Agent-client rapport essential
By Dian Hymer of the Sacramento Bee Nov. 15, 2008

Finding a good agent or agents to help you buy or sell a home can vastly improve the quality of your experience. You need someone who is professional, trustworthy and diligent. It’s impossible to predict at the outset exactly how a purchase or sale transaction will play out, but, invariably, there are bumps along the road.

Good rapport and mutual respect between an agent and a client make it easier to work through problems should they arise.Even if you don’t run into difficulties, a lot of decisions must be made along the way, so you should select an agent or agents who have good communication skills.

When you find an agent you like, it’s tempting to envision using that agent for all your residential transactions.Often that makes good sense. You have an established relationship that works for you.

Repeat homebuyers who are selling one home and buying another in the same location often find it easier to use the same agent for both transactions, particularly if it’s someone they had a good experience with in the past. Coordinating the two transactions seems easier if you’re working with the one agent. If you’re buying in a new housing development that doesn’t cooperate with outside agents, however, you may have no other option but to use the developer’s sales staff. Also, some agents work only with buyers, so you’d need to use a different agent to sell your home.

House-hunting Tip: Sellers who sell a home in one location and want to buy elsewhere should find an agent who specializes in that area. Some sellers are so attached to their listing agent that they want the agent to represent them in a purchase, even though the agent has no experience in the area. This should be avoided.

Some agents, particularly in the current sluggish market, will offer to represent you in an out-of-area purchase.  But if the agent has no experience selling homes in that area, this will be a disservice to you.

Instead, ask your agent to find you a superb agent to work with in the new location. Usually it’s best to commit to working exclusively with the agent you select. You’re likely to get better service from an agent who is 100% committed to you and who knows you won’t use the agent’s time, then buy through someone else.

Sometimes, however, the inventory of the kind of home you want is so scarce that you may need to let more than one agent know what you’re looking for. Also, you may look in several areas at once and be best served by using more than one agent.

Some agents require buyers to sign a buyer-representation contract. Before signing with an agreement, make sure you understand it. If it’s an exclusive agreement, you could end up owing the agent a fee even if you were to buy a home through a different agent. Also, make sure you can cancel the agreement without penalty if it turns out that you mad the wrong choice and the agent is not doing a good job for you.
Even if you don’t enter into a contractual agreement with a buyer’s agent, you could find that what you thought would be a good working relationship turns out not to be.

It’s best to have a candid discussion with your agent about what’s not working for you. At that point, you can either end the relationship or you can give the agent a chance to improve the quality of service.

The closing: Never forget that you are in the driver’s seat in any real estate transaction.

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