Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Real Estate Agents
But Didn't Know Who to Ask
The longer I work as a real estate broker, the more I am convinced that my profession should do a better job of educating the public about real estate agents and brokers. Few home buyers and sellers seem to really understand how real estate agents work, or how to follow protocol, who pays us and why we do the things that we do. Ask what the public does know, and you'll hear all kinds of myths.
Because real estate agents can make or break your deal, you owe it yourself and to your financial future to understand how agents work. Do you know the difference between REALTORS® and real estate agents? Do you need an agent or would you be better off doing it all yourself? Which type of real estate agency might be best for you, dual or single? Should you sign with a buyer's broker? Can you go to open houses and call other agents if an agent is e-mailing you listings? How are real estate agents paid and who pays them?
What are the different types of listing agreements? Find out the answers before you start looking for an agent to represent you.
About Finding and Hiring Real Estate Agents
I hate to admit this but I was once hired to sell a half-million dollar house simply because I was standing in the street, wearing my name badge and yakking on my cell. The seller spied me from her front porch and said, "Hey, you look like a real estate agent. I wanna sell my house!"
Speaks volumes about agents, doesn't it? She was lucky. I knew how to price her home. But I could have been Joe Blow from Kokomo (no offense to those from Indiana). Or, some newbie agent. Agents are like any other profession, you've got good and bad and in-between.
What few agents will acknowledge is the fact that more than half of the deals they get are because the agents are in the right place at the right time. Not because (cough, cough) they are competent. Just watch enough HGTV and BRAVO TV shows and that point will become crystal clear to you. Want a pro? Here's how to find a competent agent and make sure you get the services you truly deserve:
About Working With Real Estate Agents
Can you call your agent at 9:00 at night? How about 6 AM? Can you work with more than one agent at a time? How much trouble can you get into if you sign multiple purchase agreements through multiple agents? If a listing agent shows you a home, can you call your brother-in-law to write the offer and represent you? What if you're unhappy or your agent doesn't live up to your expectations? Can you get rid of the agent? How do you cancel a listing contract? If you've ever thought about these questions, these articles are for you.
About Real Estate Commissions
How agents get paid and whether it's insulting to try to negotiate a commission are the two most often asked questions from buyers and sellers. It's not that complicated but it sure seems that way on the surface, doesn't it? After all, what makes agents worth all that money? What do they do to deserve six-figure incomes anyway? Does the amount of the commission depend on whether the it's a hot or cold market? Is it possible to get maximum exposure for your home with a minimum-service agent? The answers might surprise you.
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.