When you’re planning to buy a home, either for the first time or for succeeding investments, you’ll need to talk to a buyer’s agent. The buyer’s agent will represent you and will search, evaluate, and negotiate the best price for the home you’d like to buy. He/she will, in effect, act as your consultant and protect your interests.
Many people think that hiring a buyer’s agent will bring the cost of purchasing up. On the contrary, using a buyer’s agent will help you save on the price of the home, time, stress, and most important, from making the wrong decisions. They’ve been trained and know exactly what to watch out for, are skilled at negotiating, and know the tricks of the trade far better than you would.
When searching or selecting a buyer’s agent, here are a few things you should keep in mind:
Start with referrals. Ask around from friends and colleagues who have bought homes in the past through a buyer’s agent, and see if they can recommend someone. It is better to work with an agent whom people you know have worked with and found to be worth recommending, than someone who is a total stranger. In the absence of recommendations, the internet or open houses in your area may be the next best place to look.
Full-time buyer agent vs buyer/seller agent. You want to be sure that the buyer agent you’re going to hire has no other hidden agenda, therefore opt for a full-time buyer only agent. An agent who buys for clients and at the same time lists property for seller clients could be more interested in getting you to buy the property he’s listing than looking out for your interests. If you decide to work with one who does both, at the very least insist that he inform you if he has a financial interest from any of the listings he will give you.
Interview the agent before you commit. You want to know that the buyer agent has enough experience but more important, has the attitude and sincerity that you want and would not hesitate to tell you if there are any issues with the property. It is important that you feel comfortable with the agent; remember, he’s going to be doing all the searching and legwork for you as well as give you advice. Ask about experience, certifications, familiarity with the area where you want to purchase a home, and whom he has worked with in the past and is working with now.
Avoid signing an exclusive agreement. An exclusive agreement binds you to the buyer agent restricts you from working with other agents. It will also mean having to pay the agent even if you found a home on your own. Ask for a non-exclusive buyer’s agency agreement or an open buyer agency agreement. Make sure it’s a short-term contract and ask for a guarantee that either parties can be released from the agreement should either one desire to be.
Negotiate a flat fee. A buyer’s agent working on a commission basis will earn a percentage of the price of the home you’ll want to buy. The higher the price, the more he will make. Instead of a commission, suggest a flat fee. If the agent asks for a retainer’s fee, that fee will be refunded if you’re able to buy a home that will qualify him for the flat fee.
By making the right choices when looking for a buyer’s agent, you can avoid the headaches that come with searching for a home that will suit your needs and save on the cost.
Kelli Bennet is a real estate agent in Breckenridge, Colorado. The Kelli Sells team helped over 50 families buy and sell Breckenridge Colorado real estate last year.