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

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March 29 2011 - Calabasas
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Answers (398)

HomeDreamer1 - Simple answer is no...but you probably won't get the results you want.  Besides, it costs next to nothing to use a buyer's agent so why wouldn't you want the "local expert" on your side?
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June 13 2011
When you do work with a buyers agent, you are missing out on updated lists of properties within your criteria, as well as someone actively looking out for your best interests. It is not mandatory to have a buyers agent working for you, but it is very helpful and can make your home buying experience much easier and less stressful.
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June 08 2011
Profile picture for Pasadenan
"The only way you can get 60% of the list price is if your talking about..." -

No, of course not!  No one cares about past list price, they only care about present value, future value, and present list price.

Of course you are not getting more than 15% off of list price, and likely not even 6% off of list price, which is why all those "Selling Agents" that claim they are going to "negotiate" for you is just plain deceit.  They are getting nothing for you that you can't get by other means.  They are only going to insist that you pay "present market value" no matter what.

But I do know "negotiators" that take 60% off of the list price regularly.
And I know many with extremely good bargaining and bartering skills.  Just none in "real estate sales" since their occupation is "sales", not "purchases".
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June 08 2011
Your experienced buyer agent will assist you in locating a home that matches your needs and budget and help you negotiate a fair price for the home and terms that benefit you. Your agent should understand and assist you with your financing needs and refer you to a reputable mortgage lender. Your agent should know the areas you are considering for your purchase and point out the benefits and concerns regarding each home under consideration. Your agent can assist you in the selection of other reputable service providers such as a home inspector or contractor. These are just of few of the many benefits you will receive by using an experienced Realtor.  
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June 08 2011
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"In most cases a buyers agent can get at least 3% in concessions toward closing costs for the buyer.."  -

That money is reduced net proceeds to the seller, and is the same as reducing the price by 3%.  There is no difference to the seller (other than possible capital gains tax).  And for the buyer, it only means they can finance those closing costs, assuming the property appraises sufficiently.

And those "buyer's agents" didn't get those concessions; the BUYER did.  It doesn't matter than the agent "told" them to ask for it.... It is still a buyer's choice, and the buyer is the one that should "insist" that the agent do what the buyer wants regardless.

Sure, those agents think the have so much experience and 120 hours of training and a few "continuing education" courses and certifications and designations, but it all still amounts to nothing if the client doesn't do their own study, research and homework.  And one is just as likely to get an agent that doesn't represent their interests.

Again, they don't call the buyer's agent the "selling agent" for nothing.  Their "job" is to "sell" the property; not buy it.  So regardless of how many homes a selling agent is showing to a client, their "goal" is to "sell" something, so they will be using sales tactics to "make the sale", not "facilitate a purchase".
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June 08 2011
@Pasadenan - The only way you can get 60% of the list price is if your talking about the list price from 3-5 years ago. Home prices are between 25-75% below the home prices of just 5 years ago depending on state and city and demand. The eventual purchase price will be decided by the appraisal if your not paying cash. Even short sales tend to be priced real low to get multiple offers and a bidding war to get the highest and best offer accepted and get it to the bank. In the end the bank can re-negotiate the price settled from the listing agent and buyer to a much higher price. The price in the end is set by the appraised value and not the true market value although if the appraisal comes in low, it can be disputed to a higher amount with comps to support the offered price which sometimes include concessions to be paid on the buyers behalf. If the price offered is to low, you most likely will not get any concessions to help with buyer costs and if your buyer needs help, then the offer won't work out. If you want to get into escrow with your offers, use a saavy agent whom has been around from the last market like this one in the 1990's as you will probably have to offer more than the asking price and include part if not all of the concessions your buyer needs to close. I have seen some bargains out there right now as the buyers seem to be holding off which is so strange as every one comes out of no where in bidding wars at the top of the market. You can get some great bargains on HUD homes and get 10% off list price if there is not a lot of bidding competition and there are a lot of bargains out there on the daily bids...
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June 08 2011
@steadystate - They are the buyers agent which are also the selling agent as there are two agents. One representing the seller which is a listing agent and then the buyers agent aka selling agent because they sold the home. Sometimes the listing agent represents both the seller and the buyer which is a conflict of interest as you can't equally represent them both. Listing agents represent the seller in obtaining the highest and best offer and terms to net the seller the most money and a buyers agent represents the buyer in getting the lowest price within reason of the value and terms of obtaining consessions to be paid by the seller on the buyers behalf up to 6% which would not be on the table without a buyers agent. In most cases a buyers agent can get atleast 3% in concessions toward closing costs for the buyer...
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June 08 2011
Profile picture for Pasadenan
"I use strategy when it comes to price bargaining power" -

So does the Listing agent.  So does the owner.  So does the buyer.  So the buyer is better off skipping those "selling agents" that won't get them at least 60% off of the list price, in spite of the fact that the CMA's should have been used to properly establish a listing price in the first place, and than the average closing price tends to be only about 3 to 5% less than the list price.
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June 08 2011
...No but it is a good idea: a buyers agent can help you find homes that meet your criteria. I also check CMA's in the area if a buyer is interested in a home and of course I use stratagy when it comes to price bargaining power
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June 08 2011
You don't 'need' a Buyer's Agent to buy a house... but it's not a bad idea to have one, especially if it is at no cost to you.
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June 07 2011
Profile picture for SteadyState
Echoing Pasadenan's point:

Why is the buyer's agent listed as the Selling Agent on the MLS and on RE contracts?

