Buyers often approach the task of finding a new home by calling the number on “For Sale” signs, searching real estate magazines & newspaper ads and using some websites. What they may not realize is that by contacting the listing agent directly (the name on the “For Sale” sign or the ad), they are actually calling the agent who’s first and foremost responsibility is to protect the interests of the seller!
This is not to say that listing agents are not to be trusted – they are licensed professionals and are obligated to work with a buyer in a fair, honest and ethical manner as their customer, but they do not necessarily owe buyers the fiduciary duty that they owe their client, the seller. Without a signed Buyer Agency Agreement, anything that you disclose to the listing agent about your budget, motivation or otherwise, can and will be used to benefit the position of the seller during negotiations.
What is a buyer to do? Hire your own Buyer Agent! You can interview potential buyer agents and choose the one who you feel will work the hardest for you, has the best track record, and whom you feel comfortable with. Furthermore, a buyer agent’s services are almost always paid out of the gross commission that the seller has paid to their listing brokerage!
When you have found the sales representative that you want to work with, you will sign a contract called a “Buyer Agency Agreement” which legally obligates your agent to provide you fiduciary duty, confidentiality and to protect your interests and motivations. In return, you agree to work solely with your agent for the time period stated therein, and allow them to collect their commission from the sale of the property that you purchase.
Once you have chosen your Buyer Agent, you will be in a much better position to find the best property for you. Many listings are sold before the “For Sale” sign ever goes up and there is a time lag between realtor’s MLS and the public MLS website, so your Buyer Agent is able to notify you about a hot listing before it hits the public portals. Once your agent understands your preferences, they will also keep their eyes open for you as they inspect properties daily. Remember that during the day, while you’re at work, your agent will be out inspecting and comparing properties to find you the perfect fit! In addition to helping you find a property, a good agent will also be able to help you with things such as mortgage pre-approvals, lawyers, insurance, and home inspector referrals.
Buying a home can be an intimidating task. Hiring a Buyer Agent to guide you through this process is one of the best ways to ensure that you will be prepared to make a confident and informed decision when the time comes to place your offer.