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In this article, you'll learn:
It's always refreshing to have the bottom line up front, so here it is—no, you don’t need a buyer’s agent to purchase a home. So, the right question probably is, “What can a buyer’s agent do for me?”
Here’s a start: a buyer’s agent is an expert real estate advocate who works on your behalf to help you secure a home for a fair price.
What Is a Buyer's Agent?
It's not uncommon for first time home shoppers to be unaware that there are agents that work specifically for the buyer and those who work for the seller. Each agent’s goal is geared toward the best outcome for their client, but they are completely separate goals. More often than not, sellers hope to earn as much money as possible on the sale, while buyers want to buy a home within their set budgets.
The buyer’s agent is legally licensed to ensure their client has reliable representation during the entire home buying process. Using their expert knowledge of the local market and the ins and outs of the entire paperwork trail of a home purchase, they assist clients in choosing a home that meets a variety of intentions. Their job is to protect you from mistakes from the beginning of the home buying journey, to the closing date. Normally, there are no upfront fees required of the buyer for the agent’s service, they are paid by the seller.
Do you feel like you need more information about the home buying process before contacting a buyer’s agent? Download our free ebook, Finding Your New Home House Hunting Hints & Mistakes to Avoid.
What's the difference between a buyer's agent and an Exclusive Buyer Agency?
Here’s what the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA) has to say:
“Exclusive Buyer Agents are real estate professionals who work in real estate offices that always work for buyers only, never sellers. Such offices never list homes for sale or represent sellers. These offices are referred to as Exclusive Buyer Agencies, Exclusive Buyer Brokers or Brokerages, and Exclusive Buyer Representation Companies. The key factor is that no real estate licensees at such companies take listings or represent sellers.”
It’s good to understand the difference between a buyer’s agent and an Exclusive Buyer Agency because a standard buyer’s agent may be with the same brokerage that a colleague is serving as the selling agent in a transaction. In this scenario, some buyers feel there's a conflict of interest regarding their best representation.
If you’re wondering, there are dual agents—those who work on behalf of both the buyer and seller. Often, an unknowing home buyer will reach out directly to the seller’s agent and express interest in the house and begin to work with the seller’s agent, who then becomes a dual agent, to go forward with the process.
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8 Smart Reasons to Hire a Buyer's Agent
The National Association of Realtors 2022 Quick Real Estate Statistics cites that 86% of buyers recently purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker. This statistic clearly shows many buyers find significant benefit in working with a buyer’s agent.
If you need specific reasons to hire a buyer’s agent, here’s eight more.
1) They have local insight.
A buyer’s agent is boots on the ground in your local market. They’ve been watching highs and lows, trends, and marketing tactics used by selling agents. They’ve got intel you just won’t find on your own, especially on a short timeline or from afar, as so many military buyers are.
2) They’re experienced home investigators.
Most days, they’re out in the neighborhoods eyeballing details of homes you’ve never thought about. Although they’ll never claim to be home inspectors, they certainly have more experience noticing details that speak volumes about the condition of the house.
They’re paying attention for deal breakers, or at minimum, negotiating points. They’re looking out for previous water damage, mold, pests, including rodent and insect damage, and the age of the appliances and major house systems such as the HVAC, as well as the condition of the roof.
Learn more about Why You Need a Home Inspection.
3) They are excellent with numbers.
Although they will refer you to preferred mortgage professionals to verify financial details, they’ll have a strong handle on the big picture and have the knowledge to explain to you favorable and unfavorable terms. This is especially helpful if you’re considering using the VA loan benefit. There are many benefits to the loan, but there are guidelines and restrictions to adhere to.
4) They have intense organizational skills.
Home showings, open houses, inspections, closing documents, and the inundation of phone calls and texts; they all require a skilled hand to respond to in a timely fashion. Agents are known to deftly meet with clients, juggle traffic, and reschedule meetings all day, every day.
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5) They know how to write contracts.
