Help with Interviewing Buyer's Agents

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by MichelleB, Feb 8, 2005.

  1. MichelleB

    MichelleB Well-Known Member

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    I will soon begin interviewing buyer's agents to represent me in making my first rural land purchase. I have been through two real estate transactions in the past, but both were for urban residential properties.

    What questions would you recommend I ask about the realtor's knowledge of zoning, water rights, etc.? Is it part of the buyer's agent's job to arrange for soil/perc testing or to pull topo or zoning records (if I pay any clerical fees?)

    Any other tips on selecting an agent for rural property (either developed or not) that you could offer, based on your own experience? Such as contingency clauses specific to rural acreage, etc. Your input would be greatly appreciated!

    M
     
  2. MichelleB

    MichelleB Well-Known Member

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    I'm going to bump this, hoping somebody might help me out. Any takers?
     

  3. desdawg

    desdawg Well-Known Member

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    I don't use buyers agents, I let the seller pay the commission. In fact I rarely use a realtor when I am a seller. I do my own homework. Much information is available on the internet today. The title company that insures the title to the property will find any problems with clear title.
    You can always throw in a "wiggle clause" if you feel the need (contingent upon the approval of my partner) when you write an offer. If something objectionable arises during the course of the escrow you can wiggle out. (My partner didn't approve).
     
  4. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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    Hint if you get an agent from where you want to buy who do you think they will be loyal to. The inlaws had major problems and decidet to go it alone . Money to cover expenses money in escrow so the agent gets paid no matter what and on and on.

    mikell
     
  5. jack_c-ville

    jack_c-ville Well-Known Member

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    Desdawg,

    In a lot of states you do not incur any additional commission by using a buyer's agent. Your agent will get paid out of the seller's agent's commission just the same as when any other agent brings a buyer to the table.

    You sound like you probably don't need a real estate agent. You've got some real experience with buying and selling real estate under your belt. But Michelle B suggests that she is new to buying land. Someone in her shoes needs to have a professional on her side or it is very easy to get bit.

    I've seen too many horror stories posted on this very board about buying real estate for the first time. Most of them could have been prevented by their using a good buyer's agent and their own closing attorney. Please, don't discourage people from getting professional help when they are just starting out.

    -Jack
     
  6. MichelleB

    MichelleB Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Jack...

    While I know enough to feel comfortable buying a house without an agent, the issues related to buying rural land are fairly foreign to me. I plan to interview several agents with whom I have either personal knowledge or who have been referred by people I trust; I just need to know what questions you would ask an agent before selecting him/her, or would love to hear any tips you have on selecting an agent for such a purchase.

    By the way, I'm looking for 10+++ acres (the more, the better) with it's own water source, mixed farm/forest potential, in an area not subject to changing zoning laws (we have an urban growth boundary here).

    By the way...I have learned SO MUCH reading everyone's posts on this forum. You guys are wonderful!

    Michelle
     
  7. jillianjiggs

    jillianjiggs Well-Known Member

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    I'd make sure that you pick an agent OTHER than the agent selling the property that you're interested in. It's the only way to make sure that the agent is looking out for your best interest, not the seller's.

    Make sure the agent has experience. Look for an agent that specializes in rural property. Most of the larger brokerages will have specialized agents in areas such as horse property, farm land, light commercial, etc.

    As was stated before, in most states you won't pay any commission for a buyer's agent. The commission is generally split 50/50 between the seller's agent and the buyer's agent, unless you've signed a specific contract stating that you will pay them a fee for locating a home, and that they are your only agent, etc. Look for an agent that won't charge you commission if at all possible.
     
  8. MichelleB

    MichelleB Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Jillian!

    Yes, it is extremely important not to simply allow the seller's broker to represent both sides. In my last transaction, when buying a "for sale by owner" home, my broker sucked up to the seller--knowing she might make a new customer for when the seller bought a new property.

    I took great issue with that. She is definitely not on my list of potential brokers for this go-round.
     
  9. kate

    kate Well-Known Member

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    i make a list of what i have to know on prop.
    water: well, depth , age of pump, output
    survey of perimeter ever done,
    types of soil(book obtained from ascs office)(important)
    weather patterns in area
    neighbors(any good uns, bad uns
    how far to work or shopping
    plat map of property and surrounding property.
    ascs office sometimes will have aerial photo of area, so you can see trees, marshy ground, etc.
    zoning restrictions or any restrictions of any kind for area.
    history of use of parcel

    this is just a beginning, but these are important to me.
     
