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Do realtors have a consultation fee?

I'd like to make an appointment with a realtor to talk about my first time buying a home, along with all my options. Is there a charge for getting a realtor's advice?
  • September 28 2013 - Herndon
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Be a Good Neighbor. Be respectful and on-topic. No spam or self-promotion! See our Good Neighbor Policy.

 
 

Answers (23)

I offer anyone who is looking to buy or sell no-obligation consolation at your convenience . There is no charge and I am happy to meet with you and discuss buying a home. 
  • September 30 2013
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Profile picture for Dunes ..
Washington Times article on the Virgina Law/the options/advice about Buyer Agency Agreements

Cover story: Untangling the buyer's agent process
  • September 30 2013
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I am a super big fan of brokerage agreements. Let's put it in writing, what do you expect from me, how long will we be working together, how will the agent get paid? The state of Virginia has made them mandatory, and I think that's a good thing. 

Having worked with and talked to agents nationwide, I stand by my statement that buyer agency agreements are mostly benign. Yes, you can sign one that commits you to a broker for 180 days, don't sign that one unless you mean it. C'mon, now. You don't have to sign one at all, and in states like Virginia where you have to sign one if you want to be represented by an agent, you can sign it for the day you're looking at houses.

  • September 30 2013
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With Keller Williams Realty there is never a  charge for a consultation. 

  • September 30 2013
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Profile picture for Dunes ..
Forms used for Buyer Agency/Buyers Agent I suppose can be or are benign but when the blanks are filled in..perhaps not

Sample Forms

#1. Link

#2. Link

#3. Link


The important point imo is they should read and understand what they sign....if they do not want to agree to or don't care or
Fine...that's their choice and I'm ok with that

But the advice to be wary, read/understand what you sign/agree to & know your options is good advice

It's simply...good advice
  • September 30 2013
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Profile picture for sunnyview
"And at that time you should know if that is the agent you want to work with."

Signing a buyer's representation agreement on a first meeting without interviewing any other agents or getting more perspective on whether the professional is a good match can be problematic.

First time buyers commonly get pushed into a rep agreement before they even know what to look for in an agent. A better option might be to visit open houses in the area you are interested in to meet more than one agent in an informal way.

Then select several to interview based on the opens or on referrals from people you know. That has worked well for me and I have met some terrific agents that way.

  • September 30 2013
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Hello,
In my area we do not charge for consultation with a client that is wanting to purchase a house.  During the consultation you should feel comfortable and have learned the home buying process if the agent did a good job explaining and answered all your questions.  And at that time you should know if that is the agent you want to work with.
  • September 30 2013
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Profile picture for blank screen EXILED
Several agents were asked to post their "buyer's agent agreement" on a Zillow discussion thread.  Of all of them that were posted or linked that I read, they were all strongly protective of the agent/brokerage, and not at all protective of the client's interests.  I'm sure there are exceptions, but it is the responsibility of the buyer to read the document carefully, and make appropriate revisions prior to signing, or to find an agent that is not so one-sided in their contracts.

By the way, many agents WILL provide a la cart services if requested, such as a BPO, which the client will pay for.  An "interview" for potential services is "not" a la cart services.

One investor posted on Zillow that he always does his buying contracts with his agent a la cart, paying for all services, and then gets refunded the entire commission indicated in the MLS for the "selling agent" upon the close of the sale.  His chosen agent & broker like it that way as they get paid for all their time, and it removes their risk.  The investor likes it too as it reduces the transaction fees.
  • September 30 2013
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Profile picture for Dunes ..
"I have not observed that. The norm in my area is a set period of time for representation and the broker must agree to termination. If they don't agree, your primary recourse as the buyer is to go to arbitration with the RE Board not a benign cancellation."

Ditto...




  • September 30 2013
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Realtors usually do not charge for a comparative market analysis, as this is part of our service to you. Good Luck! 
  • September 30 2013
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Profile picture for sunnyview
"Even "exclusive buyer agency" agreements usually terminate quite simply upon written notice within a relatively short time period"

I have not observed that. The norm in my area is a set period of time for representation and the broker must agree to termination. If they don't agree, your primary recourse as the buyer is to go to arbitration with the RE Board not a benign cancellation.

