Top 6 Questions to Ask Your Buyer's Agent in DC, MD, VA Before you Give Them the Green Light

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Buying a home should be a joyful journey and the buyer’s agent that represents you in the exciting adventure will determine how happy and successful you believe you've been after you've purchased your home or condominium. Take your time, research your many options, and truly understand how real estate agency affects every aspect of a real estate transaction in the Washington, DC metro area. Make a thoughtful and educated decision.  Ask the tough questions. Find the right Realtor for you.

1. Do you or your broker take real estate listings or work for sellers?

    How do you represent buyers and sellers on the same house?

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These simple questions will determine if your real estate agent is a true exclusive buyer’s agent (Member of NAEBA|National Association of Exclusive Buyer's Agents) or a buyer’s agent who works for a traditional real estate company. A buyer’s agent and a broker who also works for sellers wear many different hats depending on the day. One day they’re working for sellers, another day they may be a designated buyer’s agent or a dual agent. Did you know that in the middle of the real estate transaction, depending on the size of the company, you must be asked to sign a new contract agreeing to loose the “undivided loyalty” of your buyer’s agent in order to buy an in-house listing? Exclusive buyer’s agents and their brokers never take listings, so they never have this conflict of interest. In the Washington DC metro area, there are a number of exclusive buyer's brokerage real estate companies to choose from. 

2. Should I interview at least three buyer’s agents?

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A good buyer's agent should say, "Yes." They know you're busy, but they also know that this step is so important. You shouldn't buy a home like you were grocery shopping on a Saturday afternoon! Even then, would you buy a piece of warm cheese or a 1/4 pound of fresh Tuna from a stranger at the door of a house that happened to be OPEN? No! Don't buy a home from the real estate agent or the company that represents the seller! Please interview at least 3 agents. You’re going to have to be spending a lot of time with this Realtor. You better have a really good gut feeling about them. The only way to start to trust that feeling is after you have sat down and met them in their office, checked out the company and agent website, Facebook page, tweets, UTube channel, etc and read numerous testimonials.  Also, they should be more than happy to have you speak to their past clients, so you can get some honest feedback. 

3. How much experience do you have as a buyer’s agent?

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Here are some of the professional qualifications you should look for from your exclusive buyers agent in VA, DC, MD:

  • They have a pulse on the current real estate market – not just a few neighborhoods
  • Hard-nosed negotiator (Ask for examples.)
  • Ability to honestly evaluate the value of a property
  • In a multiple bidding war, advise their buyer on how to prepare the best offer to win
  • Conversely, in a multiple bidding war when to advise their buyer that escalating the price of a property is no longer in their best interest.
  • Connected with a reputable real estate company
  • Full-time Realtor
  • Tech-savvy
  • Easily accessible and good communication skills
  • Who else in the office will you work with
  • Are they members of NAEBA?

4. Do I have to sign a contract with you? What is your fee? How do I get out of the contract if I’m not satisfied with your services?

A professional buyers agent in DC, MD, VA will not rush you into signing a contract with them. There should be a guarantee or an ability to get out of the contract, if you are not satisfied with the home buying services that you are receiving. You should never be asked to sign a buyer’s brokerage agreement the same day that you are writing a contract on a home you're bidding on. (It's like not signing a pre-nuptial agreement on your wedding day.) I can’t stress this enough. Homebuyers should never sign anything until you have had a chance to thoroughly review the document. Be sure that you completely understand what the fee is, how your buyer’s agent will be compensated and who they represent. Ask to modify the contract if you want to. Any bonus from the seller’s side should go to the buyer, not the buyer’s agent!

5. Do I HAVE to USE an inspector, lender, title attorney or any other service providers that you or your broker recommends?

If the answer is “Yes”, or  they give the old song and dance that, “Real estate transactions are so much easier and smoother, if you work with the real estate services companies that our large, traditional, national real estate company owns.” If you hear this or anything close to this, run for the hills! Buyers should never feel pressured to use in-house service providers. (PS It’s also illegal.) Remember you need unbiased representation throughout the entire process. A good buyer’s agent will be able to recommend a number of qualified, competent and independent professionals and then let you make the choice.

6. What career did you have in your past life? What sets you apart from other buyer’s agent in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia?

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Personally, I love these two! No right or wrong answers here! It’s a joyful journey, so please find the best buyer’s agent for you.

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Editor's Note: This post was originally published April 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and new content.