If you are a home buyer, especially in the Los Angeles area, I feel compelled to offer a heads up on what you should be expecting from your agent. This especially applies if your are a first-time home buyer because you may not understand how the process works.
I often get calls from buyers, especially first timers, asking about a property they presume is my listing because it is on my website. Since I run an Internet Data Exchange (IDX) feed on my website, all listings provided by my Multiple Listing Service (MLS) are provided to my site through my IDX, hence the confusion. I am, of course, happy to help them since this is a source for some of my business. However, the first question I ask is if they already have an agent. Many of them do.
That is when I feel compelled to explain what the role of their agent is which is what their agent should have already explained to them.
These days buyers conduct their own searches even when using an agent, and that is great. Sometimes their agent can get a better idea of what they are looking for. Anything more than that should be passed over to the agent. I can only imaging how frustrating it must be for a buyer trying to handle this on their own. 90% of the time they are just going to reach another agent who may or may not ask the right questions and end up trying to help them. That is the agent’s mistake, but their time will have been wasted. The same if the buyer does happen to reach the listing agent directly, which is not easy. The listing agent will take time to answer questions and may show them the property only to find that the buyer’s agent swoops in to make the offer and collect their commission without having done much if any of the work. Unless there are extenuating circumstances the buyer’s agent is expected to be present at all showings. In Los Angeles the listing agent is almost always present and on lockbox entry there is no question that the buyer’s agent has to be there.
The stories I have heard – “My agent is too busy, I don’t want to bother them.” “My agent doesn’t work on Sundays.” “I can’t seem to get hold of my agent.” And many more. That is an agent you should drop immediately. This is not a business for everyone, but if you are in it then you need to commit to it. This is not a 9-5 job, and within reason an agent needs to be available for their clients.
Feel free to roam wild over the internet, but the minute you identify a property you have an interest in, contact your agent. Meanwhile, this is what should be expected from a good agent before you find the property you are looking for:
- They will have talked to you about your financial situation and advised you to start your pre-approval process with a lender. Until this is in place conducting any search other an informational one will be a waste of time. Once you know what you can afford and what you are willing to pay then you can start viewing properties. Without a pre-approval letter you will not be able to make an offer anyway.
- They will have determined the kind of property you are looking for and your areas of interest and will set up a search for you with those criteria.
- As appropriate properties come on the market they will send the listings over for review. Should you have questions they will know whom to contact for answers.
- They will also be able to determine which properties are not right for you, either through experience, or because there may be private remarks for agents with conditions which you cannot fulfill. A lot of time an energy can be saved by eliminating unsuitable properties.
- They will set up appointments for you to view your shortlist of properties. Setting up multiple appointments is not an easy task, but they will have experience understanding how long each appointment will take and travel time in between.
- When you visit a property they may also be able to spot problems with it which you may not notice, or point out benefits you may not have considered.
The above explains some of the reasons you need to choose the right real estate agent just to get your home search started. Here are many more.
Your sole responsibility as a buyer in the beginning should be to: Get yourself pre-approved. Review the listings they send you. Make yourself available to view properties of interest as they come up because in our sellers’ market right now you cannot procrastinate.
Remember, your agent is getting paid to help you.
Your agent works for you, not vice versa.
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