I've recently found some properties that I am interested in making some offers on and I wanted to know if I should find a buyers agent before contacting the listing agent? What are some of the best ways to find investor friendly agents. Also, if you could explain some of the pros and cons of having an agent as opposed to going about it on your own.
Unless your very familiar with state & federal real estate laws, are comfortable with all the legal paperwork required, etc. I'd recommend you use a buyer's agent. It costs you nothing to have a real estate expert (unlike hiring a real estate attorney and paying his/her fees) since sellers pay agent commissions. So why not use a Realtor? They will walk you through the process. Realtor's are a good resource of information and contacts such as home inspectors, lenders, contractors, etc. It's often in your best interest to have a Realtor acting on your behalf during difficult negotiations.
Be aware that no two agents are the same. Some are only part-time agents, though they won't tell you that. There are a lot of people out there with real estate licenses but that doesn't mean they are working in that field full-time. There is a difference between a Realtor and a real estate agent. Realtors are members of the National Realtor Association in addition to local real estate association members. Ask lots of questions and you should be able to tell whether or not they are a good fit.
Hope this helps.
@Solomon Oh I feel you should always find professional representation. The sellers agent will not be able to represent your interests fully since they are also under contract to represent the seller.
Buyers representation is free in most cases.
Dual agency is illegal in Maryland, so you can't really go through the listing agent anyways.
@Russell Brazil - Dual agency is also illegal in CO, however, we can represent the seller with an agency relationship and treat the buyer as a "customer" with no representation, therefore still able to keep both sides of the commission. Is this legal in Maryland?
@Solomon Oh - In my opinion as an agent, a buyer should never use the listing agent. Their loyalty is to the seller from the start. Most listing agents have professional experience on negotiating on real estate and know where the pain points are for buyers and sellers to able to better negotiate on behalf of their client. The seller also typically pays the listing agent a fee of lets say X%. The buyers agent then typically splits the fee 50/50, so listing agent gets 1/2X% and buyers agent gets 1/2X%. When there is no buyers agent involved, then the listing agent gets the full X%. So in my opinion, a buyer should ALWAYS be represented by their OWN agent.
With that said, in some rare circumstances your own agent may just so happen to be the listing agent. In that case the agent should stay neutral to both their clients and act as a transaction broker (this is at least the case in CO, your state laws may differ).
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