Sunday, January 21, 2007

Courtship of your Realtor

I received an email on Friday with a request to show one of our listings. In addition to the request for information on the property for sale, the request also asked:

Also, I am writing to you in regards to buy some real estate in the city of Chicago in the price range of $450k-$650k. However, before I select a specific neighborhood and home I need the following information for this area and price range.

I need to know everything that has just been listed in the last 30 days, what has sold in the last 30 days and what has expired in the last 30 days. In addition, I need to know what the average days are on the market for homes in this price range.
I do have access to this information and I am willing to provide it. After a short courtship ~ for lack of a better descriptive word. What it boils down to is "Agency."

First, this inquiry came along with a request for information about a specific property in our inventory. In an instance like this where I have an established relationship with a seller, but no relationship with our potential inquirer, my duty is to the seller and the buyer is considered a "customer."

My duty to my seller requires that I promote his property to the best of my ability and represent his or her best interestes at all times. Therefore I can not freely divulge information to a "customer" that asks comprehensive market information to aid them in the formation of an offer on the property.

A buyer that wants information like this should get it, but needs to obtain the services of a buyer's agent.

Getting back to working with me: After a brief meeting - and this could be a meeting at the property for a showing or at my office to talk about the "customer's" wants and needs, we could change the nature of the relationship to an agency relationship. That is: I can offer to represent the "customer" as his Buyer's Agent - and she then becomes a "client."

Most frequently this is perfectly acceptable because the property the "customer" has inquired about is not a good match for their real wants and needs. After the customer decides that the proeprty they inquired about isn't quite right, then we can formalize an agent-client relationship.

These steps should be taken by all agents, but frequenty ignored by the hungry or the inexperienced. Buyers would be well advised, however, to remember the nature of the relationship as they are out and about viewing real estate.

Some tips about Agency. When you inquire about a home by calling the listing Realtor or when you visit an open house, that agent is obligated to:
  • Show you the home
  • Answer any questions you may have about the property honestly
  • Fill in the blanks on a purchase contract but not offer advice on what to put in the offer
  • Assist you with financing - if desired
  • Monitor the transaction until closing

A buyers agent can provide you with these additional services:

  • Provide advice and counsel
  • Keep your bargaining position confidential
  • Disclose to you any confidential information learned about a potential seller or property
  • Disclose any defects in a particular property
  • Point out reasons why you might NOT want to buy a particular property
  • Point out addition properties you might like BETTER than a particular property
  • Assist you in writing an offer (purchase contract) keeping your best interests in mind
  • Promote your best interests during the entire contract process as you go through attorney review and inspection contingency periods.

Keeping the nature of the relationship in mind will aid you greatly in your interactions with Realtors as you're out there hitting the open houses. Shop wisely.