“How does a Buyer choose their real estate agent?”
“I don’t know, how?”
“The one that texts back the fastest.”
Except, that’s not funny, and it’s not a joke; most buyers hire agents by this crazy criteria.
“Speed to lead” is what the real estate industry calls it. Agents know it is a statistical fact that most Buyers hire the Agent that responds the fastest from their Zillow, Realtor.com or other contact request. Speed.
That is the criteria most Buyer’s use when hiring an agent to represent them in one of the most significant purchases of their life. Speed. Not knowledge. Not service. Not experience. Speed in which they respond to the Buyer’s inquiry. Crazy criteria upon which to base one of the most significant purchases of one’s life, in my opinion.
Agents are not like M & M’s, different on the outside, but the same in the middle. The differences between Agents is vast, such as:
- Different services — From almost do-it-yourself, to white-glove, concierge style service.
- Varying degrees of education — From just enough to get a license, to certifications that rival a university education.
- Personality and communication style —it is super important that a Buyer clicks personally with their Agent.
- Depth of experience — Has the Agent been in business long enough to successfully navigate several market cycles? Do they know how to write a great offer in a seller’s market vs. a buyer’s market?
- Number of sales — It might be awkward to ask, but Buyers should ask it! It might be their first sale or their one-thousandth. I think it would be very important to know that.
- Is the Agent responsive? — How does the Agent communicate and do they respond the same day? An agent might have been in the business 20 years, but are they still faxing?
All of this matters a great deal to a Buyer.
This is the process we think a Buyer should use in choosing their Agent:
- Research agents online, read their reviews, visit their website, read their blogs so you can get to know them.
- Contact the Agents you felt a connection with online, and ask for an interview. Note their response time. (If they are late in responding, or respond with anything but glee, strike them from the list.)
- Ask the Agent for advice when you meet. Go prepared with some questions about the area or how the Agent might handle a particular situation such as multiple offers or deficiencies found during a home inspection. Weigh their advice.
- It might be awkward, but ask the Agent the number of sales they had in the last year. Agents in Oakland County averaged only 11 sales last year. I would look for an agent who has sold at least twice that. This should give you some confidence that the Agent is capable of handling any hurdles that may crop up in the home buying process.
- View a home with an agent as part of your interview process before committing to a long-term Buyer Agency Agreement. (See “BIG IMPORTANT NOTE” below.)
Buyer Agency Agreement — Until a Buyer has executed a Buyer Agency Agreement with an Agent of their choosing, they should never assume the Agent is working in their best interest.
BIG IMPORTANT NOTE: In the State of Michigan, a Buyer Agency Agreement between the Agent and Buyer must exist in writing in order for an Agent to work for and negotiate in the best interest of the Buyer and for a particular period of time. Until a Buyer has committed to an Agent to represent them with a Buyer Agency Agreement, they should keep to themselves any financial and personal information that might impact a sale.
It also clearly outlines the Agent’s duties and responsibilities to the Buyer.
Limited Buyer Agency Agreement — However, if a Buyer wants the Agent to show them a home as part of the interview process, they can offer to execute a Non-Exclusive Buyer Agency Agreement for just that specific home. If the Buyer decides to purchase that home, they are agreeing to buy it through that Agent.
Procuring Cause — There is a sticky wicket Agents have to deal with in representing Buyers called “Procuring Cause.” In short, the Agent who showed the Buyer a house procured the sale, entitling that agent to the commission. So, if the Buyer ultimately hires a different agent to permanently represent them in their home search, they need to disclose to the agent the details of the first agreement and provide them with a copy of that limited Buyer Agency Agreement. Agents must know so they can properly navigate the situation without unknowingly violating their board rules.
I realize how complicated this sounds, and it is! All the more reason for a Buyer to do their research and hire the right Agent to begin with.
Best Approach to Hiring a Buyer’s Agent:
- Research Agents online, and ask friends for recommendations.
- Visit their website, is it up-to-date and informative? Is the content the Agent’s, or pre-written for them?
- Read their reviews. Expecting an agent to have 100% Five Star reviews might be lofty, everyone gets a bad apple now and then, but 4.9 stars isn’t unrealistic.
- Read their Blog, do you like their style and is their advice sound?
- Interview your top choices in person. Ask questions. Evaluate their answers.
- Decide which Agent most checked all of your boxes.
- Then hire them. Sign the Buyer Agency Agreement with them agreeing to represent your best interest, before you begin looking at homes.
A buyer hiring the first Agent who calls them back to represent them in one of the most significant purchases of their life is a crazy practice. We want to change that statistic.
We at The Integrity Team are always honored by the opportunity to interview with a potential client. We’ll happily disclose our sales (which average about 40 transactions per agent on our team), and introduce you to our white-glove concierge style service, which includes our private moving van our clients use for free.
Reach out anytime (and test our responsiveness)!
248-850-1436 Call or text!