4th October 2015

Metro Atlanta’s Home Affordability Index

And if you’ve been thinking about buying – why I suggest you take action now!


Nationwide, wage growth has lagged behind home prices, and the same is true here in Atlanta.

Young couple consider home






Back in April,  RealtyTrac, reported that wage growth in the Atlanta area in 2013 and 2014 lagged far behind home prices, with home prices growing at more than 10 times the rate of wages; only San Francisco saw a greater disparity.

I recall counseling many prospective buyers and actual buyer clients in 2013 and 2014 that prices were increasing and that trend had no end in sight, especially for new construction homes – fortunately most acted on my advice and got a great home at a good value. In one unfortunate case because of possible company sale and job relocation, a Buyer Client I signed on in Dec 2013 had to hold off his search for nearly a year and could not act in 2014. Fast forward to Q1 and Q2 2015 and the type home he wanted (new construction) is simply not possible in his max price and preferred market areas. It’s too bad when someone completely misses a market window of opportunity – (not because they refused to acknowledge market realities or listen to sound advice from a market expert), but simply as in my clients case because it was impossible for him to act when the opportunity was there.

I don’t see us going back to 2014 prices anytime soon, if ever, especially for new construction, but there are two good things for the market right now relative to 2014:  1. interest rates have actually come down 13% over the last four quarters (currently about 3.7% ) but count on this to increase, and, 2. while prices are still trending up in fall 2015, they are not rising at nearly the velocity they were from 2013 to early 2015.

According to RealtyTrac’s new Affordability Report, from  Q1 2014 to Q1 2015, home prices have risen beyond wages in all of Metro Atlanta’s six largest counties.

Here’s a graph of RealtyTrac’s findings:

ATL Wage and Home Price Growth









Although home prices in Cherokee and Cobb County were relatively in line with wages, they still grew at twice the rate of wages– while in DeKalb, home prices vs wages grew at an astounding 20 percent, spurred on largely by new building and some great revitalization in older neighborhoods areas around the city of Decatur and westward toward Atlanta. DeKalb home prices in most markets south of Decatur had nowhere to go but up because for many years home prices have been severely depressed in part because of excess foreclosure inventory and other factors such as high crime rates and poor schools.

Home Affordability in 2015 Improves Even as Home Price Growth Outpaces Wage Growth…But, Forces of Change Loom on the Near Horizon

According to a study conducted by RealtyTrac and Clear Capitol, which was released on October 1, 2015,  average home price appreciation outpaced average wage growth between the first quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015 in 397 out of 582 (68 percent) U.S. counties analyzed for the report. In its report, RealtyTrac emphasized that since bottoming out in the first quarter of 2012, the average U.S. home price has risen 24 percent, while the average weekly wage nationwide has risen 7 percent.

As the video explains home affordability improved to a two year low in Q1 2015 even with rising home prices – and a big driver has been the current low interest rates. Between early 2014 and early 2015 the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped 57 basis points (13 percent), from 4.34 percent in the first quarter of 2014 to 3.77 percent.  What should be of concern now, and motivate any would-be buyers into action sooner rather than later – all of the Feds recent chatter about raising the interest rates. We just escaped a planned rate increase last month, but with the economy continuing to improve a rate increase is only a matter of time – many experts believe we will see an increase by December. Any uptick in interest rates will have a corresponding negative impact on metro Atlanta’s home affordability index, impacting both the monthly payment and size of loan a buyer can qualify for.

Want more info about the current market, or to discuss some of the historic benefits of buying a home in the fall – Call me now  678-585-9691 –  Robert Whitfield


posted in Atlanta Housing Market, Home Buyers, New Posts | Comments Off on Metro Atlanta’s Home Affordability Index

13th February 2014

TBD Loan Approvals

Loan Pre ApprovalWhat is a TBD Approval? Why is it the way to go?
TBD (To Be Determined) approvals are for buyers obtaining financing who get their loan file underwritten to the furthest extent possible – without having yet identified a property to purchase. With a TBD, income, assets, credit, etc are examined leaving only the property itself to be determined. Once the purchase contract is created, the remaining needed items to fund the loan are minimal – an appraisal and title report.

