I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, buying a home is the biggest investment most of us will ever make. Making sure you do it right and that you have someone looking out for your best interest isn’t just a good idea, it’s imperative!
The Virginia Association of REALTORS defines agency as follows: Agency means a relationship in which the real estate licensee acts for or represents a person as an agent by that person’s express authority in a commercial or residential real estate transaction, unless a different legal relationship is intended and is agreed to as part of the brokerage agreement.
Under Section 54.1-2137 of the Virginia Code, brokerage agreements must be in writing, including a buyer broker agreement. This hasn’t always been the case. Years ago, broker agreements could be expressed as meaning if the buyer acted as if the agent was representing that person and the agent acted as if he or she was representing the buyer, then it was an agreement. Not the case any longer — it must be in writing!
Picking an agent to represent you can be tricky. With all the online sites these days, there are faces and numbers popping up beside, on top of and below every home you look at. They are all screaming “PICK ME, CALL ME, I HAVE THE INFORMATION YOU NEED!” But here are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Who’s representing whom? The agent who takes the call and shows you the house may not be representing you! In most cases, the agent is representing the seller, which means he or she is looking out for the seller’s best interest! So, when you ask those important questions like “Is the price negotiable?” or “Are they willing to pay closing costs?” remember that their answers are tailored to whom they represent.
- Ask around. Personal referrals are the way to go in any situation, so ask your friends and family who they used. Then follow that up with research — check online reviews, web presence, etc.
- REALTOR® versus real estate agent — there’s a difference. Being a member of the National Association of REALTORS holds you to a different ethical standard. There is a strict code of ethics involved. This doesn’t mean those who are not members don’t have a personal code they abide by, but if weighing one against the other with no other factors, it is definitely something to keep in mind.
As always, trust your gut. Trust your family and friends’ referrals; YES — but also trust that feeling you get inside when you are with an agent. Too many times I’ve heard horror stories of people’s past experiences with previous agents. They say things like “I didn’t have a good feeling about them from the start.” Don’t settle. Deciding where to place your family or where to make a large financial investment is a big decision. Make sure to choose someone who gives you the sound advice and who has the experience and knowledge to back it up — not who pays the most amount of money to pop up on a Zillow listing!