Author Topic: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?  (Read 5636 times)

mrtimo

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buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« on: February 07, 2015, 10:32:06 AM »
My cousin is a buyer's agent (never lists houses, only represents the buyer, never the seller). He extolls the virtues of using a buyer's agent instead of a normal agent: they can't ever do double representation (dual agency), studies show they save the buyer money vs. normal agents, etc.

There is an exclusive buyer's agent in Spokane, WA where I am buying. Should I use them or a normal agent? Any experiences?

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2015, 11:16:35 AM »
I used a seller's agent to buy my first house, and then found him way off the mark when I went to sell it.

BlueHouse

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2015, 11:58:44 AM »
IMO, there is no reason to ever sign a buyer's agent agreement.  Read the agreement, notice that the contract exists to protect their interests, not yours, and then don't sign it.  You can still work with them, just don't lock yourself into an agreement. 
I've had every single agent tell me they couldn't help me if I didn't sign...it was a requirement of their broker, etc.  When I said "okay, but I'm not signing", then all objections went away. 
You know what you want, you know what is a fair price to pay.  Any agent can get you the data you need to make a knowledgeable decision. 
Actually, I would recommend Redfin or another online realty over anyone who calls themselves a "buyers' agent". 

mrtimo

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2015, 01:50:36 PM »
IMO, there is no reason to ever sign a buyer's agent agreement.

Is this for a normal realtor, or for an exclusive buyers agent who never lists houses?

Another Reader

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2015, 02:14:30 PM »
Buyers' agents are a dime a dozen.  Your state's laws govern the duty of the person that represents you in a transaction, not whether they choose to represent buyers exclusively. 

I do not sign exclusive representation agreements.  If an agent shows me the property, advises me of their opinion of market value based on comparable sales, writes a contract that is in my interest, negotiates price in my interest, schedules and attends the inspection, handles changes in the terms of the contract that result from the inspection, and gets the deal closed, they are entitled to the buyer's agent compensation offered by the seller.  If they don't get the deal done, they are not.  If they can't get the job done, then I will not be in the position of having to use that agent in the future because I signed an exclusive representation agreement.

thedayisbrave

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2015, 05:14:32 PM »
I'm not sure what you mean by "buyers agent" vs "normal agent."  A normal agent could work on either the buyer's side or the seller's side.  They can only work with buyers, but not sure what kind of benefits this provides beyond specialization/narrowing of the potential market.  Ask your cousin how buyers agents save the buyer more money than "normal" agents? There are clauses in the agency agreements (at least in my state) that give buyer permission for dual agency, or not. 

As a real estate agent, I will not work with a buyer without an exclusive agency agreement.  Agents working for buyers put a lot of time/effort into driving clients out to properties, spending time with them, gas, etc.  If there is nothing binding the buyer to me, they can simply walk away and use another agent to put a property under contract... so I'd have spent all that time with them for nothing.  It protects my interests as an agent that way.  It also clarifies my position for the buyer, so they know that I work for them and not the other side.  Without signing the buyer agency agreement, the agent is technically working for the seller, and thus any information they obtain from you about your situation will be repeated directly to the seller, as their loyalty and obligations lie with the seller.  So it IS for both sides and to make sure the professional working relationship is documented and both the buyer and the agent have come to an agreement.

purplepants

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2015, 06:02:45 PM »
I think it's important to recognize that regardless of whether they are a regular agent or a buyers-only agent, they still only get paid when you make a purchase. 

From their perspective, their job is to get you to buy as much house as possible, as soon as possible. 

From your perspective, their job is to unlock houses for sale and let you look around inside of them.  As long as you're an educated buyer who knows what kind of house they want and how much they want to pay for it, it shouldn't really matter to you who drives you around and unlocks them. 

thedayisbrave

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2015, 07:15:46 AM »
I think it's important to recognize that regardless of whether they are a regular agent or a buyers-only agent, they still only get paid when you make a purchase. 

From their perspective, their job is to get you to buy as much house as possible, as soon as possible. 

From your perspective, their job is to unlock houses for sale and let you look around inside of them.  As long as you're an educated buyer who knows what kind of house they want and how much they want to pay for it, it shouldn't really matter to you who drives you around and unlocks them.
Real estate agents get a bad rap from the ones who are dishonest and just care about the sale.  Trust me, not every agent is like that - you just have to find one that puts their client's needs before their own.  I have plenty of clients who get approved by the bank for mortgages much larger than they should be taking out - and I tell them they should NOT look for homes in the top of that range.  My reputation is on the line, and if the buyer feels they were pushed into a sale that they weren't ready for or comfortable with, that makes them feel ill will toward me.  Better for all parties involved to be happy and comfortable in their purchasing decisions.  There are agents that WILL push and push but I am not one of those, and I know many are not like that.

