A friend of my wife and I recently got taken advantage of by a real estate agent that did not have his interest at heart. My friend looked at a house with his agent, but the house was being sold by another agent from the same real estate firm. My friend put in a low offer on the house that had been sitting on the market for several months. The agents allegedly then told a different perspective buyer about the offer. The new buyer had been sitting on the fence until my friend’s offer came in. The new buyer promptly paid full asking price for the house (we live in a very hot real estate market unlike most of the rest of the country), and my buddy lost his dream house.
It is stories like this one that give realtors a bad name. My wife and I had the most wonderful experience with our real estate agent this past year. From the very first meeting, our agent sat us down and explained to us her role, ethics and law requirements set forth by the state’s real estate commission, etc. From day one, she listened to and helped us match homes with our needs. She sent us countless information about school districts and other aspects of buying a home. You might think that this is common place, but obviously it is not with the multitude of horror stories that are floating out there like my friend’s experience. Things went amazingly smoothly, and our first offer was quickly accepted.
So, how do you pick the best real estate agent? Heaven knows that there are enough of them out there. Let me also tell you from first hand experience that picking a realtor out of the phone book or off a billboard is always a bad idea. My wife and I asked our friends in the area for recommendations, and it made all the difference in our first home buying experience.
Another thing to keep in mind is to be wary of agents who seem less reputable. Realtors should not be people who have graduated from selling cars. Only you have your own best interest at heart, and it pays to be skeptical. Unlike my friend in the example I talked about above, you need to hire your own real estate attorney if you want to purchase a house listed with your buying agent’s realtor firm. Your agent may share your confidential bid information to the seller and others. In this case, both agents work for their firm and the seller. Do not simply trust the realtor.
So, pick your real estate agent carefully. It can be the difference between getting the home of your dream and letting it slip through your fingertips.
Disclaimer: Like most professions, 99.9% of real estate agents are wonderful, honest, and hardworking professionals. It is always the bad apples that ruin the bunch and taint our image of the groups as a whole.