Not only do buyer’s agents know the legal details required in real estate contracts, they know how to write them in a way that paints you, as the buyer in the best light. If done well, your contract will stand out from competing contracts. Experienced buyer’s agents do not make critical mistakes, such as missing or wrong information, which can lead to a rejected or ignored offer.
6) They have established relationships with other real estate professionals.
Your buyer’s agent will work hard for your best deal, but they are not legally permitted to handle the tasks of a real estate attorney, mortgage lender, or home inspector, in addition to other professionals required along the way. After years of working in the industry, your agent likely has a team to choose from, with multiple choices in each category, in order to meet their clients’ varying schedules and a host of other needs.
7) They’ve honed their negotiating skills to work in your favor.
Jumping into a business deal worth hundreds of thousands of dollars without a substantial skill set for negotiation immediately puts you at a disadvantage. A solid and sensible offer requires a well researched comparative market analysis, which is a challenge for a home buyer without intimate knowledge of the neighborhood.
A buyer’s agent is especially crucial in fast paced and historically challenging locations like Washington, D.C. Buyers in these cities often contend with cash offers, multiple contracts, and waived contingencies. Your agent should have tricks up their sleeves to keep your offer competitive in situations like these.
8) They will keep your contract on track and help you keep your cool.
A house hunt, and the ultimate purchase, is an emotionally invested and exhausting journey. Buyers often need regular reassurance to keep the faith. Your agent will keep you up to date with details and changes you need to know in hopes to ward off extra worry. By expertly managing the schedule of the transaction, any unforeseen circumstance can be handled properly while keeping the timeline near the expected day of closing.
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Reasons Buyers Choose Not to Work with a Buyer's Agent
If you're curious as to why some home shoppers aren’t sold on using a buyer’s agent, take a look at three of the possible reasons why.
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They think they will save money on the commission fees.
Likely the number one reason most buyers avoid a dedicated buyer’s agent is to save money on the agent's commission. The typical commission is usually about 6% of the sales price split between the seller’s and buyer’s agent.
However, the seller typically pays for this expense, unless under very particular circumstances such as For Sale by Owner. In this circumstance, the seller may insist that the buyer pay their own agent’s fees as part of the overall purchase agreement.
Finding a compatible real estate agent can be time consuming.
Even with referrals from friends and family, clicking with the person who is about to guide you through spending hundreds of thousands of dollars is an important factor in the buyer/agent relationship. A bit like dating, all of the parties’ personalities have to be compatible, even if the goals are the same. You might even have to fire an agent during the buying process.
It's often suggested that the buyer interview multiple agents to find one who is in line with your home buying style. As a service member, take advantage of the extra level of skill a Military Relocation Professional (MRP) has. They’ve worked hard to learn the ins and outs of working with a military family. Even better, hire a military spouse or veteran agent with an MRP.
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Buyers are turned off by agents who work with multiple clients.
Real estate agents typically take on several clients at any one time and are working on all of their house hunts simultaneously. You’ll have to be cognizant of the fact the agent is managing open houses and home showing appointments, conducting research, and drawing up paperwork for multiple buyers with many time constraints.
For most professionals, serving multiple clients isn’t a barrier for conducting quality transactions; some even thrive in the hustle. A buyer may wish for an agent to concentrate solely on their house hunt (for instance, in the case of a military home buyer on a compressed time schedule). While this sounds like an ideal scenario, it’s rarely realistic. If you prefer an agent’s sole attention during your home shopping, you can request it, keeping in mind that it will incur extra fees and may not be feasible.
Unless you’ve worked in the real estate industry extensively and are comfortable searching for a home, hiring qualified and experienced professionals, and aren’t intimidated by the mountain of legal paperwork, a buyer’s agent really is a logical investment in the overall home buying journey.
Sleeping with peace of mind each night is a serious consideration. A home purchase is a tangle of working pieces that evolves over days, weeks, and months. A dedicated advocate by your side is a reassurance that is hard to beat.
By Dawn M. Smith
Thinking of buying a home? Get your finances in order first with guidance from our free guide below.
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