How to Switch Real Estate Agents in 3 Steps
“It’s not you, it’s me.” Have you ever felt the need to switch real estate agents when you already have one you are working with?
We’ve seen it so many times before: a buyer begins working with a buyer’s agent without going through the process of interviewing several agents first. Perhaps they met an agent at an open house or got a referral from a friend. They start down the path of working with that buyer’s agent before realizing they might not be a good fit. If they reach this point, it might feel awkward or too late in the process to change paths.
In today’s video, we’re going to walk you through how to switch real estate agents gracefully and the number one question is that you should ask any agent before you start working with them.
Talk to your agent first
When you’re considering switching real estate agents, start by having a conversation with the buyer’s agent you’re currently working with. We are big proponents of making sure that both sides are clear in their communication. As such, we encourage our buyer clients to let us know if something isn’t working for them so we can adjust and continue to provide excellent service.
The whole key here is building a strong working relationship with that person. Having a slightly awkward conversation where you say, “Hey, our needs aren’t getting met the way we need and we would like to make sure that we’re on the same page” can save you a lot of headache down the line. At the end of the day, it is a business relationship, so having clear communication is critical. It’s possible that your agent simply can’t meet your needs, such as when your styles are so different that you don’t jive with one another. However, more often than not, a small change can be made that makes a big impact to your experience.
There are scenarios, of course, where you might have an unrealistic expectation of what that experience should look like. Perhaps this unrealistic expectation could have been prompted by something you read or heard from someone else in another area. In any case, having clear communication is valuable. It will solve a lot of those headaches in the first place without making a radical change. So make sure you do that first and foremost.
Three Steps to Take If You Need to Switch Agents
Obviously, the best-case scenario is having that one conversation, and then things change. But what if you have that conversation and you get the feeling that it is still not a good alignment? What should you do then? Well, here are three steps to take if that happens:
Step 1: Find out if you have an exclusivity agreement
The first step is to know if you have an exclusivity agreement, also known as a buyer-broker agreement, with that agent. A buyer-broker agreement requires you and the agent to contractually work together. Basically, they will receive a commission if you buy a house.
If you’ve signed a buyer-broker agreement, it’s not impossible to get out of it. It’s actually fairly straightforward. However, before you switch to another agent, you do need to make sure you notify the agent you signed the agreement with. That’s so that your new agent can get compensated for their time.
There’s a caveat to be aware of here. If you feel like you want to compensate your old agent for their efforts, your old and new agents can work out a referral agreement on the back end. Just know that that is always an option if you feel obligated to work that in. If you decide to make the switch, this is actually a good way to do so.
Step 2: Get clarity on what you need in a buyer's agent
The next step is to identify what you really need in a buyer’s agent. What kind of communication are you looking for? Are you expecting them to send you houses? Or, are you on the hunt and want to send them all the homes you’re interested in? What level of expertise in this particular neighborhood or area do you want them to have? Begin by simply making a list of what is important to you in a buyer’s agent. By doing so, you will have clarity as you search for new representation.
In addition to writing down what you really want, make a list of what didn’t work for you. Make a list of the things that were irking you. Is it because your questions weren’t being answered? Or perhaps you didn’t have a warm and fuzzy feeling about something? Take note of it all and bring it up in those new conversations when you do your second interview.
Step 3: Interview other agents
The last step is to interview other agents. We highly recommend you get in touch with at least two agents. This is so you can compare them and understand their expertise. You might find these other agents via an online search, meeting them at an open house, or receiving a referral from a friend who has purchased or sold in the area. Whatever the case is, begin by setting up a time when you can get on a call with them. Spend around 30 minutes with them and lay out your list of what you’re hoping for.
It’s also important to understand what kind of expertise you want. Some agents are really focused on a small zip code or small geography, while others are on broader areas. Some agents only work with buyers or only work with sellers, while others do both. So understanding what kind of expertise you’re looking for and, ultimately, what kind of communication experience you want to have is how you’re going to make this second agent the right fit for you.
Another important piece to get a grasp is how much business they’re doing. Some agents are only working part-time, while others are full-time. Ask questions like, “How many transactions have they done over the last 12 months?” This will give you a really good sense of how plugged in they are and how much business they’re doing.
The Best Question to Ask Your New Real Estate Agent
This leads us to the best question you can ask your new agent to understand what the experience will be like, how they run their business, what you can expect as far as outcomes, etc.
That question is, “How do you structure your time, and what does a typical week look like for you?”
What you first want to look out for is if they have any structure whatsoever. Keep in mind that not everybody does, which may or may not fit you. The next thing to look out for is if they have a consistent communication schedule. Do they call all their clients on Monday and give them updates? Or, do they follow up with their Sellers on Open House activity? Do they always reserve certain times for Buyer showings and other times for their other meetings? Or are they a little bit all over the place? Do they have an assistant or partner, and coverage if they leave town?
You’ll learn a lot of these things pretty quickly by asking them how they structure their time and their week. Then, from that, you’ll get a sense of what the experience of working with them is going to be like.
We hope this gives you a clear roadmap if you find yourself in a position of making a switch in agent representation. It’s a bit of a delicate situation, but by getting the best representation possible, you’re doing yourself a big favor.
WE hope our guide on How to Switch Real Estate Agents in 3 Steps has helped you.
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