Only a Bank, Credit Union or Direct Lender has this capability because they have “in-house” underwriters. The only remaining items for a “Clear-to-Close is a copy of the borrower’s purchase agreement and an appraisal on the property.

Who do they benefit? Everyone Involved.

Real estate agents know they have a solid buyer before going out looking at homes and writing up offers. A deal falling out because of a pay stub or a strange deposit on a bank statement 20 days into escrow is a huge time waste and emotional drain.

Buyers have more confidence with their offers knowing that they ‘check out’ with the underwriter before pulling out the credit card for an appraisal. More importantly – sellers have been known to accept a lower offer from a buyer who has a “Loan Approval Subject Only to Appraisal and Title”, versus a buyer who has only been pre-qualified.

Sellers have less fall out when dealing with a TBD approved buyer. If there is fallout, it would be because of the property that they are selling, not the buyer. Sellers hold TBD approved buyers in esteem somewhere between buyers who only have a ‘standard pre-qual’ and the highly coveted ‘all-cash’ buyer. There are times when sellers will actually accept lower offers from an “approved buyer” because they want or need  a firm sale date, and prefer not to risk letting a buyer who merely has a Pre-Qualification pull their property off market for 15+ days while they seek loan approval.

With a TBD Approval a lot of potential unknowns are eliminated up front, and all parties involved benefit.

posted in Home Buyers, Mortgages, New Posts | Comments Off on TBD Loan Approvals

10th February 2014

Atlanta No 1 Move Destination!

Atlanta Ga Number 1 move destination  Over the last four years, Penske Truck Rental has produced an annual list of its *top moving destinations in the United States. Once again, the Atlanta metro area remained No. 1 for the fourth consecutive year.

The following list of top move destinations for 2013 was compiled in January 2014, and last year’s rankings for 2012 are noted in parentheses. New to the 2013 list is Las Vegas, coming in at number10. Sarasota, FL, number 10 in 2012, was combined with the Tampa, FL metro area for this year’s list.




  1. Atlanta (1)
  2. Tampa, Fla./Sarasota, Fla. (new combined entry)
  3. Dallas/Fort Worth (2)
  4. Orlando, Fla. (4)
  5. Phoenix (3)
  6. Houston (6)
  7. Seattle (8)
  8. Chicago (5)
  9. Denver (7)
  10. Las Vegas (new!)

“We have seen a continued migration of Penske Truck Rental customers from the Northeast and Midwest parts of the U.S. into these areas,” said Don Mikes, Penske senior vice president of rental.

Penske created a series of infographics to complement their list of top relocation cities.  We have attached their Atlanta infographic which shows Atlanta is famous for its international sports, soft drinks and its supply of Georgia peaches. The graphic also shows Atlanta’s median household income to be $46,146, and it displays the average listing price as $448,387.

ATL Top Move Dest 4 years in a row








*Penske creates their annual Top 10 Moving Destinations list through an analysis of one-way consumer truck rental reservations made online, and through their central reservations call center.

posted in Atlanta Housing Market, Home Buyers, New Posts | Comments Off on Atlanta No 1 Move Destination!

3rd February 2014

2013 Homebuyers- Be Sure To File For Your Homestead Exemption

Homestead ExemptionDid you buy a home in the Atlanta area last year?

