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When you're ready to buy a home you want to feel secure in the hands of the real estate agent you're working with. You want your agent to clearly understand what your needs are. Finding the right real estate buyer's agent to work with is an important part of the buying process.
When buyers first start searching for a home they will often call the listing agent of the first property that interests them. If you choose to do this, you are speaking with an agent who is representing the seller's interests, not yours. Confused about what a Real Estate Buyer's agent is? A Real Estate Buyer's agent is an agent who is working exclusively for you, the buyer.
By default Real Estate agents work for sellers. In New York State, when you first begin to work with a real estate agent, the agent is required to present you with an Agency Disclosure form. This form explains the different relationships buyers and sellers can have with a real estate agent. You sign the form to confirm that if you should decide to make an offer to purchase on a home you see with the agent who is also signing the form that that agent will be working for you as a buyer's agent. This form is meant to protect you, to give you representation while you explore properties with an agent. It is not meant to bind you to an agent until the end of time. Here's what it says about buyer's agency:
"A buyer’s agent is an agent who is engaged by a buyer to represent the buyer’s interests. The buyer’s agent does this by negotiating the purchase of a home at a price and on terms acceptable to the buyer. A buyer’s agent has, without limitation, the following fiduciary duties to the buyer: reasonable care, undivided loyalty, confidentiality, full disclosure, obedience and duty to account. A buyer’s agent does not represent the interest of the seller. The obligations of a buyer’s agent are also subject to any specific provisions set forth in an agreement between the agent and the buyer. In dealings with the seller, a buyer’s agent should (a) exercise reasonable skill and care in performance of the agent’s duties; (b) deal honestly, fairly and in good faith; and (c) disclose all facts known to the agent materially affecting the buyer’s ability and/or willingness to perform a contract to acquire seller’s property that are not inconsistent with the agent’s fiduciary duties to the buyer."
WHAT? In plain english this means that a buyer's agent will represent you in negotiating a home purchase based on your instructions. They're required to keep what you tell them confidential and disclose to you anything they know about a property that might affect your decision to purchase it. They are required to follow your instructions when making any offers and they're required to provide you with an account of their actions if you ask. Here's what an agent can't do for you as your buyers agent. They can't knowingly lie to a seller because you ask them to! They can't present an offer to purchase to a seller when they know you can't or won't follow through on the purchase of that home.
Your buyer's agent may suggest that you sign an additional agreement, an Exclusive Right to Represent Agreement. This agreement binds the buyer and their agent together in a symbiotic relationship. Sounds nice right? You become your agent's official "client". They are required to use their skills and knowledge to search diligently for a property that fits your needs.They use their professional knowledge and skills to negotiate on your behalf and act in your best interests at all times. In return you agree to work exclusively with that agent for an agreed upon term. As a "client" you can expect to be at the top of your agents to do list at all times.
Taking the time to find an agent who you're comfortable signing an Exclusive Right to Represent Agreement is a worthwhile first step when searching for a home. When you get down to the nitty gritty paperwork of purchasing a home you're going to communicating with your agent on a daily basis. You want to find an agent you trust and enjoy talking to. You want to feel confident about their expertise, efficiency and ability to work well with the other parties of the transaction whilst solely representing your interests. If you're thinking of buying in the Catskills or Hudson Valley read our agents bios or call them to find a great match for you.