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Buyer's Agent FAQs 

Q. What is a buyer’s agent?

A buyer’s agent represents a home buyer in the same manner as the listing agent represents the home seller.  Just like the seller contracts with a listing agent to represent them in the sale of their home, the buyer signs a contract with a buyer’s agent that creates a client relationship as opposed to only a customer relationship. 

Q. What’s the difference between being a customer or a client 

As a customer, an agent can only do ministerial acts.  They can help you fill out contracts and deliver them to the appropriate parties but they can do no thinking or advising for you.  They can write in the price that you tell them but they can’t advise you whether they think that it is too high or too low.  As a client, an agent can truly advise you on all aspects of the transaction.  They can give you their true opinions and advise you on critical decisions.

Q. Do I really need to sign a contract?

Yes.  It is now a Georgia law that requires a buyer to have a written contract with a buyer’s agent.  If not, you are considered a customer and not a client.  This is all part of the big effort for agency disclosure.  The law wants to make certain that everyone in the transaction knows who is representing whom and in what capacity. 

Q. How long is the contract binding for?  Can I cancel it at any time? 

It can be for as long as you like.  Until you trust the agent, you can limit to one day at a time.  If at any time you want to terminate the agreement, all you do is give the agent written notice.  If you cancel the contract and then buy a home that that agent had showed you, the agent is still entitled to their commission. 

Q. When did buyer agency come into being in Georgia?

Prior to 1992 all real estate agents represented the seller of a property. Even the agent who was working with the buyer was considered an agent of the seller! In the early 90's, advocacy groups did a survey of homebuyers and discovered that 78% incorrectly thought they had been represented by the agent that sold them the property. These advocacy groups informed homebuyers and homebuyers started demanding equal representation. Real estate brokers fought the introduction of Buyer Agency, but in the end the consumer won.  Now consumers can choose to have equal representation when buying a home.

Q. Who pays the buyer’s agent? 

In almost all cases, the seller ends up paying the buyer’s agent commission.  This is how it works.  The seller signs a contract with the listing broker that sets the sales commission the seller will pay the listing broker upon the sale of their home.  Usually this is 6-7% of the sales price.  The listing agent then will enter the home into the multiple listing service to advertise it to all agents who are members (I haven’t met an agent who wasn’t).  To be a member of the multiple listing service you are required to state what commission you are offering other agents who bring you a buyer for the home you have listed.  Usually it will be an even split of whatever the listing agent’s commission is.  If the seller is paying the listing agent 7%, then the listing agent agrees to pay half of that, 3.5%, to the buyers agent who brings them a buyer.  Even though the buyer’s agent is getting their commission from the listing agent, the buyer’s agent is bound by contract to keep the interests of the buyer their sole concern.  

Q. If I don’t use a buyer’s agent won’t I save half the commission? 

The contract that the seller signs with the listing broker has no provisions for paying less if no other agent is involved.  They agreed to pay a set fee when their home sells, period.  

Q. Can’t I negotiate the commission down?

Not any more.  The real estate commission used to be on the standard contracts and be open to negotiation.  But it was determined that it is illegal to try to alter a legally binding contract between two other parties, ie the listing contract between seller and listing broker. 

Q. Do agents ever lower their commission to make the deal work? 

Usually the only time an agent will reduce their commission is if their listing is ready to expire and they don’t think the seller will relist with them.  Listing agents love buyers without agents because it means they get to keep the full commission. 

Q. The listing agent said there’s no need to get another agent involved.  Can I trust them?
Listing agents love buyers without agents.  In a hot market, they will delay putting their new listing into the multiple listing database hoping to sell the home directly to a buyer who isn’t using an agent.  This means they get to keep the full commission.  Sure, they will help you fill out a contract and maybe act like they really care about you.  Beware!  Any thing you say to the listing agent that might be advantageous to the seller, the listing agent is required to relay to the seller. Remember, they have a signed agreement with the seller, not you. 

Q. Who pays the commission if I use a buyer’s agent with a “for sale by owner” home? 

There are several ways to address that situation.  You can write it into the contract that the seller pays the commission.  You can offer the seller a lower price and then pay the commission yourself.  Or you can agree ahead of time with your agent what will happen in that situation.  This situation hardly ever arises, but if it does, we at HomeAtlanta charge a 1.5% fee to the buyer.  Say if you found a home by yourself but need someone to take it from contract to close.  We would charge 1.5% to the buyer.  See the following list of all the tasks to we do. 

Q. What can a buyer’s agent do for me? 

This is our 20 point plan for helping you realize the home of your dreams. 

  1. Listen to your specific needs and wants and offer possible options.  We create a custom map and explore various commuting options.  We give advice on schools and neighborhoods.  Provide books and brochures on the whole buying process.  Provide links to useful internet sites.  We help create a home buying game plan.

  2.  Assist you in determining the amount that you can afford (pre-qualify).  Recommend lenders who offer many types of mortgage programs, from conventional loans to zero down loans. Go over the tax advantages of home ownership.  Recommend insurance companies that save money on home and auto insurance.  Savings here can mean being able to afford a more expensive home.

  3. Arrange tours of homes.  See up to 15 homes in a few hours.  We set up an efficient itinerary and set up all the appointments so you can compare a lot of homes in a short amount of time.  The average buyer sees only 9 homes before making a purchasing decision.  We recommend seeing at least 30.  You can do this in just one weekend.  This way you can feel more confident in your purchase.

