Buyer Resources - Articles

Buying Your Home - Working With a Real Estate Agent

Can I use an agent for a new home?
Yes, however buyers should be aware of the differences inherent in working with sales agents who are employed by the developer, rather than traditional real estate agents.
Builders commonly require that an outside agent be present, and sign in, the first time a prospective purchaser visits a site before payment of commission even is discussed.  At times when buyers use an advertisement to find the development themselves first, builders can refuse to pay any commission regardless of how helpful an agent may become later in the process. It is advisable to call the development first and inquire about their policy on compensating real estate agents if you are using one.

How do I find a real estate agent?
Getting a recommendation from a friend or work colleague is an excellent way to find a good agent. Be sure to ask if they would use the agent again. You also can call the managers of reputable real estate firms and ask them for recommendations of agents who have worked in your neighborhood. In any case, whether you are a buyer or a seller, you should interview at least three agents to give yourself a choice. A good agent typically works full-time and has several years of experience. If you are a seller, you should expect to review a comparative market analysis, which includes recent home sale prices in your area, when you talk to a prospective agent.

What about a buyer's agent?
In many states, it's now common for an agent to represent the buyers exclusively in the transaction and be paid a commission by the sellers. More and more buyers are going a step further, hiring and paying for their own agent, referred to as buyers brokers.

How do you find a good agent?
Getting a recommendation from a friend or work colleague is an excellent way to find a good agent, whether you are a buyer or a seller. Be sure to ask if they would use the agent again. You also can call the managers of reputable real estate firms and ask them for recommendations of agents who have worked in your neighborhood.
A good agent typically works full-time and has several years of experience at minimum. If you are a buyer, you don't usually pay for your agent's services (in the form of a commission, or percentage of the sales price of the home). All agents in a transaction usually are paid by the seller from the sales proceeds. In many states, this means that your agent legally is acting as a subagent of the seller. But in some states, it's legal for an agent to represent the buyers exclusively in the transaction and be paid a commission by the sellers. You also can hire and pay for your own agent, known as buyer's brokers, whose legal obligation is exclusively to you. If you are a seller, you should interview at least three agents, all of whom should make a sales presentation including a comparative market analysis of local home prices in your area. The best choice isn't always the agent with the highest asking price for your home. Be sure to evaluate all aspects of the agent's marketing plan and how well you think you can work with the individual.

How much does my real estate agent need to know?      
The more your agent knows, the better they can guide and direct you. However, what type of agency relationship you and your agent have may determine the comfort level of trust you should have with disclosing things to your agent.   Every state has different agency laws. In Louisiana, some forms are:  An agent can have a Buyer as their "Client", meaning the agent is representing the best interest of the buyer, or a Buyer can be the "Customer" of an agent, meaning the agent is assisting / facilitating things for the Buyer, but not representing them. As well, if a Buyer pursues a property that is the "personal listing" of their agent, then said agent would be in a "Dual" agency situation, representing both parties.  In some states, dual agency can be formed when a buyer looks at "any property" listed by their agent's company, but in Louisiana this is not the case.  The broker of a real estate company in Louisiana "designates" an agent to a Seller or Buyer, which circumvents the possibility of all agents within the company being in dual agency for all listings within the company.  And, as all pending or "dead" contracts are kept under lock and key, there is no chance of one agent finding out the outcome of a contract on a property within their company.  Dual agency must be disclosed upfront to all parties.  When a seller lists with an agent in Louisiana, the seller must indicate in writing that they give their permission for said agent to "possibly" function in a Dual Agent scenario; and then a Buyer must be told of such, should the case arise. This is basic information, but all of this is explained in depth within our Louisiana Real Estate Commission Agency Brochure.  Any agent you are considering should supply you with this informative brochure upon first significant contact with them.  It is very important you understand how agency is formed so you will fully understand the role of an agent you are considering and can know what to expect from them.  Historically in Louisiana, only sellers were represented in real estate transactions by their agents, but the law changed some years ago and buyers now have all the rights of representation.  As "One of the First Accredited Buyer Representatives in the state of Louisiana", I have long preached that the first step of buying is for Buyers to actively interview and choose the agent they want to represent them!  Look at it this way --- Sellers have always interviewed and actively chosen the agent they wish to list their home and represent them, so now that Buyers have the right to representation, why not choose whom you wish to do so?!  Many times, due to a lack of understanding this, buyers start their home-buying process by calling around about houses .... and, by talking with every agent that answers the phone for each property.  First, this is not a good idea because unknowingly, you could be disclosing a lot of financial information to a lot of agents.  And, you might find yourself "stumbling into" the agent you will ultimately use, rather than "choosing" someone. Choosing your agent first gives you guidance from start to finish! 

Where can I get information on buyer agents?
For information on buyer agents, contact the your area's Realtor association or National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents: 320 West Sabal Palm Place, Suite 150, Longwood, FL 32779. Phone: 407-767-7700, Toll-Free: 800-986-2322, FAX: 407-834-4747, WEBSITE: http://www.naeba.org/.

Susan Langlois
Susan Langlois
Licensed Agent in the State of Louisiana
4750 Sherwood Common Boulevard Baton Rouge LA 70816