When starting your house hunt, one of the first questions you’ll want to ask yourself is whether or not you’ll want to work with an exclusive buyer’s agent. With online searches and a plethora of real estate websites, it’s easy to think that a buyer in today’s housing market could handle the process on their own. And that very well may be the case for some buyers. But for most, it likely makes sense to have your own professional representation in the form a buyer’s agent or buyer’s Realtor. Finding homes that look interesting online is only the beginning. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes during the search, while the home is under contract, right up until the day of closing. Remember, if you go directly through the listing agent, that professional is working in the seller’s best interests, not the buyer’s. They certainly won’t be negotiating for the best deal on your behalf. Here are some tasks that an exclusive buyer’s agent can help you out with:
-Be an adviser and advocate during the entire home buying process
-Take time to uncover the buyer’s needs and wants as well as what’s motivating their purchase
-Educate buyer’s on current market conditions
-Find a way for buyers to attain as many of their needs as possible when dealing with the realities of the marketplace and/or specific financial constraints
-Research homes in the area and sort through active listings to make suggestions after cross-referencing buyer’s needs (i.e. Which homes are located in areas that have retained home values? Which homes are located inside good school districts? Lower taxed areas? Easy work commutes? etc.)
-Help buyers achieve their lifestyle needs with a different set of features than originally anticipated (this is particularly useful when dealing with financial constraints)
-Aid buyers in narrowing their search until they have identified their top choices
-Handle the ins and outs of the negotiation process including the preparation of all necessary forms when making an offer and/or counteroffer in your best interests
-Provide oversight and follow up for any inspections deemed necessary
-Counsel buyers on how to handle any repairs needed on the property
Buyer’s agents are no longer the gatekeepers of property information, but understanding, evaluating, and presenting that property information to home buyers remains an integral part of an agent’s job. If done properly, everyone benefits; if ignored or executed inadequately, everyone suffers.
How Do Buyer’s Agents Get Paid
Hiring a buyer’s agent for your home search, as far as you’re concerned, costs you nothing. That’s right, it’s “free” to have your own advocate and professional representation for what will likely be the largest purchase during your lifetime. Of course nothing is free, why would a buyer’s Realtor work for nothing. In reality, the seller customarily pays real estate commissions when they list their home for sale with a brokerage. The total commission is set in the listing agreement contract when the seller first lists their house. Then that commission typically gets split with the buyer’s broker. If the buyer doesn’t have representation, then the listing agent keeps the entire commission. The net to the seller is the same whether or not you have an agent on your side. Thinking that the seller will give you a better deal because they are saving on commissions by paying only one agent isn’t accurate.
Don’t Call The Name On The Sign
While house hunting, if you find a home you love and call the name on the sign, you’re dealing with the seller’s agent, someone thrilled to make a full commission on a sale. The listing agent is legally bound — and enthusiastically motivated by a big payday — to make as much money as possible for the seller. You’ve got no one on your side. The better option is to note the address and find yourself a buyer’s agent to help take it from there.
Dual agency occurs when a single agent represents BOTH the buyer and the seller in a real estate transaction. For example, you could form a relationship with a buyer’s agent that you are very happy with. While searching online, you find a home that you would love to see in person. As it turns, the home is listed by your agent. A dual agency situation could arise if you decide to pursue the home with an offer. This is legal in Ohio. But it needs to be disclosed to all parties up front, and all parties must agree to the dual agency. Some are comfortable with the situation, others are not. It’s something that you should discuss with your agent at your first meeting though, as it could obviously lead to a conflict of interests.
Other Questions To Ask Your Buyer’s Agent
-How long have you been licensed?
-Do you work in real estate full time?
-What percentage of your business is working with buyers?
-How familiar are you with the area where I want to purchase?
-Do you have references from other buyers who have used your services?
-Do you think foreclosures, bank-owned properties or for-sale-by-owner properties would be appropriate for my home search?
-How often will you supply me with properties that meet my criteria? How will you get them to me?
-When viewing a home in person, will you point out all the negative aspects of each property as well as all the positive aspects?
-Please tell me how you represent buyers to help them get the best price and terms.
-Do you have a list of lenders, home inspectors, insurance agents and other professionals to recommend?
-How do you get paid?
-Do you have a written agreement? What is the duration of that agreement? What if I see a for-sale-by-owner house on my own?
Remember, a buyer’s agent has a fiduciary duty to work only in your best interests.
If you have questions or would like to talk to me about representing you as a buyer’s agent, please contact me anytime!