Buying a home is a significant investment, and your choice in a real estate agent can make or break the process. An excellent real estate agent simplifies the process of buying a home for you, planning everything, and handling much of the details. A bad one though can lead to headaches, extra expenses, and missed opportunities.
So how do you find a buyer’s agent that gives you confidence through the entire process? One that can help match your budget to your homebuying needs and wants? Keep reading to learn more.
Why do I need a buyer’s agent?
The first and biggest reason to get a buyer’s agent is that they’re free! Seriously, they are. Here’s how it works: when a seller lists their home on the market, they must pay their agent. When you, the buyer, approach the seller with an offer, the seller’s agent agrees to split their commission with the buyer’s agent. Thus, even if you didn’t have an agent, you wouldn’t be saving any money.
Now you’re probably asking, well, what if I simply tell the seller’s agent to discount the listing by sharing in their commission with me. Unfortunately, they won’t do that. Instead, they will offer to represent you both (buyer and seller) in what is called a dual agency. You may save a few basis points this way, but not nearly as much as you would if you simply had your agent to help you negotiate. Understanding the different types of real estate agents will help you navigate the weird world of agency relationships.
Furthermore, while there’s nothing that will ever require you to have a real estate agent when buying a home, there are several complicated matters you may encounter when going through the process. Unfortunately, it’s easy to run into problems, and if you’re alone in the process, you may find yourself being taken advantage of by the seller’s agent. Buying a home on your own could lead to improper home inspections or appraisals, and you may end up paying much more than you should while still running into home issues down the road.
An excellent real estate agent is there for the whole process, so you have someone to turn to when you have questions and need answers quickly. Below, you’ll learn about some of the other responsibilities of a buyer’s agent, so you have a good idea of what to expect and what to look for.
What does a real estate agent do for buyers?
When you hire a real estate agent to help you buy a home, you need to know that they will be there for you. These agents have specific responsibilities to you as someone they are representing, and they must uphold their duties by doing the following:
- Work with you on pre-approval & pre-qualification: Your real estate agent most likely has several resources, and they can help with the pre-approval process through trusted lenders in the industry.
- Help you find a home that fits your needs: Your buyer’s agent can look at the location of choice, along with the best neighborhoods and schools, to find a home that fits your budget and requirements. They should create a Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) for you. Make sure your realtor is listening to you closely, and they understand your wants, and they’ll be able to help.
- Negotiate with the seller for a fair offer: Your real estate agent should know your budget and work to alleviate stress during negotiations. An experienced agent negotiates on your behalf after picking and attending the home inspection to determine the state of the home and its value.
- Requesting repairs: Before closing the transaction, you will want to hire a home inspection expert to review the house. A buyer’s agent should explain what the inspector found and how to budget for home improvements and repairs. They can then negotiate to have those repairs made by the current homeowner or negotiate a lower price should the homeowner deny the request for repairs.
- Communicate with all necessary parties throughout the transaction: A good buyer’s agent not only keeps the communication with you open, but they also reach out to the seller’s agent and any other parties involved to ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Finalize your closing in a timely and favorable manner: Closing on a home can be stressful, and several details must be considered. If there are loose ends, the whole deal can fall through, and closing can be much more complicated than it should be. They may also help you hire a real estate closing attorney.
Having a strong buyer’s agent should simplify the process, not make it more difficult.
What is a seller’s agent prevented from sharing with buyers?
Almost all homeowners will need a seller’s agent when putting their home on the market. Here we briefly note what laws restrict a seller’s agent from telling potential buyers:
- The reason the homeowner is selling
- Any concessions or price reduction the homeowner may be willing to give up
- Any conversations that the seller and their agent may have had
- Any information that could be detrimental to the seller, or give you, the buyer, an advantage.
What a good seller’s agent does is selectively share info with the buyer and agent so having representation may help learn more info about the listing.
Where do I find a good real estate agent?
Looking for an excellent real estate agent requires research, and you want to ensure that you are choosing the right person for you. Before you move forward, you need to know how to find the right real estate agent for you:
- Referrals from friends and families: If you know someone who recently bought a home, you can speak with them about who they had as a real estate agent. Ask them what their experience was like and if they did everything to help the buying process. If you trust their word, you should continue your search to learn more about the real estate agents you hear about.
- Online reviews: Check out popular real estate sites (like yelp or zillow) to see if there are reviews on the real estate agent to determine what others have said about them. Be aware, some reviews can be fake, so you want to dig into what’s being said about a real estate agent, both positive and negative.
- Do your research: Make sure you are looking for a real estate agent in your local area and learn about what kind of experience they have.
Make sure you know what to look for in a buyer’s agent before you go forward.
What to look for in a buyer’s agent?
You want to ensure you feel confident in your buyer’s agent. If you don’t know what to look for, though, you can find yourself dealing with someone who is not looking out for your best interests. When you hire a buyer’s agent, here are some of the things you want to look for:
- How long they’ve been a real estate agent and how many deals they manage each year for buyers.
- How many buys the agent has facilitated successfully and what their reputation is in the industry.
- How the real estate agent communicates with their clients throughout the representation.
Do you need a real estate agent for buying a home? You can try to go through it alone, but you don’t want to make mistakes when making one of the most significant investments in your life. Make sure you choose the right buyer’s agent for your situation and give yourself a good chance at a favorable deal for your home purchase. Getting a good home buyer’s agent on your side is imperative, and it’s the first step to making the transaction as smooth as possible.