Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or a seasoned homeowner who’s been around the home buying and selling block a few times, it’s always a good idea to work with a real estate agent. From their expertise to their ability to stick to a deadline, there are many reasons why you should hire a real estate agent.
In this independent age where almost everything is accessible online, it can be easy to adopt a false confidence that encourages you to try handling it all yourself. After all, you can research listings online and plot your path to check out the homes that interest you. And honestly, that’s fine.
However, there are certain stages during the home buying process when you’ll want someone in your corner. We go over why it would be wise to have a real estate agent and what to expect when you go it alone.
When You Need a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is an individual who will set up home viewings on your behalf, giving you information on houses that pique your interest and acting as the go-between during the negotiation and purchase agreement process. Additionally, they can provide you with references for reputable lenders, inspectors and other service providers that you’ll need during the home buying process.
While you might find independence is possible during the online house hunting process, once you’re ready to walk through a house you’re interested in, you’ll likely want an agent at your side.
“There are different stages when you’ll want an agent to get involved,” suggests Doug Gartley, an associate broker at Rocket Homes. “When you’re ready to start walking through properties, you don’t want to do that alone.”
A good real estate agent will also have access to neighborhood knowledge, including comparable sales, local history and neighborhood demographics. They’ll know the current market and set realistic expectations for your home buying timeline and price point.
Gartley also stressed that you don’t want to rely solely on the seller’s agent during the home buying process, as they will always work to meet the seller’s needs. “Home buyers don’t always understand that compensation is being taken into consideration,” he comments, referring to the compensation the seller will give to the seller’s agent. “You want someone representing you and not just the seller.”
While purchasing a home is still possible if you choose to use the seller’s agent, remember that they likely have the seller’s interests in mind and are trying to get the home sold for top dollar. This may complicate your home buying process, as you have no one to represent your own interests.
A buyer’s agent, on the other hand, will have fiduciary duty (legally mandated obligations) to you, the home buyer. This means they have a responsibility to act in your best interests, making sure your private information is confidential and accounting for all documents and funds in the home transaction.
A seller’s agent, on the other hand, has a fiduciary duty to the seller. Oftentimes, they can claim dual agency, meaning they claim to represent both seller and buyer in a home transaction. However, at the end of the day, their primary duty is to the seller. For this reason, it’s wise to hire your own agent to represent your interests in the transaction.
When You Wouldn’t Need a Real Estate Agent
“There are limited circumstances where you wouldn’t need a real estate agent,” Gartley asserts.
While there aren’t many scenarios that would make sense not to have a real estate agent, there may be a few circumstances in which you might feel confident handling the transaction on your own – for example, in the case of a family transaction or buying the home from a family member.
“You might not necessarily need an agent during a family transaction as long as you have a meeting of the minds,” Gartley explains.
The “meeting of minds,” as Gartley refers to it, is an agreement on the purchase price, including any contingencies that may arise during the process, like a finance contingency (making the sale dependent on your ability to get approved for a loan) and any inspection or appraisal contingencies.
Even with family transactions, Gartley suggested putting everything in writing, affirmed by an attorney.
Even when buying from family members, sometimes it’s still wise to have a real estate agent on your side. Since they have no emotional connection to the sale (or, frankly, the person selling) they can remove themselves from that side of the home buying process and make sure your best interests are represented and protected should any complications arise.
For example, an agent can help you navigate the mounds of paperwork that make up the purchase agreement. If there’s a difficulty in the transaction (for example, issues in the inspection that result in a negotiation), an experienced agent can help you craft a negotiation that results in a lower purchase price or an agreement with the seller to rectify any issues in the home before you make the purchase.
Sometimes it’s just better to avoid the drama that can sometimes arise during the home buying and house hunting process by hiring an experienced real estate agent who can take you through the twists and turns of becoming a homeowner.
The Final Verdict
At the end of the day, the choice is yours. While there are some instances during the home buying process that allow opportunities for independence, it’s a good idea to have a seasoned expert in your corner, representing your best interests and making sure what could possibly be the largest purchase of your life goes as smoothly as possible.
Whether you decide to work with a real estate agent or not, make sure you do your homework and research the right real estate agent for you so you have the best home buying experience possible.
What types of qualities are you looking for in a real estate agent? Let us know in the comments below!
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