Can a buyer's agent explain this contradiction?
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June 07 2011
I think that you should consider interviewing some agents in your market.  It will be no obligation.  Ask them what they would do to help you buy a home. You will have your answer directly from them.  Do not choose an agent and commit to them unless you are confident they will represent you.  Ask for recommendations from friends who are happy with their agent.  You should have a much better experience if you pick an agent and have them on your team!
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June 07 2011
Nope, you never did need a buyer's agent. The question is: why would you not want to have one? As has already been stated you're not really helping yourselves by not using one.
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June 07 2011
Always find a good agent for Real Esate Closings.
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June 07 2011
Legally, no you don't. However, buyers agents will help you get a better price since they know the market and the worth of houses in your area. Buyers agents will also do a lot of work for you by searching for houses that meet your criteria without you going through the hassle. Good luck!  
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June 07 2011
Technically, no you don't. That said, I strongly recommend it. Agents are trained in the field and have likely been through a number of unique transactions giving them expertise in the contracts, the processes, and the negotiations. Without an agent, you really need to be certain that you are prepared for all things that could occur, such as contingency negotiations, settlement disputes, etc. Buying a house is so much more than negotiating price, so think through your decision.
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June 07 2011
Profile picture for Pasadenan
I've never seen an agent yet that suggests to a client to not make offer on any specific house, nor to even suggest to "walk" from an offer after finding out certain conditions from an inspection or otherwise.  Instead, they always seem to try to convince the buyer that they can work things out; like taking a price reduction, or having the seller fix the problems.

It doesn't appear that any of them have the long term interests of the client in mind, but only assuring the client that buying is a reasonable thing to do, and getting the sale closed so that they are not showing 300 more houses to the same potential client.

And from my personal experience; none of those agents are going to point out deal breakers before the offer is made, such as roofing shingles that were trimmed 5" off each to make them look new from the ground, or heaters that were placed in the dirt under the house with the footings undermined.  With those "years of experience", don't you think they would know?  And when viewing and asking to see the heater, the agent states the inspector can look at that????  It is possible the agent already knew from a previous walk-through with another client?

And if you told the agent the size of your car and the priority for covered parking, don't you think the agent would screen the listings to make sure the car would fit?  But no; it doesn't seem to be a priority.  It is find something you are willing to make an offer on, and then try to convince you to stick with it.  But when the roof clearly needs replacing and the seller says "no", and no price adjustments, you are out the inspection fees and other time and costs, with nothing to show for it.

You think the better agents do better?  Which one of them has construction experience and is a licensed inspector, and will tell you up front about all possible issues?  Even the licensed inspectors that you pay for the inspection miss things, and most of them exclude items in non-accessible places from their report.

The "buyer's Agent" is not called the "selling agent" in the Multiple Listings and the contracts for nothing.  They are there to "sell", and that is their primary purpose.  Nothing else.
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June 07 2011
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"It's similar to going into a courtroom after being charged with a crime and representing yourself.  Do you really want to take all of the risks upon yourself?"

I think that would be a valid argument if agents were held to the same professional standards as attorneys, but they are not. It is hard enough to get the Bar to discipline a bad lawyer, but close to impossible to get a Board to act to remove a bad agent from their membership rolls.

There are excellent buyers agents, but buyers must take the time to interview more than one. You may have to kiss a lot of frogs before find a prince to represent you in real estate, but when you find them it is worth it.

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June 07 2011
A "buyers agent" is NOT required to buy a home.  However, buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions a person will make in their lifetime.  Why would you even consider buying a home without have professional representation to look out for YOUR best interests? The buyer's agent fees are paid for by the seller.  It's similar to going into a courtroom after being charged with a crime and representing yourself.  Do you really want to take all of the risks upon yourself?
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June 07 2011
Profile picture for SteadyState
CulverCityRealtor writes:
1. "You do if you want good representation" - please teach us what good representation means. Can you provide a list of dos and donts that comprise good representation.
2. "negotiation for the purchase of your home." - please teach us how your negotiating can help the buyer. In my experience, the buyer agent has also advised me to meet or beat the listing price. So please list what you do when you negotiate for the buyer. 
3. "Experienced professional" - please teach us what this means. List the minimum qualifications necessary and what you need to retain your professional status"
4. "dedicated to looking out for your interests.". Once again please teach me how you protect the buyers interest. Be specific.

