Many buyers, not just first-time buyers, start looking ”on their own” when they begin a home search. This really should not be an issue because the majority of today’s home buyers first search the internet. Some buyers choose to drive around neighborhoods contacting listing agents on properties they find, others prefer to remain anonymous in the search opting not to provide contact information when inquiring about properties. Others are looking for a “deal.” These buyers just know they can get a better price without an agent. So exactly why should these buyers (and others) use a real estate agent?
1) What’s better than “Free”? Services provided by real estate agents are usually paid by the seller. Buyers should take advantage of an agent’s experience and expertise to guide and advise them through the home buying process. Most agents devote a lot of time to a client. Under a Representation Agreement, the agent assures the client homebuyer that the agent will work for them and the clients agree to work exclusively with that agent. This is a “win-win” for all.
2) Experience. People generally buy only a few homes in a lifetime, but real estate agents are involved in numerous transactions each month. The home search and the closing process can be full of ups and downs and the right agent can advise you and guide you through the process. Most agents have a list of things that have happened in other transactions or are very familiar with the things that can go wrong in a transaction. They can help you navigate through it.
3) Knowledge. Whether the buyer is new in town or a long-time resident of the community, they may have tons of questions regarding a subdivision or area of town. Agents are generally familiar with or have access to such information. For example, if the buyer is looking for an active adult community, the agent will know where those communities are located; if a buyer wants to be close to a medical complex, the agent should know which subdivisions are located nearby. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
4) Resources. Agents have access to the local multiple listing service and can save you time and money by setting up searches for homes using your specific criteria. This search directs the listings to your email account, allowing you to review them at leisure. If any homes interest you, your agent can schedule a showing. There’s really no need to waste time and fuel driving around neighborhoods. We usually have a list of service providers (i.e., home inspectors, hourly contractors, etc.) with proven records that we share with clients. Lastly, the agent can put together a market analysis on any home you like and help you determine the best price for an offer.
5) Expertise. Most buyers purchase a new or existing home listed in the multiple listing service, which requires them to submit offers using State forms. Your agent prepares the offer, explains it to you, obtains your signature and submits it to the other agent. If there is a counter offer, your agent negotiates the counter, remaining in close contact with you throughout the negotiation process. In my state, buyers can opt to have a home inspection which may generate a need for additional negotiation. Your agent will advise you and negotiate the changes for you, again remaining in close contact.
If you are one of those buyers who still don’t want to use an agent, I wish you the best. But if you do want to use an agent, I recommend interviewing two or three agents to find an agent you feel will listen to you and is someone you can work comfortably with. I’ve heard the remarks about real estate agent’s reputations, but not all of us fit the same mold. Try one.