Do You Need a Buyer’s Agent When Purchasing a Home?
Americans are finally starting to test the waters of the housing market again after nearly a decade of avoiding the turbulent home buying atmosphere caused by the housing bubble in the mid-2000s. If you’re also planning on donning your house hunting hat, you might be wondering if you should go it alone or employ the help of a buyer’s agent.
Many people are choosing to forego hiring a buyer’s agent, instead opting to navigate the sometimes treacherous waves of home buying alone. What should you do? There are pros and cons to using a buyer’s agent, but in some situations the benefits certainly outweigh the risks.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Buyer’s Agent?
“For starters, home buyers should not always rely on the sometimes partial or outdated information that many online sources provide,” writes Monte Mohr, a contributing blogger at Forbes and a seasoned real estate agent. “But more importantly, a good buyer’s agent will still carry out many tasks in the buyer’s best interest — tasks that reach far beyond the property search function.”
This is the best argument in favor of using a buyer’s agent. These days, a lot of the house hunting process takes place online. Potential home-buyers are scouring the web for listings that seem to match their needs, but the buying a home is more complex than that.
A buyer’s agent is more than qualified to help you determine your needs and then find properties to match. They have insider’s knowledge of the market, so they can help you understand the difference between a reasonable asking price and an outlandish one. They’re there to handle any and all negotiations and the paperwork involved, which makes for one less thing you need to worry about in an already stressful process.
Plus, using a buyer’s agent is essentially free. They get paid when a sale is made by splitting the commission with the seller agent.
What Are the Disadvantages?
While using the agent is free, it’s important to keep in mind that, while they probably have your best interest at heart, they’re also trying to make a living. One disadvantage to using a buyer’s agent is that, in many cases, they want to make a sale as quickly as possible so they can get paid. So, rather than advising you to wait until the price of a home drops, they could potentially push you towards purchasing early.
Also, be sure to note the difference between a seller’s agent and a buyer’s agent. When you see a listing for a home online or in the paper, the agent listed as the contact is working for the person selling the home. First-time buyers might assume that an agent is an agent no matter how you look at it, but be mindful that a seller’s agent is working in favor of the seller.
When Should You Use One?
If you plan on having inspections and appraisals done on the houses you’re interested in (and you should), an agent has to be present. In many cases, this would be the buyer’s agent. Also, if it’s your first time buying a home, having the help of a professional is invaluable. It’s easy to underestimate just how taxing the home buying process can be, but rest assured that having someone to work with who knows the ropes will make it much easier on you.
If you do choose to proceed without a buyer’s agent, it is imperative that you at least hire an attorney to help you sort through the many legal documents involved with buying a home. A house is a major purchase, but even though your first instinct may be to avoid spending whenever you can, there are some services you can’t afford to pass up.