Buyer's agent recommendation?

I know there can be conflict of interests, and there might be discussions in the old forum (I came too late), but I’d love to hear some recommendation (and/or who to avoid) from you experienced RE veterans.

We’ll probably will focus our search effort on low~mid+ end at either cupertino, MV, los altos, menlo park or PA (previously was also considering belmont > millbrae)

Who are the good agents in the above regions?

Is the top agent list on zillow a good reference?


Isn’t that an oxymoron?


ok scratch that :slight_smile: just recommendation then

Brad Le has a lot of experience in the Peninsula. Nice guy, and former Redfin Agent who did so much volume one year, he ended up on the top 40(?) RE agents in all the US. Unlike most of the other realtors who end up on that list by having people under them do most of the work on a deals, he probably did most of the work closing those houses himself.

Mia Simon is really nice, very professional, a lawyer by training (so a good eye for detail and knows when something in the contract really is binding and you should pay attention to it):

She definitely knows the Redwood City area, and probably Menlo Park/PA, but beyond that I can’t remember.

If you decide to look in Woodside (which I know you didn’t list), I would talk to Stephanie Nash. I’ve run into her at some open houses ranging from Woodside down to Redwood City, and she definitely knows her stuff about Woodside–has lived there and has sold a number of houses.

I would avoid Juliana Lee who has a tendency to stretch the truth, at least in her sales listings (ie “This house is near top Menlo Park performing schools” [but it’s in a different school district entirely, so why should you care?]).

Can you tell us who that agent is? They probably paid for that position.

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Really appreciated for your input!

I googled “top buyer’s agent ???” and the top 2 results are from zillow and yelp

Mary Tan Realty Team
Annie Liou
Keith Walker
Sunita Merchia
Sophie Tsang Team
Tori Atwell
David Troyer
Stella Rosh
Alex Wang
Katy Thielke Straser
Judy Citron
Keri Nicholas
Veronica Kogler
Jim & Jimmy Nappo
Jeff Stricker
Ethel Green
Greg Goumas
Laura McCarthy
Juliana Lee
Michael Repka
Lan L. Bowling & John Chung
John Forsyth James
Alex Wang

Also I got referred one agent from word of mouth, but haven’t personally worked with her before

Also I want to confirm if I’m missing something.

It is quite common to see the listing agent let their coworkers (free agents from the same reality group) to host the open house.

Then they would volunteer to be the buyer’s agent for potential customer.

I don’t see any reasons why they wouldn’t convince the seller to go with one of their own buyers, even if the bid is 50k lower they would still make more as a group.

So in those cases, in game theory if you really want to have a chance winning, you’ll have to let them represent you?

This was discussed on the original forum in quite a bit. The summary is that there are two answers:

  1. It is the obligation of the selling agent to present all offers and to council the seller choose the best one

  2. And, yes, those selling agents probably put in a darn good word for how easy it would be to work with their friends, and possibly a disparaging word for the top buyer’s agent, even if it would mean $50K less to the seller which is not fair to the seller. Also that double commission to the RE agency might actually get passed back to both those agents.

That said, you can turn this to your advantage by asking for a rebate from them knowing that the org gets a higher commission.

PS: If you get someone who is top 1% nationwide (ie Sophie Tsang), you may not get her but an agent working for her–so in a way, you might be trying to decide who you want your agent’s boss to be if you get a “top agent.”

I also think personal recommendation from someone who closed a house is probably better than a Zillow list.

Boy, I think I’ve only met half of these people once. From the list, I’d say if you managed to get Michael Repka actually working with you, you’d probably be in good hands given his background (given the amount of money on the line and that you want to by a duplex, I feel like having someone who understands the legal and tax implications of what you’re signing is beneficial).

I still would nix J.L., but she might be good as a buyers agent. I suspect a bit impersonal though. There are a handful of other agents I would nix, but they are not on the list, and you will probably find them either pushy or abrasive. Initials are SQ and JN, both guys.

I would know two. Sound like you have been going to Open Houses very often.

Yeah… I’ve gone to probably 100-200 open houses. I recognize some of the agents now, and some–those who have very good memories such as Stephanie Nash–have recognized me.

That’s what surprises me a bit that I haven’t seen most of these people, and if so, not enough to recognize them

Only after they fail to persuade the buyers to up the bid. Usually, they tell buyers to wait till last moment to fill up the bid. So if you really want the house, you have to wait till last moment to submit your bid and throw in, well, a Lexus.

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It matters that you can work with the agent you choose. The best agent for one person can be another’s nightmare. I don’t require hand holding and can figure out much myself. I want someone who knows the other agents and plays the system well. My young relatives need lots of hand holding. I often tag along to give them the hand holding and translate what is said in terms they understand. I’m well hated by some agents as they are showing the relatives features I’m looking at condition.

