Selection of Buyer's Agent
This might have been step one, because the right buyer's agent will help you with all preparedness and targeting issues previously discussed.
In short, unless you can quit your job and work full time at home searching (and even if you could), without someone of expertise who is immersed in the market working with you, it is very difficult to be on equal footing with competing buyers in the marketplace. As we have suggested, the best represented buyers win. Listing agents are appropriately most interested in selling the home listed. We are most interested in helping you find the best home out there.
Without a working relationship with an agent, no agent can afford to spend time with you, other than to offer a cursory effort and hope for a quick transaction.
We stick with our buyers and they with us, until the right home is found and purchased. We are interested in it being the right home....not on how long it takes to make it happen. We are of course, biased on this issue, and we want to present ourselves in that light. We believe in uncompromised representation of our clients. We believe that a buyer has the right to know that their agent will represent their interests, absolutely, and without exception. We believe that Exclusive Buyer's Agency is the best choice for any buyer.
However, your choices are these:
You can buy a house from the listing agent. The agent will represent the interests of the seller, but as a dual agent the agent could attempt to "represent" both you and the seller....or ask someone in her office to represent one side, in which case the office would in essence be attempting to simultaneously fully advocate the opposing interests of both sides (designated agency).
Alternatively you can use a buyer's agent who is also a listing agent, but not the listing agent of the particular home you are looking at. Virtually all listing agents also offer themselves as buyer's agents.
The other choice is to use an Exclusive Buyer's Agency firm like ours, and know that everything that will be done for you will be done in your best interest without compromise.
Ultimately the choice of agent will determine the home you buy, because their skill in search and negotiation, as well as dedication to your purpose, will greatly affect your level of opportunity. Who you choose may well determine in which homes you have the opportunity to live in.
Buyer Agency Agreements
You will sign a buyer agency agreement with the buyer agent you choose, indicating that the agent is working for you. As we see it, what you should look for in the agreement...is what it actually does for you.
Choose the firm that can do the most for you. You have the right to choose your representation. You are not obligated to use any agent unless you have signed a buyer agency agreement with them.
Interview more than one before you choose. Ask them: What is the search plan? What are the obligations of the agent? To work for your best interests? In most buyer agency agreements with listings firms, the firm retains the right to switch to dual agency if they should show you a listing listed by their firm. As we see it, this choice signs away your right to uncompromised representation.
We have worked hard to make our buyer's agreement the best tool of its kind to assist a buyer, but it has two particularly important aspects. The first is that NO dual agency clause is included. Another difference is that our clients are invited to terminate if they think there is a better realtor they would prefer to work with. This is a freedom we are pleased to live up to.
Essentially all agents with MLS membership have equivalent access to homes listed with Realtors. CT listing Realtors have 24 or 48 hours to place their exclusive listings in the system. By law, all offers must be presented to the seller, and the listing agent is obliged to do all possible to most fully market the home. Agents fulfilling their fiduciary promise to the seller cannot choose which offers to submit and which not to, nor who can purchase the home and who cannot.
Because buyer agency is the default position in CT when showing a home to a buyer (a buyer's agreement is legally required for all showings other than those in which the agent represents the seller), buyer agents are the standard now for purchasers, and expected by listings agents.
We show all homes listed with all realtors. We sometimes expand the search to FSBO homes, and sometimes perform targeted searches in specific neighborhoods. Although telephone farming is now restricted in CT, Buyer Agents acting on behalf a specific client are exempt. We also offer reverse compensation to other agents who might know about a confidential lead. Because we do not take listings, we are not in competition with listing agents for listings, and thus they are freer to share information with us that they cannot easily share with each one another. Thus we can sometimes penetrate a targeted market more comprehensively than the largest real estate firm in town. Focused solely on working with buyers, we are a result "tooled-up" to do it well.
The only possible exception to access a listings is for sellers who have agreed in writing with their listing agents that their listing will be excluded from exposure in the MLS. Because this amounts to removing 95% of buyers from awareness of the property, it is a choice no rational seller who wants to expose his listed home would choose, thus is extremely rare in CT. The situation is different in parts of NY State where some real estate agents are in the habit of coaxing their buyers to withhold listings from the market for a time. This gives the real estate company a chance to garner both sides of the transaction. This practice is detrimental to the seller, because reduced exposure may well have caused him to get less for his home than the market would pay. It also tramples on the listing agent's basic duty to the seller, as any encouragement by a listing agent inducing a seller to act against the seller's interest's (and for the agents own profit), is a basic violation of agency law. The attorney general of the state of New York has intervened to a degree be stating that all properties known to other agents must be allowed to be shown by those agents, but the practice of hold back listings in NY (and parts of NJ) has yet to be abolished. Fortunately, the rule of law has a somewhat tighter hold in CT, and this unethical practice is not an issue. We mention this because we are aware that some of our buyers from the New York area are familiar with this unfortunate situation.
Focus of Firm & Focus of the Individual Agent
What is focus of the firm and the agent? Listing homes is very lucrative. From a relatively small effort, you can make the same revenue earned by showing many homes to a buyer, and handling all the issues involved with the transaction.
We know that.
We have made this career choice because we like the work we do and we like the appreciation that comes from our clients. We focus on it, and it has become lucrative for us. We have a system that allows us to devote substantial effort, and prosper.
For some agents who are more focused on listing gathering, the time it takes to service buyers well is difficult to devote. If they can show you homes in or two areas, they may not be able or willing to show you home in a wide area or to make an effort to find the harder-to-find properties.
We have set aside listing properties for the sole reason that to do so conflicts with the best interests of our clients, and conflicts with our ability to do the best possible job that can be done. Because as they say "Money Talks", this demonstrated aspect of dedication to client interests is a major difference between ourselves and buyer agents from listings firms.
We are agents you can count on.