Checking Up on Your Buyer Agent

by Dan Krell

Is your buyer agent showing you all the homes that match your search criteria? Let’s face it, there are presently thousands of homes listed for sale. You can’t realistically visit all the homes for sale, so how are you going to limit the homes you actually visit? If you rely solely on your buyer agent to show you homes that match your search criteria, you may be missing out on seeing other attractive and desirable homes. As most buyer agents act within their duties to their clients, some place their needs before their clients’; some buyer agents steer their clients for financial incentives and just plain convenience.

As some home sellers are offering financial incentives to home buyers, some are offering financial incentives to buyer agents in the form of bonuses and/or higher commissions. Additionally, some real estate brokerages offer financial incentives to their agents for selling intra-office listings in the form of bonuses. It’s easy to see that a buyer agent stands to make more money when they steer their clients to listings that either pay the highest commission and/or offer bonuses. If you ask your buyer agent, they will give you every detail of a home-except how much commission is paid and if there is a selling bonus offered (most agents do the right thing by disclosing selling bonuses to their clients when they submit an offer).

Additionally, some buyer agents look to show homes where the home seller can settle without delay. If there is any indication that it may be a prolonged settlement, the listing is excluded from the list provided to the home buyer. Typical reasons a home seller may need a prolonged settlement include finding a home of choice or requiring third party approval (which include short sale, probate, or bankruptcy sales). Some of these sales can take more than two months.

A small number of buyer agents are just plain lazy; they will only show you the homes that are convenient for them to show. Rather than making appointments and scheduling their time around their clients, some agents will only show vacant homes or homes that do not require any advanced notice. As many listed homes are occupied, some do require appointments or notice to show because of tenants, pets or infants.

As the real estate industry strives to be at the cutting edge of technology, information (albeit sometimes too much information) is available to everyone on the internet. To be certain you see all the homes that interest you, compare a search that you conducted to your agent’s search. One of the best ways to search for homes online is to go directly to the local MLS. is the consumer website offered by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc. (the local MLS). This site provides up to date information as listings are updated daily. You can search for homes based on your criteria as well as email your buyer agent for additional information.

Vigilance may be too strong of a word, but your home purchase is one of the largest purchases you will make in your life. You must be aware and attentive to all aspects of the home buying process.

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of February 18, 2008. Copyright © 2008 Dan Krell.