To use a buyer’s agent or to not? The facts show that 88% of homebuyers used buyer’s agents in 2015 – well above the 69% that used an agent in 2001 (NAR, 2016). I want to give you my objective opinion of the pros and cons of using a buyer’s agent.
When Stephen and I purchased our first home this year I can’t describe it any other way then fate or exactly where God intended us to be. We began casually looking for a house and had been prequalified for a mortgage but had not contacted an agent yet. The home we found (thanks to many friends and family sending the listing to us) was for sale by owner (FSBO). Since we had no agent yet we went to visit the house – loved it- and made an offer on the spot. So there we were without an agent, fairly confident in our negotiation skills, and also with a father behind me who can spot home problems from a mile away. It turned out the seller accepted our offer and sent over a contract. We chose an attorney we trusted to review the contract on our behalf and went from there. It could absolutely have not gone any smoother and let me tell ya- not paying a buyer’s agent was great! $$$ in my pocket, thank you very much!
However, I know this is not the case for everyone, in fact statistics show we are the exception. I know many couples don’t have experience negotiating, may have to deal with the seller’s agent, and don’t have the eye up front to see what they are buying from the start. Seriously, what kinds of questions should you ask when you look at a house before you make an offer? The facts don’t lie… more buyer’s use an agent than those that don’t… So use this as an FYI on the pros and cons of using a buyer’s agent.
- Represents the Buyer and their interests
- Sets up home tours & helps find homes in your budget
- Negotiates with Seller
- Facilitates inspections
- Assists with closing paperwork
- Guides Buyer through the process & can identify red flags
Overall a Buyer’s agent should make your life easier and help identify things you would not have on your own. They should be an advocate and help you achieve your goals. To many first time homebuyers this is a necessity.
- Alternative – Opt for an attorney who specializes in real estate. They will be an advisor for your interest for all contractual legalities. Have them review any contract before signing and use them to close with.
Truly price is the only negative aspect to using a buyer’s agent. If you are confident you don’t need an agent and you already have a home in mind then you are saving yourself some cash, but ensure you have an attorney to review contracts. Otherwise, you should plan on paying 6% for realtor commission and fees. 6% give or take seems to be the norm if you research the internet & read statistics; of course, this can be negotiated and your contracts will dictate what you pay and what the seller will pay at closing.
My advice is to consider your situation and be aware of any contracts you sign with an agent to ensure you understand the terms and conditions. Buyer’s agents can provide a great service to first time homebuyers, but with anything come with a price.