Profile picture for homedreamer1

Do I need a Buyer's Agent to buy a house?

  • March 29 2011 - Calabasas
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Be a Good Neighbor. Be respectful and on-topic. No spam or self-promotion! See our Good Neighbor Policy.

 
 

Answers (406)

Profile picture for sunnyview
"Thinking about FSBO? Think again. By law, an agent has to disclose problems with the home. A FSBO could lie to you and sell you an over priced home and say it is a good deal. "

...but weren't most people who bought overpriced houses during the bubble represented by agents? It would seem that there is more to buying smart and seeking value than hiring an agent alone.

Buyers need to realize that agents make money on the sale and are not inspectors, appraisers or a substitute for their own due diligence. Smart buyers research their own values, schools, crime, neighborhood tone, property condition, building permits and zoning issues independently. 

Good agents fill an important role, but only a foolish buyer automatically assumes upfront that their agent is a bastion of truth and full disclosure. 
  • July 07 2012
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Would you walk into a court room for an important court case not represented by your attorney?  Then why would you buy what is likely your largest purchase of your life without someone representing you?

It is without a doubt in your best interests to have someone looking out for you when you purchase real property. 

Dave Kinneberg
[phone number deleted by Zillow moderator. Please see our Good Neighbor Policy for posting guidelines]
Coldwell Banker At Your Service Realty
  • July 07 2012
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No you don't, but I highly recommend it. Why wouldn't you? It doesn't cost anything to work with a buyer's agent. An agent has the time and knowledge. Who doesn't want free advice? You may want to find your own home, but still use an agent to help negotiate. The agent will do free research for you to make sure you are getting a good deal... or at least the good ones do that. Sure you can call the agent on the sign, but they have an invested interest in the seller.

Thinking about FSBO? Think again. By law, an agent has to disclose problems with the home. A FSBO could lie to you and sell you an over priced home and say it is a good deal. The person could say a house down the street sold for a lot more, but that could be a lie or not a good comparable. Too much risk buying FSBO. If you want a good deal, go with an agent. I don't say this because I am an agent, but because I want to protect people. Always work with an agent :)

Rachel Tiller
Omaha Real Estate
NP Dodge
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  • July 07 2012
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Profile picture for user748740
Find an agent you trust. Check their credentials and reviews but it is a good idea to have an agent represent you.
  • June 22 2012
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          No you do not need a buyers agent.   
       If you choose not to have a buyers agent you still should have your own attorney, otherwise you are at the mercy of the seller and his attorney!

However in most cases its free to hire one because the buyers agent only accepts the pre-set offered commission by the seller.  You should find a buyers agent who is sharp and has the time for you.  He will guide you and prevent major mistakes.
  • March 11 2012
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Profile picture for sunnyview
I am not very trusting of dual agency situation either, but in my state even a dual agent would not be able to disclose the maximum amount you were willing to pay to the seller. Maybe the degree of representation within dual agency varies state to state
  • September 14 2011
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Homedreamer1,

As you've read here  you don't need a buyer's agent to buy a house. You  don't need a lawyer when you go to trial either but both are advisable and the situation is analagous. A buyer's agent represents only your interests. If you work with a property's listing agent their allegiance is to the seller. If you instruct your agent to make an offer for $500,000 and tell them that you would be willing to pay $550,000 they are obligated to share that information with the seller.

Do yourself, and your wallet, a favor and find an experienced buyer's agent to look out for your interests.
  • September 14 2011
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Preston, how many years of college, medical school and post graduate work did you have than enables you to compare yourself to a surgeon?

