Why Buyers Need A Realtor® And Why You Should Be Picky About Which One You Select

I got a call Sunday from a home buyer who I had showed one of my listings to a few months ago. She was in tears. She wanted to know if I could step in and fix all the problems with a transaction she entered into with a cocktail waitress/Realtor she knew from work.

The Waitress/Realtor works during the day. The lender she recommended is a blackjack dealer on graveyard, and tends to sleep during the day when her kids are at school. She was told she didn’t need an inspection. She was told that she had to offer the list price to be sure she got the home. No one returns her calls. No one is looking out for her interests.

The last conversation she had with the dealer/lender was that she was still looking for a loan program that would accept her credit scores, even though she generated a pre-approval letter. She was told that she might need more down payment than she has. That was a week ago.

She gave notice to her landlord that she would be moving on April 15th. Now she’s not sure if she can get a loan, and the landlord says she has to move, as they’ve got new tenants lined up already.

There’s 5 or 6 problems going on at the same time, and she’s not gotten any help in solving them.  All of those issues should have been addressed up front, with back up plans in place for each of them. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do.

Things do go wrong in real estate transactions. Lending guidelines change. Defects with the property get discovered in the inspection/due diligence phase. Buyers and sellers get nervous and anxious. People don’t do their jobs in a timely fashion. Family emergencies happen to even the most conscientious and dedicated lenders and agents. But all of this was avoidable.

I attended one of the Hot Pink Mamas “business mixers” the other night, and jokingly introduced myself to everyone as the “last agent in town who’s still working full time as a Realtor”. Of course that’s not true, but it sometimes feels like it. Every day I’m confronted with things such as calling on a listing with a question and the call never gets returned. A buyer says they’re approved for a loan and they’re not…they’re really only prequalifed which is another whole thing. Any agent who’d publish one of our infamous worst MLS photo of the day, is probably just as sloppy with their contracts and their follow thru. You can fire your agent right up to the moment you enter a contract. Then you’re stuck with them for better or for worse.

Kris Berg, who has been called the “Erma Bombeck of Real Estate Bloggers” begs the question very pointedly: 

For the home buyer, you will in fact be dealing with two sellers. One is obvious; he has a home he would like you to purchase. The other “seller” is your real estate agent. He is selling his services to you, and once you have agreed to allow this agent you represent you, you have bought what he is selling. You inspect your other purchases before you make them – the home and even the shirt off the mark-down table at the cool surf shop. Inspect your agent before you buy!

Sellers routinely put us through interview processes which have us feeling like participants in the Iditarod and the Science Olympiad all at once. Many selling clients come to us through referrals and many require us to compete and earn their business. Why, then, have buyers come to assume that their representation needs no introduction or screening, that the first perky, warm body they find at an open house or street corner will do?

The following is from The Keller Williams Realty Website. It’s a very generic list of what we’re supposed to do and know and how we should act. But not all agents are the same. Buyers need to hold the agents responsible, and buyer’s have an extremely self-serving obligation to choose an agent who has their act together.  

A licensed real estate professional provides much more than the service of helping you find your ideal home. Realtors® are expert negotiators with other agents, seasoned financial advisors with customers, and superb navigators around the local neighborhood. They are members of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) and must abide by a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice enforced by the NAR. A professional Realtor is your best resource when buying your home.

• A knowledgeable Realtor can save you endless amounts of time, money, and frustration.
• A knowledgeable Realtor knows the housing market inside and out and can help you avoid the “wild goose chase.”
• A knowledgeable Realtor can help you with any home, even if it is listed elsewhere or if it is being sold directly by the owner.
• A knowledgeable Realtor knows the best lenders in the area and can help you understand the importance of being preapproved for a mortgage. He or she can also discuss down payments, closing costs, and monthly payment options that suit you.
• A knowledgeable Realtor is an excellent source for both general and specific information about the community such as schools, churches, shopping, and transportation—plus tips on home inspections and pricing.
• A knowledgeable Realtor is experienced at presenting your offer to the seller and can help you through the process of negotiating the best price. By bring objectivity to the buying transaction, he or she can point out the advantages and the disadvantages of a particular property.

And the best thing about your Realtor is that all this help normally won’t cost you a cent. Generally speaking, the seller pays the commission to the Realtor.