If you purchased your home last year and have not already done so, file for your Homestead Exemption by the deadline or you won’t get a tax break for another year! Filing a Homestead Exemption can save you thousands of dollars in property taxes! Some states provide this exemption automatically, but in Georgia a homestead exemption must be applied for. Depending on your county, this can be done online, by fax, by mail or in person. You only have to apply for the exemption once and the exemption remains for as long as you reside in the home as your primary residence. A Homestead Exemption provides more than just a tax break. It also provides two important protections. It prevents the forced sale of a home to meet the demands of creditors and provides the surviving spouse with shelter. You may file for homestead exemption year round. Deadlines are listed below by county along with a link for a homestead application. Applications received after these deadlines will be processed the following year.

 Filing for Homestead Exemption

The Homestead Exemption is available to legal residents of Georgia for their primary homes. You are entitled to the Homestead exemption if you owned and occupied your home by January 1.  Senior citizens may have additional exemptions available – check with your county tax office.

Deadline Dates (in parenthesis)

Cherokee County (4/1): 2782 Marietta Highway, Suite 200, Canton 30114 678-493-6120 M-F 8am to 5pm http://www.cherokeega.com/Tax-Assessors-Office/

Cobb County (4/1): 736 Whitlock Avenue, Suite 100, Marietta, GA 30064 770-528-8600 M-F 8:30am to 5pm http://www.cobbtax.org/property/exemptions#BasicHomestead

DeKalb County (4/1): 4380 Memorial Drive, Suite 100, Decatur, GA 30032 404-298-4000 M-F 8am to 5pm http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/TaxCommissioner/homesteadGen.html

Douglas County (4/1): Douglas County Courthouse, 8700 Hospital Drive, Douglasville, GA 30133 770-920-7272 M-F 8am to 5pm http://www.douglastaxcommissioner.com/

Forsyth County (4/1): 110 East Main Street, Suite 260, Cumming, GA 30040 770-781-2106 M-F 8:30am to 5pm http://www.qpublic.net/ga/forsyth/homestead.html

Fulton County (4/1): You may be able to file at one of the annex centers – please check the website for location nearest you. 141 Pryor Street SW, Suite 1047, Atlanta, GA 30303 404-730-4000 M-F 8am to 5pm http://www.qpublic.net/ga/fulton/basic_homestead.html

Gwinnett County (4/1): Call for application. 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville, GA 30046 770-822-8800 M-F 8:30am to 5pm http://gwinnetttaxcommissioner.manatron.com/Tabs/Property/HomesteadExemption.aspx

Hall County (4/1): 2875 Browns Bridge Rd, Gainesville, GA 30504 770-531-6720 M-F 8am to 5pm http://www.hallcounty.org/depts/taxassessor/homestead_exempt_app.asp

Paulding County (4/1): 240 Constitution Boulevard, Dallas, GA 30132 770-443-7606 M-F 8am to 5pm http://www.paulding.gov/index.aspx?NID=210

Rockdale County (4/1): 969 Pine Street, Conyers, GA 30012 770-278-7600 M-F 8am to 4:30pm http://www.rockdalecounty.org/main.cfm?id=2985

Walton County (4/1): 303 South Hammond Drive, Walton County Government Building, Monroe, GA 30655 770-267-1335 M-F 8am to 5pm http://www.waltoncountytax.com/info#returns

 What You Need in Order to File: A copy of the recorded warranty deed, Social Security numbers of all persons on the deed, the mortgage holder, and the amount of the mortgage. Note: Some counties may require a copy of the closing statement and proof of age for senior citizens.

If your county is not listed, please visit the Ga Dept of Revenue online at: https://etax.dor.ga.gov/ptd/county/index.aspx to find information for your county.

posted in New Posts, Uncategorized | Comments Off on 2013 Homebuyers- Be Sure To File For Your Homestead Exemption

18th January 2013

Housing Industry Awaits Mortgage Rule On Down Payment Size

If you’re planning to buy a home and have not yet taken advantage of the outstanding home prices and low interest rates you should read this. Things could get a little tougher with regard to downpayment requirements in the next few months. Hopefully regulators like the CFPB won’t go overboard because that will do nothing but harm the economy and hurt the housing recovery which is already nicely underway.

