It used to be that only Realtors had listing sheets, that buyers had no access to any sales information, and that an agent was absolutely needed in order to find and see homes for sale. Long gone are those days. Today’s buyers are savvy–they have access online to listings, photographs, sales records and sold comparable homes. They can find the homes online they want to see and go to an open house or call the listing agent to let them in. So why bother with an agent?? There are many reasons why working with an agent is not only a benefit to buyers, but also essential.
1. Legal Protection: Buying a home is a legal transaction. There are many things that can happen both during and after the close of escrow that can impact the buyer–both emotionally and financially. A homebuyer needs to understand the nature of EVERY paper he or she is signing, and know the consequences involved in signing off on disclosures and other paperwork.
When a buyer works with an agent that agent is a representative, or voice for the buyer, and that carries a lot of weight. Not only is an experienced agent trained to walk you through all the paperwork, but he or she also works for a broker that can protect you down the road in certain legal situations.
2. No Cost: Buyers’ agents do not cost buyers money, since the seller is the one who pays the agent. An experienced buyer’s agent adds great value to a buyer searching for property, even if the buyer likes to do the initial searching her/himself. Working with buyers means the agent is the representative of the buyer and can get all kinds of valuable information on interesting properties–like title reports, loan information, insurance claim information, and other facts and figures that will make decisions easier.
I love that many of my clients choose to do their own home searching. I think it is valuable because they eliminate those properties that are of little or no interest, meaning that I do not waste their time showing them those properties. Of course there are still clients who like to have me do all the searching, and I am happy to do that as well. During that time I can really educate the buyer on the different neighborhoods, floor plans, and other important area information that is of value.
3. Great information: An experienced Realtor can provide a wealth of information about a home, neighborhood, area…from school feedback to noise, and many other issues that effect daily life in an area. He or she will have or will be able to access information that a buyer alone may not be able to obtain (see above). Also, sometimes there is information that is only available to agents on listed properties. Many agents also are privy to information on properties not yet listed with the MLS (“pocket listings”), which may get you into a home before others even know it is for sale. An agent who really knows a particular area where you are searching can only benefit you as a buyer–so use your Realtor to help you get the most out of your home search.
4. Special types of sales: In today’s housing market there are lots of sales that are not traditional equity sales–short sales, foreclosures, bank owned properties. Each one of these sales presents certain challenges. Having an experienced Realtor on your side can sometimes determine whether or not you will be able to close escrow. Each type of sale has different requirements, and no two short sales are alike, no two bank-owned home sales will be identical. There is a lot involved in just getting through escrow when you purchase one of these properties, from legal issues to potential problems with the home, and your Realtor will know precisely what to do and how to make things beneficial for you as a buyer.
If you were arrested you or your loved ones would immediately call an attorney, right? Many people hesitate to visit the doctor on a regular basis, but if they became very ill they likely would make an appointment. Realtors are the same. Go ahead and search for that home on your own–personally I love to work with savvy buyers. But when you are ready to buy, find an experienced, professional agent who will be your representative. The word “agency” is powerful, and it works to your advantage.