A Guide to Finding a Home in Los Angeles. Don’t do it Alone!

If you are unrepresented, when you first start looking for a home for sale or rent in Los Angeles, or anywhere else for that matter, you will be faced with so many choices. The search term “buying a home in Los Angeles” will bring you 77 million plus results. If you are more specific, for instance “buying a condo on the Wilshire Corridor”, you will be faced with a “mere” 175,000 results.

So what happens next?  You find yourself interested in a particular property you find on aggregator sites such as Zillow and Trulia which top the search results list, and you click on that property for further information. The contact information will be for the listing agent. Can you call the listing agent for more information and a showing? Yes.  Is it a good idea?  No. Why not? Because the listing agent primarily represents the seller. The seller is paying the commission and it is extremely difficult for an agent to be neutral and represent both sides equally when they are privvy to each side’s deepest and darkest secrets.

As an aside:

  • Information on these aggregator sites is not always up-to-date and they are not real estate brokerages with their own agents to advise you.
  • The famous “Zestimates” should not be relied on. These are not based on boots-on-the ground information where an agent has compared like to like listings.
  • There is a lot of paid advertising on these sites. Just because you may see an agent’s face representing a specific zip code or community, does not make them any more or less of a neighborhood expert.

You may input the address of the property into Google and be directed to the specific agent’s information, where you are in the same situation of dealing with the listing agent.

However, you may be directed to a listing which shows information on another agent who has nothing to do with the listing.  Why is that?  Because many agents with websites subscribe to what is known as an Internet Data Exchange solution (IDX) which is basically a live feed from their specific Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Simply put, the most accurate real estate search tool is the MLS, and this is fed to sites subscribing to it through an IDX. Some IDXs are supplied for free to MLS members, but the ones you are likely to come across are those which the agent has paid for and which may require you to input your information in order to access further details on the listing.

So often a caller is under the impression that because the agent’s contact information is shown with the listing that they are the listing agent. If you look further, you will see that the actual brokerage and agent are named within the listing.  It is a legal requirement. The agent on whose site you have landed is making no misrepresentations. They are in the business of providing information for buyers (and in many cases sellers and renters), and they will be able to help you with information on this property, arrange a showing, and possibly direct you to other homes which may be of interest.  And all this at no cost to you.

This is all a roundabout way of leading you the the purpose of the post.

The home buying or renting process can be overwhelming if you attempt to go it alone. Imagine you find 6 homes you like and then have to scramble to contact 6 different agents, none really invested in you, for more details and showings.

Choose your own agent. Let them do all the work for you. If is sometimes difficult to give up the reins, but apart from the odd “For Sale by Owner”, or pocket listing (much frowned-upon), you will not find anything online that any agent worth his or her salt will not know about and have access to.

So, rather than spending many hours searching high an low for suitable homes (assuming that you have talked to a lender and been qualified at a certain amount)  all you have to do is:

  • Find an agent you feel you can work with and trust.
  • Give the agent as complete a picture of your requirements as possible.
  • Be available for showings.
  • Communicate. If you are your agent are on the same page the process can go extremely smoothly.

You can still play in the sandbox and check out listings on your own. In fact your agent can set you up to receive all listings within your specifications that come on the market, as they come on the market, and you can inform them of any they may have not considered for you but in which you are interested.

Imagine.  All you have to do is sit back and let the agent manage the entire process through to the day you receive the keys to your new home.  Do you still want to go it alone?

Homes for Sale in Los Angeles

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