>Housing Industry Awaits Mortgage Rule On Down Payment Size.


Need a referral to a great lender?  Give me a call.

Robert Whitfield
Advantage Realtors

posted in Home Buyers, Mortgages, New Posts | 1 Comment

20th January 2011

2010 Homebuyers – Be Sure To File Your Homestead Exemptions!

Homestead Exemption

Did you buy a home in the Atlanta area last year?

If you purchased your home last year and have not already done so, file for your Homestead Exemption by the deadline or you won’t get a tax break for another year! Filing a Homestead Exemption can save you thousands of dollars in property taxes!
Some states provide this exemption automatically, but in Georgia a homestead exemption must be applied for. Depending on your county, this can be done online, by fax, by mail or in person. You only have to apply for the exemption once and the exemption remains for as long as you reside in the home as your primary residence.
A Homestead Exemption provides more than just a tax break. It also provides two important protections. It prevents the forced sale of a home to meet the demands of creditors and provides the surviving spouse with shelter.
You may file for homestead exemption year round. Deadlines are listed below by county along with a link for a homestead application. Applications received after these deadlines will be processed the following year.

• CHEROKEE COUNTY (678-493-6120) – Deadline is April 1st – Must be filed in person
• COBB COUNTY (770-528-8600) – Deadline is April 1st – Apply in person or by mail
• DEKALB COUNTY (404-298-4000) – Deadline is April 1st – Apply by mail or online
• FORSYTH COUNTY (770-781-2106) – Deadline is April 1st – Apply in person
• FULTON COUNTY (404-730-6440) – Deadline is April 1st – Apply by mail
• GWINNETT COUNTY (770-822-8800) – Deadline is April 1st – Apply online or by mail
• HALL COUNTY (770-531-6720) – Deadline is March 1st – Apply online, by mail or in person
• PAULDING COUNTY (770-443-7606) – Deadline is April 1st – Must apply in person

If your county isn’t listed here, then be sure to visit the Georgia Department of Revenue to find more information about your county.

posted in Homeowners, New Posts | Comments Off on 2010 Homebuyers – Be Sure To File Your Homestead Exemptions!

6th November 2010

Best places for the rich and single – Sandy Springs, GA!?

I found this interesting too – I did not know Sandy Springs was the singles Mecca it is – but with the Northside hospital complex nearby and all the young interns that attracts, it makes sense! For the single gentlemen, I do know that nearby Vinings has a high population of single women homeowners – 3-4 ladies for every man!

Anyway, Money Magazine rated Sandy Springs, GA #4 out of 25 affluent US cites where singles are abundant!

Money Magazines Description of Sandy Springs:

Charming Southern gentlemen and sweet Georgia peaches in this Atlanta suburb are making the rounds at one of three major hospitals in the area or running operations at a Fortune 500 company like United Parcel Service or Newell Rubbermaid. Thanks to the natural springs the city is named for and the Chattahoochee River that flows through it, Sandy Springs offers a tranquil and peaceful setting for romance to blossom. After taking a stroll along the riverbank, head to Buckhead, Atlanta’s vibrant uptown district, for a night on the town. –H.Y.

I agree – young doctors and interns will find Sandy Springs very convenient to the major hospital complexes at Northside, St Josephs, and Emory!

A few stats:

Population: 82,674

Single: 35.6% – (that’s a high ratio of singles)

Median family income: $115,171 (That ranks in the top 25 of all 100 Best Places Cites)

Median Home Price: $380,000

Whether you’re a Grey’s Anatomy type in the medical field, rich, middle income, single or married, I can help you get a superb deal on prime Sandy Springs, GA real estate – from $200,000 to $10,000,000 – just reach out to me at 678-585-9691!

posted in Atlanta Housing Market, New Posts | Comments Off on Best places for the rich and single – Sandy Springs, GA!?

6th November 2010

Top 100 Places to Live – Roswell, GA at #76!

