Last week I got a call from a young woman who had found a house here in Santa Clara County to purchase and who tried to get the listing agent to write her offer. That sales person didn’t want to do that (many Realtors won’t get involved with dual agency that way), so this Silicon Valley home buyer wanted to locate a warm body with a real estate license to “write up the paperwork, nothing more, and then give some of the commission back”. Her thinking was that being a buyer’s agent just meant finding the home to purchase, and since there was “nothing else to do”, she might as well either not have a buyer’s agent at all or she should get some of that agent’s commission. After all, it was going to be easy now that the home was located, right?
Boy, was she ever off base on the whole thing.
First, finding the property to buy isn’t the main thing. It’s only the very first step. Anyone can find a listed property on the internet now. Buyer representation is not a “finder’s fee”.
Second, writing up the contract is neither simple nor is it the the last thing done. There are contract choices (PRDS or CAR?), for one thing. Your agent should know both sets of forms and whichever is used, be able to explain the strengths and weaknesses and how they impact you. Then there’s the strategy needed when the contract is completed, given that in many or most cases, buyers are faced with multiple offer situations. There are a myriad of things in the contract alone which can make the offer more appealing or get it eliminated when there are bidding wars.
Third, part of your “offer package” is the Realtor or real estate professional whom you hire and whether or not he or she is known, respected and liked (which will help your odds) or if he or she is disliked or mistrusted or simply an unknown.
And we haven’t even begun to discuss what happens if you get a counter or multiple counter offer and beyond, if you are fortunate enough to get into contract on your dream home. Plus post-closing issues.
The relationship with your buyer’s agent is keenly important and can be an immense asset in your quest to buy a house in Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell, San Jose and nearby – or probably anywhere in the U.S., for that matter. To reduce it to anyone licensed who will rebate part of the commission is to focus on the lowest common denominator (all real estate licensees are paid) and the one easily measurable thing, and to completely miss the most important elements of the daunting task ahead and who’s best equipped to serve you. Would you pick an attorney for a lawsuit that way, or a surgeon for cancer that way? Buying a home is a very expensive proposition. Finding the right representation, and understanding what that agency relationship can and should mean, may tremendously impact both the home buying experience and outcome. There are plenty of great real estate professionals to choose from, so get to know them, check their sales record, extra training, testimonials, online presence or whatever professional qualifications matter most to you.
As for my caller, we didn’t chat too long. I told her that I don’t do what she was requested, but told her that there are plenty of discount brokerages whose business model is based on rebates, so pointed her in that direction. She was grateful for the tip. Had she asked me why I don’t work that way myself, I would have given her an explanation of what buyer’s agency is, why most great agents aren’t looking for buyers in a seller’s market, why it’s important to have real representation rather than just approaching a listing agent, and much more. But she didn’t ask and I certainly wasn’t going to preach to her. I hope she does some online research, though, and I wish her luck with the multiple offer maze she’s facing in today’s market.