Articles – Smart Property Search

by Roy E. Grimm, PhD

The past decade has seen two developments that have positively altered the landscape in the process of acquiring real estate: Buyer Agency and the Internet. Time was when the buyer’s typical approach was to scan newspaper ads and drive around town looking for “For Sale” signs. Spotting something intriguing, the buyer would then call the agent whose name was on the sign or in the ad. Of course, that meant that the buyer was placing herself in the hands of the listing agent, whose primary job is to get the best terms and price for the seller of the property. The advent of Buyer Agency meant that the buyer now had an advocate whose primary job was to locate appropriate property for his client and to get the best terms and price for her. Unless, as we noted in our last column, the prospective property happened to be one of his company’s listings, giving rise to a Dual Agency dilemma. Still that’s significant progress from, “The good old days when we all worked for the seller and everyone knew we all worked for the seller, except for the buyer.”
These days, the buyer’s smartest first step is to find a Buyer’s Agent whom she can trust 100% and with whom she has excellent rapport. We would say, of course, that should be an Buyer’s Agent whose firm does not accept listings nor have anything to sell. In any case, the buyer should interview various Buyer’s Agents, find the best fit and then stick with that agent and only that agent unless she is unhappy with the service. There is no advantage to the buyer in attempting to employ multiple agents; all agents have access to the same listings in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). Beyond that is the agent’s willingness to work with “For Sale By Owner” properties. The essence of the client-agent relationship should be complete trust and loyalty and it works both ways. To give the highest level of service, the agent needs to have a decent prospect of getting paid for his efforts. That only happens if the transaction is conducted under his auspices.

Even with a first-rate Buyer’s Agent on her side, the buyer might want to be actively involved in the property search. The Internet is, by far, the most efficient and comprehensive way to doing that. Using The Net, the buyer can identify properties that appear to be ideal for her needs and forward those to the Buyer’s Agent. The Buyer’s Agent can then report back to the buyer his first-hand knowledge of the pluses and minuses of each of those properties. It can be a valuable exercise for both. To get access to MLS listings, the buyer can go to a national website like or simply go to a local site like our that has an IDX link to the MLS.