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This is my first time buying a house, do I need to get a Real Estate Agent?

My fiance and I are looking for our first house. We don't know exactly what to do, so is there anybody who can offer advice. Should we get a Real Estate Agent to help us get this process going and help us out. We really are new to this so it would be great to have someone help us along the way. 
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July 17 2011 - Pasadena
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Profile picture for Michael Helton

Rissa, are you still reading this? 

Or are were you just a made-up account by someone who wanted to answer the question without appearing to be promoting themselves?

If you are here, what did you decide?

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July 20 2011
Absolutely, it is a must and make sure you hire an agent who knows the area.....ASK FOR REFERRALS, and a LIST OF SOLD properties.  In today's market there are too many lead generating companies selling leads to agents who do not know the area.  I see quite a few in the area I work that do not have knowledge of noise patterns from local airports, landfills,  leasehold interests in the land, rain shadow patterns, drive times, schools, medical services, etc.  You do not want to find out later after you have closed the sale.

Do lots of research on local agents and remember the seller pays the sales commission, not the buyer.
Tim
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July 20 2011
If you come to any other answer than yes.  Think again.   And make sure it's a good, patient one.  
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July 19 2011
Profile picture for auctionsaver
I was unsure about that too at first.  Now I am closing next month.

As a non-agent, I can say that you MUST ABSOLuTELY GET ONE.

Besides the fact that you don't pay for their services as it is taken out of the sllers commission, they will give you a wealth of info and help you negotiate better.  What you see on Zillow and what is on the trendmls are night and day.

The best suggestion that I have is to call around and openly tell agencies that you are setting up interviews for a buyers agent.  I talked to 3 people and went with the one that I was most comfortable with.  Best decision that I made.

Don't be afraid to ask the them the BIG QUESTION during the interview, "Why should I choose you?"  

My agent impressed me by her length of time in the business, her openess and her talking about why she got into real estate.  She went into because she really likes houses especially the older ones.  It was really refreshing hearing someone say that rather than "I like to work with people".  Her knowledge explaining what to look for in each house was incredible.

Toward the end, after looking at dozen of houses, I was comfortable enough to ask her which of the 3 houses that I had settled on that she would choose and why.  She chose the one that I was most interested in, and added some positives that I had not thought of while looking at it.  I also found her to actually be more critical of some houses than I generally would have been as I am a little more laid back.
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July 19 2011
Hello Rissa,

Really you don't have to get one if you don't want to, its not mandatory. BUT, if you find a good agent he/she will show you ways to save money with insurance, mortgages, he/she knows how to talk to other professionals on how to get the price down on houses. So really the benefit of having a Agent is that he/she should save you money. And I know that you'd love to save money. The trick is to find one that is good. Interview several agents, and then decide. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Thank you,

Matthieu Benoot
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July 19 2011
Yes you diffently want to have a agent to represent you in this type of transaction. They are professionals and know what to look for and help guide you down the right path
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July 19 2011
Yes!  They know what they are doing - Find someone who is experienced!  Best of luck!  :)
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July 19 2011
good short form answer: Yes. 
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July 19 2011
Buying a home can be stressful and scary at the same time - especially for a first-time-buyer. An experienced and compassionate buyer's agent can help alleviate that stress and make your home buying experience enjoyable. Typically, it doesn't cost you anything to work with a buyer's agent since the seller pays the commission at closing. A great buyer's agent will explain the home buying process to you in detail, be patient and answer any questions you may have. To find the right agent, you may want to get referrals from friends and family or do a google search for an agent in the area you are looking for. Look for testimonials to see what kind of experience other buyers had with the agent. Check out the Working with Agents Brochure from the NC Real Estate Commission for more information: http://www.ncrec.gov/pdf/brochures/WorkingwAgents.pdf 
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July 19 2011
The one trend that I see making a huge comeback, is having hyper-local knowledge of the market. Agents who have actually been inside the recent comparable sales and know the nuances of the different nieighborhoods, have an expertise that cannot be translated into simply pulling up comps on a website.  There are many who may have overpaid due to an agent that didnt have those tools and may have encouraged the buyers that they weren't paying too much. 

The buyers out there today tend to ask more questions about an agent's local expertise.  I am very glad that they do.  They will make a better purchase.
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July 19 2011
Profile picture for hpvanc
A few of the agents have given you some good advice that it would be helpful if you could find a good agent.  My problem is that given the percentage of agents that would meet my criteria as an acceptable representative would if be faster to just learn it on your own. 

Personally I believe to be a good buyers agent the one thing that the agent can not be is someone who considers themselves a sales person in an occupation where 99% of the practitioners consider themselves primarily sales people.  Even if you don't take the hard line on the sales person issue, no matter how you slice and dice the trusted professional versus sales person issue it comes down to that person being able to put their sales inclinations aside to properly represent you.  Unfortunately agents that are capable of doing so are hard to find, let alone agents that are willing to put salesmanship aside enough to provide professional technical representation instead of personal sales are even rarer.

