Years ago, the norm was for real estate agents to handle the buyers, sellers, marketing, literature, data entry and basically, every aspect of the transaction. In today’s market, there are exponentially more responsibilities including social media, transaction coordination, electronic record keeping, much more extensive marketing, reporting, technology, ever-changing contracts … the list goes on.
For that reason, top-performing real estate groups have specialists in each category. Imagine showing property seven days a week, then trying to keep up with listings, paperwork, social media, marketing campaigns, compliance and all the other requirements of the real estate business. It’s just not humanly possible to do all those jobs at a high level. So, the role of buyer’s agent has emerged as a very important part of any successful group.
A buyer’s agent’s mission in life is to look after the interests of the buyer. This means researching the areas where they’re looking, gathering information on each property, understanding the needs/wants of the buyer, assessing hot buttons for the seller through their agent, and so forth. Most important to the buyer, his or her agent will negotiate the best possible price and terms for the property, then be able to justify it with current statistics. Further, they will make sure the contract correctly includes all the elements the buyer wants and states it in a way that cannot be misinterpreted. For example, the dock on a lake house is personal property and would not automatically convey in a home sale. Boat lifts and dock boxes should also be addressed in an offer. There is an almost endless list of “gotcha’s” in writing contracts, especially with lake property. Unless you have experience and expertise in those specialty properties, it’s easy to make a mistake that could cost thousands of dollars.
Listing agents are (and should be) focused on getting the best deal for their sellers. Without a buyer’s agent, the transaction will probably strongly favor the seller. Statistics show that an unrepresented buyer is likely to pay more than a buyer with representation. Many people think they can use the internet to find a home and negotiate their own deal. In this seller’s market, homes are snatched up before the multi-listing services can feed their data to popular websites. Buyers who have agents often get first dibs on new listings simply because they find out about them sooner. In addition, top-notch buyer’s agents offer a number of other services including:
- Guidance on title issues
- Experienced, realistic assessment of the home’s value
- Utilization of a standard contract that has been vetted by tens of thousands of agents and closing attorneys
- Help with and contacts for financing
- Contacts for inspections and how to interpret those complicated reports
- Contacts for workers to estimate and perform work that is needed on the house (hard to find these days)
- Suggestions for reputable real estate attorneys in the area
- Assistance with appraisals
- Familiarity with local regulations. For example, does this jurisdiction allow short-term rentals? What zoning is required? What fees will be charged?
- Tax information (Such as when do you get a break from school taxes? 65? 70? 72?)
- Wisdom in solving the endless list of problems that arise in real estate transaction
- Ability to make appointments and let you into the property as needed without the presence of the listing agent or owner
- Advocates for the buyer in every situation.
In most cases, the seller pays real estate commissions and the buyer pays closing costs. If there is a break in the commission when the listing agent has both the buyer and the seller, that is typically negotiated as part of the listing agreement. There are exceptions, but that is most common; so why would you forego a buyer’s agent? That person will be your advocate and save you a multitude of headaches during the transaction.