Yes, I am a real estate agent, and of course as an agent, I think that you should use an agent to buy your home…but let’s look at some of the advantages to using an agent, and you make the call.
1) A buyer’s agent can get you into houses before they come on the market. If we are doing our job, we are “in the know” with what is coming on the market in our offices…if a property meets your criteria, it is likely we can get you in before anyone else sees it.
2) A buyer’s agent get’s you into houses period…most homes are on lockbox and unless you have a lock box key, you aren’t getting in. The agent schedules times to go see all the homes on your list (that meet your criteria) and get’s you into them. We can often save you from wasting time on seeing a particular property if we have seen it before an know it does not meet your criteria.
3) Working with one agent takes the leg work away from you. If you do not work with an agent, you have to call on every house you drive by that you are interested in for sale and have the listing agent let you in. The house may not be what you are looking for at all and have been a waste of time. If you decide you like that home, the listing agent (who represents the seller as a part of their listing agreement) will not negotiate on your behalf because they don’t represent you….but they will write-up a contract for you. Additionally…you may be looking online and searching that way (along with the other 90% of buyers out there), but the same holds true for just calling every listing agent whose house they have listed. Which brings me to number 3
3) A buyers agent is representing YOU, not the seller. Having your own representation protects you in the deal and does not cost you any more money. You will not pay less for a home by using the sellers agent and you will also not get true representation. And P.S. if you are working with an agent and have not signed a “Buyers Agency Agreement” in the state of Virginia, that agent has not done their job and by default is representing the seller when they show you homes. If your agent has not had you sign a buyers agreement, you may want to ask them why they have not asked to represent you.
4) As I mentioned in #3, a buyers agent is free (except for a flat commission charged by all companies at closing which is usually around $300…but you only pay this IF you buy a house). In no other profession do people do work and ONLY get paid if you get what you want. Real Estate agents do not get a salary, so unless we find you a home, we never get a dime. A buyer’s agent’s is paid by the listing company, not by you. The seller has worked out compensation with the listing company (the company who has their house on the market) and the listing company has offered a portion of that negotiated compensation to the selling company (or the buyer’s agent) for finding a buyer for the house. No one gets paid unless you go to settlement.
5) A buyer’s agent will negotiate on your behalf for the best terms and will counsel you on your offer…they will also bring up things that you may not have thought of that will ultimately be for your protection. A buyers agent will often save you money…they will never cost you more.
6) A buyer’s agent will schedule and be present for things like the home inspection, radon testing, termite inspection, closing, etc. He/she will also keep you on schedule with the terms and contingency dates outlined in the contract.
7) A buyer’s agent continues to negotiate for you while under contract because if things are found on the inspection report or something else unsatisfactory occurs, the buyer’s agent will work to get it corrected in your favor.
Gone are the days when buyers and sellers sit down and decide to trade money for a house. There are contractual obligations now and title does not pass unless they are met. Realtors have experience in dealing with these contracts and have partners in the industry that will save you time and money. There is no reason not to use one.
Hope this helps!