As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

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rgs92
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As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by rgs92 » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:39 am

If you are looking for a house to buy, do you use a real estate agent or just look online (Trulia,Zillow,Realtor,Redfin, etc.)?
Why or why not?

I brought this up in another thread about flat-fee realtors, and there were many who said using an agent to find you a property was still a common and valuable practice.

(I did notice that many who said this were in the real estate industry themselves, so I wanted to just ask directly to the consumer community for a broader perspective.)

I went to many open houses over the past few years, and I notice on the sign-in sheet, everyone lists Zillow, Trulia, etc., so I thought that was becoming the norm.

Thank you.

stangmangt8825
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by stangmangt8825 » Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:01 pm

I am in the process of buying, and did use a realtor along with my own monitoring. What I found locally to me is that my realtor would have leads on not yet listed houses that allowed me to scout and be prepared for when it went on the market.

DesertDiva
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by DesertDiva » Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:04 pm

I was the only person in the thread who mentioned an industry connection - but I'm no longer in the business. I'm a former agent. I've also had my fair share of purchases as a consumer, so I know both sides of the coin.

When people go to an open house and write Zillow, Trulia, etc., it means they first saw the property online and they aren't working with an agent. When you go to these sites, you are simply looking at properties that a Listing Agent has plugged into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). These sites merely aggregate data from MLS systems across the country to show you what's available. So you cannot go to these websites to buy a house. These types of sites, however, attempt to connect you with an agent that has paid them money in order to buy leads and obtain buyers.

I did a Zillow search in my neighborhood for active listings and found two houses that I know are under contract - Zillow doesn't provide you this information. The point of displaying houses that are under contract is to motivate you to contact their paying Agents. This agent will say "sorry the house isn't available, but I can show you other properties". If you start working with your own Agent from the start, they will focus on active listings.

Remember this one fact: unless you have a signed Buyer's Agency contract, all agents work for the Seller and can 1) withhold information from you that you need for negotiation, and 2) share information about you with the Seller, such as how high you are able to go to buy their property.
Last edited by DesertDiva on Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:50 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Nowizard
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by Nowizard » Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:05 pm

As someone who is both selling and looking, here are some impressions. Realtors dislike Zillow, primarily due to the fact that they feel their Zestimates are inaccurate from including large, geographic areas to determine their figures. However, lookers go there. For example, we have been listed (Selling ourselves but with an MLS listing) for ten days and have over 600 views, many "Saves." We are looking in another city where the market is quite hot. We will not purchase until our current home sells but have looked at various sites like Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, Redfin, etc. for homes in that city. The gist of it is that homes go under contract quickly, and you have to be ready to move quickly. It is our opinion that we can find houses we like, but they are under contract so quickly that we feel some folks have better access to them than is provided on the internet. We will engage a Realtor who can, hopefully, give us an earlier head's up on homes coming up for sale. Going to open houses, driving by homes of interest we have identified on the internet, etc. has been helpful in identifying areas where we want to live, types of homes, etc., but for actual buying, we will need a Realtor.
Also, we have discovered that Realtors have changed. Some are primarily what we call "Listing" Realtors, those who focus on listings, advertise the homes, seldom show them themselves and rely on other Realtors to sell for them. Others are more active in both listing and showing. We had the former previously, selected due to being the highest producer in our area. She advertised and sat back. We had 15 showings in six months but have had 17 in ten days after listing ourselves with agreement to co-op. Most showings have been without a Realtor involved, and we have concluded that Realtors prefer to not support those selling by owner, at least in our area.

Tim

rgs92
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by rgs92 » Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:58 pm

Thanks DesertDiva, that's just the kind of useful info I was curious about. Thank you very much and all the best to you for taking the time to write that about your experience and doing that research. I did not know that.

HornedToad
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by HornedToad » Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:05 pm

We did. It was convenient as we went thru the process and it's not that common to get a 2-3% discount for not using an agent (or that amount is lost in the negotiation).

open_circuit
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by open_circuit » Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:16 pm

I did not use an agent to buy my first home (new construction from builder), but did use an agent for our interstate move. I found an agent to be helpful when moving to an unfamiliar city.

adamthesmythe
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by adamthesmythe » Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:23 pm

> If you are looking for a house to buy, do you use a real estate agent or just look online

Both.

