When an agent represents both the buyer and seller, this is called dual agency. Dual agency often presents a conflict of interest, so you may not want to work with an agent who is working for both of you. A dual agent can write the offer but can’t give you any advice when it comes to making an offer since the agent can’t advocate for you or the seller. You’ll want to know if you’re speaking to a dual agent, because if the answer is ‘yes,’ the agent may not have your best interest in mind. A better alternative to is to hire an exclusive buyer’s agent.
Another important question you should ask is how long the home has been on the market. Even if you saw a listing on a website, there’s no guarantee the information is correct, so you’ll want to ask to make sure. Note that if the home is very new to the market, you’ll have less leverage when it comes to negotiating the sale price. Also, if the home has been on the market for a long time, you should ask why. It’s possible the original listing price was too high.
Working with a buyer agent is beneficial in that the agent has your best interest in mind and is working only for you. However, once you decide to work with one particular agent, he or she will likely ask you to sign a contract that gives them the exclusive right to show homes to you (you might also have the option to sign a non-exclusive agreement, so ask about this as well). This contract is called a buyer’s agency agreement and it usually lasts anywhere from three to 12 months. You’ll want to find out the conditions of the agreement and when you’ll be required to sign an agreement.
Things don’t always work out as planned. You might find that the service wasn’t all that great. Ask the real estate agent if he or she offers a satisfaction guarantee if you’re unsatisfied with the service provided. You could also request that your agent supplies you with a form called Termination of Buyer Agency. Once you complete this form, the agency agreement will be cancelled.
Ask for the agent’s opinion on some things he or she likes about the home. This is helpful because it can be easy to miss some details during the exciting, yet sometimes hectic process of buying a home. The agent might mention some features or neighborhood amenities you overlooked. You might be so overwhelmed or distracted during the home tour that you fail to notice extra storage space, or your favorite store down the road, for example.
Unless you’re working with a dual agent, you should be able to get a fairly honest answer when it comes to the listing price. The agent will have access to up-to-date information about the neighborhood and recent home sales in the area. This will help him or her decide whether the seller’s asking price is within a reasonable range for the type of home you’re interested in based on the current market.