When I bought my first home, I had no idea how realtors got paid, what was expected of me as a buyer, or how this whole thing worked. I don’t want you to feel that way, so this post is to try to clear up some of that mystery and also give you an idea of what to expect from working with a realtor, and what a realtor will expect from you.
How we get paid
This is an important one! Often you’ll hear that it’s free to work with a buyer agent, and it doesn’t cost you anything. I think folks then assume we work for free, or that our brokerages pay us for our time. This is incorrect! Almost all of us get paid completely off commission, with no base salary and no benefits, and plenty of expenses.
When a seller sells their home with an agent, they sign a contract agreeing to pay their agent a percentage of the home’s sale price at closing. When another agent brings a buyer to purchase the property, that agent will get paid a percentage of that fee at closing by the seller’s agent and brokerage.
Sometimes folks think it will benefit them to work directly with the listing agent, but it’s important to remember that the listing agent’s loyalty lies first with their seller, and the seller will be paying the listing fee no matter what, so you’re not saving the seller any money. You might as well have that cut go to someone who is going to be working for you instead.
What to expect from working with us
If you’re working with a realtor like me, here’s what you should expect:
Valuable market insights. Realtors have access to up-to-date information about the local housing market, including recent sales, inventory, and trends. I can use this information to help you make informed decisions about pricing, timing, and negotiation. My job is to follow the market!
Negotiation. Good realtors know the protocols, ways to sweeten offers or get you the best deal, and how to communicate with everyone appropriately.
Transaction navigation. Buying or selling a home can involve a lot of documents, disclosures, and confusing steps and deadlines along the way. A realtor can help you understand and navigate these steps and make sure you don’t forget anything.
Professional advice. A realtor can offer professional advice on a variety of real estate-related topics, including home staging, repairs and renovations, and pricing strategy. We can use our experience and expertise to help you make the best decisions for your situation.
Valuable referrals. Realtors often work with a network of professionals, including home inspectors, appraisers, lenders, home repair folks, and title companies. We can provide valuable referrals to professionals in these areas, helping you find quality service providers with ease. We legally can’t get paid kickbacks or referral fees from lenders, inspectors, or title companies. If we’re recommending someone, it’s usually because we’ve worked with them in the past and found them to be competent, timely, good at communication, or otherwise great to work with.
Additionally, you should expect your agent to be honest, ethical, loyal, and trustworthy. You should feel your agent is hearing you and is open to communication. You should be able to trust your agent. If you don’t feel this way, it’s okay to tell your agent you no longer want to work together and find a new one.
When you work with an agent, it’s often expected or a legal requirement to sign a buyer or seller agreement. This legal document is designed to protect both you and your agent. And we legally can’t share our commission with you or anyone else not licensed in real estate, so please don’t ask. We also can’t help you with a transaction you already have going on with another realtor.
What we expect from you
Here are some things that you might not know that realtors are expecting from you:
Don’t work with multiple agents. If you’re working with an agent, just work with that one agent – it’s a monogamous relationship. Don’t contact an agent off the Zillow listing you just found — we can show you that home too. If you no longer want to work together, please just let us know.
Don’t call the listing agent of a home you’re interested in if you’re working with an agent already. Let your agent do the work for you. The listing agent is working for the seller, and they have their best interest in mind. You may say something unhelpful to your case by contacting them directly.
If you go to an open house, let the agent there at the open know you’re working with me. That way they won’t try to speak with you directly. Do not volunteer information about yourself or ask the agent at the open house questions about the home – have your agent do it for you.
Don’t contact the other party in the transaction. In other words, if you’re buying, don’t knock on the door of the home that you’re interested in and go chat with the seller in person, or write them a letter or message them on Instagram. And vice versa if you’re selling. Let us handle the transaction — it’s what we’re paid to do.
Be pre-approved and ready to buy before you start looking at properties. Nothing worse than finding your dream home and not being able to make it happen in time. I can only show homes within your pre-approval budget, so if you do decide you’d like to go higher, please get a new pre-approval.
Please be respectful of our time. Don’t ask us to show you homes if you’re not ready to buy, and also please realize we’re often juggling lots of clients and things at once.
Please communicate with us. Be clear about what you’re looking for, what you need, and how you’re feeling. If you’re unhappy please let us know — we may have no idea.
When viewing a home
Be a nice guest. During showings or open houses, please remember that you are a guest in someone else’s home and please respect their space. If the owner still lives there, do not touch their belongings, open their dresser or nightstand drawers, medicine cabinets, and the like. Please take your shoes off or use the little shoe covers if asked, or if there’s carpet, or your shoes are muddy. If you’re bringing children, please keep an eye on them so they don’t touch the owner’s things.
Respect everyone’s time. Please give me a good lead time to arrange the appointment time and date with the other parties — they often have to clean and vacate their home if it’s occupied, which can include a lot of work and sometimes childcare and pet wrangling. And for that reason, please be on time for the appointment. If you have to cancel or reschedule, please let me know with as much time as possible, so I can let them know. Please also be mindful of the appointment time limit we have. I usually schedule a 30-minute appointment, but this can sometimes be adjusted in the future if you feel you need more time.
The walls have ears. Be aware that there may be security or other types of cameras or microphones anywhere in the home and on the porch, so until you’re sure one way or the other, make sure whatever you say you’d be okay with the owner and other agent hearing. It’s best to leave any opinions or negotiation talk to safely out of microphone range.
Pet protocol. If there are pets inside the home, leave them inside. And please leave yours at home.
No trespassing. Do not walk on someone’s property unless you have an appointment and are accompanied by your realtor. This is still trespassing, even if the home is for sale. If you are in contract to purchase, we still need to get permission to view the home or lot.
Help lock up. It’s completely reasonable to open doors and windows to test them. It’s helpful to me when locking up if you can remember to close and lock everything that you’ve opened, to keep their home secure. I’ll run around and double-check everything as well. We don’t want to leave someone’s home unlocked by accident.