The first time I was asked that question I must admit, I was taken aback. I didn’t even know there was a choice, let alone a difference! If you are just thinking about becoming a real estate agent, beginning licensing classes or are a new agent, you may not realize the differences either.
Your initial thought is probably much like mine was once you start thinking about it, working with both buyers and sellers sounds pretty good! What you might find though is that one is more exciting or inline with the things you like to do. There are different skill sets and activities that go along with each type of client. Let’s take a quick rundown of the things you will do most with a buyer or seller.
Working with Sellers
Listings come with sellers. Those sellers are likely pretty attached to their home, yes, even though they want to sell it, they think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. That translates to them wanting more money than their home is worth in a lot of cases. Handling pricing issues will be one of the biggest hurdles in working with sellers as a real estate agent.
Once you get past setting the price, you’ll be marketing the home, answering calls from potential buyers and other agents that want to show their buyers, holding open houses for other agents (called a brokers open) or the general public. You’ll negotiate offers that come in, order inspections, order HOA materials, and work with the closing companies or attorneys depending on your state to get the buyers and sellers to closing. Of course you’ll be dealing with putting out fires along the way, hopefully not real fires but that can happen as well, or water leaks, or breakins or any number of other things your seller or their home may need while it is under contract.
Working with Buyers
Buyers are of course people as well so many of the same things will be on your plate, sometimes in the exact opposite ways. For instance, most buyers now tend to under-price homes they are interested in purchasing, so you’ll have to be able to steer them to appropriate offers. That is of course after dealing with them wanting to schedule 15 homes to see in 2 hours, with 5 minutes notice. As you can imagine, setting expectations with buyers is mandatory, especially with their financing.
You will be helping buyers get preapproved through the lender of their choice or one you refer them to, make sure they don’t do anything to risk the loan closing, negotiate their offer, help them order inspections and review them to determine any repair requests to be negotiated. You’ll complete walk-throughs with them, make sure repairs are completed correctly, and work with the lender on financing and appraisal issues to get everyone to closing.
If you are paying close attention to the differences, you will see that you will be spending a lot more time with a buyer than a seller. This means that you can handle more sellers at once than you can buyers. You will also get more buyers when you have listings because people will be calling you about the home. No seller is going to call you out of the blue about a buyer, so keeping listings will help you grow your business more so than buyers. Of course none of that means you might end up preferring to work listings, but it is something to think about along the way.
Most agents start out trying to work with both buyers and sellers or just buyers from the beginning and grow from there. If you are in a position where you definitely only want to work with one or the other joining a team might be worth looking into, or teaming up loosely with another agent that wants to work with the opposite client type.