As I mentioned before, my brother and I are looking for a house. What I didn’t mention is that we’ve been through three. That is, we’ve put in offers on three, only to have something not work out.
The Blue House had been on the market for months with no activity when we put in our offer. Another offer came in the same day, and the agent (not a good one) asked us to put in our final offer. This is not how negotiating works, people. I give an offer, you respond, I respond, and so on. To ask for a final offer right off the bat was weird–though we did it. The other offer won, and we were without a house. Six weeks later, it’s closed, and we find out that they offered only $5,000 more than we did, and then got a $5,000 repairs allowance … making their offer essentially the same. If the other agent hadn’t insisted upon our final offers, she probably could have gotten us to go higher, securing her client a better deal.
Deal number two was on a house we really couldn’t afford, the Basement House, and it had some scary possible asbestos and plumbing issues, so we ended up backing out on it. Deal number three was a lowball offer on a house that had been on the market for awhile. The owner came down $5k in his counteroffer, and didn’t even bother to respond to our counteroffer. He switched agents, reduced the price, and sold the house in a week.
So, as you can see, agents play a major role in scoring your dream house–finding it isn’t the only hard part! Most agents in Austin are more laid-back than in other markets. But a good agent will always be in communication with you … “here are some possible houses,” “this is what x house you saw last week sold for,” “I haven’t heard back from the other agent yet,” etc. If you find a talkative agent, you’re golden!
More and more buyers are opting to search listings on their own, which focuses the agent’s role on negotiation, where communication is again the key skill. An agent should offer solid advice and opinions, but also be willing to do whatever you want in terms of making an offer or counteroffer. When choosing an agent, listen to friends’ recommendations, but also pay attention to your rapport with him or her–a connection will communication that much easier!