The Real Estate industry is largely unregulated on the client side. Numerous rules and regulations legally guide an agents behavior before, during and at the time of closing but none instruct the behavior of their clients.
Fortunately, most clients inherently understand and adhere to the etiquette necessary to maintain a healthy relationship with their agent. On the other hand, some clients either choose to ignore this etiquette completely or aren’t properly informed.
As a buyer, what ‘dos and don’ts’ will help you maintain a healthy relationship with your agent?
Don’t be dishonest during pre-qualification
A good agent will discuss with you, in-person or over the phone, your decision to purchase a home before they take you to your first showing. We use this opportunity to understand your goals, your expectations, and your financial limitations.
Your motivation: If you’re not ready and able to purchase a home when you meet with an agent, be honest. If you’re shopping around for the right agent, be honest. Don’t use their time and resources to ‘see what’s out there’. Remember, agents work on commission, meaning, they won’t get paid a cent until you buy a home.
Your pre-approval: Unless you’re buying cash, you’ll need to get pre approved for a loan with a lender. A pre-approval will provide the agent with the actual amount you are able to spend. An accurate budget will help the agent be efficient while grounding your expectations throughout the search.
Your expectations: Notify the agent of what you’ll expect during your relationship with them. Give them an opportunity to determine if they’ll be the right fit for you. You may be unsure of how the process will unfold causing your expectations to be ungrounded.
Don’t call listing agents on your own
This pet peeve is at the top of almost any agents list. If you notice a home for sale while driving around a neighborhood, notify your agent and allow them to reach out for you. Do not call the listing agent on your own.
By making the phone call yourself, you’re not allowing your agent to do the job you hired them to do. Agents understand how to communicate with their fellow professionals better than you do. They know what to ask and how to ask it. You may be shooting yourself in the foot with your questions. Furthermore, a listing agent that allows you to set-up a showing while having the knowledge that you are being represented by another agent is acting unethically.
Don’t work with an agent for months and then ditch them
When an agent stops receiving answers from their client, they begin to get worried. This sends the agent into a thought process that ends with ‘I think I just lost a client’.
No matter how many homes your agent has taken you to, be sure to communicate with them; especially if they’ve done a good job.
If you’re planning on pausing your search for whatever reason, discuss it with them.
If you’re unhappy with the way the client-agent relationship is unfolding, discuss it with them.
Nothing is more frustrating than showing a client dozens of homes over the span of a few months just to have them disappear on you and receive zero compensation for the time you put in.
Don’t negotiate items that were present before the inspection
That broken fence you noticed during the showing and before you put in the offer is not part of the item list you’ll be requesting credits for in the inspection period. The seller disclosed the information to you during the showing and the agent will consider the defect when submitting your offer.
There’s no need to negotiate defects that were made known to you before you decided to move forward with the transaction. Inspections exist to reveal hidden problems such as mold or structural damage not visible during pre-inspection. Asking your agent to negotiate unreasonable credits does nothing to improve your chances of purchasing the home.
Don’t be dishonest about your limit during negotiation
It’s crucial to relay your highest and best offer to your agent before entering into the negotiation process. If you’ve decided on a home within your budget and you’re not in a sellers market, your agent may suggest starting your offer below the asking price.
Knowing exactly what you’d like to pay for the property will inform the agents strategy. A misinformed agent will appear inconsistent and unprofessional while negotiating which will definitely hurt your chances of getting the property at the price you want.
Don’t be inconsiderate with your agents time
Just because real estate agents don’t have fixed office hours doesn’t mean they want to communicate with you at any hour of the day. Understand agents have lives and a need to disconnect from their work for time to time.
If you have a question that needs answering and it’s 9pm, don’t expect a response until the following day. Do not call the agent and leave them multiple voicemails. Rest assured the agent has noticed your attempt to communicate and will answer during business hours. Agents give out their personal phone number because it’s the best way to reach them, not because they enjoy working until midnight.
If you’re going to be late to an appointment, notify your agent. Most agents work with multiple clients simultaneously. Scheduling time for all of them is part magic and part proper planning.
The Recipe for Success
A healthy client-agent relationship benefits more than the agents wellbeing. Maintaining clarity, respect, and practicing complete disclosure helps you attain your goal of owning a home much quicker.
Agents want to help you, not just collect a commission. Many of us love what we do and we’re happy to oblige your expectations if we’re honest with each other from the beginning. In the end, consideration on both ends will ensure a buyers goal is reached in a timely manner.