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Buyers Beware!

Real Estate Agent with Prudential Network Realty

I have been involved in buying and selling realestate for about 12 years and have been a licensed agent for about 8 yrs now. One mistake I quite often see buyers make, is to call the listing agent to inquire about a property for sale without understanding the dynamics of the agent/buyer relationship. I'm not suggesting that you, not call a listing agent. If I'm the listing agent I definitely want you to call me. But if you're already working with an agent who you know represents you, that agent should be making the call for you. Otherwise you may put yourself at a real disadvantage when it comes to negotiating the deal on that property. Of course I would be amiss if I didn't say that you should call a Realtor if you are not COMPLETELY confident in what you are doing. Remember our job is to negotiate the sale of real estate so we're always looking for clues and ques from people on how to get the best deal for our client whether you're a buyer or a seller, although this topic is mainly directed toward buyers. So here's a few DOs and DON'Ts if you're a buyer calling a listing agent on a property for sale:
(1.) Very first thing DO ask what kind of agency relationship they practice? This is real important because you need to know, if anything you say can and will be used against you in negotiating a deal. If the agent is representing the seller as what is called a "single" agent in Florida (it has nothing to do with marrital status), it is most likely that anything you say can and will be used against you. Don't get me wrong single agency is definitely a good thing. I act as a single agent for my buyers so I am representing their best interests and conversely anything a listing agent says to me about their sellers can and will be used against them in negotiaing a deal. For example if the listing agent says to me "if my sellers don't get an offer soon they're going to drop the price another 10K", I am obligated to tell my buyers this. If you say to a listing agent "I like this property so much I would pay 10K more for it" and that agent is a single agent acting on behalf of the sellers, that agent is obligated to tell his sellers what you said.
(2.) So DO be very careful what you say. DON'T say things that indicate how much you like the property, how suitable it is to your tastes, how it's located in the perfect location...anything that indicates your affinity toward the property. All these statements could tell a seller how long to hold out for the price they are wanting you to pay.
(3.) If anything DO just the opposite, try to make it sound like the property may work for you at the right price, if the property had this or that it would be more appealing to you, things along these lines
(4.) DON'T reveal unnecessary financial information, the kind of work you do, the kind of investments you have...avoid any statements that may indicate your net worth or possible net worth.
(5.) DO provide enough information that would indicate you can purchase the property, if you chose to, such as being pre-qualified by a lender. Even if you have cash you may want to get prequalified by a lender just so you can avoid stating that you have that much cash in the bank. Of course this may be a double-edged sword because sometimes it may work to your advantage to tell the agent you have cash and can close in two weeks. This is usually only helpful if the seller is in desparate need to sell. If not, most sellers are willing to wait for bank approval in order to get the extra 10 or 20k or more. So telling them you have cash only gives them an indication of how far they can push you on the price. (A note on the issue of cash...in most cases when a contract is filled out there is an indication somewhere on the contract where the funds to purchase the home are coming from. Another good reason to be prequalified with a lender even if you do have the cash. This way you can make the contract contingent on financing and switch to cash after the deal is negotiated. You have to be careful about this tactic because in some cases it may work against you. This is a good reason to have an agent represent you. Most agents will know when this tactic would be helpful or not.)
(6.) DON'T give information that may indicate how desparate you are to buy. Don't indicate that you sold your home and have to be out by a certain date or something similar.
(7.) You may be tempted to think after the deal is negotiated, that there may no longer be the need to be "secretive". But DO save any unnecessary revelation of information until after closing. You never know what can happen before you walk out of  the closing room!
(8.) Finally the best policy in general, DON'T give away any personal information that is not necessary...go strictly on a "NEED TO KNOW" basis.
(9.) DO keep in mind that these are good suggestions whether the listing agent is a transaction agent or a single agent.
(10.) One final note, if I may: If your not COMPLETELY CONFIDENT in what you are doing as a buyer don't risk maybe thousands of dollars, DO hire a "single" agent to represent you. All this information is second nature to a "single" agent representing his buyers and as long as there is a commission stated in the multi-list system on the property, it doesn't cost you any more to have the representation of a single agent. (I have yet to see a property listed on the multi-list system that dosen't have a commission on it).

Call me if you have more questions about this or any other real estate question!

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I specialize in St. Augustine real estate and helping home buyers and sellers achieve their real estate goals. If you are looking for St. Augustine homes or properties in St. Augustine, please utilize the valuable tools that I have assembled on my website to assist you. Click here to search the MLS for St. Augustine homes for sale and St. Johns County property. Saint Johns County Homes For Sale is your one-stop-shop for St Augustine real estate, Palm Coast real estate and PonteVedra real estate. Or contact me to represent you as your "Single Agent" realtor!

Jimmy Katz
Wynd Realty & Katz Realty Group - Alpharetta, GA
"REAL Solutions for Real Estate!"

great advice!  especially in these times when people are scamming more than ever

Apr 19, 2011 05:29 AM
Gloria and Jason Belmonte
Prudential Fox&Roach The Belmonte Group - Rising Sun, MD

I agree, it is so difficult to get accross to some buyers NOT to call the listing agent.

Apr 19, 2011 05:45 AM