A real estate agent who works on your behalf, as a buyer rather than the seller is called a buyer’s agent. All listing agents are representing sellers and their best interests, but other agents, who don’t have an agreement with buyers, even if they show them homes, work as sub-agents for the seller and do their best to get the highest price.
During such a complex and emotionally draining process, it can be very helpful to have someone representing you and helping you every step of the way. Your agent will help you in many ways, including:
- Introducing you to lenders and helping you get preapproved for a mortgage in the Bay Area
- Sending you listings that fit your requirements
- Calling listing agents to inquire about availability
- Making appointments with sellers so you can view the homes
- Driving you through neighborhoods to tour homes
A buyer’s agent is paid by commission, just like the listing agent. Your agent will expect a formal agreement, like the listing agreement the seller makes, and this contract will spell out your rights and duties, and those of the agent.
How to Find a Buyer’s Agent in the Bay Area
While a referral from a family member or friend is the best way to find a good agent, many buyers do not trust referral sources. There are several ways to find an agent, including online searches to find exclusive buyer brokerages that represent buyers and open houses.
Interviewing and Hiring an Agent
Once you have found several potential agents in the Bay Area, you should meet with each in their office. A good agent will listen and ask you plenty of questions, taking notes during the interview. The agent will also explain the relationship they will have with you; if the agent does not offer you a buyer’s agreement, he is representing the seller and not you.
Buyer’s agents are required by law to put your needs above their own; even if the agent will be paid more selling only in-house listings versus other homes on the market, they must inform you about other suitable listings and take you to see any that you think are good prospects.
These precautions can also alleviate any stress you may be feeling about getting stuck with an agent who will not be a good fit for you.
- Ask for a short-term agreement.
While many agents request at least 90-day commitments, you can ask for a one-week or one-month term if it makes you feel more comfortable.
- Ask for a non-exclusive agreement.
This type of agreement will guarantee your agent compensation if you decide to switch agents during the process and buy a home that the first agent introduced to you.
- Specify terms and areas rather than property descriptions.
Many agreements describe a property. If you do not know where you want to buy yet, specify the terms and area of the contract. This allows you to work with agents in other areas and on different terms.
- Get a guarantee.
Many agents will agree to a guarantee if you ask for one. This means that if either party decides the relationship is not going well, both can be released from the agreement.