Interview agents. Make a list of questions to ask them. Go see a couple of homes with a few and ask lots of questions about the house condition and area. Verify all answers.

For the most part there are minor blips along the way. It’s when there is a major blip or you are in a bidding war that you want a strong agent behind you.

I like experienced agents that are involved in their community and are well respected. All else even a well respected Ted no drama agent can be a tie breaker.

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Sellers are not stupid. They are going with a buyer with highest bid and/or lowest risk of falling thru. They are not going to give any advantage to buyer using same seller’s agent. Unless the buyer can back it up with money in the offer.

Check out this link how a sales transaction/presentation works in MV, PA, MP:

To have a good shot at buying, you should:

  • Get a local agent who understand how transaction works. I heard from friends who used agent that worked in East Bay. The agent just faxed or email in their bid. Strike 1.
  • Get an experienced agent that can talk, present, persuade, etc. Agent needs to present the offer in person to the buyer. In just 10 minutes, buyer’s agent needs to win the trust of the seller, make a great case why you are the right buyer, use emotional pressure if needed (family vs remote investor), etc.
  • Willing to pay market rate. Although this is hard, it is not that hard. Usually, you need to be in the right ballpark. Then you should be included in the next bidding (counter) round.
  • Willing to waive all contingencies (no loan, no appraisal, no inspection, nothing).
  • Be pre-approved and have 40% downpayment (and/or show proof of funds) This is for the no loan and appraisal contingencies.

On top of that, get an agent that you trust. Nothing to do with the seller or transaction, but just someone you can work with and be able to make a commitment with your money.

I know these seem kind of extreme. But this is what it takes in seller’s market to get a good house in good neighborhood. There will be house on the market for 30 days, and you probably don’t have to go to this extreme, but then that house is probably not so desirable for some reason. Desirable house are usually sold after 1 weekend of open house with likely multiple offer.

“I’ve been told that in general, buyers in the Bay Area pay a premium of ~50K for the “privilege” of getting a loan.”

Smile at above statement. Throw in a Lexus!

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My advice would be to pick your preferred city first. Then, interview some of the top/mid volume agents and decide who fits your needs best. In the past, I have found that agents tend to push “their” city, which may or may not be best for you.

When we sold our house, we considered all the cities you listed. After spending some time exploring each city, we have realized there are really only 3 small neighborhoods that fit out needs as far as affordability, quality public schools, neighborhood aesthetics and community with many young families.

Care to share :grin:

We like Allied Arts in Menlo Park, South Gate in Palo Alto, and White Oaks in San Carlos. Lots are smaller so we can afford a better house. In all likelihood, not the best from an investment standpoint (better to get more land and a dumpy house) but like Terri said in another post…we have to live there…

In response to the Millennium Towers disaster…

and one realtor tells the site, “I’ve been selling for 14 years, I’ve dealt with homes with much bigger problems than this.”

Realtors are scum, boys and girls, so be careful out there…

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It’s important that you choose an experienced agent who is there for you. Your agent should be actively finding you potential homes, keeping you informed of the entire process, negotiating furiously on your behalf, and answering all of your questions with competence and speed.

First, find an agent who represents you and not the seller. This is beneficial during the negotiation process. If you are working with a buyer’s agent, he or she is required not to tell the seller of your top choice. In addition, he or she is also focused on getting you the lowest asking price.

Also, when you use a buyer’s agent, you will see more properties. Not only are they plugged into their Multiple Listing Service, but they are also actively finding homes that are listed as FSBO, or homes that sellers are thinking about listing.

Well, not to be argumentative, but since I recently was in the market I think the following is true though:

  1. One can set up Redfin and others to send you emails of new listings the sec they come onto the market, so you can check out the places even before the open houses. Point: much more transparency and info on houses now. Sure, a buyer agent is worth his/her weight in gold if they can find you a private listing. Yes, I was fortunate to do so, but many, many agents tried for me and struck out.
  2. This weekend my Big Bro was in town, hunting for property and he dragged me along. We see a duplex he kinda likes. Tells listing agent he has no representation. She goes, talk to my partner (wanted no hint of conflict but you know and I know there is). Wouldn’t be surprised if Big Bro calls me he got it. Where was a buyer agent needed then? Yes, he/she is there to represent your interests, etc. but many people have deployed this strategy by essentially allowing the LA to double dip. Hey, if it works, it works…
  3. If a buyer agent can literally find you a good deal, then worth it. If he/she is just doing the same old thing you can do, which is check out all the newly listed properties, then the value is diminished in today’s marketplace.