Say you’re driving through a Boulder neighborhood, looking for your next home, or searching for available Boulder homes on an MLS website. You see a sign in the yard (or contact info online) and call the phone number for more information. You of course want the best possible price and expert representation for what may likely be your largest personal transaction to date.
Guess what? While the agent on the other end of the line may be kind, responsive and helpful, they also represent the seller. This means they are legally obligated to represent the seller’s interests only, and tell the seller everything they can find out about you, including:
- The amount you are willing to spend.
- The maximum amount your lender has agreed to finance.
- Your time frame.
- Anything else that will help the seller get the maximum sales price possible.
On the other hand, they won’t tell you:
- The seller’s motivations.
- How to negotiate an offer.
- Problems with the home (other than required by law).
- Downsides about the neighborhood or schools.
- Downward area trends in market value.
- About a lower-priced home that better meets your needs.
Over the past several years, the Boulder real estate market was so hot that you needed your buyer agent to simply get your competitive offer in front of the seller. Now that things have cooled down a bit, you can expect your agent to negotiate to get the best price on your new Boulder home.
Wow … Does this mean that listing agents are bad?
Of course not! They’re just doing their jobs. They have what’s legally referred to as a fiduciary duty to the seller that naturally puts them in a position that is adverse to you. You need someone on your team that owes you the same fiduciary duty, not the seller. That someone is a buyer’s agent.
What does a buyer agent do for me specifically?
A buyer agent represents only your interests as a home buyer. This means:
- Never representing the seller of the home you want.
- Keeping information provided by you confidential.
- Assisting you with financing sources and programs.
- Providing all known information about the seller’s motivations.
- Pointing out both the positive and negative features of a home.
- Never pushing you toward a more expensive or inappropriate home.
- Providing comparable market data to evaluate a sales price.
- Helping you formulate a negotiating strategy.
- Drafting a Sales Contract that protects your interests.
- Coordinating with your inspector, lender, and title company.
- Managing the closing process and solving any problems.
Great! What else will a buyer’s agent offer me?
Based on your criteria, your buyer agent will show you not only any home listed by any agent anywhere in Boulder County, they’ll explore FSBOs (for sale by owners), foreclosures, and any other available home on the market. They have no vested interest other than getting you the home that you want. Plus, a buyer agent will provide you with free, full access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for you to browse at your leisure. If you want more info about a particular home, they’ll track it down it for you.
What will this cost me?
Generally, not a thing. In the case of listed or new homes, your buyer agent will be paid by the listing broker or the builder for bringing you as a qualified buyer. In other situations, the contract for sale will add the negotiated commission as a seller’s closing cost.
Is all of this in writing?
Absolutely! A written buyer agency agreement is the only way to expressly spell out an agent’s legal obligations to you during the crucial period before an offer is made. Otherwise, you’re only dealing with what’s known in Colorado as a transaction broker, and you get nowhere near the same level of representation without the agreement.