I'm in here kind of late in the game but if Timothy1 is still checking in once in awhile or other potential buyers, I'll put my two cents in.

I used to have the ABR designation. Got that in my first year of licensing b/c my broker was not exactly the type to train an agent.

The class was helpful to me in regards that ANY agent representing a buyer (known as a buyer's agent and they don't HAVE to have an ABR designation) carries alot of responsibility and liability when representing a buyer - particularly when it comes to the property itself. Where a seller's agent (listing agent) only really needs to be concerned with the four corners of the property and what's inside of it, a buyer's agent must be concerned with not only the four corners and what's inside but also what is outside the property. They must be aware of what's going on around the property. A buyer's agent can only recommend to a buyer that the buyer look further into any findings or suspicions. But it is this alertness of a buyer's agent that guides a buyer in his decision. Any agent, buyer or seller, can only be the source of the source. We cannot not "guarantee" there'll never be a four-lane highway in front of the home you select, we can only "guide" you to the local planning department of that jurisdiction or the department of motor vehicles, etc., for you to decide a factor such as that.

I can certainly name a number of agents and brokers who have done things "wrong" and I ask myself WHEN will their client be filing a complaint.

It's hard to ask an agent how long they've been in business b/c some probably won't tell you the truth. Virginia's DPOR website does not state when a license was originally issued. It only states when it expires, I believe; so, you can't find the truth that way. One agent I know advertised "Serving 'town name' since 1996". Well, that makes you think she's been doing real estate since 1996 in 'town name' when actually she was working at a bank except for the last couple of years she had recently been doing real estate - now that's really fudging the advertising and the truth.

I stopped paying my ABR dues when NAR (National Assoc.of Realtors) BOUGHT the program from RE/MAX. RE/MAX had it previously and I always had a deep respect for those agents b/c, at least around my area, you HAD to have a number of years under your belt and you were required to have several designations but that's all changed now - they'll take anybody who is still breathing. Back to my points, I stopped the ABR b/c NAR was then churning out all the articles that ABR people got - they were giving it to everyone! I was not happy to see articles that I PAID for with my dues being online or in their Realtor magazine for everyone to read! THAT'S why I stopped - the designation didn't mean much since the educational info was being given to everyone.

I STILL protect my buyers as much as I possibly can within the limitations of the licensing board because I treat my buyers and my sellers as though they were me.

Meet an agent and have them take you out to view some homes. If they're just gushing about each home being "beautiful" "wonderful" etc. but they aren't noticing potential problems, i.e., woods behind the house (will it always be woods?), does that look like a water stain on the ceiling?, doesn't seem very cold in here considering it's 85 degrees and 85% humidity, does it? Does this floor seem slanted to you?

If YOU'RE noticing problems but your agent isn't "noticing" these problems - not even enough to at least give you a clue they care - I'd look for another agent. It's a telltale sign of who's best interest your agent is looking out for - is it yours or the commission. Even if you stuck with them and then you turned around and filed a complaint and won - the aggrevation just isn't worth it.

My husband and son tell me I talk too many of my buyers OUT of buying a home because I'm always pointing potential problems out to them, and, they're right.