Buyer's agency agreement have their place, but many as written do little to protect the buyer. They are written for the agent by the agency/board. They are typically not easy to terminate even if your agent is not doing a good job for you. Maybe yours is different as is Mr. Carron's, but many are not.
  • September 30 2013
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I'm not so sure about that, sunnyview. Buyer brokerage agreements are generally quite benign, they usually just identify that the agent and their brokerage represents the buyer and if the buyer offers on a property listed by the brokerage, the managing broker is a dual agent.

Even "exclusive buyer agency" agreements usually terminate quite simply upon written notice within a relatively short time period with an agreement to not go around the agent to buy a property.

  • September 29 2013
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Profile picture for sunnyview
""Buyer may cancel this agreement prior to the termination date by giving 24 hours notice prior to finding home of choice." 

That sounds very reasonable, but buyers should be aware that most agreements do not have a reasonable cancellation option like yours does. Many require buyers to be tied to their agent for a period of 90-365 days whether they are happy with their agent or not and whether their agent is providing the promised professional services or not.

If the buyer's agreement does not have a way to cancel if you are unhappy, I would suggest adding Mr. Carron's language to the contract. Ask your agent to sign it or offer to specify addresses shown by your agent and logged on a showing list/MLS print out as opposed to a blanket agreement for a set period of time.

Good agents want happy clients. Good agents should be paid for their services. Representation agreements should be reasonable for both sides and allow the buyer with an unexpectedly bad agent a way to terminate the agreement without a fight.
  • September 29 2013
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Buyer agency agreements are binding contracts between the buyer and the broker, and must have a specified term (beginning and ending date). Oral statements by a broker or the broker's agent such as, "if we think it's not a good match, either party can walk away" are not enforceable. Therefore, I include the following in my buyer agency agreements: "Buyer may cancel this agreement prior to the termination date by giving 24 hours notice prior to finding home of choice."  This gives the buyer the legal right to end the buyer agency agreement early, while protecting me from a buyer cancelling the buyer agency agreement AFTER I've found the home he or she plans to buy. Early cancellation of the buyer agency agreement after finding the home of choice would deprive me of the ability to represent the buyer in the purchase transaction and earn my commission. But until we've found the buyer's home of choice, he or she can cancel the buyer agency agreement on 24 hours notice.  Without that provision in the buyer agency agreement, the buyer would not have the right to cancel the agreement early. Depending on the commission provision of the buyer agency agreement, the buyer might well owe the broker a commission on a purchase even if the buyer decided not to work with that broker/agent  any longer. (Whether a given agent/broker is the procuring cause of a transaction and entitled to a commission from the seller's agent -- the listing agent -- is another topic altogether that I'm happy to explain if anyone wants to know. I'm on the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors(R) grievance committee that decides such disputes between brokers.)

  • September 29 2013
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Realtors typically don't charge a consultation fee...in our Reston-Herndon office we usually meet buyers for an initial buyer consultation during which we try to understand what the client is looking for. We then discuss some of their options and a lot of times I get my clients a meeting with our in-house lender so he can prequalify them and we are clearer on what price point the buyer is qualified for. We usually sign the exclusive right to represent buyer agreement right then. I always tell my clients that our working together is optional for both sides. If we think it is not a good match, either party can walk away.
  • September 29 2013
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Profile picture for CCarron

Virginia Housing Development Authority has a free on-line homebuyer class.  I don't think Zillow allows me to put a link in this email but if you click on my name above and click through to my Zillow agent profile, one of the "buttons" on the top of my home page takes you to the VHDA free homebuyer class.  I never charge a buyer client a penny -- not for consultation, not for setting up a customized search in the multiple listings that sends daily emails with new and updated listings meeting their personal criteria, not for showing homes, negotiating, writing up an offer, attending home inspections, re-negotiating based on home inspection results, advising on financing alternatives, attending final walk-through and settlement.  I accept whatever share of the seller's broker's commission they offer to pay to the buyer agent who brings them the buyer.  I even absorb my real estate brokerage firm's "administrative fee."  And if the property is $400,000 or higher, I buy a one-year home warranty for my buyer clients out of my commission.  If the agents that you interview want to charge you, ask what they will provide for that money they are asking you to pay out of pocket.  On my home page, if you click on "More" you will see other buttons that take you to a home buyer questionnaire to help you determine your priorities (and help your agent focus your home search), and to information on buyer agency and the new legal requirement that you have a written buyer agency agreement before an agent can show you properties or perform other real estate services. (Note that the written agreement doesn't have to be exclusive, but most agents want to work on an exclusive basis with a buyer.)  If this was helpful please click the "thumbs up" icon.

