I was involved in an online discussion recently regarding the state of the local market. One of the participants shared his advice and tips on home buying. While some of it was dead on, other assumptions he made were off base. I shared what I know to be true of the market and I thought it was worth sharing with a wider audience. The following is the exchange presented in a semi conversational style.
“You really should have an agent who is familiar with the area in which you're looking. You don't want an agent from Dallas if you're looking in Douglasville, or an agent from East Cobb if you're looking in Paulding.”
That's true to a degree. But I can assure you that even if an agent's office is located in East Cobb, I bet you dollars to doughnuts that agent knows multiple areas. Most agents are familiar with Metro Atlanta. I sell houses as far away as Lawrenceville and Stone Mountain as well as houses right down the street from my home in Polk County. Of course, I am an Atlanta native and I do have an advantage in being so. Also, with technology being what it is, agents can familiarize themselves with areas that might be unfamiliar with a few clicks of the mouse. All you really need to know are market price statistics in a specific area.
“There are many, many, MANY excellent agents out there. As with any industry, there are a few bad apples. Talk to at least three agents before having them help you find a house. If you can't work with them, you can't get the best representation from them.”
I can't say it better than that.
“And above all, never call the agent who has the listing on the house you're interested in. Some agents will handle dual agency (where they represent both the buyer and the seller) and even when they do, it really isn't in your best interest to do so. The listing agent works for the seller and you need an agent who will work FOR you and only you.”
Let's be careful. There is no harm in calling the listing agent. In fact, that's really your best option on a house you are interested in seeing—IF you are not already represented by a broker. Dual agency is a sticky situation and a bad idea in my opinion. Yes, I could collect both sides of the commission if I represent the seller and the buyer; however, there is no amount of commission in the world that would make me want to do that. It is philosophically impossible to represent two parties equally in the same transaction. It is of no value to either party to have that type of representation. While it is still legal in Georgia, some brokerages no longer allow dual agency to be practiced by their agents.
If I receive a sign call from an unrepresented buyer and they decide to write an offer on that listing, I am very careful to explain the agency options available to them. I explain the benefits of choosing an agent on their own, designated agency (referral from me to another agent), or remaining unrepresented. I do not recommend buyers purchase unrepresented. While commission is negotiable as to which side pays, in 99.9 percent of transactions, the seller will pay the agreed-upon commission.
Buyers, get representation. You can do that by calling the listing agent on the sign. Do not be afraid to do that, but again only if you’re not already represented by a brokerage. No matter what, the ball is still in your court and you may choose the type of representation that best suits you. Often the listing agent is in a good position to advise you.
The other side of that equation is the ability of the listing agent to convert a sign call to a buyer client. If a buyer calls off of my sign, and they are unrepresented, they are a potential new client for me. I will always show them the listing they called on if they want to see it. I will always give them a respectable pitch for that listing; after all, I do want to sell that listing. However, that listing may not fit their needs completely. In that case, I am within my right to solicit that buyer to become my client. That's how we make our money. We list homes, we find buyers and we negotiate and close deals. At the end of the day, it is business, and the way I feed my family. I promise you most agents are ethical, and will do the right thing.
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iDeal Real Estate Professionals LLC is owned and operated by Brandon Bramlett and C. Mark Willix and is affiliated with Maximum One Realty Greater Atlanta. For personalized service, visit us at www.idealrealestateprofessionals.com. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.