  • September 02 2011
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The quick answer is "No".   You don't need a Buyer's Agent to buy a house.  You could easily go to Home Depot or download a contract from the Internet.  However, with that said, It would be a wise idea to have someone represent your best interests.  A professional realtor who knows the market, understands the buying process from start to finish, knows sales history of the neighborhood you are considering, and has strong negotiating skills will be invaluable to you.  It could mean the difference of overpaying for a property or missing home repairs that the seller should pay for before you move in.  I save my clients thousands of dollars each time I represent them.  To purchase a home without a professional on your side is like expecting a surgeon to operate on themselves.  Not a good idea!   Good luck in your home search.
  • September 02 2011
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Actually...it is free for the buyer in most cases. If you purchase a home without an agent, all that means is the seller pays less in commissions. Either way you are paying the same amount for the home and your own closing costs. A skilled Realtor should actually be saving you money in your transaction by negotiating purchase price and closings costs for you. Take your time and interview agents so you are comfortable working with the person through the process. There is no reason anyone should go into one of the biggest financial transactions of their lives unrepresented!
  • September 02 2011
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Profile picture for Dunes....
Th Seller pays all the Costs with the Money he receives from the BUYER

Free for the Buyer is one of the Silliest Marketing ploys used by Agents and this type of BS Marketing is one of the Major Reasons many DO NOT take what Agents say seriously


  • August 20 2011
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No...but why would you want to buy a home without a real estate professional. This will be the largest purchase you make in your life, a home......would you go to court with this much money on the line without an attorney to represent you? why would you buy a home without representation when the seller pays all costs. best of luck
  • August 20 2011
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Profile picture for Direct Mortgage
Homedreamer,

It is not required to have buyer respresentation, but it is recommended.  A buyers agent will not only help you locate the right property, but they will act on your behalf during negociations.

The Seller usually pay agents commission, so it commonplace to have a buyer agent.

Look at it this way, the seller is paying for you to have someone on your side! 

Dave LaRose
[Hotlink removed by Zillow moderator. Please see our Good Neighbor Policy for more information.]
  • August 05 2011
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Profile picture for 07Volvo
the buyers agent benefits if his client buys a house quickly and at the possible highest price. this, i think, can create a conflict of interest.  i feel more comfortable negotiation on my own.
  • August 05 2011
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Well, let's look closely at what is involved in the Buying process. Firstly, being a buyer, you have to fill out and sign the most of all the paperwork and because of that, you will probably need a buyers representative. I remember my first home purchase (and this was in 1998) There was a ton of paperwork and deadlines and so much to think about and do. I am grateful to my agent for taking me by the hand and walking me through this. Here is the main reason I recommend a buyers agent:
The listing agent is not necessarily going to be faithful to you as an agent because their primary responsibility is to their client, i.e the seller. When you get into a "Dual-Agency" situation, it comes down to allegiances. If you are a buyer without a buyers agent, you are pretty much on your own. The sellers agent has to do their duty first to their client and then serve your needs which will probably mean being given a stack of paperwork and be told to "fill it out and return it". If you are not aware of the first 17 days (here in California) of the contingency period you could miss the deadlines and lose a great home deal. A good buyers agent will create a timeline and keep you in the loop with all the different activities, i.e: termite, walk through, loan pre-approval, etc. The buyers agent should also make recommendations about counter offers, fixing things during escrow, etc. Also, they can advise which homes are probably too high to appraise for the lender. If a home is too expensive for the "norm, mean , etc" then a lender will indicate that it wont appraise and you will have wasted all that time "thinking" you have a good deal. Just some good thoughts, good luck!
  • August 04 2011
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You don't need a buyer's agent but you can be better off with one. It's like wearing a seatbelt, odds are good you'll get home safely, but....

Interview your broker like you would any employee.  See what their credentials are.  Make sure you are compatable personally because it matters (buying gets stressful). Ask them straight out "what do you do for me to earn your paycheck?'     If they can't answer you with confidence, move on. Unless your a pro, you need an advocate. 

The seller pays comission to the list broker, who splits with your broker.  Your buyer broker gets paid and not out of your pocket!  Why wouldn't you use one?
  • August 04 2011
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Profile picture for hpvanc
We will have to disagree, buyers do not exercise enough caution when dealing with buyers agents and other agents nor regulators have done nothing to keep high pressure sales people from representing themselves as buyers agents.  The side effects are that buyers agents directly contributed to the bubble, and unscrupulous agents have been allowed to use a legal lever to force unwarranted trust, most people (anyone who has not completed several transaction with the same agent where the agent's actions could earn their trust) are in a situation where it is just as much buyers beware of the buyers agent as it is the sellers agent.
  • August 03 2011
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hpvanc, while I understand your frustration, I disagree that buyer's agents could have prevented the rapid price increases in real estate during the "bubble." Real estate agents do not dictate the market, we work within the market.

