Information is easy to find online these days. Looking at home photos, mapping, sorting and researching are at your fingertips on many national websites. But what happens when you find the house you want to buy? If you don’t have an agent, you may lose out. Here’s why.
1. Handling the Process
This is the pinnacle of the agent’s job. What comes next? What paperwork do you need? Do I need to sell my house first? Who do you need to talk to about closing? Can I back out? Guiding you through the process is the most important thing an agent can do for you and the following points all circle back to finding the best agent to do this for you.
Waiting until you have found the home you want to buy to choose your agent may result in hasty, uninformed decisions and undue pressure to cram a lot of consultation and education into a small window of time.
2. Market Knowledge
A buyer’s agent will know how much the homes you are looking for should cost and if your budget aligns with your criteria. They will have experiencing putting together a CMA (comparative market analysis) so you can know what homes are selling for and understand how the market is behaving. This will help tremendously in your make decisions.
3. Financing Options Guidance
Before you go out and look at houses you will need to have your finances in order. Your buyer’s agent will be able to help you find a great lender that will give you options, help you choose the best program for your situation AND writing a competitive offer. A good lender will also keep you informed during the process and work closely with your agent. When a lender puts you in the right program, it will reduce your chances of being underwater or foreclosed.
4. Focusing on the Right Things
Because a buyer’s agent regularly helps buyers find homes, she will have an experienced eye when attending walkthroughs. Tell-tale signs of damage or modifications will stand out to buyer’s agent and she will pass that information to you. Armed with what the buyer’s agent’s trained eye has noticed, you’ll be able to make an informed choice.
5. Agent Networks
The best way to get the best deal on a house is to know about it before it hits the public websites and even before it goes into the MLS. Buyer’s agents use their network of listing agents to locate homes that match your needs. Some will also be able to draw from their company’s research tools. Keller Williams Agents have team meetings where they announce upcoming listings and an internal posting forum where we can share listings before they are listed in the multiple listing service (MLS) and often days before they are available on public websites.
6. Industry Contacts
Remember, real estate agents are (usually) not lawyers, accountants, financial planners, lenders, title closers, counselors or even home inspectors but they can refer you to these people and that is valuable.
7. Emotional Filter
Buying a home is an understandably emotional time. Having an agent who is not emotionally attached to the purchase will ensure you have a voice of reason when you fall in love with a home’s upgrades and don’t notice the busy highway or long commute. Your buyer’s agent will also help you make sure you find the home you need instead of getting side tracked by wants and fits your ownership plan.
8. Contracts and Paperwork
Entering into a real estate contract is legally binding and not to be taken lightly. A buyer’s agent has written and reviewed purchase agreements before. She will interview you and make sure that it includes contingencies in the right places to allow you to walk away from the contract to purchase if you are not satisfied with specified items.
9. Professional Negotiation
Regardless of your price point, negotiation is going to factor into buying a home. Since most homes are listed with a listing agent experienced in negotiating, you want to make sure your financial interests are equally represented in the negotiations. Aside from straightforward negotiations, buyer’s agents employ certain tricks like offering or receiving concessions to make sure you come out ahead or happy, depending on the current market’s behavior. Professional negotiators are always looking for a win-win to ensure a deal stays together and both parties are satisfied.
10. Small Investment
First, I wish agents would stop saying “it’s free” to hire a buyer’s agent. I feel like this is not 100% truthful. Here is an explanation.
Once you retain an agent (retainer fees are usually under $500, some collect upfront and some roll this into your closing fees) as the buyer, you should not have to pay your agent’s commission. Here’s why. When the seller hires the listing agent, they agree on a portion of the listing commission to be paid out to the agent that brings the buyer. This amount is listed in the MLS. Your agent can see in advance if the agreed payout covers your representation agreement or if it will need to be negotiated. Either way, you’ll know.
Basically, you have the opportunity for representation at little cost out of your pocket. Take advantage of it.
Why would you go up against a seller and their agent on your own? By working with someone who is solely advocating on your behalf, you are accomplishing a few highly important, self-respecting tasks. First, you are looking out for your financials above all.
When you call the listing agent, they are working for the seller, against you. When you hire the listing agent, they are now a dual-agent, or a real estate representative of both the buyer and the seller, and you should understand how your representation may be compromised. READ MORE HERE.
12. Beyond the Sale
Many agents can help you with home maintenance and improvement tips that will maintain and improve the value of you home.
BONUS: When you work with an agent that does a lot of local business, they also often meet with sellers weeks or months (sometimes years) before they put their home on the market and they maybe able to contact an upcoming seller for a direct sale to you! I have done this before!
If you contact and agent and determine you are not ready to buy a home yet, don’t be discouraged. Remember, they are there to help you through the process and for some people, that process can take months, or even years as they work through their finances and life plans.
Are you (or someone your know) ready to talk about the services my team and I can offer and get help buying a home? Contact me!