I feel that the questions needs to be answered in more specific terms. Any REA willing to answer the questions above?
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June 06 2011
You do if you want good representation and negotiation for the purchase of your home. You do if you would like to have an experienced professional in your corner who is dedicated to looking out for your interests.

If you don't want these things, then buy from the person who is obligated to protect only the seller.
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June 04 2011
Unfortunately some realtors are sales people but that does not mean all of us are.

You can tell when you hear the closing questions. 

However a good realtor is honestly a necessity and would not care as much about the commission as making their client happy and getting referrals.

I believe there are two types of "sales people"  those who go for the most commission one and done.  who dont care about their client and will push for the close.  These type of people realize that getting less commission now but making their client happy will result in referrals and a potential client forever. When you meat that realtor or attorney or whomever who is truly concerned about your situation and they are there to help make it better not as concered about the commission you know you found someone you can trust. 

Then there are those who are more educational type of realtors, not closers but trying to show people the benefit of what they are looking for and let the buyer make the decision.  (Personally I prefer the second type of sales person). 

By the way if your a dual agent you do not need to tell the sellers every thing the buyers say.  Additionally you are not allowed to tell either client how much the other is willing to settle for.  if you can go into the transaction and not let the other know what your clients position is and not let the buyer know that the seller only needs to make x. than you may  be able to double end a transaction.  Even using two agents from the same office is a dual agency. 

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June 04 2011
...not to mention stating an outright lie is false advertising. 

I have yet to see a buyer's agent work for free. Maybe Ken does, but I feel that's not likely; I m sure he wants to be paid for his work same as any other agent.
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June 04 2011
Profile picture for Dunes....
Please follow the Good Neighbor Policy..it's the Ethical thing to do

"Spam, advertising, or self-promotional content is not allowed in Zillow Advice. This includes, but is not limited to, any contact information such as phone numbers, email addresses, or website URLs"
Good Neighbor Policy.
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June 04 2011

in a single word answer "YES!!!!", now let me explain:
first the agent is FREE to the buyer, the sellers pay the commission, (I would also add that you should sign a Buyers Agency Agreement so that you are under contract and are represented).
You want to have a person in your corner protecting you in the negotiations and the timelines of the contract, also we ad value in the respect that we do this as a profession and we know things to look for and protect you!
Third, you need an advocate for yourself.... if you use the listing agent they should tell the seller everything you say!!! it is their Ethical Standard.....

Check out this website it could help with more answers:
[website removed by Zillow moderator]
Have a great Day!
Ken

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June 04 2011
Profile picture for Confusing
I just cannot figure out why would a buyer's agent look after the buyer's interest when his commission comes from the seller? Wouldn't the buyer's agent get paid more if the house is sold at a higher price since it a percentage of the sale price? I think a buyer's agent would look after the buyer's interest if he is paid by the buyer and not the seller.
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June 04 2011
You would serve your self well using your own buyers agent instead of the sellers agent.

The sellers agent it the agent of the home owner not your agent. 

however buyers agent is paid from the listing commission.  

I believe you will get your best negotiating if you get a buyers agent. 

Example,  you want to make sure all inspections are done and nothing is left unturned.  

I think when the listing agent is a dual agent they are not fully fullfilling their fiduciary duty to either client. 

Additionally, it is not only about the commission.  Your working with an agent not only to find you the right home in the right area but to negotiate the best price and terms for you.

There are also legal terms in the agreement you want your realtor looking at as well.  Example you dont want to find out two weeks after closing that your hot tub doesnt work, never worked properly wiring was done incorrectly etc.  Get your own agent make sure they earn their commission. 
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June 04 2011
You can certainly buy a home with out using an agent but why would you want too. The commission comes from the seller so using an agent does not cost you any thing. Tou get the advice, Knowlege, and support of an agent. We can answer your questions, Help with negotiations and be your advocate all the way from beginning to end. We can help you find the perfect home quickly, help arrange financing by referring you to lenders we know will get the job done show you homes and tell you where to go to get answers we may not be able to answer from a legal stand point. If you go to the agent that listed the home to see it =, that agent is representing the seller not you. Wouldn't you want a professional on your team as well. Especially since it costs you nothing?
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June 03 2011
Profile picture for hpvanc
Unfortunately a fully honest agent could provide the exact same information to both a seller and buyer with out compromising either one, but they would be a facilitator rather than a salesperson.  I think the fact that they don't practice that level of honest and restraint is exactly why the public does not trust them.  The fact that a buyer specifically needs someone who is all about due diligence that often runs directly counter to the goals of a salesperson, buyers agents need to figure out how to completely turn off their salesmanship skills and instincts if they are going to earn the trust and respect of buyers.
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June 03 2011
in this market more than ever there is every reason to find a buyers agent.
They work for you, providing info they might not reveal if the tables are turned....its a win win situation!!..
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June 03 2011
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