According to the National Association of Realtors® publication 'Agency - Choices, Challenges, and Opportunities', Exclusive Buyer Agency is: "The practice of representing only buyers and never sellers in a transaction. The company never lists a seller's property and thus never has a seller as a client. Agents never accept subagency that is offered by a seller's agent" (pg. 25).
Recently, a lot of traditional Agents have started advertising that they will represent buyer's. While this is legal in most states even the National Association of Realtors® warns it's members: "Buyer agency is viable method of practicing real estate, but an agent should be cautious in her approach if she is not thoroughly knowledgeable about the entire process. Agents who are used to working with buyers as seller's subagents need to be aware of the new duties and potential liabilities of buyer's agents before changing the form of representation they offer." (pg. 18).
This publication goes on to say that Exclusive Buyer Agency "Promotes a more natural relationship for agents working with buyers" (pg. 26).
In talking about an agent who tries to offer both seller agency and buyer agency it states "The buyer and seller do not have the full range of representation" (pg. 27).
Any agent who lists properties for sale is used to representing sellers and has a legal commitment to protect the sellers interest. The agent must get the highest price possible for the property.
If the Agent, or his or her agency, lists homes for sale they cannot be an EXCLUSIVE Buyer's Agent!
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Economic Stability-A declining employment rate in a area spells trouble for the future resale possibilities of a home.
Community Pride-How well is the community maintained? Is there litter in the streets and lawns that are obviously not cared for properly?
Municipal Services-Is there a public library and how well is it stocked? What are the crime statistics? Is the police force effective and responsive to community needs? Are fire stations located nearby so that they also can respond quickly in an emergency? Does the city have well maintained and parks? Community events, such as an annual parade? Are there activities available for all ages from children through senior citizens?
A good real estate agent will have amassed a wealth of information on these subjects.
Schools-Even if you don't have children or your children are grown and gone from home, schools are very important. They reflect the community's willingness to invest in it's future by providing a quality education for their children. Check to see how local students score on the standardized tests. You can ask your agent about these things, and there are also school reports available for free on the Internet. You can also obtain the phone number of the local school district and check with them yourself.
Property Taxes-While we all like to see lower property taxes, as some point they can be too low and not provide enough money for the city to provide proper services for their residents. While you do not want to live in a community that taxes it's homeowners excessively, it is important to strike a balance between taxes and quality of infrastructure (streets, sewers, water supply).