How To Choose A Buyer Agent

November 27th, 2012

How do you source a realtor to help you as a buyer agent when you are ready to buy your next home? Face it, most of us go off of a very few opinions from some friends and family, make a mostly ill informed decision, and hope for the best. It is like buying something off of Amazon.com that has 4.5 out of 5 stars, but it only has 3 reviews. Why not buy something off of Amazon.com that has 4.5 out of 5 stars and has 53 reviews, or 198 reviews, or more? Why not know the lifetime history of a realtor that you may choose to entrust your most expensive and important transaction to? Because Uncle Joe said you had to use his realtor? Because the person that works in the cubicle next to you had one good experience with a realtor? Then you meet with them, they seem nice over coffee and they have a splashy website. So why not go for it? Does that sound like the proper way to source an incredibly important business service for the most expensive thing you will likely ever buy? It doesn’t to me.

I want to tell you the story about a pain management doctor referral from my orthopedic doctor. I have (yes, still have) a badly herniated disc in my back. The first course of action my orthopedic doctor suggested was to go see a pain management doctor about getting some epidural steroid injections. My orthopedic doctor said to go to a doctor that we’ll call “Doctor Angerman.” I was in a hurry, in pain, and figured a referral from a doctor had to be a solid referral.

I met with the referred pain management doctor for my consultation appointment for my shots, and he was angry, impatient, rude, and cold. I left that appointment wondering how anyone could refer him, especially a fellow professional like an orthopedic doctor! I went home not feeling comfortable that he was the right doctor for the job. I searched the internet for him, and found several doctor ratings websites, and he scored very low. Then I found him on the state medical board website, and found out he had been put on probation for 5 years, and had just got off of probation 1.5 years ago! Further, he was about to be put back on probation again! He had faced charges of using drugs while practicing medicine, solicitation of a prostitute, DUI, and had imprisoned a woman against her will in his home! Apparently his demons revisited him recently, and he had done many of the same things again. How could ANYONE refer this man!? I called his office and told them I would not let Doctor Angerman stick a tongue suppressor down my throat, let alone needles in my back in the area of my spine!

Then I did a large amount of research, asked a lot of questions, checked the state medical boards, poured over doctor ratings websites, did not blindly take anyone’s referral, and found a well respected, experienced, thoughtful, patient, and kind doctor to help me with my pain management needs. I also let my orthopedic doctor have it, and found a new orthopedic doctor (apparently my original orthopedic doctor and the pain management doctor he referred were golf buddies).

My story is analogous to the way we source most referrals for most service providers. We are too busy (or we think we are) to do the research necessary to source a service provider on our own, so we rely on a very few referrals and make a quick decisions, scan their website, trust our own judgment, and move ahead with the most expensive purchase of our lives with about 5-10 minutes of research invested into researching who should represent us. Unbelievable.

Six Things Every Realtor Will Tell You

  1. Making you happy is my most important objective.
  2. I will work for you non-stop until we find what you want.
  3. I love real estate, it has been in my blood for many years.
  4. My firm is the best firm in the area.
  5. No one works harder than I do.
  6. No one delivers better and more personal service to their clients than me.

And a lot more subjective and undocumented claims.

There is not yet a website that rates realtors, although I am sure at some point there will be. Until then I have come up with a list of questions to ask a realtor to question why they would be the best person to represent you.

Questions To Ask Before Choosing A Realtor

  1. How many units did you successfully represent a buyer on year-to-date?
  2. How many units did you list and sell last year?
  3. How many units did you list and sell year-to-date?
  4. How many units did you list that did not sell last year?
  5. What is the average % of the original asking price that you sell your listings for?
  6. Can you document and show me this production for representing buyers, and for units listed and sold for sellers?
  7. If you are newer and have not done a lot of business, what special skills and relationships do you have that may make up for a lack of experience and production?
  8. If you are a more seasoned realtor and choose to do less units to have a more narrow focus and do a better job for fewer buyer clients, what buyer profile are you looking for?
  9. Have you ever won any service or personal awards in your company or in the local area?
  10. How do you network in the industry and how will that help me?
  11. What gives you special knowledge of the inventory in the market I am interested in, that will make you better suited to helping me find a home there?
  12. Why do you think your personality is best suited to working with buyers and negotiating with listing agents?
  13. What times and days are you generally going to be available to show me houses?

Some of the above questions are related to their success in listing homes for sale, but I believe their success in general, even success that involves listing homes for sale, will help translate into data that you can use to see if they are successful enough to represent you as a homebuyer. Try these questions and let me know how they work out.

Brian Martucci is a loan officer for Capital Bank Mortgage, a division of Capital Bank. He has been in the mortgage industry since 1986 and has served in a number of roles, including loan processor, loan officer, mortgage broker, branch manager, and vice president. Brian Martucci – NMLS# 185421. His opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Capital Bank Mortgage or Capital Bank. Capital Bank, N.A.- NMLS# 401599. Click here for the Capital Bank, N.A. “Privacy Policy”.

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