Our job is SO much more than just "unlocking the house" and "driving you around."  We listen to your needs/wants in a home, find you prospective homes, examine them with you, negotiate on your behalf, guide you to conducting your due diligence on a potential home, and basically hold your hand through every step of the process until the closing table.  There is a reason we have to pass an exam and countless training/education classes... there is a lot of information to know and intricacies that the client may not be aware of. 

frugaliknowit

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2015, 07:48:28 AM »
I would caution you in using your cousin unless he/she has a lengthy, successful track record.

While I don't think it makes a huge difference (fact:  Agents want one thing:  $$$$$$$$), I would go buyer's agent, but:

VERIFY EVERY FACT!  Whether you sign an agreement, doesn't mean much (think a RE agency wants to go to court?).

mozar

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2015, 10:47:11 AM »
I don't think it matters too much, it more depends on the actual agent. I went with a buyers agent. I tried redfin first and realized that I wanted an expert negotiator and more handholding. My buyers agent talked me into putting in a lower offer than I was planning to. He saved me 12k.

purplepants

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2015, 07:45:06 AM »


Our job is SO much more than just "unlocking the house" and "driving you around."  We listen to your needs/wants in a home, find you prospective homes, examine them with you, negotiate on your behalf, guide you to conducting your due diligence on a potential home, and basically hold your hand through every step of the process until the closing table.  There is a reason we have to pass an exam and countless training/education classes... there is a lot of information to know and intricacies that the client may not be aware of.

I'm sorry if I came across like that.  My point was more that a Buyers Only Agent or Regular Agent, in the end want the same thing - for you to purchase a home.  Being a Buyers Only Agent does not make someone more or less likely to have the clients best interest at heart.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2015, 07:46:35 AM »


Our job is SO much more than just "unlocking the house" and "driving you around."  We listen to your needs/wants in a home, find you prospective homes, examine them with you, negotiate on your behalf, guide you to conducting your due diligence on a potential home, and basically hold your hand through every step of the process until the closing table.  There is a reason we have to pass an exam and countless training/education classes... there is a lot of information to know and intricacies that the client may not be aware of.

I'm sorry if I came across like that.  My point was more that a Buyers Only Agent or Regular Agent, in the end want the same thing - for you to purchase a home.  Being a Buyers Only Agent does not make someone more or less likely to have the clients best interest at heart.

Right, either an agent is good or not.

MsPeacock

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2015, 08:10:07 AM »
As others have noted, a "regular" vs. "buyer's agent" really doesn't make any difference.

What, in my experience makes a huge difference, is the effectiveness and knowledge of the realtor. I would recommend finding a very experinced relatively "busy" (popular) agent who has a good administrative support team, knows the local area very well, has worked many years in the local area, and has good connections. My last realtor was excellent - so so so excellent. What she did: she found me the right neighborhood for me (moving across country) after I sent her an exaustive list of the things I wanted and didn't want, she knew many of the houses already having been in them at other times they were sold (she had been a realtor in the area for 30+ years), she was able to help me evaluate which aspects of the house were more important to me vs. me being obsessive, she knew the school districts, she understood negotiating a price and was very no-nonsense about it. And more - by far the best experience I had w/ any realtor (there were other good ones, and one notably bad one).

Personally, I would not hire a relative to represent me in a real estate transaction. If things go wrong for some reason it would create too much bad blood in the family.

meyla

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2015, 08:31:46 AM »
I wanted to point out that the OP isn't considering using their cousin as their agent. They are considering using an exclusive buyer's agent in the area that they are purchasing. They used their cousin's advice as the reason for their question.

I did use a buyer's agent when buying my current home. The agent didn't make me sign anything at all except the 5 purchase contracts he drew up for me. While I did most of the searching work myself (I wasn't busy at the time and who knows what I am looking for more than me?), he was very helpful when it came to getting the legal work done. I don't consider him to have cost me anything, so I would recommend an agent, though not necessarily an exclusive buyer's agent and not the agent of the seller.

boarder42

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2015, 08:35:58 AM »
i would never again sign a buyers agent agreement.   I did this when i bought my first house.  It was a family friend.  he had 250 dollars in there for me to pay him on top of the 3.5% he got from the house i bought.  and he gave me a 20 dollar applebees gift card at closing.  Then he gets pissed when i dont use him when i sell my house. 

