Most homebuyers wend their way to me through personal referral, which – even in this age of electronic connectivity – is the warmest means of finding trusted resources.
Yet I receive “cold” inquiries almost daily from folks shopping on their own. They’re calling or emailing or texting on a listing they spied on Trulia or Zillow.
Many of these cold callers believe they’ll benefit by not aligning themselves with an agent. They are misguided in that assumption.
Because I am busy and don’t want to seem pushy, I seldom take time to explain to them why they need an agent. But because I’ve received so many of these calls lately, I thought I’d take a few minutes and write about it. Here goes, in no particular order:
- Your Buyer’s agent’s services are free. Seller’s agent has agreed in advance with the Seller that they’ll share half their commission with the prevailing Buyer’s agent. Seller pays that commission.
- On any property you might ask the Seller’s agent to represent you as a Buyer. In which case, the Seller’s agent would take the whole commission while splitting their allegiance between Buyer and Seller. Or you can – at no additional cost – be represented by your very own agent who only cares about YOUR happiness.
- And, guess what? Your agent is only paid when you find, win and close on a property you want. In the meantime, your agent works for you – free of charge.
- Let’s add emphasis to items 1, 2 and 3 above: Seller’s agent’s fiduciary allegiance is to the Seller. As such, her/his primary goal is selling Seller’s property. Buyer’s agent’s fiduciary allegiance is to the Buyer and her/his primary goal is finding Buyer the ideal property. There’s a huge difference between the two.
- Your agent comes equipped with a wealth of knowledge gleaned from years of hands-on practice. No matter how clever you think you are, you will never be able to replicate the service they provide.
- Your agent:
- knows the market and has access to sales data
- is a savvy negotiator
- understands strategies for competing in multiple-offer scenarios
- is connected to other professionals like inspectors, lenders and contractors
- possesses insider knowledge of off-market opportunities
- has seen hundreds or thousands of properties
- has solved hundreds or thousands of transaction problems
- knows about property maintenance, improvement and expansion
- understands contracts and has a vested interest in keeping you out of legal trouble
- realizes the hybrid nature of real estate transactions where personal emotions exert tremendous influence on business decisions – for good or ill
- is likely to become a trusted friend and advisor who will be there for you over many years to come (provided you choose your agent wisely)
Take note: There’s a strong chance you won’t truly comprehend or appreciate any of what I’ve just written until after you’ve completed your first transaction.
In the meantime, you must take a leap of faith and search for YOUR agent. To that end, ask friends and co-workers for recommendations, or visit open houses. Sit down in person with prospective Realtors to interview them and be interviewed by them.
And trust your intuition. If you get that feeling that you’re being “sold” or pushed, keep searching. If you feel at ease and their references check out, then “hire” them.
But never engage more than one agent on your behalf. That’s not fair and, in the end, it’ll undermine your chances of finding and winning a property you love. San Francisco is a small town with very little for sale and – if you’re working with more than one agent – it’s only a matter of time before they discover each other and dump you for more loyal clients.
That’s it. Happy agent hunting!
Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.