1. Failing to Ask the Buyer's Lender for a GFE
A Good Faith Estimate (or a cost worksheet) will help prepare the buyer for the amount of money she will need to bring to closing, ballpark closing costs, provide parameters for seller concession amounts, and estimate monthly payments. Never assume a lender has provided this to the buyer. Ask for it (on behalf of your client) BEFORE making an offer to keep from leaving any money on the table (over-requesting closing cost assistance) or finding out past the point of damage that the buyer cannot afford the monthly payments for the offer she intends to make.
2. Presenting an Incomplete or Error-Filled Offer
If you are new in the business, it is a good idea to have your Broker, supervisor, or mentor review any paperwork BEFORE you present it to your client(s) for signatures. Nothing diminishes confidence in a relationship more than written mistakes. Having to re-do paper work could cost your client the home she wants. Presenting a clean, complete, solid offer that the seller can simply countersign and execute is a badge of professionalism that every Realtor should wear.
3. Badmouthing the Seller / Listing Agent / Listing Broker to the Buyer
Whether during showings, or in the midst of a transaction, negative speculation about the seller or listing agent can only work to create harm in the transaction. An insecure agent may be tempted to leverage her position in her buyer's eyes, but posturing in this manner usually returns either directly or indirectly to create ill will and poison an otherwise healthy transaction. Beware the sword in your hand. The head you sever may be your own.
4. Mistaking "Fighting" for Negotiating
The insecure ego of a newbie agent can cloud perspective. The desire to impress a buyer and gain leverage in a transaction is powerful motivator. Getting caught up in the momentum of proving one's "powerful negotiation skills" is akin to backdraft. A good negotiation ends with a double win, not with sucking the oxygen and good will out of the seller, escrow officer, title company, or lender.
5. Attempting to Negotiate Past The Deal
Sometimes it is the buyer, and sometimes it is the buyer's agent. Either way, over-requesting concessions, repairs, or other accommodations can quickly erode into hostility between parties and cause agreements to unwind. One school of thought suggests that one doesn't get if one doesn't ask. While true, a professional knows the difference between asking and negotiating.
All a seller EVER has to do once they agree to sell -- is to sell… They do not have to contribute to closing costs or do repairs or agree to any changes to the initial sales contract. A buyer's expectations should be managed up front so that the responsibility for discovery and acceptance lies squarely on the buyer's shoulders. By all means, if you want to see a reasonable seller blow up, get nit-picky. Send the seller a copy of your buyer's inspection report and demand that they fix everything that isn't perfect. Get trivial and try to split hairs. Or criticize repairs that the seller has kindly had done. And then stand back and prepare to see the fur fly. The art of negotiation dictates that something must be given in return for getting.
- 6. Failing to Timely Deliver Earnest Money and/or Option Fee
A buyer's agent who fails to deliver the option fee robs his client from having an option period, and puts the earnest money at risk. A buyer's agent who fails to deliver earnest money puts both the earnest money and contract at risk. It is the buyer's agent's responsibility to collect the funds from the buyer, and deliver them to the title company / seller, as instructed.
- 7. Failing to Relay Title Commitment, HOA, and Other Important Documents
Agents who lack transaction experience may forget that they have an obligation to relay documents to their buyer clients for review and approval. From title commitment, to HOA bylaws, deed restrictions and survey information, TREC promulgated forms provision for a review period in which the buyer may consider the information, and object to anything if needed, without risk to the earnest money. Equally important, a buyer's agent should have eyes on a preliminary HUD statement prior to closing, and help audit for credits and charges. Title companies and software are not perfect. Often, a diligent buyer's agent is in a unique position to help catch errors and oversights in the coordination between parties.
- 8. Approaching the Seller Directly
One of the ultimate lessons many rookie agents learn the hard way is to honor the agency relationship between listing agent and seller. Although it can be tempting to strike up a conversation directly if the seller is present during showings or a final walk through, doing so can bring tremendous risk and hostility to the transaction. Real estate transactions benefit from the emotional filtering representation brings to the table. Professionals recognize and respect boundaries and understand that good timing and protocol can diffuse and/or eliminate needless drama and chaos.