12 Rules for Working with Brokers to Buy Your Home


1. Communicate with Your Broker.  The more we know, the better we can help you.  We understand that your search criteria can change, so be sure to let your broker know your thoughts.  Timeline for desired move in?  How do you prefer to communicate?  Do you prefer phone, text, email?  Are there certain hours you can be reached only due to work or personal reasons?    


2. Get Preapproved.  Your real estate professional needs to know what you can feasibly afford.  Ask them for a referral if you don't have a lender, but get preapproved.  You should not be stepping foot into houses or asking to tour anything unless you are preapproved.  


3. Look at the Right Houses.   Don't ask your real estate professional to show you a home that is above your preapproval amount.  Real estate brokers are paid on commission, meaning the home needs to close for them to get paid.   If you have no intention of purchasing a home and want to look at a higher priced home "for fun", please don't.  It is a waste of time not only for you but also your broker and the sellers who have to tidy, gather up fido and junior and step out for tours.  


4. Open Houses.  Talk to your real estate professional about this, they may choose to setup these as appointments for private tours rather than send you off to Open Houses on your own.  We let our buyers know they are welcome to go, but to be sure to let the broker at the open house know they are represented by a real estate professional already.  Having a business card of your broker usually stops them from pursuing you.   

Open houses are not always presented by the listing broker, they are usually setup for buyer brokers to find new buyers to work with.  Do not share any information with them, it's none of their business what you do for a living, or where you live now, or.....  Particularly if you like the home, don't let them know this - that could weaken your position in negotiating.  We "think" we are doing the right thing, but too much information can be detrimental.  

If you like the home, contact your Buyer Broker immediately to discuss, analyze comps and write up your offer.    Remember that the real estate broker sitting in the home is representing the Seller, not you.  The State of Illinois allows Dual Agency (a broker represents both seller and buyer), however it is a conflict of service and not in your best interest. Call your broker, do NOT let the listing broker or open~house~sitting~broker write your offer.     


5. Keep Your Appointments and Be On Time.  Your real estate professional does a lot of work before you even meet them for the touring appointments.  You have no concept what they do "behind the scenes" on your behalf before they even start their car!  For heavens sake, please try not to be late, no show, and cancel last minute.  It's downright disrespectful.   Your real estate professional is paid on commission, not hourly.   They do have a schedule to fill and keep full.  You may think that 15 to 30 minutes late is no big deal, but believe me, it can really change a days plans.  If a buyer broker has several scheduled clients throughout the day it pushes the entire day. For example: 

I once had a Saturday 9am morning client that texted me at 8:45am, told me they would be late 10 minutes, then ended up showing up at the first property a full 55 minutes past our start time.  Once we finished up our tour, I went to another client, then to another client, then to another client.   Due to the 55 minute delay, and through the course of the day  I had to reschedule something like 25 confirmed showing appointments so we weren't late for every single one of them, causing a perfect days' schedule to now zigzag to get all the homes in these other buyers wanted to tour with the other clients. Otherwise we would have been late for ALL the other appointments, so rescheduling every single one of them was necessary.  The whole day was pushed and my car landed in the driveway at almost 11pm.  Exhausting.  My day was planned to end at 7pm, but the 55 minute change affected the entire day of scheduling.  

Now, know there are buyer brokers out there paid to show a home or two on demand, but believe me, you don't want to work with a broker that's paid just to show homes.  Then you're going to get passed off to another to write the offer, another to negotiate the offer, another to be your "partner" through the transaction and then another person will show up at closing!  Good grief, just say no! We have had a client or two do this and later call telling us they'll never again, there is no continuity of service.   

A full time, committed real estate professional paid hourly will fight for you and be there for you through the entire process.  Respect their time, they will go to bat for you and want to help you find the home of your dreams! 


6. Choose a Broker and Stick with Them.  Don't jump around asking several real estate professionals to schedule homes. You need consistency.  Once you find a great broker, please be true to your real estate professional.  The buying process could take 30 days, 6 months, or 2-3 years sometimes (on and off of course).  Everything we do, everything we have done is to get you into the homes you can afford and help you navigate the home buying process.   Don't fail us now and jump to another broker.  We have time invested in you.  If we have been searching, and touring, and finding nothing - believe me - it's not the broker, it's the market.  Sometimes we have had to convince our buyers to go tour a new property on market, really - almost twist their arm or give up our firstborn to convince them to go take a look.  Waiting until the weekend almost guarantees the new home will be gone.  Commit to the process and your broker.  You'll be happy you did. 


