After you’ve figured out how much home you can afford and where you want to live (and I’ll blog more about that later) the next thing to do is get an agent.
Technically, you don’t have to have an agent, but the Real Estate
Cartel Industry has pretty much rigged the system to work better if you work with an agent, so get an agent. Get a really good agent.
When my friends heard we were house hunting, everyone either asked if I was working with an agent, or simply offered theirs like they were loaning me 50 Shades of Grey.
You can get away without having an agent for a little while but the pressure will get to you. At Open Houses if you say you are working with an agent, many listing realtors will ignore you from that point on. If you say you aren’t working with an agent, the showing agent will try to snag you.
In the post-boom era, a pre-qualified buyer, especially one who doesn't need to sell a property in order to buy one is a Golden Goose and most realtors want to lay him.
They do this little stunt where you walk into an open house and they find out you aren't working with an agent yet. They offer to send you some more listings similar to the house you're looking at. Sounds innocent, right? I naively expected to get an email with some direct links to specific houses that were on the market. Instead you get the MLSConnect sign up.
Now you are signed up to get frequent emails about homes that are vaguely what you looking for. Depending on the agent, you might get search results that match the house you were looking at when you meet them. More times than not, they send you listings of every house that is on the market in a particular quadrant of the city at a similar price point. I’ll rip MLSConnect in a future post.
Meanwhile, it's much easier to work with an agent than without one. Realtors are just trying to make a living like anyone else. Many are simply inept yet harmless. Some are downright sleazy. A few can actually be harmful. Realtors don’t make any money until a house is sold. (At all times, remember that the agent on both sides of the transaction is paid by the seller.)
You’re trying to find someone you can trust, so be vigilant. It’s one thing if they call a broken down crapshack a “fixer-upper with charm.” It’s another thing when they tell you they can sell your house for more money than any other agent out there.