Real estate agents are worthless scum lower than lawyers.  They provide little to no value now that the internet exists.  Comp's should be easily looked up in an online database and you should be able to tell if your house is priced right for the recent sales. 

use real estate attorneys and go by owner if possible.  its a crock and a sham. 

I'm a red panda

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2015, 08:58:43 AM »
The agent I used for both my houses works for both buyers and sellers, but he never worked as a dual agent representing us.  He was never the agent listing the houses he showed us (and I actually think his company doesn't allow that.)

We never signed anything with him until we put an offer in on a house.  Only then did we sign that he was representing our interests.

Using a buyers agent made sense because a lot of realtors will not show houses to people looking without one. He also got us into a house right after another contract fell through and we were able to scoop it up before anyone else saw it.

When I sold my house, we decided not to use him because we sold the house to our current tenant. We split the difference between what the real estate commission would have been and used a RE attorney.

Jules13

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2015, 09:05:52 AM »
We used a buyer's agent and I felt like I did all the work.  He never found anything that I hadn't already found myself.  Maybe he was just a bad one.  But, in my neighborhood, which is really 'hot' right now, I'd only use a regular agent who also knows what is about to come on the market.  Some houses sell before they even hit the market in my area and I don't feel like the buyer's agents are as in the know as the ones who are also selling.  So, I'd say it depends on the area you are looking in. 

Mr. Green

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2015, 09:45:24 AM »
Depending on how involved you want to be in the process and how educated you are regarding real estate, a real estate agent can be completely unnecessary. The internet has made vast amounts of data available to everyone. Your agent as the buyer typically stands to make half of the seller's agent's commission. This is usually 3%. I know enough about real estate at this point I would never use an agent and would push the seller's agent to halve their commission. That saves me 3% of the purchase price instead of putting it in someone else's pocket. If you're really serious about viewing a home, the seller's agent will show it or they aren't that interested in selling it. Though if you're not comfortable with your level of knowledge in real estate, an agent is probably the way to go.

I'm a red panda

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2015, 09:57:52 AM »
and would push the seller's agent to halve their commission.

There are many agents who will not do this. The commission is between the realtor and the seller, not the realtor and the buyer. 

BlueHouse

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2015, 10:01:00 AM »
Trust me, not every agent is like that - you just have to find one that puts their client's needs before their own. 
I agree with this statement, but if you've already signed an exclusive buyer's agreement, then you don't have the option to go find the ones like you.  Also, you ask us to "Trust you", yet you don't trust your customers to treat you fairly and instead force them to sign an agreement before they've had a chance to see if you're compatible. 
"Another Reader" has it pegged.  DO NOT sign any exclusive agreement with a buyer's agent. 
I have signed exclusive agreements with my listing agents, because they have more costs involved in marketing the house.  But even those, I limit the time frame in case it's not working out, I don't want to get stuck with a dud. 
Trust ME, I am fair and if you do good work and even come close to doing what you're supposed to, I won't try to cheat you out of your commission.  I just always want the option to look for another agent if it's not working and exclusive buyer's agreements do not give you that option. 

Mr. Green

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2015, 12:54:13 PM »
and would push the seller's agent to halve their commission.

There are many agents who will not do this. The commission is between the realtor and the seller, not the realtor and the buyer.
Which, in my opinion, is dumb because, if I acquire an agent, the seller's agent will only see half the money anyway. If the seller lost a sale because his agent was not willing to adjust his commission for money he wouldn't see anyway (if a buyer's agent was involved), that agent clearly doesn't have his client's best interest in mind.

I would go so far as to acquire an agent out of spite, rather than see someone get double the percent out of ignorance. At least then I would have the added benefit of another person representing my interests in the transaction.

cynthia1848

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Re: buying a house, should i use buyer's agent or normal agent?
« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2015, 02:06:10 PM »
IME, sellers' agents like people who have NO AGENT at all, so they get to keep the full 5% commission.  Unless you are buying a place in a super hot market or somewhere that is unfamiliar to you, getting your own agent is unnecessary.  Sometimes that can be enough to move your offer to the top of the pile.