Now that’s a great question. What does a good buyer’s agent do that sets them apart from other agents? If you asked 50 different people what they thought of their real estate agents, you would probably get 50 different answers. Some people think they’ve found the world’s greatest agent, while others think the opposite.
So what makes the difference? At the end of the day, how “good” one Realtor is over another is highly subjective, but there are certain things you can always expect from a good buyer’s agent.
Of course, everyone should assume that their agent provides great service. A great agent should at the very least be empathetic and attentive to their clients’ needs, wants, and let’s face it, anxieties. If your agent never seems to have enough time or patience for you, just move on. There are plenty of fish in the sea.
Beyond great service I have put together a list of other things that a great buyer’s agent will do that separates them from the rest. So without further ado, let’s go through 7 of the most important buyer’s agent duties.
1. Help You Get Pre-Approved
Getting pre-approved is the first step to finding a home. A good buyer’s agent will have connections with great lenders that they trust to do a great job and treat their clients with the same level of service that they do.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage accomplishes a couple things. First, it spells out in black and white how much you can afford to pay for a home. Second, a pre-approval makes your offers more competitive as most listing agents will require one to be submitted with all offers.
In competitive markets, a good agent can also help set you apart from other buyers by connecting you with a more capable lender. Using a lender that can underwrite your loan before you select a property can put you ahead of the competition. When a pre-approval includes conditions that have already been checked off by the underwriter, it instills a lot more confidence than a pre-approval that hasn’t even been on the underwriter’s desk yet.
2. Location and Neighborhood Counseling During Home Search
Shopping for a home can be daunting to say the least. You can see dozens of houses before finding your dream home. Or, you may need to make concessions so that your dream home matches the reality of what is available in your target market and price range.
A good buyer’s agent is an indispensable resource during your home search and home buying process. A good agent that knows the area can help you effectively achieve your goals. By prioritizing your needs and wants, the agent can identify the neighborhoods and communities that best fit your criteria and price range.
3. Negotiating an Offer
Perhaps one of the best advantages of a great buyer’s agent is that they will help you negotiate a better price for your home.
How long has it been since the last time you bought or sold a house? A good buyer’s agent that is active in the market will have their finger on the pulse of the current market and be able to offer valuable insight when writing an offer.
A good agent will have a crystal clear understanding of a home’s value. This will help you make an offer that is competitive while not being too high.
I have also found it helpful to talk to the seller’s agent before making an offer. We can often gain some additional insight on what is motivating the seller and craft our offer accordingly. The best offer for the seller doesn’t necessarily have to be the highest.
4. Being Involved in the Home Inspection
There are many options when it comes to hiring a home inspector, just like there are with agents. The best agents, however, will typically know and use the best home inspectors.
In California, there is no licensing board or regulatory agency overseeing home inspectors. Anyone who wants to be a home inspector can call themselves one. Most agents have worked with several home inspectors over time and have found one, or a few, that stand out above the rest.
Attending the Home Inspection
An agent’s involvement in the home inspection goes beyond just referring a home inspector. A good buyer’s agent will also attend the home inspection.
The home inspector will go over his findings with the buyers in detail, answering all their questions to make sure they truly understand what they are buying. However, a lot of the context and nuance of what is discussed in person will not necessarily be reflected in the report.
It’s important that an agent fully understand not just what items came up, but also the weight of these items. Some things just aren’t as major as others and it’s important to have a firm understanding of this before negotiating these items.
One of your agent’s duties is to negotiate on your behalf. Unfortunately, being too lazy to attend the home inspection will diminish his ability to do that.
5. Negotiating the Home Inspection Items
No home is perfect, and the market prices them with that understanding. When negotiating for repairs or credits for home inspection items it’s important to remember this. If you demand too much of a seller, it could lead to the entire deal falling through.
You need to be able to prioritize repair items and identify the ones that are most important. Also, as sellers will often prefer to offer credits rather than actually repair things, you need to know how much certain items are worth.
Assigning dollar values to home inspection items is something that a good buyer’s agent can help with. Being able to accurately valuate property is an integral skill for good agents. So, knowing which items on the home inspection affect value, and by how much, is something that your agent is qualified to do.
6. Communicating Clearly With Everyone
There are a lot of people involved in the typical real estate transaction. From the buyer’s and seller’s agents, to the lender, escrow officer, title company, appraiser and various inspectors there is a lot going on.
A good buyer’s agent should be on top of everything. He should constantly be communicating with every party to insure that the transaction is moving along on schedule and that nothing is falling through the cracks.
As the experienced expert, your agent is able to measure the importance of information for you. There are a lot of documents and disclosures that need to be sent, received, and signed by both buyers and sellers. Your agent will be able to tell you what each one is, how important it is, and how it might affect you and the transaction.
7. Staying On Schedule
Timelines, deadlines, and due dates are extremely important in a real estate transaction. When you enter into a purchase contract you have agreed to perform according to a certain schedule. Much of this performance is not entirely under your control, however.
Your lender needs to get your loan fully approved and ready to fund by a certain date, the appraisal needs to be done by a certain date, the home inspection and subsequent negotiations also need to be completed and signed off by a certain date.
Failing to meet these deadlines can give the seller more leverage over you, the transaction could fall apart, and you can potentially lose your deposit. This is why it is so important that your agent is on top of these deadlines and checking in with everyone to make sure nothing is falling through the cracks.