While buying a home should be a fun and exciting experience, it isn't as simple as as they make it appear on those house hunting shows. In reality there are a lot of things that can go wrong that can potentially cause a buyer to lose time, money, or even the home of their dreams. The good news is that most of those pitfalls can be prevented.
One of the best things a buyer can do to help ensure a smooth and successful transaction is to first find a trusted buyer's agent before they start looking for homes for sale. There are some tips and suggestions for buyers to know they are hiring the right agent for the job. There are also many misconceptions on the topic. If you are wondering if you should hire a buyer's agent, here are a few valid reasons why you should:
Home buyer's best interests are protected at no cost.
A listing agent has a responsibility to protect the seller's best interests. Buyers can have their own agent help them with any home that's listed on MLS. Buyer's agents can also help with homes being sold by owner. To take it a step further, a great agent will even find a home that's not yet even on the market if there's nothing listed that meets their buyer client's criteria. Buyers can have their own agent who is ethically bound to represent their own best interests at all times. The best news is that the buyer doesn't have to pay for this invaluable service.
Home buyers get access to the most current listings and property information.
Buyers often begin their home search by searching online or driving around finding yard signs and open houses. Those 3rd party property sites pull information from various sources to include public record and rely on algorithms to guess values. Homes that are listed For Sale on those sites are often already under contract or sold. Taking a drive can be an enjoyable way to spend a leisurely afternoon, but it is not a very practical way to find the best home. A buyer's agent can make sure their clients are notified immediately of any new listings or price adjustments. They can provide up to date information and schedule all appointments. This saves valuable time and reduces the chance of missing out on 'The Right One'.
Home buyers need answers, information, and someone who understands real estate contracts on their side.
A good buyer's agent will be able to answer questions using their knowledge and experience or they will be able to recommended trusted professionals such as a lenders, inspectors, surveyors, or attorneys. A great buyer's agent will provide answers to the questions that are not even asked but crucial to a successful and pleasant experience. There are so many things buyers need to know before they even start looking: How much will closing costs be? What is a prepaid expense? What loan programs are available? Are there any options for down payment or closing cost assistance? A buyer's agent will write up the contract according the their buyer's individual needs and best interests. Buyers will need someone with expert negotiating skills on their side. One wrong date, missing initial, blank line, unchecked box, or missed deadline can be costly and critical. There are countless things to consider when writing an offer and negotiating a contract, so most buyers would agree that they would prefer having someone who doesn't represent or solely represent the seller help them with their negotiations.
Home buyers need advice and help with negotiations.
If a buyer is not represented, the listing (seller's) agent can help that buyer as a customer. In this case the listing agent must be honest and disclose known defects to the buyer, but that's all. If the buyer isn't represented, the listing agent has a duty to the seller and the seller's best interests. For instance, if the listing agent knows there's a roof leak, they would have a duty to tell a buyer customer about the known defect. But, if the buyer customer tells the listing agent they want to waive their right to an inspection to 'save money', the listing agent wouldn't be able to stress the importance of a home inspection to evaluate other possible unknown issues, because that's not in the sellers best interest. That's just one example of why it's very important to understand Broker Relationships and exactly how each party is represented. Not only does a buyer's agent negotiate offers to help the buyer get the best deal and terms possible, they also offer options and solutions throughout the transaction with their buyer's needs in mind.
There are things to consider when choosing the best buyer's agent for the job. It's a good idea to interview a few to make sure you find someone who is knowledgeable, but also someone you will be comfortable working with. After all, this may be the most significant purchase you will ever make. I would be honored to be one of the few you interview or recommend!