1) What is involved in you being our "exclusive agent"? Is there any contract or agreement between us signed at the beginning of the process?
Yes, at our first face to face meeting. First and most importantly, I do not work for free. An agent that represents you is just that, otherwise they are working for the seller with no confidentiality and if you are not the listing agent, you have no guarantee I will get paid. You can choose no representation and you will ultimately pay for a home even though you want to save money and be smart about your buy.
As a signed client, when I see something of interest you are one who gets to it first, plus navigating you through this process is a huge undertaking and having someone by your side working for you is the best bet since I may know of homes for sale that you are not aware of. Also I must have the lender letter in my file before I show more than one or two homes. It's not fun working for free, and we must build a relationship based on trust and an understanding.
2) If we decide at a later date that we would prefer to part ways, how would we do that?
I need to determine your motivation to buy, which is the single most important aspect. If I can't get you a house you like, then it means your criteria is off base and it is not my services because I am good at the negotiation required, knowledge of the market, and the strategies of bidding wars that may exist. I'll take the time to educate you about the market and the prices and please understand, if I'm not getting it, it's that buyers tend to contradict themselves and not realize it when it comes to the criteria they say they want or need and the price does not match the criteria. It's ok though - it is a process we all need to figure out. Termination can be done at anytime - I think I made reference to building a relationship we can trust. I would expect you to come to me if there is something you don't like. I am very candid and will be open and try to work it out. A buyer always has the right to give notice to his/her agent and cancel the agreement.
3) I own a home, and prefer to find a house first and then sell my house later. Is this a possibility?
This question is frequently asked in a market with low inventory. Only you, and your lender or financial adviser can answer this question in terms of your willingness and ability to carry two mortgages at once. It can be done though, it is just hard for a seller to accept a sale contingent upon the sale of your home in today's market if you cannnot carry 2 mortgages. In this market, you can shop online to see what you can get for the price you want to pay and meet with a lender to determine whether you can do so or perhaps you may need to find a renter for your initial house. Again, the lender can assist with financial implications. I believe the best scenario is to make sure your house is prepared to sell or rent either way. If the house gets the right exposure, and is priced correctly, you should be guaranteed a quick sale. The seller of the home you are buying may be willing to wait with timing once they know you have a buyer on your home with all inspection and appraisal contingencies removed. I have done this with many home sellers who want to buy a home. These are the steps. Always focus on the home you have first. Then, begin focusing on the house you want.
These responses are based on my 17+ years helping people to buy and sell real estate. I hope this is a helpful post. Let me know if you have any questions on this or anything else.