Well it’s nice to have my town, Roswell, GA win a spot (#76) in Money Magazines 2010 “Top 100 Small Cities in America” the only Georgia city to rank in the top 100 Best Places to Live! As a Roswell resident for the past 4 years I can tell you it is an excellent place to live and my family loves it.

As a licensed GA real estate broker and 30 year resident of metro Atlanta, I can tell you there are other excellent places to live in North Atlanta as well, such as Marietta, East Cobb (the section of Roswell I live in) Alpharetta, Milton, Crabapple, and Johns Creek – these should have been on the list.

Money magazines description of Roswell:

Home to several plantation houses from the Civil War era, historically rich Roswell is committed to a family-friendly environment. It has some of the best public schools in the state, the lowest crime rate in the region, and a myriad of outdoor activities, making it easy to understand why families flock to this affluent Atlanta suburb. Residents love their many public events, including the monthly Alive after Five summer festival, with plenty of food, shopping, and live music. –J.S.

All true and here are a few stats to go along:

Median Family Income- $113,750 (ranked 24th highest income of the100 cities)

Median Home Price – $246,700 (the average of the 100 was $239,300)

Now as you know, Oprah Winfrey can afford to live anywhere on the planet, and I read a quote in a magazine article where she said Roswell, GA was one of the best places to live a few years ago – though I can’t recall which magazine, I agree with Oprah!

Oprah or anyone else wanting a fantastic deal on prime Roswell real estate should call me immediately at 678-585-9691!

posted in Atlanta Housing Market, New Posts | Comments Off on Top 100 Places to Live – Roswell, GA at #76!

13th October 2010

Fall Home Maintenance Tips – Get Your Atlanta Home Ready For Winter

It’s time to give our Atlanta homes a Fall tune-up. Everything from your furnace to the gutters needs to be made ready for the long cold winter months. Ok, I know all of you northerners are saying, it’s Atlanta – don’t you mean long mild winter months? Hey, winter is cold wherever you are! To help you cover all the bases, we’ve come up with a handy fall-maintenance checklist. Consult it every year and your home will thank you – actually many of these items need to be checked in late spring as well for season appropriate service such an AC check up.

Check your heating equipment before the beginning of cold weather – I like to know that my furnace will come on while its still in the 70’s! Have a qualified heating and cooling contractor clean and service your furnaces and if you have a heat pump the outside units as well. Clean heat pump coils operate more efficiently, and a seasonal service call will keep the system working at peak performance levels.

Check and replace your furnace filters every month. Clean filters not only keep your house cleaner, they reduce your utility bills because your HVAC system does not have run as long to make your home comfortable as when the filters are clogged with dust.

Change batteries on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors – don’t worry that your batteries may still have some charge and your “blowing $6” – this can save your life. As Nike says – Just Do It!

Clean out your gutters as soon as the leaves have all fallen – sometimes this has to be done twice. This is very important – clogged gutters can overflow and over time seep into walls and cause serious water damage to structural members. Check for loose or leaky gutters. Improper drainage can lead to water in the basement or crawl space. Make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear and free of debris. Hire a company if your home is a two story.

Low areas in the yard or next to the foundation should be filled with compacted soil. Winter rains can cause yard flooding, which can lead to foundation flooding and damage from settlement.

Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Make wood repairs now before the winter rains do more damage to the exposed wood. For small pockets of damage or rot, Borden makes very good wood filler that is available at most homes centers, and Zinsser makes a great exterior spackle called MH Ready Patch that outperforms vinyl spackling compounds – home centers and paint stores sell this product. (No, I don’t get a commission from either company.)

Examine putty and caulk joints around exterior window panes and window and door trim and re-putty or caulk as needed to keep out water and air. Ensure that weather stripping on doors and windows creates a good seal.