  4.  Help you identify any problems or issues prior to making an offer to purchase the property. Check all the comparables to come up with a good target price.  Find out as much as possible about the sellers and their situation.  Plan the negotiating strategy.

  5. Advise you on structuring an appropriate offer to purchase the selected property.  Sometimes you need special stipulations to be added to the contract.  You have to walk a fine line between protecting yourself and adding too much legal stuff that the seller gets worried that you’re going to be a big pain in the butt.

  6. Present the offer to the seller's agent and the seller on your behalf.  First impressions are very important.  A professional and knowledgeable appearance can sometimes comfort the seller and lead to concessions.  Being an obnoxious hard ass usually just throws up a seller’s defenses and shuts the doors to potential compromise.

  7. Negotiate on your behalf to help obtain your dream home at the best possible price.  We’re very persistent and will try every possible angle to help you get your home.  That includes keeping the door open to possible negotiations in the future.  Seller motivation is a dynamic thing.  A rejected offer one day might look like an answer to their prayers a few weeks later.

  8. We attend the inspection, review inspection report, write up inspection amendment, and negotiate inspection amendment.  Most problems can be fixed with enough time and money.  Some items aren’t worth dealing with.  We can help you analyze what is significant and what isn’t.

  9. Recommend potential repairmen if needed to bid on or complete necessary repairs.  We can arrange to meet various servicemen at the home to get bids and quotes on repairs.  Half the problem is knowing who to call to take care of the problem.

  10.  Assist in securing appropriate financing for your dream home.  We can recommend several lenders who will show you all your options.  We help getting the lender all the information they need to get you approved.

  11.  Generate six copies of contract and get original signatures from all parties.  This takes some running around.  We get so used to faxing and emailing that we forget the hassle of getting original signatures.

  12.  Make sure buyer receives termite letter, property disclosure, and any covenants or condo documents.

  13.  Provide a list of potential qualified vendors (e.g. movers, attorneys, carpenters, etc.) if these services are needed. 

  14.  Help prepare for closing.  Help with switching over utilities.  There’s all sorts of things that can happen to unravel the transaction.  Our job is to stay on top of it and handle any problems along the way.

  15.  Do whatever it takes to get everyone all the necessary documents to ensure a timely closing.

  16.  Attend final walk thru before closing.  Make sure all repairs were done and no problems have developed since the contract date.

  17.  Review HUD-1 closing statement.  Make sure you know the way to the closing.  Make sure you know what to bring to closing.

  18.  Attend closing and help celebrate.  There should be no surprises.  If something comes up, do what’s necessary to take care of it.

  19.  After closing follow up.

  20.  Quarterly market updates of neighborhood, newsletters and homestead exemption reminder.

  During our initial consultation, we go over all this so you know exactly what you can expect from us.  Give us a call today to set up an appointment to come in and talk with us.  404-845-0265.

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Where We Do Business

Our market area is in the north metro Atlanta area.  We service Cobb County, north Fulton County, Dekalb County, Forsyth County and Gwinnett County.  We are very familiar with Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Marietta, Roswell, Alpharetta, Buckhead, and Midtown. 

We have sold homes inside the perimeter and outside the perimeter.  We can't know everything so for clients who want to look for property in Peachtree City, Newnan, Stone Mountain, Douglasville, Macon and areas further out we will gladly recommend a good agent who specializes in those areas.

We help buyers negotiate with builders for residential new construction houses. New houses in Atlanta are hot right now. We can represent you in the purchase of your new house built by any of the following builders: Torrey Homes, MDC Homes, Centex Homes, Pulte Homes, Morrison Homes, Ryland Homes, John Wieland Homes, Winmark Homes, Meridian Homes, John Willis Homes, Benchmark Homes and many more home builders.

We can help clients find short term apartments for rent but normally we don't work with clients who are just looking for rentals.  We do help clients find Atlanta condos.  We can also help you purchase HUD homes in Atlanta.  We are an authorized agent with them and have the HUD key to get into HUD homes.  We have access to foreclosure homes that banks want to sell.

We love showing executive homes and luxury homes. We always like to know how people find our site.  Send us an email and tell us which search term you used. Some terms that we might be found by are realty Atlanta, Ga homes, Atlanta realty, condos Atlanta, Atlanta realestate, Atlanta property, houses Atlanta, Atlanta realtors, Ga houses, or realtors Atlanta.  Maybe you found us by typing in Atlanta MLS listings, or Atlanta MLS search, or MLS Atlanta GA. Hopefully we don't come up under nursing homes or funeral homes.

It is always amazing to me how the Internet can allow total strangers to find each other and build new business relationships.  It truly is becoming a small, interconnected world.


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Call Home Atlanta with any questions you might have. 404-216-0472

Atlanta Home Buyer Rebate

All information about homes from the Atlanta MLS home search engine is input by thousands of individual real estate agents throughout Atlanta and is made available through a service called ListingBook. We provide access to this data for the convenience of our clients.  We have no control over this database.  All information on this web site is copyrighted and intellectual property of It is deemed to be current and accurate, but is not warranted.© 2002. Tim is a licensed Realtor with Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage.

Tim Maitski is a member of the Atlanta Board of Realtors