PART 2 of 2
As we mentioned in our recent article about interviewing a listing agent, the average person knows 10+ agents! Whether you know 5, 10, or more agents – or none at all – you need to pick the best possible agent to meet your needs.
So, let’s say you’re ready to buy a home.
How do you go about finding an amazing buyer’s agent?
Often, buyers take the path of least resistance when selecting a buyer’s agent:
- They use the agent who just sold their home for them, or
- They use an agent they randomly came across at an open house
While neither of these are a problem in and of themselves, it’s worth thinking carefully about the implications of both choices.
Using your listing agent as your buyer’s agent.
If you’re buying in a similar geographic neighborhood, and assuming your listing agent doesn’t exclusively list homes (this isn’t common but does sometimes happen) using your listing agent to represent you in a purchase can be a great move. After all, you’ve worked together, know and trust one another, and have a history of success.
However, if you’re leaving the area and moving to a location where your listing agent isn’t an expert or doesn’t work at all, the best thing to do is to ask your listing agent to refer you to a great buyer’s agent in that area. Good professionals belong to networks where they can help you find a good fit – saving you time, energy, and a whole lot of stress.
Using an agent you run into at an open house.
In most instances, the agent holding the open house represents the seller, and is not going to have your best interests at heart. Although legally they can represent both you and the seller, wouldn’t you prefer to have a strong advocate for your position? Most buyers would!
You’re probably wondering what questions and issues you should be focused on to find the best possible agent.
Here are the questions I believe are the most likely to help you discover the best agent to represent you in the sale of your home.
Question #1: How are you going to help me get the best possible terms for my new home?
If the agent has a vague answer such as “We are great negotiators!” you need to push for specifics. What does that mean exactly? How do they quantify their efforts, and can they provide documentation of that work? Can they show you that their strategies have been effective in the past? If the agent you’re interviewing can’t provide specific answers, keep interviewing until you find one who can. Remember too, that price is only one of many issues that are part of a complex negotiation.
Question #2: How much work is involved on my end?
Ideally, your agent should be able to identify things he or she will need you to do while you are searching for a home. This could include suggestions for getting preapproved, as well as time required to meet with the agent for showings, completing various documents, and having regular updates with the agent.
Question #3: Have you done this before?
Everyone is new at some point in their career. However, you are not going to have the same results with a new agent that you will with one who has years of experience and dozens of happy clients.
Ask agents for details on their performance, which should include their time in the business, the number of buyers they’ve represented, their list-to-sales price ratios, and the percentage of offers they’ve made which have been accepted, and then successfully closed. With the except of their days-on-market and list-to-sales price ratios, the higher these numbers are, the better.
Question #4: Who is on your team?
There’s a huge difference in the service provided by solo practitioners and those who are part of a team, where each team member has an area of expertise. Real estate sales are complicated and time-consuming. Many, many hours are consumed by the actual showing process; this is an area where a team can definitely have an advantage since more than one team member can be showing a buyer at any one time.
Although there are dozens of other questions you might ask an agent you’re interviewing, these four questions should provide a good foundation for your meeting with a potential buyer’s agent.