Here in San Diego, buyers don't pay Realtors, sellers do. But just because the services of the buyer's agent are free to the buyer, don't think that the choice of Realtor isn't important! There are many Realtors to choose from, and their motivation, skill, experience vary greatly, and impacts greatly the outcome of your home purchase.
The real work and value added of the buyer's agent starts after you've located your dream home. It's a seller's market today, and there are many things in addition to price that should be skillfully negotiated on your behalf, such as contingencies, timing, inspections, and repairs. By the time the transaction is closed, the difference between a good and bad Realtor can be as much as 10% of property value.
So, why not make sure you are represented by a great Realtor? Questions that Buyers should consider asking when choosing an agent:
Do you work full-time as a Realtor? You'd be surprised at how many are part-time, and it's hard to provide the best value to clients unless you're focused on a market that's always changing!
How well do you know the area(s) in which I'm interested? As they say in Music Man, "ya gotta know the territory". Local knowledge gives my clients a leg up!
Do you have time for me, or will be you delegating me to one of your associates? If you hire me, you get my direct, personal attention.
Show me your customer testimonials! This has to be your #1 critera - real estate transactions are big, unpredictable and complicated. It takes a lot of work and skill to consistently produce delighted clients. Anyone can claim they're good - show me their testimonials!