Advice about buyers agent dilemma; realtors?

michael_in_chicagoJuly 29, 2011

We have been looking for a house the past 2 years. We already own our current home, and are looking for a very specific set of criteria in our area that are rather hard to find. We're gardeners, and a sunny back yard is hard to find in our area! It took us 3 years to find our current house, and expect an equally long haul for this next one.

We'd also like to renovate or tear down and build new. We found an agent we liked a lot and have worked with him for the past 2 years. We were clear at the time that we knew this process would not be quick. We got close last year to purchasing a property buy after the inspection turned up things we didn't expect, we bailed. This was the start of what I think ended today with the agent dumping us.

He's been very polite and always answered emails. And we are still looking for that right house. I know they're available, and at some point need to look into agents. Any advice from realtors about the best way to approach this?

Should we do the leg work on our own (so as not to string someone along) and then look for someone? Again, this isn't a house that comes up often here.

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I have always found the house before buying and do all the research before contacting a realtor.

I learned this lesson in the beginning when we first got married. We explained that we were looking for single family home and didn't was a condo or townhouse. The first house she showed us was a town house. I found the house we bought myself.

When we bought out last investment house, the realtor brought us some MLS listings, and I found it funny because they were all already on my radar.

Truthfully I enjoy the search. Even though we are not in the market right now, I still watch the new listings etc and keep and eye on what's available & sold.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 8:41PM
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Thanks for the input. It's true that I've been doing the majority of the looking (and going to open houses so as not to inconvenience the agent as much as possible). It has been helpful, though, to see comparable sold houses in the area of a house we're considering and to get his input on things. But perhaps I don't need that as much as I think I did. Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 10:07PM
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Yikes. I like real estate but this is why I would never become an agent. That would drive me crazy if I spent two years showing someone properties and they couldn't find anything. I guess it's a risk they take, the drawback to the job, but whew...

I look for properties myself and like Barb said, when the agent comes up with some more, they're usually already on my radar. I do a lot of research before she takes me to them, especially looking at the overhead satellite views because there were many times I discovered surprises I wouldn't tolerate. If possible, I do drive-bys first because I hate wasting anyone's time. But like you, I'm looking for a unique property (acreage for horses) and in my price range, it's hard to find. So sometimes I have to drag the agent to something that sounds like a long shot. It has never taken me more than a month though! Where do you live that you can't find sun in a backyard?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 10:15PM
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Yes, I have been doing the same, especially recently - meaning doing my own leg work on the web (Google satellite as well) and going to open houses to not waste too much of his time. We live in a north shore suburb of Chicago that has many mature oaks, hickories and elms in front and back yards. Also, many very large houses (3,000 sq. ft. is small here) and we are aiming for 2,000 sq. ft.).

But it's good to hear that others see my timeline as unreasonable; thanks.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 10:20PM
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I agree with with what has already been said, find your own house, it is easy now with the internet, you can view the house from all angles online. Then when you want view call the agent, but only when you done all the research you can. Do you have a site that shows recent solds in your area? If so you can get a lot of info that way. Looking at lot size and sq ft and driving by some of the solds.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 1:46PM
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How many hours of work did this agent put un for you over the 2 years? Was he pulling MLS data and sending to you each week or each month, after he manually weeded out the shaded yards? Was he taking you to properties many times?

Were you constantly asking for comps? This could take some detailed analysis if done manually.

Maybe he thinks your requirements might not be met for many years to come, if ever?

Did he find property that met your critiria many times, but then you turned it down for other reasons?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 2:43PM
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I think you're probably pretty close, sweet tea. In the first year he did send us comps and large yarded houses, letting us weed out the shaded ones with google. He did take us to a number of houses that first year, around 10.

But I think your last 2 ideas are correct; he's (rightly) concerned that my criteria might not be met easily and yes, we did turn down a property after an inspection turned up defects beyond what we expected.

This has been very helpful; thank you everyone for your responses.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 4:22PM
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Another thing I do that I forgot about is when we find properties I'm interested in that has acreage, because I have horses, if we can't tell from the aerial views how clear it is, the agent just makes a phone call and asks how clear or wooded it is.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 9:37PM
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There is nothing wrong with deciding that you no longer want to work with someone.

Are you just looking at a few neighborhoods or a wider geography? We were in a similar situation - looking for enough sun to garden in a downtown area. We drove the neighborhoods we were interested in a couple times per week. Many of them were FSBO and never hit the MLS. The house we eventually bought just had a craigslist ad. No agent. Not even a sign out front.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 10:08PM
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I think that most realtors understand that they have chosen a profession that may not result in a commission check after x number of showings. I've been told stories of some doozies of clients that have used up hours or time and then turned around a chose a different realtor and bought a house.

But if you've been up front with the realtor, I don't think that he/she should have dumped you. Most realtors are chosen by "word of mouth" -- so it would be in their interest to bend over backwards to have pleased clients.

About 5 years ago, I had a home on the market. One of my realtor's buying clients had chosen the perfect house for her family. On a whim she asked the realtor to show her my home (which didn't sound like the type of home she wanted). when she saw my yard ( one third acre), she realized it was exactly THE PLACE for her. Result : $30,000 commission for my realtor.

If he wasn't the type to dp everything possible for his clients, he would probably not be as successful as he is.
Good luck

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 10:58PM
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Next week you might find the perfect house. A new agent would be working with you and getting the commission, since the original agent already "broke up" with you.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 3:37PM
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Two years is a long time to 'look'. I know because we did that, with and without an agent. Houses that 'fit' our price range were all much too large. Small ones had small rooms and were no improvement on our 1950's ranch home of 30 years.

We eventually circled back to the first house I'd looked at in this town; bought it slightly overmarket, primarily for location; tore it down and built new. (An ordeal, but we're happy with the result.)

We are NS too. Do you want to stay in your same NS town or neighborhood? That can be very hard if you don't want TREES! (And aren't permitted to remove them!) Within what boundaries are you searching? Are you looking within your true price range?

My late mother was a realtor. Her most difficult clients were engineers who came with check-lists of qualities a home must have. The engineers never found that house, but often 'fell in love' with something completely different!

An agent knows he has a difficult client when the client doesn't need to move. He has a perfectly satisfactory house, but wants another. OTOH, if the agent can sell him something, he gets a sale and a listing.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 11:47AM
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Chisue, you're situation sounds just like ours. We're looking in Evanston but would settle for Wilmette or certain parts of the city near a Metra stop. We're being very good about our real price range, and finding houses much too large, so we are careful to look at lower priced ones as well.

It's nice to hear someone went through a similar thing but found what they wanted eventually!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 10:03PM
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Have you tried using Redfin? I like it a lot, and it's easy to search for listings and save them. (And, of course, look at aerial pics on Google Maps.) You can also search for closed sales within self-defined time periods.

It's really helpful, not only because you don't need to feel like you're wasting your realtor's time, but also because you can get a pretty decent sense of the market yourself. It's wonderful to get help from realtors (and I have been lucky enough to find a great one), but IMO it also pays to know the market yourself.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 10:55PM
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Michael -- Yes, we have loved the outcome, although we'd never planned to build. (Long story.)

All I wanted to add is that it's fine to keep looking, but remember...TIME is passing. We are Seniors now. We could have been "Happy at Last" a lot sooner -- and potentially longer! Perhaps my hindsight might be your foresight.

We moved north from Wilmette after looking briefly in Wilmette/Winnetka/Kenilworth. We wanted more quiet and less traffic. We can still get downtown by rail or on the Edens in a short time. O'Hare is convenient without having to be aware of it all the time.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 3:11PM
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