For a short while recently, the role of a buyer’s agent was shifted. No longer were buyer’s agents the gatekeepers of information on listing availability and property details. The advent of sites such as Zillow, Trulia and Redfin has armed consumers with more information than ever. You can now view past sales history, current "estimated" market values as well as peruse all active listings over a number of real estate specific websites. This had shifted the role of the buyers agent to that of helping facilitate purchases after the property has been identified.
There are many additional, nuanced impacts of this information shift, however, the largest was that real estate agents were no longer the ‘gatekeepers’ and critically involved from the onset of one’s home search. Value had to now be provided in other areas such as offering pricing recommendations, comparable property analysis, negotiation and document facilitation. These were all areas that service was being previously provided in, yet now they were the focus of an agent’s activities. Buyers began calling agents only once they’d done extensive research on neighborhoods, property types and current availability. This is also after they’d done research (for the most part) on the agent they were about to reach out to.
However, the market has shifted once more. With the current environment of low inventory and high competition, the Resurrection of the Buyer’s agent has begun. We are seeing an increasing proportion of sales occur off-market, tightening the open market, even more. This is a direct result of the buyer’s agents sourcing properties for their clients in pre-market or off-market due to the resourcefulness and the drive of agents keen to once again provide value to the transaction and their clients.
Now more than ever, the importance of the intra-broker network, as well as an agent’s ability to source off-market listings, is coming into focus. An agent who is well connected in the community, both brokerage and consumer facing, is once again able to provide value by being a ‘gate-opener’ for buyers.
When deciding who you will chose to work with during your home purchase, ask them what their experience is in dealing with, and sourcing off-market opportunities as well as their opinion on working with other agents. Those who express the opinion of other agent’s as being critical to their success, have a mindset positioned as a win-win. Those who feel other agents are direct competition, are less likely to be reaching out to see what opportunities lie just beneath the surface, ready to be bought and sold.