7. Don't call, discuss or deal with the Listing Broker if you are Working with a Buyer Broker.   This is a BIG no-no!!!  The buyer broker who has been working hard on your behalf, all the hours, months...years...and we understand that the public may not realize this - but by calling the listing broker and "simply" asking a question or getting shown the home by them, you have almost guaranteed the buyer broker you have been working with will not be paid for the transaction.  POOF!   All that hard work up in smoke!  This is a little thing called "procuring cause"  whereas the listing broker will typically fight to NOT pay the buyer broker.  They keep the entire commission for themselves.  

Would you want to go to work for say...20, 40 or 80 hours and then get stiffed from your employer?  To be told something to the effect "Sorry, we decided not to pay you, thanks anyway for all your work"   Yeah, neither do we.   So - should you choose to be so thoughtless and go behind your buyer brokers back - please plan on writing your Buyers Brokerage they work for with a check for no less than 2.5% or 3% of the sales price, ok?    

Actually, the best case scenario is to CALL your own buyer broker and ask them these questions or to schedule.  Saves everyone headaches and frustration.  Your broker is NOT too busy to ask the questions and do their job.  Remember we get paid on commission ONLY when a property closes/transfers ownership, and paid by the seller.  Thank you in advance!  


8. Ask to complete a Buyer Agency Agreement.  It creates a relationship between the broker and you and outlines an explanation of the brokers duties to you, and vice versa.  It's a shortest document you will see the entire time but outlines simply what you can expect of the Buyer Brokers Services.  


9. Make your expectations known.  We need to know your timeline for your move and,  if through the process anything changes, please let your real estate professional know.  For heavens sake, if for any reason you are unhappy with your real estate professional, PLEASE discuss with them.  Don't just randomly jump to another broker!  If they are anything like us, they will want to know how to better improve their service to you, and will try to find resolution so they can continue to serve you. 


10.  Understand you are not their only client.  Your real estate professional is committed to you, but know that last minute showing requests can often be challenging to coordinate, particularly if your broker already has other appointments already on schedule.  We work as a team and can fill in the gaps, but often times the property is not available same day for tours.  While we don't rule out same day appointments, a day before notice is much preferred. 


11. Don't sign forms you don't understand.  Ask for explanation on the offer to purchase if needed, but please know that your real estate professional is not an attorney.  They are happy to clarify the offer and contract process, so don't feel silly asking.  Your Buyer Broker should help you understand the form or offer paperwork.   

If you see a form that is asking for permission for your buyer broker to represent multiple buyers on the same property, don't sign it, ask for a referral to another broker to represent you!   In Illinois we call that Contemporaneous offers and is a major conflict of interest.  Our office has a policy to not allow Contemporaneous offers as it is not in the best interest of either buyer, an in-house referral is generated to give buyer #2 full and proper representation.   A single buyer broker cannot properly represent both buyers when they know the terms and offers for both.  Don't sign it!  If your Buyer Broker won't refer you, call their Managing Broker and discuss with them.  They may represent you themselves or refer you to another broker in office for the course of that transaction.   


12. Plan ahead for the Little Ones.  If possible, hire a babysitter to care for babies or young children during showings.  The home shopping experience is much smoother and easier for parents to SEE the homes with less distractions. Young children can be difficult to manage with all the new things they haven't seen that they may want to touch, play with or pick up.  Sellers do not expect young children to tour the homes and they are often not childproof.  

Many sellers are now recording showing activity and we can tell you by experience, parents enjoy the process much better without children in tow.  It's difficult to show homes when we are trying to prevent children falling down stairs, choking on unknown objects, playing with window treatment cords (why DO they always spin with it around their neck??) or playing with the antique dolls or priceless violin the owner has on display. Showings are not a time to have your children "pick their rooms" and run throughout the home unaccompanied. Yes, all these things have been real life scares and situations during showings.  

If you do plan on bringing the children, please let your broker know before scheduling the showings so they can plan showing times accordingly.  We have to plan for shoes on and off, strapping kids into and out of car seats, lost shoes, socks and coats in the homes etc - which can extend the showing tour times significantly.