Before I became a realtor, I had no idea how real estate agency was structured, who represented whom, etc. When we were looking for our first home, all those years ago, sometimes there would be a second realtor at a showing in addition to our realtor, other times not. I never gave it much thought at the time.
As a realtor, I feel that having a buyer agent as your personal advocate and guide through the process of purchasing real estate is invaluable. Agency relationships can be confusing if you don't understand the structure, and I often take time with clients to explain these intricacies.
When a seller forms a listing contract with a seller or listing agent, they agree on a brokerage fee (same as a sales commission) for the sale of their property. The brokerage fee includes payment for both a seller agent and a buyer agent and is built into the purchase/sale price of the house. A buyer can proceed with the purchase on his or her own, without the help of a buyer agent, and some people choose to do this - but you may find yourself in unchartered territory in doing so.
The Benefits of Working with a Buyer Agent:
1. You have an advocate who knows you, knows what you are looking for, and has their ear to the ground helping you to pinpoint houses that may be of interest.
2. You have a professional advocate who knows the market, the geographical area, many other realtors and people in the area - so that he or she may help you fine tune your search.
3. If you find yourself in bidding war, your agent can be invaluable in helping you make the most desirable offer to get the house you want.
4. Your agent will help you negotiate a fair price for the home, and they will help you negotiate if any issues come to light during inspection.
5. Your agent will stay on top of important dates such as the signing of the purchase and sales agreement, the finance commitment date (the date by which the bank states that you will officially be receiving your mortgage for the purchase of the home), and anything you need to do to prepare for your closing date. In addition, if you need more time for your inspection period, or your mortgage commitment date, your agent will help negotiate extensions for these deadlines, so that you are still protected within the sales agreement.
6. You have a knowledgeable person who can recommend any number of resources for you in your move, whether it be related to the home you are purchasing, or the town/city you are moving to itself. From finding a home inspector, to finding a real estate attorney, contractors for your home, recommendations of local services, etc -- a buyer agent is a wealth of information.
7. Your agent provides a buffer between you and the seller, so that when any question or issue comes up, they go to bat for you to get your questions answered, and your issues sorted out, to the best of their ability.
8. A buyer agent will connect you directly to the MLS (Mulitple Listing Service), so that you can be aware of houses coming on the market in real time. Other real estate sites can have outdated information or even misinformation. This access to the MLS makes looking for a house much easier for the buyer.
9. You have a personal (and confidential) advocate who can explain every nuance in the process of locating and purchasing a home.
So, if you are looking for a home - ask around to find a buyer agent with whom you feel connected. You will be happy you did!