On line to get a perspective on price and to narrow down a list of houses to look at with a buyer's agent.

If you are trying to figure out "what most buyers do" consider that this may depend on the type of buyer. If your property appeals to professionals that may be coming in from out of town or have little time to tour- these buyers are more likely to have a buyer's agent.

jminv
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by jminv » Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:32 pm

I look online, find the houses I want to see, and then use one of the buyer agents commission rebate bidding websites. Realtors bid on the portion of their commission they’ll rebate to you. Last time I got 65% back. If you just use the listing agent, then they normally keep both halves ie 6%. That’s a bad deal.

Buyers agents are useful. They’ve noticed things and helped with other things that a sellers agent wouldn’t.

wfrobinette
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by wfrobinette » Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:54 pm

DesertDiva wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:04 pm


Remember this one fact: unless you have a signed Buyer's Agency contract, all agents work for the Seller and can 1) withhold information from you that you need for negotiation, and 2) share information about you with the Seller, such as how high you are able to go to buy their property.
+1

Unless you really know the area, I would always use an agent but sign the buyers agency contract. Be careful if the listing agent is at the same office of the buyers.

michaeljc70
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by michaeljc70 » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:20 pm

Since it costs you nothing, I am not sure why you wouldn't get a buyer's agent. Almost all appointments are still made by phone (at least where I live). Let someone do this for you and try to coordinate going to look at properties (preferably lumping multiple into a few hour window). They may provide insights into the properties you didn't see. They may be useful in writing up the contract (some agents add clauses to the standard contract that do add protections for the buyer) and negotiating. If not, again, you didn't pay them anything. Do you want the sellers agent to make 2x the commission when they did nothing for you really?

Where I live, many agents won't take you seriously if you don't have an agent. They think they are perpetual lookers. Of course, they want to double dip on the commission so that offsets some of that.

Golf maniac
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by Golf maniac » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:36 pm

I would say a qualified yes. I have used realtors numerous times, some have been great, others not so great. You want to make sure your realtor is really providing advice and is pointing out the negatives. They should also provide you with comparibles before you put in your offer. They should also give you information on the community. Again, a great realtor is a great asset, but some, not so much.

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hand
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by hand » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:45 pm

The nice thing about third party sites (Zillow, Trullia etc.) is that they are easy to use and typically free to list, so contain a superset of realtor listed properties (from MLS) and properties listed by owner that may not be on the MLS.

Additionally, they are unfiltered by any agent, so you are able to find properties that match your needs even if you can't explain your needs to an agent.

Irrespective of whether you use a realtor when you buy, you should absolutely be checking these sites on your own as they may contain properties that an agent isn't motivated to find (FSBO) or bring to your attention (low commission).

Disclosure, I have not used to buy, but have successfully sold via Zillow without listing on the MLS.
If I hadn't found "my" buyer, I would have eventually listed on MLS.

JoeRetire
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by JoeRetire » Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:16 pm

rgs92 wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:39 am
If you are looking for a house to buy, do you use a real estate agent or just look online (Trulia,Zillow,Realtor,Redfin, etc.)?
Both.

I look online, then contract with a local realtor.

michaeljc70
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by michaeljc70 » Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:53 pm

I've read that over 90% of homes are sold with realtors. Then you have to back out developers that sell without a realtor, so the number is even smaller for those that are FSBO. I am under the impression that most FSBO's wind up hiring a realtor after not being able to sell it themselves. This may be different in small towns or rural areas. In my experience, most people selling by owner are 1) cheap trying to save money (and therefore overprice the home) or 2) testing the waters and not very serious. I didn't bother using Zillow or Trulia. I guess I don't see the harm of looking on there though.

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rocket354
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by rocket354 » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:02 pm

I've been pretty serious house-shopping a few times, each time with a realtor. I've not once ever gotten into a FSBO home with my agent (different one each time). Something always seems to "come up." I don't know how local it is, but I've always suspected there's a concerted effort on the part of some agents to avoid FSBO homes.

michaeljc70
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by michaeljc70 » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:08 pm

rocket354 wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:02 pm
I've been pretty serious house-shopping a few times, each time with a realtor. I've not once ever gotten into a FSBO home with my agent (different one each time). Something always seems to "come up." I don't know how local it is, but I've always suspected there's a concerted effort on the part of some agents to avoid FSBO homes.
Of course there is! They won't make any money. It is like your commissioned financial "advisor" putting you in Vanguard funds.

