When you’re on the hunt for a house, you’re glued to the Internet, scrolling every listing site you can to make sure you aren’t missing anything. The Internet has certainly made it easier than it used to be to make sure you weren’t missing out on the house of your dreams. But you probably also keep your eyes peeled and ears perked for any word of a listing that may not have been listed on the MLS or any real estate site you browse.
No matter what the market’s like (but especially when it’s a hot one), it’s nerve-wracking to find a house you want and get it under contract before another buyer swoops in and scoops it up. So if you catch a whiff of a house that may be flying under other buyers’ radar, or just want to get a jump on the competition, you might be tempted to throw caution to the wind and do something rash—like call the owner or listing agent—instead of having your buyer’s agent reach out first.
That can be a huge mistake which is hard to reverse once you’ve made the call.
Your buyer’s agent is your advocate (not just a door opener) and will protect your interests and give you the best advice. If you call the owner or listing agent directly, you could risk cutting your own representation out of the equation, and once you do, an agent you know, trust, and have been working with may not be legally allowed to give you even the tiniest bit of advice.
Not to suggest that a listing agent or owner will be out to get you or screw you over, but there’s nobody that’ll have your back as much as your own dedicated buyer’s agent.
So let’s look at three scenarios when you should keep calm and call on your agent to make the first call, rather than make the mistake of calling on your own:
1) When you see a FSBO sign
Some buyers think if a homeowner is selling on their own they won’t work with a buyer who has an agent. While many don’t want to, some are fine with it, and many will agree to it after some conversation or negotiation with the buyer’s agent.
As appealing as it may seem to try and get a deal on a house by buying directly from an owner, most of them are trying to do the opposite and get more than what’s reasonable for their house AND not pay a commission. So, as much as it sounds appealing, more often than not it takes a good buyer’s agent in the mix to put a deal together at all, let alone the best deal you can get on the FSBO.
If you call the seller on your own first, it’ll make it harder) (if not impossible to loop your agent into the mix.
2) When you see a “coming soon” sign
It’s easy to get anxious when you see a “coming soon” sign on a house that hasn’t hit the open market yet. You don’t want someone else to get a jump on it before you even have a chance to see it, so it can be tempting to call the listing agent and see if you can get in before it hits the market. For what it’s worth, that’s one of the reasons for putting up a “coming soon” rider…to build anticipation and demand.
In most cases the listing agent shouldn’t agree to get you in before it officially hits the market, so calling them won’t do much more than show them how motivated you are, which can hurt you when and if you do make an offer on it. But if you do call, they should ask if you’re represented by another agent, and you should tell them that you are. They shouldn’t insinuate that you’ll get a better deal, or only have a shot at seeing or getting the house if you work with the listing agent. However, it’s been known to happen, and it’s not a good sign that the agent would look out for your best interests.
You’re better off calling your buyer’s agent who’ll look out for your interests. Be sure to ask him or her to get the scoop on when the listing will be available to be shown, and any other insight you may want about the house.
3) When you see an “exclusive listing” sign
These are similar to FSBOs in that many buyers presume the listing agent will not allow a buyer’s agent to be involved in the purchase. As with FSBOs, while some won’t want to, some are fine with it, and many will agree to it after some conversation or negotiation with the buyer’s agent.
A lot of times it’s only exclusive for a short period of time, and could be for a number of reasons. The listing agent may very well be open to working with a buyer’s agent, but the seller simply didn’t want to have it listed on the MLS for whatever reason.
Have your agent call the listing agent and see if the sellers are open to cooperating with a buyer’s agent. If they aren’t, your agent can give you options and different ways to proceed.
So, rather than rush to call the owner or listing agent directly when you see one of these three signs, rush to call your buyer’s agent! Your agent will appreciate the loyalty, respect, and opportunity to serve you as best as he or she can!