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Warning signs and agent alternatives

Warning signs that an agent might not be a good fit

  • The agent tries to pressure you into decisions you’re not comfortable with

  • Doesn’t listen to your wants and needs and shows you homes that are not what you said you were looking for

  • Doesn’t return phone calls and/or emails in a timely manner

  • Rushes through your questions and has a tendency to change the subject a lot

* Do not sign a buyer agent contract until you know if you want to work with that agent. Remember, they are working for you and get a large commission off your purchase. Most buyer-agent contracts are for a 90 day period, but can go longer (many times this can be negotiated for shorter or longer periods).

Agent alternatives

There is no law that states you cannot go about finding a home on your own. You’ll need to be able to search for homes, arrange showings and negotiate, although having an attorney draft the purchase contract isn’t a bad idea. Buying on your own can be extremely limiting, as you can only buy homes that are for sale by owner, or FSBO. Some sellers decide not to have an agent, maybe because they don’t want to pay the commission or because no agent would accept the price they wanted. Since an agent is not involved, there is no Comparative Market Analysis and therefore it may be hard to tell just how much the property is actually worth. One way around this is to perform an independent appraisal to find out how much the property is worth.

Another thing to avoid is looking at listed properties with no agent. The listings agent's loyalty is to the seller and therefore, the buyer will usually get the short end of the stick. Using an agent will not cost you a cent in most cases. However, there are benefits to going it alone – you are completely in control of the pace of the process, you don’t have to rely on anyone, and you can do all your own research.

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