I speak to many home buyers that have expressed their desire to purchase a home without using a real estate agent. Unfortunately, most of the time the reason I am speaking to them is because they already had a problem with a transaction. Usually their reasons for not wanting to use an agent are not thought out completely and often they don’t realize that these issues would not have occurred if they would have used a realtor to purchase the home.
Although every buyer that I speak to has their own reason for not wanting to use a realtor to purchase a home, I conclude it’s mostly a mixture of some of the reasons listed below:
- They anticipate that this will help them save money on their purchase
- They happened to find a home that they wanted to buy when they were casually looking
- They conclude they don’t really need a realtor
- They would rather not be bothered by a real estate agent
I am not writing this piece to try to convince you that you need to have the local knowledge of your own realtor to help you contract a 10% lower price when purchasing a home, or that the buyer’s realtor is free. None of these typical realtor claims are completely accurate. However I will give you my honest perspective:
The True Benefit Of Using A Buyer’s Agent
The buyer’s real estate agent doesn’t seem to be as useful as they were in the past. Most people can find the properties that they would like to see on their own and they may even think they know the property values pretty well. But here is where a real estate agent comes in handy:
- Managing all of the arrangements of scheduling showings and retrieving further information for properties of interest in much less time than it would take the average person to accomplish the same.
- Determine issues with the property before making an offer
- Furnish unbiased advice on property values since most buyers have a subjective bias
- Having the knowledge to know what questions to ask regarding home systems, property maintenance and repairs, homeowner’s associations, etc.
- Monitoring the progress of the transaction to keep everything on track for a smooth closing
- Finding a way to salvage the deal if the transaction starts going off track
- Attending home inspections and asking questions to make sure that any concerns are known and completely understood
Once more the decision comes down to how valuable it is to you to have someone provide these services to you. If you are not paying too much for the services then no harm, and the balance of the commission can still be in your pocket.
Not Using An Agent So You Can Save On The Commission
This is probably the main reason why some buyers choose not to use a realtor to purchase a home, knowing the buyer’s agent is not entirely free. Although it is true that the seller pays the commission to the buyer’s agent, the buyer actually could save the agents commission if they didn’t have their own real estate agent. The problem with that is that all or part of that money could end up in the seller’s or the listing agent’s pocket if you don’t use a real estate agent.
This is a topic unto itself and I previously wrote a blog post about this subject: For Home Buyers That Want The Real Estate Commission For Themselves. The bottom line is to use your own realtor for a reasonable cost, where you can ensure that YOU pocket part of the commission by your agent giving you a rebate or by paying the agent an hourly rate. At least this way you avoid issues with the transaction and you still save money without going completely self-serve. And you know for sure that the seller or listing agent doesn’t receive the money rather than you.
New Construction Purchases
Buying new construction presents an entirely different set of challenges and because it is such a complex subject I've written on this topic before. In essence, purchasing new construction is a more involved transaction compared to a typical resale transaction. Regrettably, many home buyers go without a real estate agent for their first visit to the development and start writing an offer with the builders listing agent. In fact, most developers will not pay the buyer’s agent a commission unless the agent accompanies the buyer on the first visit. Once the buyer writes an offer with the builders listing agent without assistance from an agent they end up completing the transaction on their own.
I’m not sure if the people that are buying new construction think the builder’s agent is helping them but I will be perfectly clear about this matter. The developer’s real estate agent has a contract with the developer, which means that they have only one loyalty. In fact, developers want their own committed sales staff in their office so the sales person has no other option other than selling the developer’s new construction. Therefore the sales staff is going to give every potential buyer a hard sell. Consequently, the developer’s real estate agent is not trying to assist the buyer.
Having your own real estate agent can pay off, especially when buying new construction to offset the developer’s sales staff. As I stated in a previous blog post the purchase contracts that the developers use can be difficult so at the very least your realtor should review the conditions with you before submitting an offer. An agent can also assist you with making any further requests that you might have, and help you confirm that the developer’s guarantees are good enough. An agent will also attend the final inspection with you prior to closing to review all final work.
As I stated above, having your own realtor does not prevent you from benefiting by getting some of the commission in your pocket.