August 03, 2014
This is a very common practice and it would seem to make sense. You would need to look at the houses before buying it, correct? Well, there is reason behind the Real Estate Agent wanting you to travel and spend your valuable time staring at these houses. By spending so much time on one house, it becomes too much of an effort to find your perfect house. You end up settling for your less than desired house.
What should be happening is that before looking at the house, you should request a comparable analysis. Your Real Estate Agent has statistical information about the houses you are looking at and houses similar to what you are looking at. This statistical information reveals the market value of the home and whether the home is worth you TIME. By not showing you the comparable analysis, the time, effort and pain it takes for you to search for a home causes you to make a decision faster. If the Real Estate Agent shows you the comparable analysis first, it reduces the pain and you would wait longer to decide. Also, the Real Estate agent has to spend time to create the comparable analysis report where most likely, they would not want to do.
Rule of thumb: Find a Real Estate Agent that will give you the comparable analysis first.
Now, this isn't to say you should never look for the house first.
There is one exception.
When you first meet your new Real Estate Agent, there is some level of concern on the agent's side. The agent is spending valuable free time on you, gambling that you would buy a house through him. So if you start off by requesting comparable analysis, he will not do it. Any honest Real Estate Agent would not do it. A comparable analysis is valuable information that the Real Estate Agent gets for being a Real Estate Agent. They need to pay a fee to be a Real Estate Agent.
What the Real Estate Agent needs to know, is that you need to provide some "level of comfort" that you will certainly buy the house through him in order to get the comparable analysis. To me, this is fair because if the Real Estate Agent is going to spend the time on you to help you find a home, then it would only be fair that you buy through him and let him get the commission.
The legal way to show this "level of comfort" is to sign the 90-day commitment contract that indicates you would only work with him and no other agent for 90 days. This legal way is by no means the only way nor is this a bad way, either. It is only a matter of preference and your relationship with your Real Estate Agent that determines the best approach.