My blog generates email and some of it is not spam. I recently received an email from a person who wanted to see a condo that is on the market.
The condo is not my listing but I can show any property listed by any REALTOR. I do however have to ask the person if they are currently under contract with a real estate agent. They hate to be asked that question. I can not work with a buyer who has an exclusive contract with another agent.
By contract I mean a contract for exclusive representation by a real estate agent who will represent the buyer. Buyers agents get paid through the sellers comission, but can only represent buyers that they have under contract.
The woman who sent me the email responded by saying that she thinks she is under contract. I followed up with another email and a phone call in an attempt to figure out if I could show her the condo. Had it been my listing I would have just shown it to her because it would be within the scope of my duties and responsibilities to the seller. I found it disturbing that she thinks she is under contract but does not know. Anyone who signs a buyers contract with an agent will know that they did, and must have a copy of that signed contract for it to be legally binding.
She believes that she entered into a contract with a REALTOR because she filled out an on line form. I looked at the form and it is a bit misleading but is not a legally binding Minnesota real estate contract because it had no beginning or ending dates on it and was missing some other key pieces.
Since she believed that she was under contract I encouraged her to contact the agent and ask to see the condo. She did say that she wanted to work with that agent but he did not respond to her email right away so she moved on thinking she could get me to show her the condo and then worry about the other details later. I feel her pain, she just wants to see the condo, because she needs a place to live.
She has never met the agent and does not know him. I asked why she chose him and she said "he looks like an earnest young man". I went and looked him up, he is maybe 25 years old and has had a real estate license for about six months. With so many agents in the business it is possible to find an agent who has some experience.
Is this really a good way to choose a REALTOR? He could be fantastic, or maybe not so fantastic. The woman just wanted to see the condo. This I understand. When I explained to her what a buyers agent does she seemed blown away when I mentioned the contracts and explained representation.
Buying a house is a big deal and so is choosing an agent. My suggestion is to ask friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors if they know anyone who does a good job. Interview the agents, ask a lot of questions, ask for references. Choose someone that you feel you can trust. Since you may be spending some time with your Realtor you may want to make sure that he or she is someone that you don’t mind being with.
Are they interested and knowledgeable on the neighborhoods and housing styles that you are most interested in? Do they have time for you? It makes no difference which real estate company they work with because it isn’t the real estate company that shows or sells houses, it is the agents.
On line lead aggregators that have all of our listings and encourage consumers to "find an agent" are referral services. No one checks the quality of the agents, any agent can sign up and pay for the leads. Don’t become a lead.
Don’t entrust your biggest most expensive purchase to an earnest face on the internet and don’t give away your contact information by filling out an on-line form so that you can become a lead for someone to put into their ‘drip email marketing campaign, you are smarter than that. It is alright to find an agent on the internet. I have met many of my clients that way but the internet is just an introduction. Ask questions and get references before signing anything.
For some guidance please see the Minnesota Attorney General’s Home Buyers Handbook. It is a little out of date, and in a PDF format but it is still the best resource around and is not written by anyone who is trying to sell something.