From the ground, examine roof shingles to see if any were lost or damaged during summer storms. If your home has an older roof covering, you may want to start a budget for replacement. The summer sun can really damage roof shingles. Shingles that are cracked, buckled or loose or are missing granules need to be replaced. Flashing around plumbing vents, skylights and chimneys need to be checked and repaired by a qualified roofer.

Examine the exterior of the chimney for signs of damage. Have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep. A burning fireplaces in winter is charming – burning your house down is not! Have your flue checked for creosote buildup at least every two years if you use the fireplace regularly and never burn pine wood in a fireplace, and only burn coal if the fireplace is rated for coal and has the proper coal grate – most are not rated for coal.

Inspect concrete slabs for signs of cracks or movement. All exterior slabs should drain away from the home’s foundation. Fill cracks between your foundation and items that abut the foundation such as: porches or entrance stairs, sidewalks, and driveways with a concrete crack filler or silicone caulk.

Locate and turn off the shut off valves for all outside hose faucets, then disconnect garden hoses, and drain the faucet and the hose for the winter.

Check your gas-powered lawn equipment to make sure they are ready for storage – empty the gas tanks and run the equipment until the gas is completely used up before storing it away.

As the Boy Scouts Say, Be Prepared! Winter Emergency Tips for the Unexpected!

When the power goes out, or the ice builds up and you can’t get out of your driveway it can be inconvenient and in some cases dangerous. The following are preparedness items you might want to stock up on.

Candles – heavy pillar candles that can burn for days – never leave a candle burning unattended or while you sleep.

Rock salt – to keep your steps, porches, and driveways clear of ice and help prevent dangerous falls. If you have a steep driveway – a few 10 lb bags of rock salt can be the difference in being ice bound in your home, or being able to leave.

Sleeping bags – if you don’t have multiple heavy down comforters, even cheap Wal-Mart 30-40 degree bags can be way better than piles of blankets when the power is out comfort in winter – they can even be a life saver.

Of course there are emergency food ration kits to support an individual for up to a year for those so inclined – search on Google. You could also stock up on some canned goods. One great and pretty inexpensive option for a few days to a week is to buy freeze dried Mountain House meals that you just add boiling water to the foil pouch and wait 5 minutes. I have had the Spaghetti, Chili Mac, and Beef Stroganoff while backpacking on the Appalachian Trail and these taste (and look) great – I suggest you avoid military rations. You can get Mountain House products at Wal-Mart, REI and other outdoor outfitters. It helps to have a way to boil water or heat food – I have MSR isobutane camping/backpacking stoves to boil water.

Water – I store 10 one gallon jugs of distilled water in my basement for emergencies. In closing, you never know how long the power will be off…

In our famous Atlanta snow jam of 1983, (should have been called ice jam) I was visiting my grandmother down in Griffin on her farm and was watching an interesting Jacques Cousteau deep sea diving special on TV and the power went off. After about 45 minutes of waiting for the power to come on I began to get annoyed…little did I know that the power was going to be off for 7 full days and nighttime temps would plummet to 30 below zero 30 miles south of Atlanta! Fortunately the farm was set up to endure that event much better than the average suburban Atlanta home – old fashioned oil burning lamps, a full supply room of home grown canned vegetables, and my grandmothers awesome stews and cobblers, and two coal burning stoves kept us far more comfortable than hundreds of thousands of other folks who were caught in the snow jam – we were actually quite cozy in a strange “back to the 1800s” time warp. I got a real appreciation for how wonderful electricity is thank you Mr. Edison – I was lucky I was there and not back at my then home in the burbs of Stone Mountain.

posted in New Posts | Comments Off on Fall Home Maintenance Tips – Get Your Atlanta Home Ready For Winter

27th June 2010

Buyer Broker Agreements. Do you use them?


