What Do Home Buyers Expect From Realtors?
Do home buyer’s feel pressure to purchase from their Realtor, do they feel their agent is not working hard enough for them? Pressure to make and offer or no pressure, in fact, Realtors just don’t seem to care! So some would say. The real issue seems to be, are working relationships black and white with home buyers or is there a happy medium where home buyers feel they are actively involved and ultimately in control? Home buyers are a crucial part of the real estate team! Interesting questions around the virtual real estate water cooler this week. What do home buyers want these days? Realtors also want to know what else they can do to please their customers. Some seem reasonable, some not so reasonable. How can we define our expectations?
Most agents wouldn’t consider taking a listing and working with a seller without a contract. A written contract, a listing agreement, legally binding between broker and seller spells out the terms of what a Realtor must do for the customer, and what the customer must do for the broker. It’s written, it’s enforceable and if it’s broken there is recourse, and potential financial consequences. However, when working with a buyer, most Realtors do not use a written contract. Should they? Today’s buyers simply don’t know how to work with agents. It’s becoming a necessity to put everything in writing.
I will be the first to raise my hand in my resistance to using a buyer’s contract. Some agents and brokerages in my area charge for their services to buyers whether they find them something or not. They call it a transaction fee or buyer’s broker fee. Legally, they can charge for services, they are providing a service for a consumer, or, are they really?
I have been resistant to the fee for service, expecting my customers to be loyal to me, but that does not work out so well either. Some home buyers get aggravated when the perfect property is not found for them, they get mad when transactions do not come to mutual agreements, or when they lose out on a multiple offer situation. In my opinion, an agents failure to perform is completely different than a buyer being upset because negotiations can’t be reached, or that a buyer is so pigeon-holed in their search parameters that the odds of finding a suitable property is near impossible. Home Buyers often fail to believe that they are key to their own success. After all, the media says everything is on sale, and “a steal.” So could a written agreement solve any of these issues between buyer and Realtor?
Buyer’s Broker Agreements can work to clear ambiguities of duties and expectations. If you are buying a home, there are questions you need to ask, and you need to be clear on your expectations. If you are a Realtor, you need to know that the buyer is committed to purchase and the details of their purchase timeframes and financial abilities. One party, the consumer, is hiring a professional, (which should be explained to a home buyer up front), to provide a service. So when that professional Realtor finds you that property it only makes sense to let a Realtor give you solid market facts to help you get that home. Perhaps a consumer would see it as pressure if agents insisted on getting them to make a decision on a property, but wait,.. you hired them to do this right, to let you know when they find the deal? If you ask about pricing, be prepared for market facts and negotiating tactics that can help you make your decision to purchase and negotiate your offer.
Here are some questions a home buyer should have for their Realtor, and Realtor for their customer:
- What type of representation does the Buyer want?
- In what time frame do they expect their Realtor to find them a home?
- How often does the buyer want to be contacted and how?
- What are the things the buyer expects from their Agent and how will the Agent accomplish this?
- Any fee for Agent’s service and how it is to be paid and when.
- What constitutes a reason for termination and how to terminate if needed. Cost for termination?
- What are the Realtor’s specific duties or plans for service?
- What Market information will the Agent provide to buyer?
- Does the Realtor offer Online Search tools and property organizers?
For Realtors, is a buyer who will not sign a Buyer’s Broker Agreement a customer you can trust to work with you, to follow through with paying you for your services? So when does that contract begin, what are the expectations and performance standards and when is the contract fulfilled? Is it in writing or if not, is it binding? That’s a lot of questions to have to keep in your head, huh! So why not put the terms in writing?
Buyer’s Broker Agreements are an option for home buyers and Realtors when working together. These agreements spell out basic terms of how a Realtor works, and how and when they get paid. What they lack is a checklist or items that a buyer can expect from the Realtor. That is my hesitancy in using them altogether. There are too many unanswered questions, and ultimately what separates a good agent from a successful agent and what can end up being a successful transaction or an unfulfilled expectation. So the solution seems to be a checklist or written list of expectations for both parties along with the Buyer’s Broker Agreement. Work on it together, set your expectations early and work together.
At the end of the day, all that really matters to me is telling the truth to real estate customers and building trust. As a Realtor, I also explain to them what working with a Realtor means for homeowner’s and what we do outside their transaction to protect their rights. Yes, that’s the last question a buyer needs to ask their agent and a Realtor will be able to explain. “What is RPAC and why is it important that my Realtor be a part of RPAC?” It’s kind of a big deal. Ask.