If you have been thinking about buying a home – you may wonder whether you need a real estate agent.  There are plenty of resources for buyers these days – such as online search sites.  But an agent, especially a Realtor – has something no buyer, particularly a first time buyer does – a wealth of experience!

Local expertise.  Realtors have first hand knowledge of the real estate market.  You likely don’t know exactly what the market is like right now in the area(s) you are looking.  Are homes generally selling for 96% of asking price?  Can you expect to compete against multiple offers?  Do you know what it takes to win against other bidders? If you want a 4 bedroom home what should you expect to pay?  What’s the inventory like?  Your agent will be able to counsel you on these topics.  The best way to have an offer accepted at a price that is in your favor is to know the market intimately – and a local real estate agent does.

Access to homes.  Without a Realtor, getting into a home will be difficult.  Sellers are happy to let a buyer’s agent have the code to their lockbox to show their home.  However, they are not willing to allow an unlicensed stranger total access to their home.  This means that you will have to visit the property when either the seller or the seller’s agent is available – making scheduling showings both time consuming and more difficult.

Because of this, most buyers who choose to go it alone tour the majority of their homes during open houses – when homes are open for anyone to preview – without an appointment.  This puts you against strong competition since you likely won’t be the first person to see a home (a problem in a tight market).  On top of that – the agent hosting the open house represents the seller.  

When you tour a home with your own agent – you not only have access and privacy – but you also have an advocate whose fiduciary duty is to look after your best interests.

Having an advocate.  With your own agent you will have an experienced advocate and negotiator on your side.  Buying a home is an emotional process.  For many people, it is the largest transaction of their life and it’s often done during other major life changes – like expanding a family, a job relocation or downsizing and leaving the family home.  Stress and strong emotions can cloud judgement – which can cause buyers to regret some decisions.  As agents, we can be objective and help you rationally understand your options.

Most importantly, we can advocate for you at the negotiating table – helping you get the best deal possible.

Networking.  A Realtor will also provide you access to their network of real estate service professionals.  During the course of a real estate transaction buyers will need a lender, a home inspector and a real estate lawyer or title company.  Also, once in their new home, buyers often have questions and need resources for home improvements.  An experienced agent will have recommendations for handymen, plumbers, electricians, painters, general contractors, etc…

No additional cost.  Having an agent on the buy side is FREE!  Many buyers have an idea that they will save money by not using an agent to buy a home – or putting an offer in directly with the list agent.  This isn’t accurate.  The entire commission on a home purchase is paid by the seller to the seller’s broker – who in turn gives part of the commission (usually half) to the buyer’s broker.

It is enticing to think that if you don’t use a buyer’s agent – that their part of the commission can go into your pocket – but this is not the case.  The commission rate is agreed upon via a listing contract before the listing even goes on the market.  If you choose not to have legal representation from a buyer’s agent – the entire commission is then paid to the listing agent.

Handles all of the paperwork.  Agents will do all of the paperwork required for a buyer.  Have you ever done a comparative market analysis (CMA) or drafted a purchase agreement?  These are not skills that the average person has.  Buyer agents know how to write an offer – with the best possible terms – to ensure your interests are protected – and that your offer is accepted.

Finding the right fit.  Finding a good agent that is a good fit is important.  At the end of the day, you will want an agent who is knowledgeable, dedicated and who has no conflict of interest.  Having your own buyer’s agent – you will be assured of having your own representation during a home buying transaction!