As a homebuyer, there are two important considerations regarding the services of a licensed real estate agent.
ALWAYS USE A REAL ESTATE AGENT
It definitely is in your best interest to use an agent to buy a home. Some consumers may believe that they don’t need an agent. They can shop by using real estate websites and driving through their desired neighborhoods looking for “Sale” signs. If they want to tour a home, they can call the listing agent named on the sign and then, when they are ready to buy, negotiate an agreement themselves.
Bad idea. You will not receive a reduction of the price due to the absence of a second agent to share the commission. The commission is fully established in the listing contract between the seller and the listing agent when the home is first offered for sale. The seller is paying the entire commission to the listing agent, who then shares the commission with any buyer’s agent. If the listing agent handles both sides of the transaction (like the scenario above), or if there is no buyer representation, the listing agent earns and receives the entire commission. The listing agent is duty-bound to obtain the best possible price for the seller, regardless of the existence of a buyer agent.
Without an agent on your side, you have no representation, no assistance, no professional advice, and you are doing everything yourself rather than having the benefit of the agent’s time, effort and expertise. Your agent can bring to bear their more extensive negotiating experience to get you the best price, and has access to sale and listing information from the MLS which is not available to you, on the web or otherwise.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT AGENT
You want an agent with the right experience, background, skills and work ethic. How do you find that agent? Consumers usually make a casual decision, by using an agent they’ve worked with before, or perhaps a referral from a friend or relative. Buyers often end up with an agent whose name they happen to see on a house they choose to tour, by calling that agent (the “Sale” sign scenario above).
As the client, you may choose any real estate agent you wish. It’s often advisable to look for an agent who works primarily with buyers. Certainly, a strong listing agent can be an excellent buyer’s agent as well. It’s just a matter of focus, and the level of service the agent is accustomed to providing to their buyer clients (representing buyers generally requires significantly more time and effort than sellers). Another consideration is for the agent to live in the community where you are shopping, so your agent is more familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of different locations, and the commercial, political and demographic dynamics of the area. As for skill and experience, perhaps the best measure is the agent’s reputation in this regard among their peers.
For our clients, the Home Run service includes identification of agents who meet these criteria. Clients may select an agent from these recommendations, or choose any other agent that they desire. Either way, you can make your choice based on an informed selection process.