A number of factors combined to drive up prices. For instance, low interest rates and easy loans created bidding wars in many areas. Supply and demand was greatly distorted by this. There are many more reasons that are too numerous to discuss here.

Bankrate's website has an excellent article on buyer agency which includes a great comparison, "You wouldn't -- for a lot of good reasons -- go into a contested divorce proceeding without an attorney, or worse, take the advice of your spouse's attorney."

As I alluded to in my previous post, not all buyer's agents perform to the same level (which is true in any profession), so interviewing several agents is just as important to a prospective home buyer as it is to a prospective seller that wants to list their home for sale. As another Bankrate article puts it:

"...a buyer's agent should perform services for you that the seller's agents can't, such as show you reasons not to buy a particular property; negotiate the best price and terms for you; include contingencies in the contract that protect you, rather than the seller as in most standard contracts; and keep confidential any information that could hurt your bargaining position."

  • August 03 2011
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Profile picture for hpvanc
Karl,

You might want to do a  little research.  Georgia Buyers Agency laws went into effect 1/1/94, housing prices grew at a rate substantially higher than inflation from 1995 - 2006 in the state of Georgia.  One might suppose that buyers agents would have prevented this, however it looks like they actually played into it increasing the effect of the bubble.  How were they trying to get buyers the best price?
  • August 03 2011
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Negotiating your best price in a transaction without representation by a professional can be done, but why not take advantage of buyer agency? States like Georgia with buyer agency laws have enacted them specifically to help protect the buyer.

In Georgia, be aware that state real estate law requires both the listing agent and selling agent to represent the seller unless there is a written buyer's agent agreement. This means that the agent showing you the property, if different from the listing agent, is still legally required to represent the seller's best interests - not your interests - unless you have a written agreement specifically authorizing him to represent you. 

Some buyers also worry they will have to pay the buyer's agent's fee, but in Georgia, this is not the case for listings on the MLS services (FMLS and GAMLS) because the seller has already agreed to pay the fee. Only with non-listed properties will this be an issue. In such cases you can cover this in the offer by including a stipulation requiring the seller to pay the buyer's agent's fee.

As mentioned in previous posts, make sure to work with a knowledgeable buyer's agent that will devote sufficient time to your needs.

  • August 03 2011
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Profile picture for TriWest
To CopperStarSecurity: Excellent comment and observation. Buyer's agent must have knowledge base that is very diversified and experienced to truly be able to lookout and advise their client while obtaining and protecting their best interest.
  • August 03 2011
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Not being an agent, I personally meet a lot of frustrated new buyers with their agent because of their lack of recommendations or knowledge of a home and its systems.  When those surprises come, it makes for an angry homeowner.  Don't get me wrong, there are some AMAZING Buyers agents out there that are true consultants, but the industry is riddled with agents that don't care to know anything about a home's major components.  There are ways to mitigate risk like Inspections, Home Warranties, etc.  For instance, when a buyer gets a home inspection and it reads that the split on the A/C was high or low and unsatisfactory, a true Buyers agent should know what that means and should be able to make an educated suggestion.  Those agents that care should learn simple things like that.  With today's technology, the MLS isn't so exclusive anymore and listings are all over the internet (zillow) one could just call the Selling agent to view properties, correct?  This change in the industry with technology should wake up Buyers agents to be true consultants or they might find themselves irrelevant.  Once again, there are some really GREAT Buyer agents out there and those that are true consultants will be blessed with business far into the future.
  • August 02 2011
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It is best to have a knowledgeable agent represent you when buying a home. By knowledgeable I mean one that truly is in your corner, has good knowledge of the area where you're buying and can show you some recent sales and competitive listings in the general neighborhood where you're buying as well.
An agent that can negotiate, work through the process and paper-work/forms and then follow up through closing including reveiwing the Hud-1 Closing/Settlement Statement takes a big load off of you and makes the experience less stressful.
In today's market, buying a ome or property is much more complex than years ago and actually getting more complex every year. In most cases, the seller pays the Buyer's Agent/Broker fee for their services and so you do not generally incure any additional expenses. In many cases, the uyer's agent actually saves you some money.
When a seller lists a home they are informed of what agency is in most states so it is often expected.
I can't see any reason why anyone would buy a home without one.
I do not see listing agents/brokers reduce the commission in most cases when selling the home/writing up the agreement and doing the follow-through to closing.
If you're comfortable representing yourself in court and see no value, you may be one of those do-it-yourselfers. I personally think if I can get a good service, feel comfortable with it and it doesn't cost me much, if anything, why not use it.
BH
  • August 01 2011
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Profile picture for Michael Helton
Volvo, no, that is not normal.  Nor is it ethical.  Do you have any evidence in writing that the agent made an offer without your permission?

