What to Expect from Working with a Broker


By Diane Saatchi

Primarily, you should expect your broker to be respectful, accessible, and discreet. However, the specifics of creating a smooth process differ somewhat depending on whether you plan to buy or sell.

Spring is in the air! 

If you’re selling a house ...

It all begins with a listing pitch.

Before you choose a broker, you’ll ask a few different people for “listing pitches,” or proposals for how they’ll market and sell your property. I and many other brokers make sure to see the property before creating a pitch. Otherwise, I wouldn’t really know what to compare it to. Once I see it, I can put together a pitch including what I know about the property, how I’ll market it for the seller, where it will be advertised, and what they should expect.

Then, you should choose how to be in touch.

The broker should ask you: “How should we be in touch? Do you want to hear about every showing? Do you want a report once a week? Do you want texts, emails? How much information do you want about the showings? How much do you want me to tell you about the condition of the house?” Some sellers say “everything” and some say “Call me when we have a deal.” It’s up to you how you want to manage information throughout the process.

Your broker will want to know when you’re available.

Let your broker know when you or someone is going to be at the house. I often tell home owners I can tolerate anything but surprise. Also, be aware that we often have appointments that don’t materialize or don’t happen when they say they’re going to happen. Don’t take it personally!

If you’re buying a house ...

You should make it clear to your broker what you’re looking for.

When I first meet a would-be buyer, I want to know what they want and what they’re interested in. I send them a whole bunch of photos and ask that they take the time to go through and simply say “love-hate-love-hate.”

This is in part because the first time someone looks at houses, there’s a very slim chance they’re going to buy one. But if you can have good communication with your broker, and he or she knows what you’re looking for, they’ll get it for you when or if it’s available.

Expect your broker to have more information than you do.

Because of the internet, buyers are more hands-on than they used to be. They’re constantly picking things out, sending them to their broker, asking “What about this?” In most cases, I feel like I’m here to ruin their day. “That’s on the highway,” I’ll point out. “That’s next to a gas station. They’re only showing the room that’s not falling apart.” It’s no fun to burst a buyer’s bubble when they’re excited, but I usually have information that isn’t in an online listing.

That said, you should expect that the broker will let you know what comes on the market in your price range and location. If he or she doesn’t, you should trust that it’s because it’s not for you. There should be a reason why you aren’t told about it.

Finally, a word on changing brokers:

It’s not uncommon for a would-be buyer who is already working with a broker to see a listing and contact the listing broker, thinking that the latter person is the only one who can show them the house. In fact, when I bought my house in 1987 and was unfamiliar with the business, I made that mistake myself! If you’re working with someone already and see a listing you like, let your broker know first. They will be able to help you pursue it.

On the sell side, people sometimes consider changing brokers if their house doesn’t sell within the listing term. Someone once said “Houses sell for two reasons: price and location -- and you can’t change the location.” You can change the price, but sometimes people prefer to change their broker. You can do that, but I say it all the time: If a house is appropriately priced for the market, and your broker has given it the appropriate exposure to the marketplace, it should sell.

© 2016 Diane Saatchi