How to interview a buyer's agent?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
Topic Author
BuckeyeState
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:59 am

How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by BuckeyeState »

I recently relocated to a new area, and I'm interested in buying a house here within the next year. (I'm renting for now.) I have researched realtors that have good reviews and have a history of doing transactions in the specific neighborhoods I'm looking at. I have reached out to a few of these realtors asking to meet them and see if they are a good fit, and they all got back to me quickly and we have meetings scheduled.

Does anyone have suggestions for questions to ask when interviewing a buyer's agent? Any red flags to look out for? This is my first time buying a house.
User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 11763
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: Hawaii No Ka Oi , N. Arizona

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by Sandtrap »

1. Evidence that they are highly successful at what they do. Walk the talk. IE: Senior Assistant Broker vs part time realtor for 6 months.
2. Intimate knowlege of the area, live there is even better.
3. In the loop. Has a strong network. IE: knows the listings before they get listed.
4. Has time to spend with you. (commitment) IE: what is there schedule? Dog care M-Th, Gym and club F-S, etc.
5. Answers their phone, calls and updates, etc.
6. Personality fit beyond the sales push.
7. Willing to go a long term effort.
8. Highest experience.
9. Professional
10. Aggressive and tough, but nice.

I am always working with at least 1 buyers agent in several locations/states.
j :D
Wiki Bogleheads Wiki: Everything You Need to Know
HomeStretch
Posts: 4991
Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2018 3:06 pm

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by HomeStretch »

Great points by Sandtrap.

Ask the buyer’s agent to describe to you:
- how the agent will approach your home search
- the agent’s role and responsibilities

For the top couple contenders, I’d ask to review a form of any agreement they want you to sign.
Topic Author
BuckeyeState
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:59 am

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by BuckeyeState »

HomeStretch wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:50 pm For the top couple contenders, I’d ask to review a form of any agreement they want you to sign.
Thanks for the advice. With regards to signed agreements with a buyer's agent, at what point should I expect to sign an agreement? Will I need to sign an agreement before they show me any houses? Or can I ask them to show me a few houses before signing anything to see how that goes?
User avatar
Misenplace
Moderator
Posts: 2609
Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:46 pm

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by Misenplace »

The best buyer agent I ever used could name the asking and actual sold price of any house in the neighborhood off the top of her head. She was also charming so that helped when she negotiated for us. We used her as our sellers agent when we sold that house.

I don't recall ever signing a buyers contract edit to add before buying the house. It was just understood that if they are working for you and showing you houses, they were your agent [edit to add- and they were identified as such in the bid they submitted for you].
J295
Posts: 2629
Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 11:40 pm

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by J295 »

In addition to good advice above .... ask them what qualities they would look for if they were in your shoes.

As for signing an agreement.... many agents here have no binding contract with buyers. The idea is that if buyer at anytime isn’t comfortable with agent buyer can walk —- good agents can size up a solid buyer and are comfortable that the agent’s hard work will keep buyer happy.
User avatar
whodidntante
Posts: 9130
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:11 pm
Location: outside the echo chamber

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by whodidntante »

J295 wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 4:51 pm As for signing an agreement.... many agents here have no binding contract with buyers. The idea is that if buyer at anytime isn’t comfortable with agent buyer can walk —- good agents can size up a solid buyer and are comfortable that they agent’s hard work will keep buyer happy.
I used a buyer's agent 18 years ago. I did not sign a contract and did not make verbal agreements. Although she was one of the most attractive people I have ever met, she didn't show me any interesting houses, so I told her to stop looking and then I stopped talking to her. A week later, I found a house on my own and put it under contract. She sent me a bill! I laughed until I was sore, but I didn't escalate the situation. I bet she looked fantastic as she mailed that bill.
quantAndHold
Posts: 5028
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by quantAndHold »

What I want out of an agent is someone who is intimately familiar with the area I’m looking in, has a good understanding of how to evaluate a house (how old is that service panel, anyway, and how much will it cost to jackhammer that pool), and has a successful track record of negotiating deals. I personally would do a behavioral interview with each one, asking situation/action/outcome type questions about those three topics. Then if I was still unsure, I’d take the top two or three for a spin. Have each of them show you the house that’s on the market that they think is the best fit for you (don’t let more than one show the same place. That opens a whole ‘nother can of worms).

Then pick the one you personally like the best.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
phxjcc
Posts: 535
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2018 3:47 pm

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by phxjcc »

For every $1,000 she/he negotiates off of the list price, they get $50 from you.
Cash.
No 1099, nothing.
Cash dollars, in Benjamins.