If you did not authorize them to do so I would submit your evidence to the state Real Eastate Department because it is agents like this who ruin it for the good agents out there.


As far as representing yourself, you definitely may do it.  I have done it before.  Just take the time to educate yourself and remember that the sellers agent will get the full commission unless you negotiate a portion of that commission for yourself.  Kind of wierd asking for your own money back eh?

There are also good buyer's agents out there, so don't be afraid to do a search and try to find the rare ones.
  • July 29 2011
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Profile picture for 07Volvo
i am in the market for my first home and recently submitted a 400k offer through my buyers agent.  the seller countered at 430k, we decided to raise my offer to 412k;  the seller came down to 425K.  then, without consulting me, my buyers agent raised my offer to 420K.  is that normal?   

the house had a lot of problems and we are no longer under contract.  i am thinking about going directly to the sellers agent in the future and negotiating the transaction myself.  it seems to me that my agent was anxious to close the deal quickly and move on.  i hear a lot of talk about how the buyers broker will "be on your side".  this has not been my experience. 
  • July 29 2011
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You do not "need" a buyers agent to buy a house but it is a very good idea to have one. If you buy from the listing agent they represent the seller in the transaction and not you, There responsibility is to get the best offer for their client the seller but a buyers agent will be representing you and will negotiate the best price and terms they can for you and not the seller. Therefore it is an excellent idea that you have your own buyers agent who will be looking out for their client which is you to get the best deal.
  • July 28 2011
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A drawback to avoiding agents that represent buyers and sellers can be significant. An agent that lists properties is likely to know about properties that will be coming on the market soon that may fit your needs. Also, agents are required to fulfill the requirements of the Disclosure Regarding Real Estate Agency Relationship Form which states, in California, that the agent owes the customer "A fiduciary duty of utmost care, integrity, honesty and loyalty in the dealings with either the Seller or the Buyer." If they don't perform honestly, get an attorney and retire early. 
  • July 28 2011
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Profile picture for 07Volvo
it seems to me that is makes sense to by-pass the buyers broker.  the buyer can make a lower offer and the listing agent has the ability to knock 2.5% to 3% off the price of the house - if he needs to to close the deal - and still get his full commish.  
  • July 28 2011
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Depending on the state that you live in, you might be represented by default. However, here in the State of New York,  it is not the case.
Unless explicitly documented in a signed exclusive Buyer's Agency Agreement, the buyer is represented by seller's broker's agent.
For more inrmation, visit [hotlink removed by Zillow moderator]
I hope this helps.
  • July 21 2011
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You don't have to only have a Buyer's Agent when ready to purchase a property. You can utilize a Realtor that is also a listing agent as well. However, buyer agents do specialize in assisting buyers. It allows them to focus strickly on all aspects of the buying process, there by, eliminating any possible controversy having to do with the listing side, especially if the buyer is not comfortable with working with a dual agent. That's a Realtor that represents both the buyer and seller for the same property.

  • July 21 2011
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