Or you might think of using an internet agent who offers a rebate since you've presumable done all the legwork by finding a home for sale in Northern Virginia. Well believe it or not, finding the home is not the most important part of the process!
How can that be? Well think of it this way - finding the home does you no good if you cannot close on the home. What happens between contract and closing is when the full time dedicated agents earn that full commission.
Think of these questions before you go with a rebate agent or alone:
Is that internet rebate agent going to put your interests first? Ask how many clients they work with at one time. They love to tout their unusually large volume of sales. Seems impressive on the surface, but how do they sell 40 houses a month? They have different people assigned to different parts of the real estate purchase process. One or more agents to show (who ever is available will show you the homes), another to schedule inspections, another to communicate with the lender, another to communicate wtih the listing agent. If you work with a full time agent, typically full commission agent, odds are that person will have YOU at the top of their priority list every day with perhaps an assistant covering the administrative end. But that agent is your point of contact, and the person making sure all parties are communicating and getting your home to closing. I typically work with no more than 7 clients at one time, leaving me plenty of time to shower them with focus, attention and guidance during the very complex process of buying a home. You can ask me the status of any of my listings or buyer's loans and title work during the process and I will know it. I won't have to ask someone else or call you back later. In fact, if you are my client, you probably won't even have to ask me because I will have already told you.
Do you want one agent to show you a home, and another to write the offer? This again, increases the chances for errors, and frankly takes so much joy out of the process. It is exciting to have an agent show you a home, and then sit down and write an offer with you for it. When I write an offer, we usually talk about our favorite features and write them in a cover letter for the seller. We recall the conveyances, numbers of ceiling fans, if the fridge had an icemaker etc. These things are not always listed in the MLS, and it helps to have the same agent show and sell it to you.
Would you rather have a one dedicated "project manager aka buyer's agent" working to bring your transaction to closing or 3-5 different ones? Mulitple points of contact, will increase the chances of communications mishaps and critical information slipping through the cracks. For example, once when I was working as a listing agent, with a rebate agent on the other side, the buyer's lender had rejected the loan, after the financing contingency had been removed, one week before closing. They were not giving a reason why to the "primary" agent. Why? He'd talked to the "coordinator" and the communication between lender to coordinator to client to agent to listing agent had lapsed. That buyer was exposed completely by removing their financing contingency when the loan was not approved. And there was a real tangible reason for it, but the communication was lost between too many cooks in the kitchen.
Would this have happened with one dedicated agent being the hub for the wheel? Look at one of the the wheels. Imagine the spokes are the buyer, lender, listing agent, title company, termite inspector, appraiser, home inspector, contractors, home warranty company,insurance agent, underwriter, processor... and the hub is the buyer's agent in a traditional model. The buyer's agent touches each party. Do you want each spoke flying out there with no central hub with which they can connect? If you go with a rebate agent or none at all - you have multiple spokes and multiple hubs that potentaily never connect. It increases your chances of default, missing deadlines and opportunities for a smooth and safe closing.
It's a strong seller's market in Northern Virginia (for the most part) and the type of agent you work with will affect your chances of getting an offer among multiple bids. Remember that as a listing agent, we know how difficult it is to work with multiple agent and coordinators on the other side to get the information in order to close, so going it alone or with a rebate agent could negatively affect your chances.
A home is the most expensive thing most people ever buy - do you want to go the discount route on something so important? "You get what you pay for", is a popular quote for a reason.