October 6, 2020
So what do realtors do anyway? It looks like they just get dressed up and let people into houses…
As with most things, that’s a big “it depends.” There are different types of realtors, and realtors have different roles depending on the situation. And like anything else, there are realtors who go all-out for their clients, and those who… well… not so much. So who to trust… that becomes the question. If you are someone who is in the early stages of investigating different areas or communities, and you are sending out a myriad of inquiries to different websites for communities, you are most likely contacting people who work for a developer, and not you. Communities where there is still active development will generally have an on-site sales staff who work for the developer of that community, or the seller. They are charged by their employer to “sell as much as they can for as much as they can,” and are compensated for selling developer-owned properties. They will certainly be happy to assist you and provide information in hopes of selling you a property. They are not supposed to be dishonest in any way, or misrepresent anything, but there might be some things that if the question is not asked, they might not volunteer. Remember, they do not work for you, and they only operate in that developer’s community.
In North Carolina, all realtors, no matter who they work for, are supposed to have a conversation with buyers about agency relationships upon the first discussion of budget range, timing, and other factors. The North Carolina Real Estate Commission provides a brochure (Working With Real Estate Agents) that is the equivalency of a disclosure form that agents are supposed to use and provide at first substantial contact. The brochure explains the differences between a buyer’s agent, a seller’s agent, and a dual agent. The above example is that of a seller’s agent.
A buyer’s agent is an independent agent who can operate anywhere, whether it be in a community with active development, or in a neighborhood that offers only resale homes. They can show you anything and everything, and have an obligation to provide all of the material facts about any property you may be considering. A material fact is something that could influence your decision one way or another about a property. The most common question that I am asked that is a perfect example of a material fact is, “Is this house in a flood zone?” Other good examples might be what HOA dues include, or whether there is going to be a super-highway built adjacent to your backyard in the next couple of years. An agent that is assisting you should be doing homework on your behalf before you even know to ask the right questions.
If you are going to be a buyer in a certain area, it is absolutely appropriate to establish a relationship with a buyer’s agent in the very beginning. That should be the person that you know you can direct all of your thoughts and questions to, and get the answers you need in order to process the information, and make a good decision. There should be no reason for you to make additional phone calls in an attempt to find out things such as what the HOA dues for a community are, and what they include. If you are already working with an agent, and find yourself wondering things such as this, then something is wrong.
Next edition: What is a Buyer’s Agency Agreement and when do I have to sign?