Friends that are realtors though sometimes will call the owner and say they have an interested client and ask for a commission if they bring them and buy the home.

bberris
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by bberris » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:23 pm

michaeljc70 wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:20 pm
Since it costs you nothing, I am not sure why you wouldn't get a buyer's agent. Almost all appointments are still made by phone (at least where I live). Let someone do this for you and try to coordinate going to look at properties (preferably lumping multiple into a few hour window). They may provide insights into the properties you didn't see. They may be useful in writing up the contract (some agents add clauses to the standard contract that do add protections for the buyer) and negotiating. If not, again, you didn't pay them anything. Do you want the sellers agent to make 2x the commission when they did nothing for you really?

Where I live, many agents won't take you seriously if you don't have an agent. They think they are perpetual lookers. Of course, they want to double dip on the commission so that offsets some of that.
Having a buyer's agent does cost.
The big agencies here all have buyer fees tacked on. When the seller has to pay a second agent, he is not as willing to take a lower price. Let's say there are two offers with the same price on the table. One has no buyer's agent, the other does not. Depending on the seller's contract, he may not have to pay the buyer's agent split.

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hand
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by hand » Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:50 am

bberris wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:23 pm
michaeljc70 wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:20 pm
Since it costs you nothing, I am not sure why you wouldn't get a buyer's agent. Almost all appointments are still made by phone (at least where I live). Let someone do this for you and try to coordinate going to look at properties (preferably lumping multiple into a few hour window). They may provide insights into the properties you didn't see. They may be useful in writing up the contract (some agents add clauses to the standard contract that do add protections for the buyer) and negotiating. If not, again, you didn't pay them anything. Do you want the sellers agent to make 2x the commission when they did nothing for you really?

Where I live, many agents won't take you seriously if you don't have an agent. They think they are perpetual lookers. Of course, they want to double dip on the commission so that offsets some of that.
Having a buyer's agent does cost.
The big agencies here all have buyer fees tacked on. When the seller has to pay a second agent, he is not as willing to take a lower price. Let's say there are two offers with the same price on the table. One has no buyer's agent, the other does not. Depending on the seller's contract, he may not have to pay the buyer's agent split.
This is my experience too... when I sold FSBO, buyer had an agent who "only" took 1% of the deal.
This allowed us to agree on a price 4-5% below market (good deal for the buyer) that still netted me more than a full commission deal (and more importantly closed within a week of renters moving out). Our deal wouldn't have made sense had there been additional commission overhead taken out.

While there was a bit of a learning curve on my part (mostly about how to deal with slimy realtors using various pretenses to waste my time then capture the listing - the fake interested buyers mentioned above are common), total time invested was only marginally more than managing a listing agent and results were superior.

Regarding the "perpetual looker" comment quoted above, a signed offer letter does wonders to dispel that perception!

squirm
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by squirm » Tue Mar 13, 2018 8:19 am

I did everything myself for all three of our properties we bought. Real estate agents are worthless.

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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by bungalow10 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 8:51 am

I close on a house in a little over a week. Of the 13 (I think?) houses I went through, only half were active listings on the MLS. Had I not had a realtor, I would never have known the house I'm buying was even a possibility.

Of the four houses we liked, the one on the MLS sold immediately for it's full asking price (more than I wanted to pay). I put offers on three others, none of which were listed at the time I went through them - I was not competing against any other buyers, which was nice.

This will make the second time the house I'm buying will have sold without going live the MLS (last time was 2012).
An elephant for a dime is only a good deal if you need an elephant and have a dime.

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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by MadDash335 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:00 am

We are closing on a home at the end of the month and are very happy we used a realtor/buyers agent. They walked us through several homes and ultimately were able to get us into an off-market home due to area knowledge/connections. We are in a hyper-competetive market that is going to heat up even more in the next month, so getting in off-market and in the calm before the storm afforded us the ability to: 1) See our perfect home within our price range 2) Avoid a bidding war, which likely would have happened at the price point we got in at and 3) Include all contingencies, such as an inspection, etc.