As a member of some professional real estate groups on Linked In, I recently answered the following agents post and thought it might be of interest to my readers. About 50 other agents and brokers responded as well and made the obvious point that agents protect themselves when they insist on a Buyer Brokerage Agreement. A few agents said they had no problem “working” with buyers without the agreement – that no buyer had stiffed them. What no one discussed was the legal implications for the agent when they dont excercise thier duty to fully disclose agency choices to buyers so they understand the implications of thier choices, the limitations and risks to the agent and buyer when the agent agrees to work without a Brokerage Agreement, and all the negative implications for the buyer when no Brokerage Agreement is used – that’s why I wanted to respond with an answer that more fully incompassed the ramifications of all aspects of the subject:

Buyer Broker Agreements. Do you use them?

Jarred – I typically only work with someone if they will sign a buyer broker. It just adds protection. Yet I have a new buyer who sought me out from an open house I had, whose wife is a former Realtor from another state and he’s just adamant about not signing one because they fear it ‘locks them into me.’ I may veer away from them because of this. If they’re already telling me they don’t want to be locked into ONE Realtor already this may be a red flag for me that I’ll end up getting left in the cold. Thoughts?

Robert Whitfield • I will only work with a buyer while under a written Exclusive Buyer Brokerage Agreement – and here is why:

1. You do protect yourself – against a buyer using another agent after you have done all the work – or thinking they can somehow do better than you and contacting the seller directly.

Note: I have a very unique and advantageous Buyer Representation Program that no other agent here in Atlanta can match, so I run very little risk of a buyer leaving me for another agent. For me, the next point is really the driving reason to ONLY work with buyers under a written Brokerage Agreement.

2. You can fully serve and protect the buyer – ONLY when they become your client. This is the one that buyers who don’t want to be “locked in” to an agent don’t get (and many agents completely forget) – it’s all about agency relationships. In the absence of a Buyer Brokerage Agreement, you as the agent can not legally give the buyer the benefits of your expertise and knowledge, or protect them from mistakes, etc, because those services are reserved for “clients”. A buyer who is merely “working” with an agent without a Buyer Brokerage agreement is a customer – and the agent in that case is supposed to provide only ministerial acts – acts that require no judgment, expertise, or industry knowledge – to do otherwise can set the agent up for a lawsuit by the buyer and various other parties (the seller) if something goes wrong. It is in the buyer’s best interests to be represented as a client and never left to fend for themselves as a customer. Agents who work with buyers without representing them risk becoming an “undisclosed dual agent” without realizing it – in most states that can get them into serious trouble with the real estate commission.

While buyers may not know anything about agency, or how to protect themselves in a transaction, or what duties agents owe them when they are a client versus a customer – we as agents and brokers are responsible for fully informing them about agency and their choices of service levels (before we ever work with them) so they know the ramifications of their choice of being a client versus merely a customer.

In the rare cases where I run into buyers who are leery of Exclusive Buyer Brokerage Agreements (usually first-time buyers or buyers who had a horrible agent in the past), I make sure they fully understand the above – I have only had one buyer in ten years not sign a Buyer Brokerage Agreement when they fully understood that it was in their best interest to do so. (Some people need to be saved from themselves!)

I have offered a 1-2 day Brokerage Agreement to a few buyers which is a “try it before you buy it” approach that works well. It allows you to protect yourself, and provide top level representation to your client, and they see how you work and then are comfortable signing a longer term agreement.

I also explain to buyers who seem nervous about “committing” to an agent – “any agent who is willing to work with you without a Brokerage Agreement is not only agreeing to do less than a great job for you, but refusing to protect ‘their own commission and livelihood’, so what in the world makes you think such an agent will protect YOUR interests and money in a transaction if they won’t even protect their own interests?”

I refused to help the buyer who refused to sign my agreement, explaining that it would be a disservice to him. His wife was furious with him and apologized to me, but I will never make an exception to this practice. Its just good business – I am supposed to be the expert – I don’t let my prospects or clients dictate how I run my business.

What do you think?

posted in New Posts | Comments Off on Buyer Broker Agreements. Do you use them?