All of this "knows the area" "really well" is marketing spin and not quantifiable.
Agents, including buyer's agents, are incented to transact at the highest price.

You need to counter the buyer's agent's 3% with your counter offer.
You want someone to work for YOU, then YOU pay them.
User avatar
MortgageOnBlack
Posts: 403
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:50 pm

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by MortgageOnBlack »

Don't overthink it... use RedFin to shop around and get to know areas yourself. Find someone who isn't awkward to talk to and can help validate your instincts (without making it obvious). Make an offer. Yes, there might be someone perfect, but don't ruin "good enough" searching for perfect.

In a seller's market, I used the RedFin agent assigned to me to find the house that I'm in. I even got a $500 bonus check to boot on top of no closing costs. Good enough is ok
Topic Author
BuckeyeState
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:59 am

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by BuckeyeState »

MortgageOnBlack wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 11:51 pm Don't overthink it... use RedFin to shop around and get to know areas yourself.
Sadly, RedFin isn't available in my area. I really wish that it was. But thanks for the advice!
Hypersion
Posts: 247
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:20 am

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by Hypersion »

Try UpNest is redfin isn't available in your area.
stan1
Posts: 8933
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by stan1 »

I'd think about what you want out of a realtor. Do you want a realtor to show you dozens of houses? That is the way it was done a long time ago and I'm sure some people still want to do that.

For us we were comfortable doing our own searches online to find the houses we wanted to see. The realtor also forwarded us new listings every morning based off the search criteria set up in the MLS. We were open to about 20 different zip codes being in a large city with many neighborhoods we'd enjoy living in so searching and looking at photos was a quick way for us to focus on what we wanted. We did not find it useful to have an agent who gave us decorating advice for the new house and in fact preferred the agent to wait outside while we looked at a house (which he was happy to do).
DesertDiva
Posts: 921
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:49 pm
Location: In the desert

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by DesertDiva »

Examples of successful negotiations
Is he/she ABR certified?
How many transactions has he/she closed?
TravelforFun
Posts: 2186
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:05 pm

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by TravelforFun »

stan1 wrote: Fri Sep 11, 2020 12:49 pm I'd think about what you want out of a realtor. Do you want a realtor to show you dozens of houses? That is the way it was done a long time ago and I'm sure some people still want to do that.

For us we were comfortable doing our own searches online to find the houses we wanted to see. The realtor also forwarded us new listings every morning based off the search criteria set up in the MLS. We were open to about 20 different zip codes being in a large city with many neighborhoods we'd enjoy living in so searching and looking at photos was a quick way for us to focus on what we wanted. We did not find it useful to have an agent who gave us decorating advice for the new house and in fact preferred the agent to wait outside while we looked at a house (which he was happy to do).
So did you go see houses by yourself or your realtor also went with you?

We've searching for a vacation home and our realtor has been sending us a bunch of listings. We prefer to see the houses ourselves and would bring our realtor in to help us negotiate once we've made the selection; and I was wondering whether that's a good way to buy a home. The homes we're looking at scatter all over the place.

TravelforFun
GoodOmens
Posts: 25
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 12:54 pm

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by GoodOmens »

My last buyer's agent was a dud. Probably checked all the boxes mentioned in Sandtrap's note. Our sign should have been when he kept trying to push us to a colleague who was just beginning.

We closed on the house we wanted but def left some money on the table (new build should have asked for credit towards blinds etc). It was our first time buying and didn't know you could ask for such things. They def did save us from some houses that had non-obvious issues, so it wasn't a total loss.

At the end of the day, you are your own best interest. Read-up and ask lots of questions. Ask friends who they have used (or coworkers if you don't know anyone in the area). Visit some open houses and get a feel for a few different agents. They use open houses as much to sell a house as to take in new clients. From open houses I def know who our agent will be when it comes time to sell our current place.
stan1
Posts: 8933
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by stan1 »

TravelforFun wrote: Fri Sep 11, 2020 1:08 pm
stan1 wrote: Fri Sep 11, 2020 12:49 pm I'd think about what you want out of a realtor. Do you want a realtor to show you dozens of houses? That is the way it was done a long time ago and I'm sure some people still want to do that.

For us we were comfortable doing our own searches online to find the houses we wanted to see. The realtor also forwarded us new listings every morning based off the search criteria set up in the MLS. We were open to about 20 different zip codes being in a large city with many neighborhoods we'd enjoy living in so searching and looking at photos was a quick way for us to focus on what we wanted. We did not find it useful to have an agent who gave us decorating advice for the new house and in fact preferred the agent to wait outside while we looked at a house (which he was happy to do).
So did you go see houses by yourself or your realtor also went with you?

