Home Buyers- How to hire the right agent for you

Buying

Home Buyers- How to hire the right agent for you

Finding an agent to represent you is not always the easiest thing to do, especially if it is your 1st home and you may not know what to ask. First I would like to talk about why you would want an agent to represent in the 1st place when looking to buy a home.

Let’s start with this question, If you were being sued in a court of law, would you hire the same attorney that is representing the person suing you? Probably not, although this is an extreme example it is important to understand how an agent represents you. The point I am trying to make is if you walk into an open house remember that agent is representing the seller. It doesn’t mean that agent can’t represent you the buyer as well but their fiduciary responsibility is to the seller at that point. When an agent represents both the buyer and the seller it is called dual agency. In the state of Minnesota an agent can represent both parties but you will want to check your state to see if the same laws apply. If you hire an agent to represent just your side you will never have to worry that they are truly working in your best interest.

Along with that I challenge you to not just pick what ever agent happens to be standing in front of you but interview several agents just like you would if you were hiring someone for a job. The worst thing you can do is hire someone who is not willing to work hard for you or goes against your beliefs and wishes. As long as it is legal and ethical your agent should follow your direction. They are there to give advice, answer questions and talk over options and strategies. They are not there to tell you what to do, they are there to help you.

Here are some questions to help get you started-

  • What is the difference between a short sale and a foreclosure? You are looking for details with this one not just one is bank owned.
  • How many homes have you sold in the last 12 months? This is important to get an idea of how much business they do.
  • Are you full or part time? Hire a professional full time agent, not uncle Bob.
  • What does the clause “time is of the essence” mean? Timing is everything especially when you are dealing with a bank foreclosure.
  • What is the procedure for submitting an offer and how does it differ depending on what type of sale it is? They have to be ready with a plan weather it is a foreclosure, short sale or regular sale.
  • Does the agent understand the language in a bank supplement or addendum? This one is tricky and you are looking for some key points that are common in most bank addendum’s. It is always a good idea to ask an attorney to look over these documents to answer any legal questions you may have.
  • Do you know what a “Per Diem” is? This could be costly to you if the deal does not close on time.
  • Will you do a BPO (buyers price opinion or current market analysis) for me before I write an offer? You want comps of the neighborhood and area to back up offer your offer price.
  • Ask the agent, what type of negotiation skills they have? Ask for a few success stories.
  • Can the agent explain “agency” to you? They have to be able to explain how it works when you are helping a buyer or seller along with their fiduciary responsibility to you.

This list should get you started and will hopefully give you something to think about vs. just hiring the first agent you meet.