When Should I Hire a Buyer's Agent?
The home buying process is challenging, for both experienced and first-time homebuyers. It’s a significant purchase, loaded with potential missteps and heightened emotions. You will save yourself time and energy by finding an experienced agent that you trust to help you through the process. But when is the right time to hire a buyer's agent?
Should you get your financing in order first? Should you read a book about home buying or do online research? Should you narrow down your areas? Should you go to open houses?
In my opinion, all of the above can be helpful if you’ve already done them, but they also come with their own potential pitfalls. The reality is that hiring the right buyer’s agent from the get-go will make the entire process smoother. You will have an experienced and willing resource close at hand, who has the ability to meet you where you’re at in the homebuying process and personally guide you through the next steps.
Getting Preapproved for Financing or Lining Up Your Funds is a Good First Step: It never hurts to get financially prepared for your purchase. Get a handle on your budget and make sure you know what questions to ask your lender during the preapproval process. But if you are meeting with me for a Buyer Strategy Session, I don’t mind if you haven’t been preapproved yet. I can even give you tips on finding a reliable and thorough loan officer. I do want you to get preapproved before we start touring homes together (an essential first step of the buying process), but it’s OK for it to happen after you hire your buyer’s agent.
Researching online has its limits: The information available online is plentiful. It can take you step-by-step through the home buying process or give you endless lists of properties for sale in a specific area. The internet is a valuable resource, but it has no idea who you really are as a person. Having access to an expert who can listen to your needs and tailor advice to fit them is invaluable. The professional you work with will also be able to catch things that will slip past your scrutiny, like property defects or holes in the contract. These are just a few reasons why you should hire an exclusive buyer's agent at the very beginning of the process. Your agent will help you weed out potential bad deals and steer you toward the right location, lenders, expectations of the marketplace, and property features for the right price.
Open Houses Can Hurt You: If you wait too long to hire a buyer’s agent, things can get hairy. Say you visit an open house and fall in love with it. It may be too late to hire your own agent, or at least it could make your home-buying process really uncomfortable. Agents who hold open houses are one of two things: (A) They are agents looking for new clients, so they are holding the open house to meet potential buyers. In this case, if you try to hire your own buyer’s agent to purchase that house, the open house agent is going to feel miffed and may even get aggressive about being owed part of the commission. (B) They are the seller’s agent and their duty is to represent the seller’s best interests throughout the negotiations, the inspections, the disclosures, the repair negotiation, etc. No matter how well you connect with said agent or how trustworthy you feel he or she is, working with a dual agent is bad for buyers. By law, this agent cannot look out for you and your best interests
And even if you do plan to hire a buyer’s agent later on, when you visit open houses without your own expert there, you run the risk of the seller’s agent knowing too much about your intentions. This can tip the scale in the seller’s favor and heavily influence the outcome of the deal. You should, at the very least, tell the open house agent as you enter the home that you already have an agent, and ask them if it’s still OK for you to take a quick look at the home (also be careful of what you say about the home until you leave). Better yet, hire your agent before going to an open house, so it’s official. The longer you hold out on hiring your buyer’s agent, the easier it is to fall into this kind of situation, and the less likely your interests will be represented.
If you end up hiring me as your San Diego buyer’s broker, we will be working closely together from Day 1 and throughout your entire purchase process until you get the keys to your new home. There is really no time too soon to setup a meeting. If I feel it’s better for you to wait to buy, I will tell you (and I will give you tips to work on in the meantime). And if now is a good time for you to buy, a Buyer Strategy Session will help us determine if we are a good fit for working together. In a nutshell, it’s never too early to reach out if you are considering buying a home.
Also Read: How to Choose the Right Mortgage Lender
Justin Gramm is the founder and principal broker of Globella Buyers Realty, your San Diego Exclusive Buyer Brokerage.
Exclusive Buyer Agents do not list homes for sale and never represent sellers. They have no "inventory" to try to sell you. They can represent you in purchasing any home. They are specialists at representing buyers only on the buyers' side of the transaction. Exclusive Buyer Agents work to get buyers the best price and terms when they buy a home.
If you have excellent credit and plan to buy a home or condo in San Diego County within 90 days, contact Justin Gramm to hire an agent on your side of the transaction. More about Justin Gramm on Google+. Call Justin at (858) 437-2662 or E-mail.