Agent?
A buyer’s agent is a real estate professional who helps facilitate a home purchase for a home buyer. A buyer’s agent protects the buyer's interests and is legally obligated to ensure the buyer receives the best deal possible. Their commission is split between themselves and the listing agent, which is typically 5-6% of the home sale price. Important responsibilities of a buyer’s agent include:
- Helping buyers find the right property within a set budget
- Educating clients on the current market
- Answering any and all questions regarding the home buying process
- Supplying buyers with information about all interested properties
- Submitting and negotiating offers on buyers’ behalf
- Referring reliable professionals, such as an inspector and reputable contractors
- Handling all documentation and paperwork
- Providing advice regarding the mortgage, homeowners insurance, buying process, and more
Why Work with a Buyer’s Agent?
As listed above, the buyer’s agent ensures everything runs smoothly during the home buying process. Without a buyer’s agent, finding listings, negotiating prices, and closing on the property could lead to financial distress and mistakes.
However, one of the biggest advantages of working with an agent is their expertise and knowledge of the current market. Depending on their experience, a buyer’s agent will advise their clients on the best approach to buying a home and ensure they receive the best deal. They will also inform the buyer how the home’s value may appreciate or depreciate through the years based on trends. Purchasing a home on one’s own can become confusing, frustrating, and time-consuming. Letting a buyer’s agent administer the process will take the guesswork out of home buying.
Where to Find a Buyer’s Agent
Finding a real estate agent is fairly easy, as there are many licensed professionals in every corner of the U.S. However, finding a good one takes time and effort. As previously mentioned, buyer’s agents must disclose information to the buyer that affects their best interests. A dual agent (one who works for a broker with both sellers and buyers) can lead to a conflict of interest, as they will receive commission from both sides of the transaction. Also, dual agents with many clients may find it hard to dedicate their full attention to a single buyer. Dual agency is even illegal in several states.
So, where can one find a reputable buyer’s agent? Let’s take a look:
Search Online: Thanks to technological advances, the internet has become a helpful tool when searching for an agent. Buyers can quickly scan the web for a buyer’s agent in their locale. Buyers should take the time to read reviews, check out agent websites, and ensure that the agent has an active online presence. Contact HomeHunt today to be connected with a top buyer’s agent in your area!
The National Association of Realtors® (NAR): The NAR is a great place to find a reputable buyer’s agent. In addition, The association has a designation for agents who work specifically with buyers called, The Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC). These are certified Realtors with the credentials and certifications to assist buyers in a home purchase.
Drive Around the Neighborhood: It can be helpful for buyers to drive around the neighborhood they are interested in to find an agent. Homes for sale will likely have yard signs displayed with either the brokerage or agent's name. Though these agents are likely seller’s agents, buyers can contact the firm to get in touch with one of their buyer’s agents.
Ask a Lender: It is vital for buyers to work with a lender to obtain a pre-approval before house hunting. A pre-approval letter will let the buyer know how much they can afford and help them stand out against other buyers. During this time, lenders may be able to recommend multiple buyer’s agents they’ve worked with before to their clients.
Call Brokerages: One of the easiest ways to find an agent is by simply calling a firm and asking for help. Buyers should call multiple firms and ask to speak with the managing broker and let them know the following factors:
- A previous or first-time home buyer
- Desired price range
- House style
- Set location
Referrals: A referral is one of the top ways buyers find agents, as most people trust the words of family and friends over internet strangers. Buyers can also reach out to local homeowners on apps such as NextDoor or Facebook by creating posts or direct messaging. However, be aware that agents may contact you through unsolicited services after viewing your post.
What to Look For in a Buyer’s Agent
Depending on the duration of the process, buyers could spend several months working with their buyer’s agent, so their personalities must mesh well together. It is also critical that the buyer’s agent has the expertise and knowledge to support the buyer successfully. Therefore, buyers shouldn’t settle on the first agent they find. Instead, buyers should interview several agents to find the best fit.When meeting, buyers should look for these promising factors:
Experience and Reputation: Becoming a real estate agent is a popular career choice, but not all agents have success. Buyers should vet agents by asking for references and testimonials. Buyers can find testimonials online, however, not all testimonials are real. So it’s important to do ample research beforehand.
Local Knowledge: A good buyer’s agent will have ample insight into the buyer’s locale. This will benefit the buyer if proximity to stores, restaurants, parks, and more is a deciding factor. In addition, buyers should ask potential agents about recent homes they’ve sold in the area.
Communication Skills: Communication is key to any real estate transaction. Without communication, the buyer can become lost in the process, wondering about the next steps. Therefore, a buyer’s agent should be in regular communication with their client, the lender, and the seller’s agent. This way, all members can stay on the same page. Buyers should ask potential agents how they plan to keep in contact (SMS, email, or phone calls) and how often they will communicate.
Market Insight: When interviewing agents, it’s important to determine their knowledge of the past and current housing market. Experienced buyer’s agents will provide their clients with market insight regarding interest rates, home buying trends, marketing tactics, and more. If an agent seems unfamiliar with the market or avoids speaking in depth about it, this could be a sign to move on.
How to Work Well with a Buyer’s Agent
After choosing an agent to work with, the buyer must provide their agent with important information regarding the home buying process. Though the agent will handle most responsibilities, the buyer must have a good idea of what they want in a home, their budget, and preferred location. If a buyer is unsure of what they want and is unprepared, this could make it hard for an agent to do their job.
Here are tips for buyers who want to work well with their buyer’s agent:
Clarify Your Expectations and Needs: Buyers who are still ironing out their buying needs, budget, or timeframe should wait until they are prepared to buy a home. Home buying is not the time for indecisiveness and uncertainty Therefore, buyers should have clear-cut expectations and an idea of their desired home features before meeting their agent. This will save both parties time and effort.
Keep Appointments and Be Punctual: Buyers who are serious about their home search will make it obvious by attending all appointments and staying punctual. Agents can easily become disgruntled by clients who show up late, don’t return calls, or cancel scheduled meetings.
Follow Open House Etiquette: Buyers should avoid attending open houses without their agent. Agents will find homes for sale, take time to learn about the home, and then present the home to their clients. Buyers who view homes without their agent could be approached and persuaded by a listing agent eager to sell. A buyer’s agent will work with the buyer’s needs in mind, ensuring that the buyer learns all important property information that the listing agent may gloss over.
Buyer’s Agent Interview Questions
Ask potential buyer’s agents these questions before picking one to work with:
- How long have you been an agent?
- Do you work with both buyers and sellers?
- How many clients do you have right now?
- Do you have references I can call?
- Have you previously helped buyers find homes in these areas?
- How does your commission work?
- How will you stay in contact?
- How can you help me compete in this market?
- What is your availability?
- Can you talk a bit about the housing market right now?
Though buyers can search for and purchase a home independently, aid from a buyer’s agent can be greatly beneficial. It will likely shorten the time spent house hunting and lead to the buyer getting the best deal possible.