Good Buyer Etiquette
There’s a lot that’s been written about what you should expect from a good real estate agent, but what does your agent expect of you?
Hopefully, you have done your homework, vetted your agent and have good reason to believe s/he has the integrity, experience and knowledge to serve you well. If you don’t have full faith in an agent, you should thank him/her for their time and move on to one whom you do trust.
The reality is, if you don’t trust your agent, you are unlikely to be completely open with him/her. You will constantly question and second guess his recommendations and, for the most part, you will have a very stressful buying experience.
More over, it will be an unpleasant experience for the agent, as well. Without your trust and willingness to share the details of your circumstances, it’s difficult for an agent to serve you as completely and as well as possible.
This goes back to trust. If you don’t trust your agent, you’re not likely to be forthcoming about details that can hinder the agent’s ability to work on your behalf. If you are less than frank about your finances, the timeline for buying, how much you love a particular house, or the full range of your negotiating parameters, you are making it difficult for your agent to secure the best outcome possible for you.
Your agent assumes you are working with just him or her. If you are working with more than one agent, tell both of them. Don’t be surprised if one or both decline to continue working with you. Most reputable agents invest a considerable amount of time in their clients. All of that time goes unpaid unless there is a successful closing. If you don’t trust your agent enough to commit to using only her services, then cut that agent loose. It’s not fair to allow her to work on your behalf if there’s less than a 50-50 chance she’ll be the agent whom gets paid.
Respect for their time
A good agent will make you feel as if you are his only client, but you’re not. He has several other clients and is juggling meetings, doing research, scheduling showings, preparing offers, finalizing contracts, setting up and attending inspections, and a long list of other tasks. Still, most agents will go out of their way to accommodate your schedule, assuming you provide reasonable notice. It is not reasonable to expect an agent to drop whatever they are doing to meet with you with practically no advance warning. When traveling to town, notify your agent as soon as you book the trip rather than the day before you arrive. You’ll find that if you’re respectful of their time, agents are more inclined to be flexible when circumstances call for an ultra quick response.
You should not take up your agent’s time to schedule home tours unless you are willing and able to make an offer today. It is inappropriate to disrupt sellers and use your agent’s time to look at homes before you are pre-qualified and/or have your current home under contract. The agent will also be most appreciative if you do not waste his time looking at homes you either have no interest in nor the ability to purchase.
An exception to this may be if you are new to the area and would like to see a sampling of homes to help you better understand pricing and what your money can buy in the market. The better agents know it’s important to give you this opportunity so your expectations are in line with the local market. In this case, expect agents to limit the number of homes they show you and to restrict them to vacant homes. It isn’t right to let sellers race around to get their home in great showing condition, if the person looking isn’t in a position to buy now.
Respect for their knowledge
You may be maniacal about doing research and you may follow all the real estate websites daily, but you do not work in the business 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Your agent does. With that experience comes knowledge and insights that will be invaluable as you navigate your way through the buying process.
Respect for their reputation
Your buyer’s agent should be all about you, so why does he seem to be considerate of sellers and listing agents? Because, it is to your advantage to work with an agent with a reputation for being reasonable. Imagine falling in love with a home, submitting an offer and learning you’re competing against two other buyers. Do you think your offer has a shot if you’re represented by an agent known for being belligerent and having a take-no-prisoners attitude? Probably not.
No one wants to go into a large transaction knowing upfront that the other side is going to be unreasonable. Therefore, it is important to avoid asking your agent to do things that will cause other agents to question his trustworthiness or integrity.
Respect for the sellers’ time and property
Recognize it is an effort for sellers to prepare their home for showings. Floors need to mopped, rugs need to be vacuumed, and personal items need to be pick up. Add kids and/or pets to the mix, and readying the house becomes an even more time consuming effort. One that most sellers are happy to do to catch the eye of a serious buyer. They’re less happy to do it for a “tire kicker.”
Your agent is also responsible for the house while you are in it. If it is necessary to bring children or friends or relatives with you while viewing homes, please keep everyone (especially the children) with you. Do not allow the children or others to handle the seller’s belongings or do anything that may damage them. Before you leave, please remember to lock any door you unlocked while viewing the home.
An expectation that they should be paid for their services
Several real estate associates have recounted stories of initial meetings with potential clients who said, “I want to know your fees will be covered by the seller, because I don’t want to pay you.”
Now, it’s one thing if you meant to say, “In order for me to afford to purchase a home, I need to make sure your fees are included in the purchase price.” It’s quite another to say, “I don’t want to pay you.”
The later says you don’t think their services have any value. It also makes it clear you don’t care about their financial well-being. And, maybe you don’t, but you will never endear yourself to anyone, much less the person you’re counting on to watch your back, by being so callous. Finally, it ignores the fact that every buyer pays both agent’s fees when they buy a house. Most often, it’s indirectly (you pay the closing attorney, who pays the seller and his listing agent, who, in turn pays your agent), but take note: you are the only one bringing cash to the closing. YOU pay for everything.
Be the buyer the great agents want to work with
The best agents are usually the busiest. They have built a reputation by being excellent. As a result they are in high demand, so they have the luxury of deciding with whom they will work. If you are inclined to be difficult or combative, you may find yourself working with the “B” or “C” agents, because the top talent has the luxury of choosing which buyers they want to serve.