Real Estate Q & A

Ask Dave

Dear Dave,
We’ve been on the hunt for a new house! We’ve used an agent to look at four houses so far, but last night we were driving through a neighborhood that we love and saw a great house that is currently for sale by owner. We called the phone number on the sign and they happened to be home. We took a tour of the house and had a great time talking with the owner about all of the house’s character and history. To make a long story short, my husband and I went home and after a lot of discussion we think this house is the one! Do we need to use the agent that showed us houses before to make an offer on the house? We don’t really feel attached to him, he did not find us the house and we think we can navigate the process from here on our own. Any advice?
— Becky, Fruita

Becky,
Ugh!... Why this question? You are cruel and must love the thought of seeing people squirm! I can think of few questions I would rather avoid than this one. The reason I would choose to avoid this question is that the answer may not sit well with my peers, potentially even those on my own team! First, if you signed an Agency agreement, you are likely bound to this agreement and kicking him to the curb may prove difficult. However if you did not sign an agreement, then the decision is fully in your court. This answer boils down to has your agent earned the right to work with you? Regardless of who found the home or if it is in the MLS or FSBO (For Sale by Owner), has he earned the right to work with you, regardless of who found the property?
By earning the right, I am not just referencing the act of showing you homes. Showing homes is truly one of the easier and more enjoyable parts of a realtor’s job. I will start by pointing out that showing a buyer houses is generally the product of many hours invested in trying to find you the perfect house. It often means taking calls on the weekends, during family picnics, in the evening or during baseball or soccer practices. Good realtors, or even bad ones for that matter, are never truly “off” work and typically behind every showing there are countless unseen and often underappreciated hours of work trying to locate you the perfect property. I would be willing to bet, if you took a minute of honest reflection, you know if your agent has earned the priviledge to work with you. If he has, stick with him and have him help you find a solution to your dilemma. Be honest with him and give him the opportunity to “earn” his keep. Our agents welcome the chance to earn their commission… we do not want, or expect, to be paid unless we have earned it and I believe most agents would agree with that position.
Give him the chance to negotiate a better price, or build his commission into the price of the home to help assist you and the FSBO in making the process go smoothly and avoid some of the legal pitfalls that can be encountered if everyone does not dot their I’s and cross their T’s. More often than not, we have found that FSBO’s welcome the help and guidance and are willing to work with a real estate agents who can provide value. Providing value is key in this discussion, because cost is an issue when there is an absence of value. If he has provided value thus far, give him the opportunity to continue doing so.
Listen, if he really has not “earned” the right, and you are not kicking him to the curb to simply justify or facilitate financial savings, then move on and purchase the home on your own and forego representation. My Grandfather told me long ago, “you will find out all you need to know about a person’s character when you dig into their wallet.”  I am not sure a truer statement has ever been made. Don’t make the decision based on dollars and cents, make it based on his ability and track record of providing you value and service. Hope this helps, but I am confident a little soul searching will point you in the right direction.
Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team
REMAX 4000 Inc.
Dave Kimbrough has 14 years of experience in the real estate business and heads up the most successful team of agents on the Western Slope. Learn more by clicking: The Kimbrough Team.

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