Benefits of Real Estate Agents for Home Buyers

Buying a home is a significant financial transaction and a major decision. That’s why 85% of buyers use a real estate agent or broker to help them navigate the complicated home search and purchase process. For most buyers, having an expert by your side who has your best interest in mind is a no-brainer.

Why use a real estate agent to buy a home

In a Zillow survey, buyers who hired agents reported these as the top-three, highest-valued activities provided by their real estate agent:

  • Organized and submitted the paperwork associated with purchasing their home (87% of buyers with an agent said this service as very or extremely valuable)
  • Took buyers on private home tours (84% said this was highly valuable)
  • Led contract negotiations (84% said this was highly valuable)

1. Save money on your home purchase

Buyers typically do not pay an out-of-pocket cost to work with their own agent. The seller generally pays their listing agent a gross commission, which is then split between the listing agent and the buyer’s agent. However, in some cases buyer’s agents do pay their agents directly if they agree to their buyer’s agency agreement, so be sure to discuss commission payment terms with your agent carefully.

Buyers agents can help you save in many other ways. They can help you avoid paying too much for a house, can use negotiation strategies to get you a better deal and ensure you are fulfilling all contractual obligations so you don’t end up in legal or financial hot water.

Determine fair market value

When you’re ready to put an offer in on a home, your agent should be able to help you determine an appropriate offer price, based on the fair market value of the home and market conditions. To do this, they’ll run a comparative market analysis (often abbreviated as CMA), using comparable, recent nearby sales.

Your agent can also help you adjust your offer price to account for any glaring defects in the house.

Negotiate offer price

Your agent knows the local market better than you do, so they can let you know when it’s reasonable to push for a better deal. Market conditions change month by month and season by season, and your agent should be well-versed in these fluctuations. For example, just because you’re buying in a sellers market, it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to negotiate — it all comes down to the individual home, price and seller. A skilled agent can also gain pricing insights by talking to the listing agent. For example, before you submit an offer, your agent can ask the seller’s agent how firm they are on price.

Keep the purchase on track

There are a lot of deadlines to keep track of in a home purchase. Your agent will make sure you’re fulfilling your end of the deal, which can help you avoid costly missteps.

2. Gain access to listings faster

As a buyer, you can search most public listings, both agent-listed and for sale by owner (FSBO), on Zillow and agent sites, but agents are plugged in all the time to what’s on the market and can often spot new homes that have come on faster than you can.

Networking with other agents

There are many reasons why a listing might not yet be on the local MLS. Perhaps the seller is still completing renovations, or they’re waiting until the holidays are over to put their house on the market. Through their connections with other local agents, your agent may have knowledge about homes coming on the market soon, before they show up on the MLS.

Extensive knowledge of what’s available

Agents usually have a better grasp on the inventory in your area, and the MLS functionality they have access to has more filters than what you’ll find on buyer-facing sites. If you’re looking for a very specific home, you’ll have better odds of finding it when you work with an agent.

Similarly, if your agent works with a lot of buyers like you — first time buyers, for example — they already have a good working knowledge of the active listings that are likely to fit your criteria and can make suggestions based on your must-have list.

Ability to spot red flags

Because agents tour so many homes and attend numerous inspections, they know the warning signs for expensive issues like failing roofs and water damage. This knowledge can help you avoid a home that’s more of a fixer-upper than you’re looking for, and also help you avoid inspection issues before closing.

3. Personalize your shopping support

Especially for first-time buyers, the home purchase process can be overwhelming. Even experienced buyers struggle to keep up with all the details. A great buyer’s agent spends their time searching for homes that fit your criteria, negotiating and drafting contracts, advocating on your behalf and generally overseeing the process. Having an experienced agent by your side can be a relief, especially with so much money on the line.

Real estate agents owe certain duties to the clients they represent, which means they have a legal and ethical obligation to serve your needs, which can include:

  • Working for your interest in the transaction
  • Providing disclosures
  • Offering guidance
  • Keeping certain information confidential

4. Access professional negotiating power

Buying a home is exciting, stressful and often emotional. If you do the negotiating, without negotiating experience, your passion could compromise your ability to get what you want. Agents know how to frame requests in a way that makes sellers more likely to oblige, and they can do all the negotiating while maintaining a good rapport with the listing agent and seller — which can come in handy if issues come up later in the deal.

5. Get paperwork and process assistance

Home purchase contracts can be 10 pages or more, and they can include multiple contingencies. Your agent will help you juggle disclosures you’ll want to request, like documentation on mold, lead paint, radon and average utility bills.

Agents also have tools that make signing stacks of paperwork much less tedious. Many agents use digital signatures, email delivery systems and mobile signing capability, so you won’t have to worry about going into an office multiple times to sign documents during the average 30-45 day escrow period. Thanks to this technology, you may even be able to complete your closing without ever leaving your home.

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