We've searching for a vacation home and our realtor has been sending us a bunch of listings. We prefer to see the houses ourselves and would bring our realtor in to help us negotiate once we've made the selection; and I was wondering whether that's a good way to buy a home. The homes we're looking at scatter all over the place.

TravelforFun
For us it was easy. We only toured one house in person and made an offer 24 hours later. First visit was an open house (2015 so pre-COVID), second was with our realtor later that evening. Based on location, Google maps (overhead) and Street View (neighborhood), and online photos of the house we were able to zero in to something that worked well for us.

If you want to walk through yourself just ask the realtor to wait outside and ask questions later. They will do what you want.

Our realtor did help us out in negotiations. We had to bid over ask due to multiple offers. When it came time to lift inspection and finance contingencies I just said to him "do the best you can". He took that on as a challenge and said most people didn't give him that leeway. He got price back down to the ask price which I was fine with because I knew what the comps were.
FeesR-BullNotBullish
Posts: 205
Joined: Sat May 28, 2016 11:22 am

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by FeesR-BullNotBullish »

Good for you asking questions. We completely lucked into good agents, and here is what I learned if we do it again.

See if you can get a feel for how patient they are. Our agents (they were a team) earned their keep by steering us away from the wrong houses. There were several properties that excited us, but we're grateful that our agents gave us pause before we submitted offers. In one case we did make an offer, and our agents advocated for us through the inspection process and helped us escape a would be disaster.

What is the agent's experience outside of real estate? Construction knowledge is helpful - one of our agents noticed out sub par "improvements" and brought her husband to a house we were considering. He was an HVAC guy and pointed out some duct work issues. She was also an arborist and would caution us about the surrounding foliage if she foresaw any issues.
User avatar
Bogle7
Posts: 652
Joined: Fri May 11, 2018 9:33 am

Hire a pro, not an amateur

Post by Bogle7 »

"How many sides have you done in the past 12 months."
The desired answer is 20=50.
Then ask for proof source.
Topic Author
BuckeyeState
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:59 am

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by BuckeyeState »

GoodOmens wrote: Fri Sep 11, 2020 1:17 pm Visit some open houses and get a feel for a few different agents. They use open houses as much to sell a house as to take in new clients. From open houses I def know who our agent will be when it comes time to sell our current place.
That would certainly be part of my strategy in normal times, but unfortunately there aren't a ton of open houses around here due to COVID.
Money Market
Posts: 165
Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:36 am

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by Money Market »

whodidntante wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 5:04 pm A week later, I found a house on my own and put it under contract. She sent me a bill! I laughed until I was sore, but I didn't escalate the situation. I bet she looked fantastic as she mailed that bill.
How did she know you made a purchase?
User avatar
whodidntante
Posts: 9130
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:11 pm
Location: outside the echo chamber

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by whodidntante »

Money Market wrote: Fri Sep 11, 2020 2:16 pm
whodidntante wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 5:04 pm A week later, I found a house on my own and put it under contract. She sent me a bill! I laughed until I was sore, but I didn't escalate the situation. I bet she looked fantastic as she mailed that bill.
How did she know you made a purchase?
It was in a rural area. She probably knew how much I offered and what color shirt I had on that day.
BillyK
Posts: 73
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2016 1:30 am

Re: How to interview a buyer's agent?

Post by BillyK »

You want to have a clear understanding of the type of agency relationship that exists between you and the agent/brokerage. They usually will need to disclose it to you, but anymore the various relationships that may exist depending on the state can be quite confusing. Ideally, you want someone that works on your behalf as a fiduciary.

Since real estate agents usually work commission only, they will be real good at interviewing you to determine whether they wish to work with you as a client. The questions they ask you will tell you a lot about them. Plus, as salespeople they will be good at explaining to you why you should use them and what they can offer you versus their competition.

Depending on your state, there may be a standard state's promulgated purchase agreement for residential properties used by most real estate agents. Their local Realtor's association or board may also have a purchase agreement version that their members use. Unless, you plan on using your own attorney, I would ask them for a copy of the purchase agreement that they use so that you can become familiar with it before making an offer and then becoming bound to it. If it is a state version, you should be able to find it online as well as various contract addenda. It will have a lot of pertinent information that you will need to fully understand and discuss with your agent.
Post Reply