This is the first part in a blog series about home buying in Portland. Written by Oregon Broker, Shayna Denny, the series covers the steps home buyers need to take in order buy a house in the Portland Metro area.
Get a Realtor
First and foremost, as a buyer, you rarely pay your own Realtor fees. So there’s no reason to go it alone. Enlisting the services of a Realtor will help you understand the whole process of buying a home, start to finish. They will also help navigate you through the mounds of paperwork you will encounter.
In this tight market of multiple offers, the Realtor should also have the experience to get you an accepted contract. You may only go through the process of buying a home a few times in a lifetime. A Realtor does this all the time!
How does a buyer’s agent get paid?
In the Portland area market, the seller generally pays the fees of both the listing agent and buyer’s agent. When a real estate agent takes a listing, the agent and sellers agree on a commission amount. The listing agent then gives a part of that commission to the buyer’s agent. You could argue that the buyer does in fact pay for the Realtor commission because of inflated prices. That might be true, but you’ll be paying that inflated price anyway, so you might as well have representation.
The only times you might end up paying a fee for your Realtor as a buyer would be if you purchase a home that is for sale by owner with your Realtor. Or, you may agree to pay your Realtor a fee for another reason. In both of these instances, your Realtor would need to discuss the reasoning and amount with you before you make any kind of commitment.
Interview to find a Realtor right for you
You may already know a Realtor; maybe it’s a friend or a family member. It seems like these days everyone knows at least a handful of Realtors. Even if you have a personal connection, make sure it will be a good fit. You will be working very closely with this person and you will need to make sure that trust is there. NOT ALL REALTORS ARE CREATED EQUALLY! If you are unsure, sit down and chat with at least a couple Realtors to see what feels most comfortable.
Do actually pick one Realtor to work with. Realtors don’t get paid until you complete the purchase of your property. There is a lot of work and trust that goes into finding a home for someone. If you are jumping back and forth between Realtors, you are hurting that relationship. That being said, if you begin talking or looking with a Realtor and decide that it is not a good fit, as long as you have not signed a buyer-broker agreement, you can switch Realtors. Tread carefully with this one, and make sure you let your Realtor know that you will no longer be working with them and why.
Another reason to pick a Realtor at the beginning of your search is called duel agency. Duel agency is when one Realtor represents the buyer and seller in a single transaction. Duel agency is legal in the state of Oregon, but it must be disclosed in writing. There are specific circumstances when duel agency might make sense, but they are rare. It is hard to fairly represent both sides in a negotiation.
When you are interviewing Realtors, this would be a good question to ask: How do they feel about duel agency? If you go to an open house, it is likely that the listing agent is the one you will talk to. They may say they can write up an offer for you, this would be duel agency. Also, if your agent is not able to accompany you to an open house, take some of their business cards to hand out to the agent holding the open house. It’s like your “get out of jail free card.”
The lesson here is that you want a Realtor who represents YOU, and only you in a transaction.