Finding A Realtor | Buying A Home In Los Angeles
Step 2 in my series, Buying A Home in Los Angeles, is ‘Finding A Realtor’.
Many Los Angeles home buyers do not fully understand the benefits of using, and the role of, an exclusive real estate agent in their real estate transaction. There are a lot of folks out there who think a real estate agent’s main role is ‘matching’ a buyer and a seller when it’s actually to provide both professional and personal guidance to buyers and sellers through one of the scariest moments of their lives. Whether you are a first time home buyer or a veteran in the real estate game, buying a home can be a very emotional process. It’s highly complex, and it puts a huge part of most people’s net worth at risk. Where you live is so much an extension who you are and what your lifestyle is, it’s where you will lay your head down at night, where your kids will go to school (if you have them), and for many, it can be the largest financial investment of their lifetime. Your agent’s role will be that of a ‘coach’ or a ‘quarterback’ of a football team. It will be to advise and guide you through the transaction process, ensuring transparency, providing advice and even emotional support.
Aside from being a Realtor® myself, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that I highly recommend you not only work with an agent when you’re looking to buy a house in Los Angeles but that you also work with one agent, exclusively.
Buying a home is probably the most personal investment you will ever make. It also takes a huge personal investment from your real estate agent. The agent will be investing a tremendous amount of time, energy, as well as resources into you as a client. An agent does not get paid until a deal is consummated, on the listing side or on the buying side. And, as a buyer, you don’t pay the agent, the seller does.
Some agents may ask that you sign a ‘Buyer Representation Agreement’ before working with them, but since they are not really enforceable many of us work on trust. I believe trust on both sides of the table leads to success. In fact, I believe that TRUST is the #1 most important quality to look for in any real estate agent you’re thinking of working with.
Why should I use one agent? Won’t I get more choice if I use several?
No. In fact, I would argue that it’s a very bad idea to work with multiple agents or have multiple agents searching for homes for you. Remember, there must be trust from both the client, as well as, the agent. If you have multiple agents working for you and have no loyalty to any one agent, do you think they will be loyal to you? Probably not. There is no incentive for an agent to invest time, energy, and resources into a buyer who may end up using another agent to buy their home at any given moment. The buyer may think they’re being smart, or they don’t want to be committed to any one single agent, but by doing so, they are most certainly doing a disservice to themselves. This approach will only lead to subpar service from everyone involved.
Every agent has access to the same information — listings on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This is the absolute best place you are going to find up-to-date information on the active listing. In some cases, an agent may have access to a pocket listing (a home that is not listed on the MLS), but this is extremely rare, almost like finding a needle in a haystack.
Won’t I get a deal if I go directly through the listing agent?
I doubt it. Dual agency (where an agent represents both sides) can be a slippery slope. Although that agent is duty bound to represent both sides equally and fairly, remember who is paying the commission. Would you not rather be represented by someone who is 100% committed to getting you the best deal and terms possible? It’s very doubtful that you will save anything by using the listing agent, and in some cases, you could end up paying more. One of my mentors always used to like to say, “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”
Buying the home does not end the negotiation process. You still have to go through the inspection, and you need someone in your corner who is fully representing you. Because many an escrow has fallen through during this phase.
If you are buying a Los Angeles home find an agent you trust and put yourself in their hands. You have no idea how much easier your life will become. Why waste your time constantly searching the internet for homes? I can pretty much guarantee you’re not going to find anything that your agent doesn’t know about. The MLS is the only accurate representation of what homes are truly available so you could even be wasting your time, finding properties that are already off the market. Let your agent worry about calling ten different agents to set up appointments on ten different properties. It’s really a scenario where I don’t think you can lose.
More from the ‘Buying a Home in Los Angeles’ series: