Those who are looking for a home to purchase might not know what they’re searching for in a property or in an agent, but it’s not their fault, especially if they’re first-timers. This is where having a trusted real estate advisor early in the process can be a saving grace for many who are venturing into homeownership. A buyer’s agent is that trust advisor, who must make “a continuous and good faith effort to find a property for the buyer,” assuming a contract with another agent isn’t in play. And with other conditions like keeping all confidential information relayed by the buyer, confidential as well as always acting in the buyer’s best interests, these agents play a vital role in the transaction. We recently sat down with one of our own to explore the mind of a buyer agent.
“Buyers have to be able to get in touch with you, their buyer’s agent,” emphasizes Ann A. Sheroda, Associate Broker with Realty Network Group [Clarks Summit, PA]. “When they can’t there’s frustration, distrust and quite frankly, abandonment to some extent.” A successful business is predicated on fostering relationships. Connecting buyers and sellers is critical for obvious reasons in a transaction, but the connection between the seller and their agent in addition to the buyer and their agent shouldn’t be minimized.
In the relationship between agent and buyer there’s either a sense of trust or distrust. From the onset, establishing this trust is important. One way to build upon it is in how the agent protects the homebuyer. “It’s the buyer’s agent who needs to protect their client,” underscores Sheroda. “If they won’t, who will? A buyer needs a good lender, title company and attorney. It’s unfortunate when an unsuspecting party hires the services of an attorney at the eleventh hour of the transaction or teams up with a lender, who many in the field will avoid whenever possible. A good agent will make sure the terms the purchaser needs are written up correctly in the contract. They’ll make sure inspections are in place to protect them. If your buyer previews six homes and none of them are any good and don’t match their needs, you show them six more.”
These are some of the advantages to using a buyer’s agent in today’s market. Buyers desire, whether they know it or not, someone who’s going to look out for their best interests. Though they might come at a lower premium during autumn and the early winter months, home prices are elevated and buyers need someone who has their back. The same can be said for mortgage interest rates and the potential for overpaying for a property. Buyer representation is a must-have for buyers heading into 2023.
Do drawbacks to buyer representation exist? There could be disadvantages for homebuyers entering into a business relationship with a buyer’s agent. Namely, you could become a hostage to poor representation. As Sheroda points out: “It can be brutal when you can’t get in touch with your agent and they don’t make time for you. Flexibility on the agent’s part is needed, but it goes further than that. Communication is critical. If you’re not committed to your clients and their need to acquire a suitable dwelling for themselves and their families, then it begs the question: Why are you representing them in the first place?” The worst situation a prospective buyer can find themselves in prior to signing an agreement of sale, is being locked into a contract with an agent who isn’t giving their client their best effort, isn’t acting in their best interests and isn’t staying in touch with them either. “Don’t think dealing with the listing agent is the answer,” asserts Sheroda. “Though listing agents in the state of Pennsylvania, who act ethically, can also represent the interests of the buyer through dual agency, a buyer should hesitate before retreating to the agent who has the property listed. A buyer needs to make sure they’re being properly represented in the transaction.”
“There have been numerous times in my seventeen years when a client of mine has been desperate to purchase, but when previewing homes that weren’t a match for them, I’ve told them they absolutely need to walk away,” explains Sheroda. “Buyers need to understand, no matter how rushed or pressured they feel to purchase, they should not buy just to buy. I recently had a situation where a contractor I knew was previewing a home with one of my clients, who also had an association with the contractor and requested he be present at the showing. The house needed a ton of work and it wasn’t worth the aggravation, in my mind, and it certainly wasn’t a fit for my buyer. My client asked me if she should consider purchasing the home. I told her she needed to walk away. Afterwards, the contractor said he gained even more respect for me, upon hearing the counsel I was giving to my client.”
Ann Sheroda believes finding an agent can and should be a process of trial by error. The buyer needs to be comfortable with their agent. They need to trust and form a rapport with them. “If I weren’t licensed in this business, I would still use a buyer’s agent,” affirms Sheroda. “There can be pitfalls along the way and every buyer needs guidance throughout all phases of their dealings: In the search process, pricing, negotiating, networking, through the transaction to settlement and beyond. Selecting an agent should be carefully done. In fact, I recommend prospective buyers and sellers who approach me to check my references – Interviewing past clients of mine and inquiring about my services and work ethic is a great starting point.” A referral might be one of the best ways an agent acquires business, but here are a few effective questions to ask along the way:
- How long have you been licensed as a real estate professional?
- Do you have a flexible schedule? Can it accommodate mine?
- How long does it take buyers you’ve worked with to find and purchase a home?
- What areas of real estate are your specialty?
Find other noteworthy questions in our homebuyer guide.
If you’re toying with the thought of joining forces with a buyer’s agent, what’s holding you back? The home is a hub for so much in our lives, it’s a memory-making machine. A home purchase is also a large one. You want an expert who will help deliver the best outcome for you and your situation – financial and personal.
Lastly, there are many wheels spinning in a real estate transaction. Get a professional, preferably a REALTOR®, who has access to other experts in the field. You want to work with someone who has an impressive network you can approach and pull into your homebuying process. You want excellent service every step of the way. Your trusted advisor, your buyer’s agent, will have a connection with reputable lenders, inspectors, attorneys, and the like. You can hopefully rest easier knowing that an agent, you have confidence in, attracts like-minded, successful professionals.
There’s more to explore when it comes to purchasing a property — consider these things before you go all in on buying.