How to find a buyers agent when you don't live nearby?

katie111September 8, 2013

We are considering buying a vacation property in a ski area bout 3 hours from our current home. We have been renting there for 5 years so are very familiar with the area. There are 3-5 properties on the market that we are interested in. I have already seen 3 of the the properties with the sellers agent but my husband has not. We will be making a cash offer.

We plan to go up next weekend and look at the properties. Thinking we should have a buyers broker show us the properties. We have bought and sold 5 houses in the past and have usually just found our buyers brokers by talking to agents at open houses in the area we planned to move to and have always had good luck this way. Since that is not an option, we are unsure of how to locate a good buyers agent without being able to meet them first.

The selling agent that I met with works for a firm that probably hold 85% of the listings at the ski area so obviously they would be the most knowledgable about market values, condo fees & assessments, etc. However, I prefer to not deal with someone in the same firm as the sellers agent. There are probably only 2-3 other firms in the area I can contact as its a pretty rural area besides the ski area.

Assuming I call them, what type of questions should I ask? Should I not rule out using the same firm as the sellers? Also, is it unreasonable to think that he should be able to get us into all 5 properties in one day? The properties are often occupied by renters.

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We bought in Florida and just walked into the Realtor's office. We were fortunate enough to meet the broker, and we got a feel immediately for how smart she was and if she understood what we were looking for. The next day she showed us a dozen properties, and we did choose one of them. If you lay out the path and have your area pinpointed, you can get through five properties easily. Take pictures and make notes so you can keep them straight.

That broker was very good about facilitating the transaction (we used an attorney in spite of that being unusual in Florida), but we knew exactly what we wanted, where to look, how much we wanted to spend, and what was important to us. She then plugged in those parameters, saw what was available, steered us toward certain properties over others (Florida is in flux right now in many ways), and really was a help.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 11:55AM
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I like to test-drive realtors. I've emailed a number of them through and only 2 responded quickly (others were a couple days later, a week later by someone who was in the office that didn't answer my specific question, or never). I asked each of those 2 to show me a house they had listed and one that was listed by someone else, and then I pumped them for info on pricing, comps, etc. while we were together. One answered my questions better, provided me data to back up his "gut feel", etc.

You're remote, so you can't do this in person, but I would think you could do some of this by phone. I'd narrow down your choices by looking at their listings online, or getting the office to send you a list ranking buy-side agents and choosing a couple top ones.

When you call, explain a bit about your situation, tell them you're shopping for a buyer's agent, and here are the 5 properties you're considering. Assuming they're in different neighborhoods, ask their opinion of value of the different neighbohoods, and if they know the specific properties. Ask them to send you the comps they'd use to value those properties. Then see who's the most open and helpful and responsive and knowledgeable. It helps that you know the area and can judge their answers based on that.

Look at the comps they send you and, if they gave you different ones, evaluate who was more complete/accurate with picking comps. And see if the comps justify the pricing they were telling you.

It should be no problem to see 5 houses in one day, as long as they've got a few days to line them up. When we were househunting we hit 15+ in a day.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 10:25AM
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If you've already viewed three homes with the sellers agent, are you not obligated to continue with the agent who originally showed you the house if you buy one of the three houses you've already viewed?

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 1:30PM
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