With so many real estate platforms these days on offer to the general public, many people choose to forego using a buyer’s agent in favor of having the listing agent of a property represent them as buyers. Buyers are correct in assuming that there is a direct incentive for the listing agent to get their own buyer the deal, in the form of a full commission, and so many buyers feel they can’t lose if they go with the listing agent. Unfortunately, real estate is rarely this simple. As much as I love getting both sides of any deal, as a real estate agent, I strongly advise buyers to find an agent they trust and love working with when putting offers in on homes. If your agent is a superstar and gets a lot of listings, there is a good chance that you will have the advantage of having them represent you as a buyer on their own listing, however, it will be an organic circumstance rather than a forced one.
While commercial real estate may be all about numbers, residential is much more emotional. Procuring an agent that you can build a solid and trustworthy relationship with is worth its weight in gold, especially in a competitive market. Why? Because your agent will be "all in" with you! Getting you the home of your dreams will become their top priority when a close working relationship has been established. As a buyer, it’s tempting to approach the listing agent just because he or she has an in with the seller, but it is not always fruitful. Contrary to popular opinion, a commission is not the only thing a real estate agent worries about.
Successful real estate agents have reputations to establish and uphold and in this business, there is a strong ethical code to adhere to. So getting too many sales where the agent has represented both sides inevitably leads to wagging tongues in the community. People start to wonder if certain agents are following the code of ethics or simply trying to make as much money as possible. I have had buyer clients not even want to bother writing an offer on a listing represented by certain agents because they feel the offer will be used against them and in favor of said agent's own client. Sooner or later, these types of dealings catch up with any agent.
That being said, sometimes using the listing agent is the best course of action, especially if you already have an established relationship with that agent.
In order to be a successful buyer, especially in a competitive real estate market, there are certain steps you can take which will help. First, find an agent you feel you can trust and are able to work with. There’s a lid for every pot, so find the best fit for your personal needs. Not only should you get along with your agent, but you should also feel they are excellent negotiators, tough in all the right ways, business-oriented, and have a strong work ethic and track record. Referrals are an excellent way to find an agent, as well as reading reviews online. Our doors on Ocean Park Blvd in Santa Monica are always open for potential clients to pop in and feel out our particular vibe!
Second, get your finances in order. To be a successful buyer, you need to either have a lot of cash or a pre-approval letter from your mortgage lender stating that you can in fact afford the house which you are trying to buy. Don’t wait until you want to write an offer to get this paperwork in order! Any good buyer’s agent will ask you immediately after approaching them if you’re pre-approved for a loan (look for this in an agent). If you’re not, they will usually have a few lenders they can refer you to, but it’s up to you to go through the process of getting your documents to the lender. This is incredibly important to your chances of getting the home you’ve been waiting for, so even though it is not fun, get those documents together!
Third, be open to the process. Many buyers think they know exactly what they want and need and many times this is true. However, after years of being in this business, I have learned that the surprises never stop coming and although a home may be perfect on paper, something about it in real life just doesn’t feel right. Residential real estate is such a feeling game! Even though you think you’re absolutely positive that you want an expansive view, be open to the fact that you may fall head over heels in love with a house that does not have much of a view at all. Look at houses. Fine tune your process. As you and your agent build your relationship, allow your agent to make suggestions and see what you think with an open mind and heart and you may be delighted with the results.
A large part of my job as an experienced buyer’s real estate agent, is to get to know my clients and tune in to what makes them happy while also fitting their needs.
And I can only speak for the Los Angeles area when I say be open to the area. Certain areas have reputations; for example, everyone has a picture of glitz and glam when they think about Beverly Hills. People think hippy culture when they think about Topanga Canyon. Santa Monica and Venice conjure images of surfers and skaters, while the East side, like Eagle Rock, Silverlake, and Los Feliz is all about those too-cool hipsters. Bel Air? Gates and fancy people. Malibu equals wealth with a capital "W". As much as we buy into these stereotypes of certain areas, there’s so much more to every neighborhood than any generalization could give! My advice here is to also be open to different areas of LA. Naturally, you narrow it down based on price point and certain must-haves, but don’t discount an area based on what you’ve heard about it. If a home fits your criteria in an area you’re unsure of, go visit the area and hang out. Try it on for a day and see what you think.
Finally, to be a successful buyer in a competitive market like the one we’re currently experiencing throughout Southern California, you must be resilient. Becoming attached to a home and not getting it is heartbreaking for a buyer. Allow yourself time to grieve the loss and then get back on the horse. I am one of those people who firmly believes that all things come at the right time, and this belief might help you get through the down times of losing out on a home you really wanted. In fact, I just told a client today: “Whenever one door closes, another one inevitably opens up”. Things always seem to work out for the best. Especially when you stay focused and don’t give up on what you truly desire. I’m not suggesting you bypass the emotions of disappointment or discouragement. Work through them and come out the other side with more knowledge and experience to go out and get what you want! Trust me, your agent will be extra motivated as well--and if they’re not--maybe that’s a sign that you could (and should) be working with someone more invested in you and your personal homeownership dreams. As a buyer, you need a strong agent who's out there advocating and negotiating on your behalf, and don't believe for a second that you deserve anything less!