  • September 29 2013
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Profile picture for Dunes ..
I'd suggest doing some self-educating first to be beter informed/prepared for the important selection of which person/RE Agent selling services is best suited for you and your goals
Agents/Agencies are selling services...shop smart

I believe your stated intention of becoming as informed as possible about options, the process, whats available, what to watch out for is exactly where you ned to be at this point
A lot of those decisions are gonna be based on the market/area you intend to spend a sizable hunk of money in....might be good to get out and check it out

In case you're interested here are some excellent resources, places of info imo...lots and lots of info available, Forums to cruise to see who says what..make use of them...you are not buying a pizza so preparing for your Financial decisions and Business Transaction might be a god idea

First Time Home Buyer Info about the Process & Excellent Info/Resources for any Buyer..Buying a Home

Provided by the Federal Gov..Info on their Loans/Programs
Find the Right Loan, you can search for specific information, compare options, or take a short questionnaire to determine your eligibility for each program. GovLoan.org

Department Of Justice
Anti-Trust Division Web Site about all the options Consumers actually have
New business models are emerging that allow consumers to save thousands of dollars when they buy or sell a home

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Well worth a look imo

Many Banks have created Sites for the Public to use (For Free) to view and find Information about the Properties they have Listed for Sale, Programs
Sites Like..Bank of America...Wells Fargo...CitiMortgage

You can find links to Bank sites here...Link

The Fed Gov has Sites for its Properties for sale/Info on programs/loans
HUD Homes...HomePath.com (Fannie Mae)...HomeSteps (Freddie Mac)

You can find the links to Gov sites here...Link

Shop Smart...
Best of Luck
  • September 28 2013
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Wetdawgs

Remember an agent is a salesperson.  Some are good at the educational portion, but they don't get paid until they sell.

Pardon me I had to chuckle when I saw this.  I guess because of licensing we are stuck with that label but it is so far from reality today. True we do not get paid until we sell something.  But we can't make someone buy if they don't want to.

I rather liken it to an attorney who does not collect the fee until he/she wins for you.  He works his tail off representing you and invests hours, knowledge and talent before being rewarded for his efforts.

I find that now I spend much more time answering questions and reassuring buyers then I did 5 years ago.  That's ok with me because I am in it for the long haul.  A satisfied buyer is a reliable source of referrals.
  • September 28 2013
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No, there is no "consultation fee!"

The way I would do it, being a professional . . . 

If I moved into a new town, I'd spend a few weeks going out to visit at least a dozen open houses. I'd talk to the agents (even if they seem shy and reticent), I would steadfastly refuse to make promises or appointments or even give out my contact information.

Then, I'd pick out three or four to meet with, and keep the process going until I found someone who really understood me and who I really understood. 

I don't know what the most common problems buyers and agents have with one another, but it seems to me that the root of most problems is communication. Once you've decided that the agent is trustworthy and knowledgeable, make sure you communicate well together!

All the best,
  • September 28 2013
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Profile picture for nwhome.us
An easy way to start is to tour open houses but have as your main goal interviewing the agents who are sitting there.

Be upfront about the intent and you should get some positive feedback.  Yes, educating first time buyers is a large part of the process for a broker who has any soul in the game.
  • September 28 2013
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NO there is no fee to speak with a Realtor.  You can work with an agent for a week and decide they aren't a match for you and move on.  Do not sign a broker agreement until you are 100% sure your agent is a great match, you will know when you find the right one.  Its the same for the Realtor some clients aren't a match for us and a good Realtor will pass them on to another colleague that maybe specializes in the area that buyer was interested in. 
  • September 28 2013
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Profile picture for sunnyview
No, but most hope that you will choose to hire them as your buyer's agent. Be careful about signing a representation agreement upfront before you get to know the agent and check them out.

Many are attentive at the first meeting, but they may not be the best agent for you long term. Interview several carefully first and then decide who to hire. Consider dating your agent to be for a period of time before you "put a ring on it" so to speak.

Zillow has a lot of information in their Buyer's Roadmap. There is also a lot of information about buying a home on About. Hope the links help.
  • September 28 2013
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
Here's a link to Zillow buyer's roadmap to get you started before you sit down with someone.

Remember an agent is a salesperson.  Some are good at the educational portion, but they don't get paid until they sell.

  • September 28 2013
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