In addition to the above, we really appreciated the guidance they provided us as first time home buyers. The result was getting into an unavailable house, leading to an accepted offer below asking, below market, and below appraisal. Couldn't be happier.

Note: We found our realtors via a referral from a trusted contact, this helped us rest easy.

hale2
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by hale2 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:21 pm

How do you choose an agent? My area is full of them so how do I choose? In the past I've contacted names that I see a lot around the area, only to find out they have a team so you really don't know anything about the person who contacts you from the team. Others just seem to talk a good game, until you start asking about specific areas or neighborhoods then you realize they don't really know much.

michaeljc70
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by michaeljc70 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:10 pm

hale2 wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:21 pm
How do you choose an agent? My area is full of them so how do I choose? In the past I've contacted names that I see a lot around the area, only to find out they have a team so you really don't know anything about the person who contacts you from the team. Others just seem to talk a good game, until you start asking about specific areas or neighborhoods then you realize they don't really know much.
Ask someone you know (friend, family, co-worker) that has bought or sold recently if you don't know any agents. I have a few friends that are agents - which can make it dicey picking one and not offending the others. You can try Yelp or other review sites, but I would take those with a grain of salt. I'm not sure if Angie's List has realtors. I see commercials on TV for services that supposedly screen agents and match you to one, but I think it is more of a lead generation system and would question the screening.

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rocket354
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by rocket354 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:18 pm

In terms of choosing agents it's always been a crapshoot for me. I chose one with lots of high reviews on the major real estate web sites and he turned out to be a lying slimeball. I've gotten recs from people and none of them have impressed me much--the recs have been friends of friends, not agents of friends.

Suffice to say I'm quickly tiring of the real estate agent game and will probably try Redfin or something else next time.

Finridge
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Re: As a home buyer, do you use your own realtor or agent?

Post by Finridge » Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:08 am

It is very helpful to work with a good, experienced agent that you can trust. I recommend that you do NOT just use the first agent you speak to at an open house, or that you speak to because they have the listing on house that caught your eye. Look for an agent that same way that you would look for any other trusted professional.

Look at online reviews and get referrals from friends (but don't go with someone just because he's some friend's buddy or relative.) For the same reason, I would not go with someone who is a friend--this is business. I want the kind of relationship I'd have with a professional and I think it's a bad idea to mix business and friends. Put together a list of 3 prospective or so agents and meet with the face to face. You're interviewing them to see who has the best fit.

You want someone who is experienced, skilled and ethical. Why ethical? Because often the economic interests of the agent are not going to be aligned with your interests. It's in the agent's interest to sell you something as fast as she can, and at times the temptation is great for them to use some of the same ploys that used car salespeople are notorious for. You want someone who will point out a hidden defect even when the know they are doing so at the cost of an almost sure sale.

Also, when looking for an agent to represent you as buyer, the best agent for you very likely may be one who does NOT have a lot of listings and do a high volume. At least if you are picky (like I am) and want to take your time and look at a lot of houses and find the "best one". The high volume agents would have lost patience with me before I even got warmed up.

The best agent for you often won't be the one who does the best talking. There are lots of agents that are great "sales" people--they're great at getting people to "like" them and have confidence in them, but won't have the patience or expertise as some of the other agents that, due to lessor selling/social skills have to work harder, and know the technical side better.

Find a good agent you like and trust, and then be loyal to them, and let them know that you are going to be loyal to them--that means that you won't work with other agents. (But see below.) When you see a listed house you like, you call your agent, not the one whose name is on the listing. If you chose your agent right, this will motivate your agent to do his or best for you. And also, as a general rule, you get much better service having your own agent representing only you then working with an agent that also represents the seller.

When I say that you should be loyal to agent that you choose, I mean only for so long as the agent is working out to your expectations. If he or she does not work out, then obviously you will need to get a new agent.

What I'm advising here--it's not the only way I'm sure, but it's the approach I take, and it has worked out very well for me.

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