  10. Raindancer

    Raindancer Well-Known Member

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    MichelleB, I'm glad you asked, as I've had some of the same questions!

    Wondering if anyone has used this service, and if so, what did you think? "The Buyers Agent" http://www.forbuyers.com/agent_locator.asp I found one in our neighborhood and wondering if they might be worth checking out. You'll have to check out associated links on their site to learn more about them. Any thoughts?

    Dee
     
  11. desdawg

    desdawg Well-Known Member

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    My post was not intended to discourage but rather to point out other options for information gathering. For instance in my county I can go to the County Assessors web page and enter a parcel number or address and get lots of info. First an information page about the property appears. It shows ownership, legal description has a link to the Treasurers page and a link to obtain a map among other things. It also has a link to the Recorders page where you can pull up Deeds and Affadavit of Value forms. You can look at the affadavit and determine what the seller paid for the property when they bought it. A handy bit of information when preparing an offer. The Treasurers information will tell you what the taxes have been over the past few years and rather they have been paid or not. If not the seller may have financial problems. Another handy bit of information when deciding on an amount to offer. The map is usually a section or less of land and will provide the property dimensions and road right of ways. The Assessors page will tell what improvements are being taxed on the property, rather the mineral rights are included or excluded, etc. Now this may not answer all your questions but it is a healthy start. I don't know of too many real estate agents who will do all this for a buyer. However, I have never hired one to represent me as a buyer. All counties are not created equal and I cannot do this on the internet everywhere I own property. However all of this information is available at the court house. If I were to hire a buyers agent I would expect them to do this once I had zeroed in on a property, not just write up the offer to purchase. Is that a reasonable expectation? I don't know but I am an investor and these are the things I should know to do my job well.
     
  12. MichelleB

    MichelleB Well-Known Member

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    Desdawg,

    That is exactly what I was looking for.

    Thank you so much!

    Yours and everyone's help has put me that much closer to realizing my dream. Information = confidence.

    Michelle
     
  13. jack_c-ville

    jack_c-ville Well-Known Member

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    My sister-in-law, who works with me, has just been finding out lately what a lousy buyer's agent is like. This woman is nice enough, but generally slow to move on anything and does poor research. My SIL has wound up doing most of the work that her agent should be doing - including dealing with the seller's agent to make sure that the utilities would be turned back on for a proper inspection to be done.

    I had very good luck with my buyer's agent because I was sure to pick an agent who had a good reputation among people whose character I trust. Come to think of it, that's my first step every time I need to find a professional to do any kind of business with.

    By the way, my SIL picked her agent based on a recommendation from her mortgage broker. I don't know what she was thinking but she has learned her lesson about that sort of thing now (a mortgage broker does not technically work for her and has entirely different criteria for what a 'good buyers agent' is than most others would). Her saving grace is that her lawyer and inspector are incredibly competant and ethical.

    Oh, one more thing: when you sign a contract with the buyers agent, ask for a 3 month term on it rather than the standard 6 months that they usually want. This is just in case things don't work out. It can't hurt to try but I wouldn't let it kill the agreement if you like everything else about the agent. Do not under any circumstances sign a contract naming a buyers agent for the term of a year. Some agents will write down a full year as if it were no big deal but that should be considered unacceptable.

    -Jack
     
  14. MichelleB

    MichelleB Well-Known Member

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    Jack,

    That's a very good point...and MOST IMPORTANT:

    Never use an inspector recommended by the seller.

    Avoid using an inspector recommended by your broker, try instead to use one a friend has used, if that friend has lived in/owned his/her purchased property for a few years. And get other references as well. The inspector is the most important person in the process, in my humble opinion. Make sure he/she gets really dirty when they go over any structures.

    And yeah--most realtors have an established relationship with one or two mortgage brokers, based upon networking groups or referral programs. Though I have to say a good realtor won't maintain a relationship with a bad mortgage broker.
     
  15. Guest Too

    Guest Too Active Member

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    OKLAHOMA...where the wind comes sweeping down the
    We also have a County Assessor's page that shows lots of info. Just be careful not to take their word on the info online. I have founds lots of errors in the maps, Legals, etc. To be sure you have to go to the courthouse or wait for the title opinion.