5 tips on finding a buyer’s broker

Sam
Frost

Ensure the right fit—and avoid any broker breakups—by
heeding these expert tips

Buying a home can be difficult, stressful, and unpredictable,
but a good buyer’s agent who is knowledgeable about your local
market, reliable, and responsive, can offer some relief. With
listings and sales data readily available online, it’s possible
to purchase a home without a broker’s help, but for first-time
buyers an agent familiar with your needs, budget, and values can
make the complex homebuying process much smoother.

With the proliferation of online real estate marketplaces,
there’s also no shortage of agents to choose from. How do you
pick the right one? “Consider it like dating,” said Sarah
Staley, the consumer spokesperson for
realtor.com
, speaking to Curbed in 2017. Don’t just move
forward with the first agent you meet; meet a few and see if the
chemistry is there. As Staley noted, “Homebuying is a complex and
emotional experience, so you want to be sure there’s a
personality match.”

You should begin “agent dating” before embarking on a home
search, to ensure you’ve got a partner from the very beginning of
the process up until you sign a contract. Ensure the right
fit—and avoid any broker breakups—by heeding these tips from
the experts.

Ask for references, then play the field

“One very typical route for finding a broker is through a
recommendation,” Lauren Riefflin, spokesperson for the real
estate website Streeteasy
told Curbed in 2017. Ask friends and family if they’ve had a good
experience with an agent, then followup with interviews of your
own. You can also use real estate websites to find brokers who
specialize in areas you’re interested in buying a home.

Even if you hit it off with the first agent you meet, you should
still “play the field,” as Lawrence Lee, an agent with the
startup real estate firm Triplemint, put it in an
interview to Curbed in 2017. “Don’t blindly accept the
recommendation of a friend, or use the first broker you meet,”
Staley echoed. “Set a shortlist of brokers before you decide.”
She suggests meeting each broker in person and asking them tough
questions about the process ahead before making an informed final
decision.

Communicate what’s important to you

Is there a neighborhood you’re dying to live in? Or are you
dead-set on buying in a pre-war cooperative building, or a brand
new condo? Knowing what you want, as well being upfront about your
budget, will help set the tone with your future agent. Maybe you
need an agent who specializes in your dream neighborhood, as well
as the surrounding areas, to best guide you. Or perhaps you need a
specialist in cooperative buildings who knows how to best navigate
co-op boards. Or maybe you’re unfamiliar with the market, and
need an agent who can take your budget and show you where you’ll
get the most bang for your buck. Initial interviews with agents
should reveal the best ways they can work for you.

“The most important factor for the first-time buyer is
chemistry with their broker, and a lot of that chemistry is based
on listening,” Staley told Curbed. “The agent should understand
who you are and what you and your family needs.”

Make sure they’re open to new possibilities

Beware the agent who doesn’t offer a broad range of buying
options. “Part of a broker’s job is to broadly navigate the
market and potentially show a buyer new neighborhoods and homes
they may not have thought of before,” said Riefflin. “You want
to make sure brokers don’t have any mental guardrails that would
prevent you from getting a great buy a few blocks away from where
you want to be.”

Lee notes that a good broker will also gently push back on any
unrealistic expectations from the home buyer. “They will be able
to show, and prove, what’s on the market in your price point,”
he said. “They’re going to tell you what’s feasible, what’s
not feasible, and show you alternatives.”

Ask about availability

Before you begin working with a broker, you’ll need to know
their level of availability. Is this a full-time or part-time job
for them? Do they work during set hours of the day, or will they
promptly answer your panicked 8 a.m. text? Will they be available
to, at the drop of the hat, arrange a showing at a great property
that’s just hit the market? Do they have support—other brokers
or an assistant, for example—to fill in if they’re not
immediately available?

“If the home of your dream pops up, you want to know they’re
ready to jump,” Staley said. Or as Lee put it,
A good agent will ask you what your schedule is
like. They’ll understand that they need to accommodate their
schedules to buyer’s times and availability.”

Follow up on their prior work and internet
presence

References are helpful to know if an agent has a history of good
work. Real estate sites like Zillow and Trulia also offer agent
reviews. Little things matter, too, like a comprehensive bio with a
reputable brokerage firm alongside a social media presence. “More
often than not, these things are an accurate representation of the
thoroughness of the agents, how much they care, and how focused
they are on the business of real estate,” Lee said. When in
doubt, you can always search state public records to be sure an
agent’s real estate license is valid and up-to-date.

NEED TO KNOW FACTS:

  • The buyer’s broker’s commission is
    typically paid by the seller (usually split 50-50 with the
    seller’s agent), but the commission comes out of sale price of
    the home (aka your money).
  • The buyer’s broker’s loyalty is solely to
    you, the buyer, not the seller.
  • If you’ve already started looking on your own, it’s
    not too late to start working with a buyer’s
    broker, but do engage one before making an offer.

Source: FS – All – Architecture 10
5 tips on finding a buyer’s broker