There are some different business models out there, the larger chains of them seem to be Redfin, and Zip Realty.  I am sure there are other local options some places that might be able to provide professional representation over salesmanship (yes I meant to imply that professionalism and salesmanship are almost entirely mutually exclusive).
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July 18 2011
You could buy a house without the advice and support of an experienced agent and the company the agent works for just like you could build a new home from the ground up.  The truth is that you will get a better home with less cost, in less time by utilizing the a good professional.  I would ask for referrals from friends and relatives, develop a list of active agents in the area you want to buy and then set up an interview process for the agents you think might work for you.  One suggestion is to look for buyer side agents that have successfully closed transactions of equal or greater value of the type of transaction you are contemplating (short sale, standard sale, REO, probate, brand new home, etc)
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July 18 2011

In searching for an agent with a proven track record in the areas that are most important to you (perhaps having expertise in a certain neighborhood, a strong emphasis on customer service, being detail oriented, aggressive, & personable, etc,) it may be helpful to go by recommendation of someone you know.  Often times you can get a good feeling about an agent by their profile on various websites such as zillow.com.  Before signing an agency agreement with that agent, be sure that you are comfortable committing to that agent, and find out if there is some sort of protection in getting out of that agreement if they are not doing their job.  With Coldwell Banker, buyers and sellers receive a Services Guarantee that allows them to be released from the agency agreement if the agent is not doing their job.  While I am not licensed in Pasadena, I can help you find an agent there who is right for you.   Let me know if I can help.

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July 18 2011
Rissa,

As a buyer you don't pay the commission of the Realtor.  The only time that would happen is if you want to buy a For Sale By Owner home and that home owner does not agree to pay the commission.  Other than that our fee to you is nothing.  The Sellers pay the commission.  You shouldn't go at it alone.  We have expertise in this field for reason. You need to find a loyal Realtor and one that has your best interest in need.  Some just want the pay check.  However we all like to get paid for our work don't get me wrong but you want one who keeps in contact with you and keeps an eye out.  You want people with great technology as well so you can get the latest listings according to your criteria as soon as they come on the market.  Visit us at [website removed by Zillow moderator] We would love to answer any other questions you may have.
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July 18 2011
Profile picture for Michael Helton

Two thumbs up for Connie's comment about having an agent who will educate you.

Rissa, just a couple more comments.

1)  If you do decide to go with an agent you should know that their fee is negotiable.  Do NOT just accept their standard commission rate.

2)  Agents will tell you that having a buyer's agent is "free" for you, but this is not true.  There are many threads and articles on this, but the bottom line is that is will cost you in the end.  Many times the agent is worth the cost, but do not believe the hype that it is free.

3)  Do your homework.  Know what houses are going for, and what lending rates are averaging and learn about as much as possible in the buying process.  Then it is easy to compare what your agent is telling you with what other sources (who are not making money off of you) are saying.

I have sold/bought homes with and without agents and every time I came out ahead financially without the agent.  However, there were times when the agent made the process much easier (and once made it much more difficult).

In the end it is your choice.  Just go in eyes wide open.

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July 18 2011
Absolutely Yes.  Further, you should actually interview a few agents before deciding who you feel comfortable with and who has the experience and local market knowledge to make sure you buy well.  Typically, a good agent has a few trusted mortgage folks that they feel comfortable with.  This is more important nowadays.  That same agent should have a trusted local attorney who specializes in real estate.  Yes, any attorney can help you, but I find that they tend to not be familiar with the documents and charge more than attorneys who do this everyday.  Having an attorney from some big firm in downtown sounds cool, but you will be paying downtown rates as well.  DO try and interiew a veteran agent who has been through unstable markets in the past and knows the community you are looking in like the back of their hand!  Good luck!
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July 18 2011
Absolutely YES! It doesnt cost you and the guidance is critical. I was just thinking about something similar yesterday; my client purchase a home, with me as their agent, it was an unrepresented seller, we bought that home for well under what it should have sold for had the sellers had an agent on their side, I negotiated a new roof, 5K in closing costs and a home warranty, plus,plus, plus.....the sellers in their 'effort' to save commission, actually cost themselves more..so my answer, again
YES, find a good agent, we can refer you, click on our names and email us.....and enjoy the buying process rather than sweating it, good Rissa, I hope you both find the home of your dreams.
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July 18 2011
It is great to read a lot about the homebuying process however, there is too much information out there and sometimes it can overload you and confuse you.

Since it's your very first home, I highly recommend that you align yourself with a great Realtor that can walk you through all the steps and answer ALL your questions.

Michael's suggest to get pre-approved for a loan is right on as well (thumbs up, good to read you again Michael).  Your agent should be able to recommend a reputable lender too.

Good luck,

Naima
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July 18 2011
First, get a pre approval letter from a lender.

You need to know how much you can afford as well as how much you are comfortable spending on your mortgage every month for the next 30 years.

THEN you can go look at homes. Talk to your neighbors, friends co-workers and ask if they know someone that they would recommend to be your real estate agent.

Also check out some open houses in the neighborhood where you are considering moving. But if you find a house you want to buy, I would avoid using the listing agent to represent you too. (But don't assume the agent you meet at the open house is the listing agent).
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July 17 2011
you can go it without one or you can go with one.
chances are that you'll buy a home that is listed.  in that case there is an agent involved- it will be the listing agent. 

Here's my two cents.  You can benefit from having an agent.  but if you get one that works too hard and persuading you and spends less time giving you options then you'd have been better off alone.  Interview a few, and keep track of how much time they are spending educating you vs. convincing you of something.  Go with the educator, they will help you keep up with next steps and options without trying to decide for you.
plus if there are problems, that personality is more likey to have an open mind to find options to solve the problems rather than push through one solution they've pre-defined.

good luck.
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July 17 2011
Profile picture for Michael Helton
Short Answer: No.

Longer Answer:  If you are willing to spend a little bit of time and energy learning about the process then you can do most of it of your own and save thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

It all comes down to your time, intellect, and willingness to try new things.

If you really do not want to be bothered, then yes, get an agent.
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July 17 2011
 
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