What Is a Buyer’s Agent? A Trusted Guide Who’ll Help You Find a Home
Ready to house hunt?
It’s a jungle out there: Prepare for a flurry of paperwork, stampedes of buyers
competing for the same digs, and other challenges, before you get your hands on
those house keys.
We won’t lie: The
process can be complex and stressful—especially if you are a first-time buyer.
Having a real estate pro by your side can make all the difference.
You might have
heard of buyer’s agents, selling agents, listing agents, and so on. You’re a buyer,
so what is a buyer’s agent?
True to their name,
buyer’s agents help real estate buyers navigate the real estate market;
they can also save you tons of time and money on the road to your new
Read on to learn
how a real estate buyer’s agent can help, and how to find the right
one for you.
Benefits of using a
buyer’s agent when buying real estate
“A buyer’s agent will
guide you through the home-buying transaction and be at your disposal for
any questions or concerns,” says Shane Wilcox, a Realtor® with
Partners Trust. Here are some of the things a buyer’s agent can do:
the right property. After
determining what the clients are looking for and what they can afford, the
agent will schedule appointments to tour homes that fit the bill. The agent can
also explain the ins and outs of various properties and neighborhoods, to help
buyers decide which home is right for them, by explaining the pros and cons of
offer. The buyer’s
agent will advise clients on an appropriate price to offer and present it to
the seller’s agent. “Then they will negotiate on your behalf and write up
the contracts for you,” says Matt Laricy, a Realtor with Americorp
Real Estate in Chicago. This is where the agent’s experience in
negotiating deals can save you money and help you avoid pitfalls like a
fixer-upper that’s more trouble than it’s worth.
professionals. A buyer’s agent
should also be able to refer you to reliable mortgage brokers, real estate
attorneys, home inspectors, movers, and other real estate professionals. This
can also help expedite each step of the process and move you to a
successful real estate sale all the faster.
overcome setbacks. If the home inspector’s report or appraisal brings new issues to
light, a buyer’s agent can advise you on how to proceed with the
transaction, and then act as a buffer between you and the sellers or their
broker. If negotiations become heated or hostile, it’s extremely helpful to
have an experienced professional keeping calm and offering productive
Buyer’s agent vs.
listing agent: What’s the difference?
Buyer’s agents are
legally bound to help buyers, whereas listing agents—the real estate agent
representing the home listing—have a fiduciary duty to the home seller.
“That’s why it’s in your
best interest as a buyer to get an agent who is there to represent you,” explains Alex
Cortez, a Realtor with Wailea Village Properties in Kihei, HI.
“Think about it this
way: If you were getting sued, would you hire the same attorney as the
person suing you? Of course not. You need someone who will diligently fight for
your interests and rights.”
Let’s say, for instance,
you walked up to the listing agent at an open house. You might gush about how
you love the home and want to buy it, but add that you will need to move
soon—because you’re expecting your second child and need to decorate the
nursery, pronto, or because the lease on your rental is up in a couple of
A seller’s agent could
then use this information against you by informing the sellers that your clock
is ticking, so they shouldn’t budge too much on their asking price—if at all.
Yet make this same
confession to the buyer’s agent you’re working with, and it’s all fine—this
professional would know to keep this info private from sellers (and their
agents), so it can’t be used against you.
Some states, recognizing
this problem, required a disclosure of dual agency when a broker represents
both sides of a real estate transaction.
However, you may still
not be comfortable after signing an agreement saying you know someone is a
double agent. You might want to hire an agent who is not representing the
owner, and who is looking out for your best interests.
How to find a
A good buyer’s agent can
ease your way to homeownership—and a bad one can result in a bumpy ride.
You should not just take
the first buyer’s agent you meet (as two-thirds of home buyers do), or blindly
accept the recommendation of a friend (more than half do this). Instead, it’s
best to interview at least three agents and ask them a few questions, including
What neighborhoods do
you specialize in? Real estate requires local expertise, so you
should find an agent who’s extremely familiar with the areas you’re
What’s your schedule
and availability? Part-time real estate agents who are committed can do a
fine job, but if the house of your dreams pops up or you encounter last-minute
closing snafus, you want an agent who will be readily reachable.
How long have you been
a real estate agent? You ideally want someone with a couple of years of
experience, and a proven track record of selling homes.
To find real estate
agents in your area, head to realtor.com/realestateagents,
where you can also read online reviews provided by past clients and
Once you agree to work
with someone, you will have to sign a contract called an “exclusive buyer
agency agreement,” outlining the agent’s services and compensation (more on
This contract also means
that this person will be your sole representative and that you won’t work with
other buyer’s agents.
How much do buyer’s
Home buyers don’t need
to worry about the expense of hiring a buyer’s agent. Why? Because the seller
pays the commission for both the seller’s and buyer’s agents.
commission is the equivalent of about 6% of the home’s sales price, which is split evenly between
both agents (on a $200,000 home, that would be $6,000 apiece).
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