By Matthew Coates
How would you feel if you kids sought out another parent?
Pretty extreme, but now I have your attention. Real estate can be alot like parenting. Someone invests alot of time, energy, and effort into you, helping you find a home, and looks forward to a payoff at the end. As a parent that payoff is usually intangible, perhaps a feeling of purpose or satisfaction, or maybe doing the right thing in helping your own flesh and blood succeed in this world.
What I’m about to say may rub you the wrong way, but I’ll say it anyway: Stay loyal to your real estate agent. Let me preface this- if they are really good at what they do and you like them and trust them.
If an agent thinks you are “playing the field” and working with another agents you will never be a high priority client to them, because there’s a chance you might not use them. Every real estate agent has access to the exact same properties, so there is no sense in using multiple agents to find your home. In fact it will probably turn out to be more work that what it’s worth communicating with different agents, rather than using one for everything. One agent can help streamline the process and handle all of your property inquiries.
A great real estate agent will be worth their weight in gold. If they know that you aren’t working with anyone else they will feel more comfortable giving you all their expertise, lots of time and energy, and will fight harder for your interests.
Some agents will ask you to sign a buyer-broker agreement, stating in writing that you won’t work with anyone else. Others charge retainer fees, so at least they are paid for their time in the event you change your mind and decide not to purchase at all. Purchasing a home in a major financial commitment, so make sure you hire the right person for the job. And with buyer-broker agreements, you might look at it in the same light as hiring an attorney. Attorneys do not work on verbal agreements, they do everything in writing and expect you to sign a contract or they won’t work with you.
Before you think about running away from these real estate agents because that is a huge commitment on your part, consider this: in some cases agents who ask these things from a client are more confident in what they are doing and believe their time is more valuable, thus deliver better results to their client. Because the skill set or confidence level in producing results of many agents is low, they don’t feel comfortable asking their client to do these things because they don’t believe they’re worth it.
Now please don’t hear what I’m not saying, which is that if they don’t ask for a retainer or a buyer-broker they aren’t good at what they do. They may be outstanding. Some agents use them and some don’t, plain and simple.
I once heard real estate agents being compared to taxi cab drivers. They both drive clients around, but only the taxi driver is guaranteed to be paid at the end of the trip.
If you don’t like the guy or gal you’re working with now, leave! But make sure you be up front with them. Don’t sneak around with another agent behind their back and let them find out the hard way that you already bought a home. Real estate is about relationships, open communication, trust, and loyalty. Like a good marriage ,the right real estate agent is out there waiting for you. It may be a recommendation from a friend or family member, the agent you met at an open house, or one that’s responded to all of your internet inquiries. It’s always a good idea to interview 2-3 agents to make sure you find the right match for you and your real estate needs.
Happy home hunting!