Simply put, a buyer’s agent protects your interests throughout the home buying process. Unlike a listing agent, or a dual agent, they have a fiduciary responsibility and loyalty to their client — the homebuyer.
I’ve detailed here the differences between listing, dual, and buyer’s agents. In order to make the best possible decision about one of the most significant purchases you’ll ever make, you should have expert guidance. In this post, we’ll cover the services that a good buyer’s agent should be able to provide.
1. They get the best price for you. Buyer’s agents have the experience and knowledge to know whether a home is overpriced or undervalued. They’ve seen transactions over time in an array of neighborhoods. A buyer’s agent will get the best price for you, whereas the listing agent’s goal is to get the most money possible for the seller.
2. They know the community and its housing stock. Many realtors, like me, have lived in the community in which they work for many years. They have their fingertips on publicly available town and county records and are able to learn as much as a listing agent does about a home. Typically, they will know the sales history of the home, of comparable homes, and private sales in the area, which helps in assessing the home’s price and bidding strategy.
3. They’ll find inventory that’s not widely known. While anyone can look up a listing on Zillow or Trulia, good real estate agents have the inside track on homes that may not be advertised. You may think you have spotted the home of your dreams, but what if your requirements were better met down the block? There are a number of reasons a seller may not want to publicize that her home is on the market. Working with a realtor ensures that you won’t miss out on seeing what’s available. In fact, a good buyer’s agent should be able to arrange first showings before the house is even listed.
4. They have relationships, and relationships count! A good buyer’s agent has a professional network to use for the homebuyer’s advantage. We know other agents personally, which helps us to obtain valuable information, such as understanding a seller’s motivation. Such an agent also has a stable of contacts including attorneys, inspectors, contractors, decorators, and more to help facilitate the entire transaction process. A good buyer’s agent can also help you settle into the community, connecting you with newcomer’s clubs, book clubs, sports organizations, pre-schools, private and parochial schools, social organizations, and recreation.
5. They look out for your interests. If it takes you a week, two weeks, or six months to find a house, a good buyer’s agent will work with you until you’ve found your dream home. She will educate you about the housing market in the area in which you are looking, show you a variety of homes, and guide you step-by-step through the process.
6. They are experienced at negotiation. A good buyer’s agent will recommend negotiation strategies and establish clear lines of communication with the listing agent. She will ensure all disclosures are made and all relevant questions are asked, for example: Is there a buried oil tank? Does the house need flood insurance? Has the house been flooded? Does the house have a full Certificate of Occupancy? Is the bedroom in the basement legal? What are the material defects we need to know about? And so on.
7. They’ll tell you about repairs. Sometimes, the home you have your eye on will need repairs. Not only will a good realtor spot trouble you may not notice, she will be able to recommend a good home inspector who will provide a detailed report on any problems the house may have. After the home inspection, she will help interpret the inspector’s report, and may advise you in deciding what repairs are reasonable to ask the seller to complete, and what you should handle after the purchase.
8. You can lean on your realtor. Realtors wear a lot of different hats when they represent you: educator, negotiator, data analyst, marketer, and advisor, among others. Buying a home can be a long, draining, and emotional process. An agent whom you hire to represent you will be with you every step of the way. It’s often the biggest decision you’ll ever make, and guiding you through it is a responsibility that a good realtor does not take lightly.