How to Choose A Buyer's Agent 5 (Surprising) Questions to Ask

August 10, 2023

How to Choose A Buyer's Agent 5 (Surprising) Questions to Ask

The journey to buying a home is often paved with excitement, anticipation, and sometimes, a sprinkle of anxiety. It's not just about finding the perfect house; it's about understanding the intricate dance of negotiations, appraisals, inspections, and closing deals. That's where a buyer's agent comes into play, acting as your guiding star through the complexities of the real estate market. But how do you pick the right one? While there are standard questions most potential buyers know to ask, like experience and local market knowledge, there's more to the story. Dive into this article to uncover the 5 (surprisingly) essential questions you should be asking to ensure your journey to homeownership is in the best hands.

 

How do you navigate bidding wars/multiple offers?

Though the market has cooled from the super-frothy madness of the past several years, there's still a good chance you'll face multiple offer situations. 

It's essential that your agent has a strong strategy for securing the house you want, without you overpaying. It's a hard needle to thread! 

Your agent should have a blueprint for successfully working with the listing agent to elicit important information, as well as advanced knowledge of the purchase contract and negotiation dynamics. Contact us to learn how we have helped hundreds of buyers navigate bidding wars successfully. 

 

What's market seasonality like? 

Many markets in California are quite seasonal. San Francisco's real estate market certainly is. Your agent should have a good handle on supply and demand peaks and valleys. Seasonality will almost certainly play into your home-buying journey. For example: August in San Francisco is the doldrums: not the time to rush into a compromised house. Inventory will almost always peak just after Labor Day, so you'll have more options if you wait. Conversely, you can often find great August deals in the "Shadow Inventory". Many homes are available under the radar for the summer but will hit Redfin and Zillow - where all the other buyers will see them - in the first week of September. 

 

Do you offer a discount/rebate?

Trick question. The answer should be "no". 

Think of real estate agents like wine: If you choose the cheapest one, you're probably in for a headache. 

Seriously, for the biggest financial decision of your life, do you want the best agent? Or the cheapest? 

First, remember that the seller, not the buyer, pays both agents in the vast majority of sales in California. 

The agents you want in your corner almost never work on a "rebate" or "cash back" model. Top agents have the experience, reputation, contacts, and counsel to help their clients make smart decisions. Should you make your best offer up front or do you hold back? What are the resale considerations of a particular property? Who's the best home inspector in town? Can you concede on some smaller terms in order to get a better price? How can you protect your good faith deposit?

The best Realtors also know how to navigate treacherous and unexpected twists in the escrow process. And oh boy… those do happen. Hopefully, your escrow is smooth and stress-free (much more likely with a strong agent!). But if you're up against unexpected liens, a troublesome seller, undisclosed problems with the house, a lender who's not performing, or any other bumps in the road, you want the best by your side. 

 

How do you help your clients navigate disclosures?

Recently we've met multiple clients who had fired their past agents for a very surprising reason: Those agents were not reviewing disclosure documents prior to preparing an offer. 

WHAT. Just, no. 

Even more surprising - these were experienced agents! In the San Francisco and California real estate markets, disclosure packages can be upwards of 500 pages. Part of your buyer's agent's job is *definitely* to help you prioritize the information in those documents. 

You must read the disclosures too, of course! But synthesizing the information and adding additional comments is something every agent should be doing prior to preparing an offer. 

You don't know what you don't know, and missing an important detail could have consequences to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Your agent should be able to show you examples of some disclosure reviews that they have completed. And their answer to this question should be crystal clear. 

 

Who covers your business when you're out of town or ill?

A cardinal rule of real estate: The moment your agent settles into their airplane seat, the perfect house will appear. And offers will be due in 24 hours.

Ideally, your agent works on a team of similarly skilled and ethical agents who'll help make sure you never miss a beat. If not, they should at a minimum have a solid backup for out-of-town coverage. 

The worst answer? "I just work remotely when I'm on vacation." While your primary agent might be checking in from the cruise deck or from the couch while nursing the flu, you'll also need boots on the ground and someone giving you their full attention. 

That's a big part of why we formed a real estate super-team here at Pacific Edge! 

 

Click Here to Work With the Top Real Estate Agents in San Francisco

 







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