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Four Typical Real Estate Buyer's Agents

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Originally Posted by Joan Herlong on Forbes.com on November 13, 2023 (Original Article)

Buyer agents are most of the agents in this industry: they assist buyer-clients at every step of the home-buying process. This includes the contract-to-closing period—most agents are primarily rep buyers.

They meet all kinds of wonderful and amazing people in this process. They also meet some very interesting recurring characters.

Here’s that cast of characters and, more importantly, how to deal with them:

1. The Buyer With ‘The Dad’

Negotiations go smoothly, and the contract is signed, but when it’s time to schedule inspections, your buyer makes an announcement that sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard.

“By the way, my dad will inspect the house for us to help us save money. He’s a retired [fill in the blank].”

The Dad can be a retired anything: a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker. But this is the record-scratch moment. What the buyer means is, “My dad, the retired [________], is gifting us our down payment, so we need to do this his way, or no way.”

The best way to handle this buyer is to invite The Dad to attend the home inspection and to please share his helpful perspective. But note that the seller is unlikely to accept repair requests that aren’t based on a report from a licensed home inspector.

2. The Lawyer

My husband (sometimes referred to as my Reason for Living) is a lawyer, so this is not a knock on the legal profession. The Lawyer often cannot resist the urge to take a red pen to the contract’s boilerplate language, regardless of whether their specialty is contract law.

They will haggle over cost. They will haggle over the word haggle. The Lawyer can be a tough buyer to deal with, but you can win them over by knowing your contract inside out. Answer their questions succinctly, but use the handy phrase “I don’t know” when you don’t know.

If they are bound and determined to make changes to the contract that are likely to confuse or annoy the other party, ask your closing attorney for assistance because you are sooooo not a lawyer.

3. The Wannabe Realtor

This is the buyer who’s watched too much HGTV, so they think they know everything about real estate.

Or, this is the buyer who dabbled in real estate for 10 minutes 10 years ago, which makes them an expert today. Or, they may have a Zillow account and an Excel spreadsheet. Regardless, the Wannabe Realtor knows that they know more than you know, making you wonder why they even hired you as their buyer agent.

The best way to handle them is to remind them that they hired you for your knowledge and skills. Your job is to guide them and inform them, not defer to strong opinions.

4. The Handyman

This person once built a deck with some pals (without a permit). He now believes he can spot structural flaws that other so-called experts have missed. Think Cliff Clavin with a measuring tape and a pencil behind one ear.

The solution is to introduce him to your own licensed guy so they can review the inspection results together and reminisce about the good ole days when your pals would help build a deck in exchange for a case of warm beer.

My Advice for Working With Buyer’s Agents

I’ve been in this business for a bit, and I’ve seen a lot of changes. I’m somewhat qualified to offer advice to buyers and their potential agents.

When I first start out with buyers, I tell them a couple of things. First, I’m not going to ask them to sign a buyer agency agreement with me until after our outing together because I view our first house-hunting foray as a mutual audition.

After a week or so, they get to decide whether they value my input, and I get to decide whether we’re a good fit. If so, we will sign the Buyer Agency agreement.

A buyer agency agreement is a mutual loyalty agreement, and it’s also a binding contract. I want to make sure we both fully understand the agreement before signing. Our industry is changing rapidly, perhaps faster than many agents can adapt.

If you’re working with a buyer agent who has not even mentioned an agency or a buyer agency agreement, press pause. Ask questions, then make sure you fully understand and agree with each other’s expectations in writing.

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