GIMME SHELTER- House shopping? Choose the right buyer's agent

Jim Duncan
Century 21 Manley,

Q: They say its a buyer's market now, and we're thinking of jumping in. Any tips on choosing a buyer's agent?

A: Take your time and choose the right buyer's agent.

As a 2005 Wall Street Journal article put it,  "Finding a real estate agent is kind of like dating. You have a small window to make an impression, and then you're with that person for a long time."

       Choose someone whom you trust and get along with and like– not just because you met him at an open house, or because she has a blog, or because she's

your sister's husband's friend who's just getting started and needs a

break. Choosing the wrong representation is just not worth it.

       A good (great) buyer's agent is someone who will advocate 100 percent on your

behalf. Contrary to public opinion, a good buyer's agent is focused

on the client's needs more than their own. If you feel that "your" Realtor

is focused more on the "sale" than your best interests– tell him.

       For buyer's agents, putting the client first also makes good business sense. For example, here's my business philosophy when I work with buyers: I want to sell

their house when they move. That's because all buyer clients represent a minimum of three transactions:

1) The house they're buying right now.

And if they walk away satisfied...

2) That house when they move (everybody moves, even if "this is the last

house I'm ever going to buy")

And if they walk away satisfied again...

3) At least one of their friends or family members. 

After you've found a buyer's agent you trust, I recommend working with a Buyer-Broker agreement where the agent fee is negotiated by the buyer, not what the seller is offering. Since the fee is negotiated upfront, buyers can be assured that agents are showing unrepresented sellers' (FSBO) houses or those houses that are offering lower commissions in the MLS than many agents are used to. It's a more honest and transparent approach– and it formalizes the contractual relationship that agents have with their clients and that my clients have with their agents.

As you'll notice, current Buyer-Broker agreements (ask your agent for a sample one to look at) take two sections to warn/educate about Dual Agency. Single Agent Dual Agency is where the Realtor "represents" both the buyer and the seller– sort of like an attorney prosecuting the person they are defending.

Simply put– do your due diligence.