Rules For Working With Real Estate Agents

Dated: 02/19/2018

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One of my buyers is a brilliant neurosurgeon, top of her class in medical school, but she doesn't have a clue about etiquette rules with real estate agents. Nor does she understand why some listing agents have yelled at her when she calls them at random with questions. In her mind, she hasn't done anything wrong. She is only trying to find out information about a house for sale.

Real estate agents love working with people, but there are always clients who may unintentionally cross the line. Here are a few simple protocols you can use while shopping for a home that will keep you out of hot water and on good terms with real estate agents. Especially your own agent.

1 Understand Agents Work on Commission

Realtor and couple handshaking in living room
Paul Bradbury / Getty Images
  • Very few real estate agents work on salary and if they do, you probably don't want them.

  • Most real estate agents are paid a commission. If an agent does not close a transaction, she does not get paid. Agents are highly motivated to do a good job for you.

  • Agents are not public servants and do not work for free. Do not ask an agent to work for you if you intend to cut the agent out of your deal.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

2 Keep Appointments and Be on Time

be on time
 Make your appointment time when meeting with a busy Realtor. © Big Stock photo
  • Be respectful, use common courtesy and don't expect an agent to drop what she is doing to run out and show you a home. You are probably not that agent's only prospect or client. And if you are, lord help you.

  • Do not make an appointment with an agent and then forget to show up.

  • If you are running late, call and let your agent know when you expect to arrive. Just show respect.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

3 Choose a Real Estate Agent

Choose a Realtor
 Choose an agent you like. © Big Stock Photo
  • Decide whether you want to work without representation, dealing directly with listing agents, or if you want to hire your own agent.

  • If you decide to hire your own agent, interview agents to find an agent with whom you are comfortable.

  • If you are interviewing agents, let each agent know you are in the interview stage.

  • Never, never, never interview two different agents from the same company. Trust me: Don't do it.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

4 Do Not Call the Listing Agent If You Are Working With a Buying Agent

Do not call listing agent
 Do not call the listing agent if you want your own agent. © Big Stock Photo
  • Listing agents work for the seller, not the buyer. If you hire the listing agent to represent you, that agent will now be working under dual agency. Conflicts of interest may occur.

  • If a listing agent shows you the property, the listing agent will expect to represent you. Ethics prevent a listing agent from showing preferential treatment. If you ask a listing agent to do you a favor and try to discount the price, it's comprising integrity and most won't do it.

  • Listing agents do not want to do the buying agent's job. Let your buyer's agent do her job.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

5 Practice Open House Protocol

open house protocol
 There is etiquette to follow for an open house. © Big Stock Photo
  • Ask your agent if it's considered proper for you to attend open houses alone. In some areas, it's frowned upon to go to open houses unescorted.

  • Hand your agent's business card to the agent hosting the open house. Sometimes this agent will be the listing agent, but often it is a buyer's agent also looking for unrepresented buyers. Announcing you are represented protects you.

  • Do not ask the open house host questions about the seller or the seller's motivation. Let your agent ask those questions for you. Your agent will probably use a different approach that works.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

6 Sign a Buyer's Broker Agreement With a Buying Agent

buyer broker agreement
 A buyer broker agreement protects both parties. © Big Stock Photo
  • Expect to sign a buyer's broker agreement. It creates a relationship between you and the agent and explains the agent's duties to you, and vice versa.

  • Ask about the difference between an Exclusive and Non-Exclusive Buyer's Broker Agreement.

  • If you're not ready to sign with a buyer's broker, do not ask that agent to show you homes. Otherwise, a procuring clause may pop up.

  • Ask your agent if she will release you from the contract if you become dissatisfied. If she refuses, hire somebody else. Your agent should also be respectful of your goals.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

7 Always Ask for and Sign an Agency Agreement

agency disclosure
 California Civil Code requires an agency disclosure. &Copy; Big Stock Photo
  • By law, agents are required to give buyers an agency disclosure. This document varies across state lines.

  • Signing an agency disclosure is your proof of receipt. It is solely a disclosure. It is not an agreement to agency. Read it.

  • The best and most practiced type of agency is the single agency. This means you are represented by your own agent, who owes you a fiduciary responsibility.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

8 Make Your Expectations Known

set expectations
 Many agents are willing to drive buyers to see homes. © Big Stock Photo
  • If you expect your agent to pick you up at your front door and drive you home after showing homes, tell her. Many will provide that service. If not, they will ask you to meet at the office.

  • Let your agent know how you want her to communicate with you and how often. Do you want phone calls, emails, text messages, IMs or all of the above?

  • Set realistic goals and a time frame to find your home. Ask your agent how you can help by supplying feedback.

  • If you are displeased, say so. Please. Agents want to make you happy. Don't be afraid to speak up.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

9 Do Not Sign Forms You Do Not Understand

ask questions
 Do not sign forms without asking questions. © Big Stock Photo
  • Do not feel silly for asking your agent to explain a form to you. It's her job. Many forms are second nature to agents but not to you, so ask for explanations until you are satisfied you understand.

  • Try not to sign forms titled "Consent to Represent More Than One Buyer." This is never in your best interest. But sometimes you can't help it because your agent could work for a large brokerage. That brokerage could represent more than one buyer, not your agent.

  • Realize agents are not lawyers and cannot interpret law. Don't ask agents to give a legal opinion, prefaced by the statement you are not asking for a legal opinion.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

10 Be Ready to Buy

Be ready to buy
 Be ready to buy before making an offer. © Big Stock Photo
  • If you aren't ready to buy, you don't need a real estate agent. You can go to open houses by yourself and call listing agents for showings — but be honest. Say you are "only shopping." Look at homes online, but don't waste an agent's time if you aren't ready to act.

  • If possible, hire a babysitter to care for children who are too young to stay out all morning or afternoon touring homes.

  • Bring your checkbook. You'll need it to write an offer because an earnest money deposit may be required to accompany your purchase offer. And please, be preapproved.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

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Jared Anthony

As a full time professional real estate agent & former airline pilot, I pride myself on offering superior personal service before, during and after your transaction. Knowledge, commitment, honesty, ex....

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