Buying a house is like any new venture, in that it can be helpful to have someone show you the ropes. Whether you’re starting a new job, taking up a new sport or making a major purchase, an expert can help guide you on a successful path. As a potential homebuyer, think of a buyer’s agent as your personal expert. Buyer’s agents are licensed professionals who represent the buyer during the homebuying process.
What does a buyer’s agent do?
A buyer’s agent does many things to help you along your homebuying journey. For example:
- Providing expert advice: While you may have an idea about the type of home you want, it may be helpful to have someone identify your priorities. A buyer’s agent can help you determine your must-haves and nice-to-haves while keeping you realistic about what this might look like within your budget.
- Finding potential homes: The next step is finding potential homes. After getting to know their client, buyer’s agents will find potential homes that target all, or most, of the buyer’s needs. While there are public listings available to any homebuyer, a buyer’s agent has specific, exclusive access to multiple listing services (MLS) that market homes only people with real estate licenses can access.
- Setting up tours: Your buyer’s agent can help you set up tours. If they find a house of interest, they can contact the listing agent or seller to set up a tour for you. Depending on their network, some buyer’s agents may even get exclusive access to tour a home before it’s listed for sale. Having someone to set up a tour helps relieve you from spending time organizing the back-and-forth logistics.
- Helping with offers and negotiations: Once you find a home you want to bid on, your buyer’s agent can help send out an offer and negotiate with the seller. Due to their familiarity with the housing market, they can help you decide on a strategic first bid that sets negotiations off to a good start. When the seller responds, the buyer’s agent will receive the communication, help you decide on a next step and finally communicate that to the seller’s agent.
- Connecting you with other relevant parties along the way: As your homebuying journey moves forward, your buyer’s agent can help connect you with other relevant parties along the way. For example, they may help continue communications with relevant parties during closing, or help you organize a home inspection.
Buyer’s agent vs. seller’s agent
The buyer’s agent, sometimes also called a selling agent, represents the buyer, whereas the seller’s agent, also known as the listing agent, represents the seller. The listing agent helps market the home for sale, liaise visits and complete the home sale. Your buyer’s agent may also act as the seller’s agent for a different client.
Buyer’s agent vs. Realtors
A Realtor is an agent, but an agent isn’t always a Realtor. “Realtors,” (spelt with a capital “R”) are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and have taken specific courses to become a NAR member. A buyer’s agent who isn’t a Realtor will have a standard real estate license.
Do I need a buyer’s agent?
While you may not necessarily need a buyer’s agent, they may be helpful to have.
As mentioned, a buyer’s agent helps you find potential homes that you may not be able to find on your own. They help liaise between you and the seller, negotiate your offer and set up tours and help connect you with other relevant parties along the way. Without a buyer’s agent, you may be looking at a lot more time and effort spent on your homebuying journey.
While a real estate buyer’s agent is often a helpful person to have on your side, there are a few potential downsides. First and foremost, you’ll likely pay a fee for the buyer’s agent. Buying and moving into a new home is already costly, so adding another person to the roster may not be worth it for some.
How to find a buyer’s agent
There are a few ways to find a buyer’s agent near you:
- Asking family or friends who have sold a home.
- Looking at online home listing directories.
- Using an online search engine and plugging in “buyer’s agent near me.”
It’s best practice to look at reviews and interview a few buyer’s agents before settling on one to help ensure you’re comfortable with their expertise.
Who pays buyer’s agent commission?
Buyer’s agents generally work on a commission basis. The fee is typically split between the seller and the seller’s agent. When a seller hires an agent, they typically agree to pay them a certain commission. This commission is typically shared with a cooperating buyer’s agent once the home is sold.
A buyer’s agent represents the buyer during the homebuying process. They help their clients identify places within their budget, liaise with the seller and help with relevant logistics all the way through closing. While it isn’t required to have a buyer’s agent, it may make your homebuying experience smoother.
Buyer’s agent FAQs
What is a buyer’s agent fee?
A buyer’s agent fee is the commission the buyer’s agent gets from the home sale, often paid for by the seller or the seller’s agent.
Can I buy a house without an agent?
Yes, you can buy a house without an agent. However, your access to online listings may be limited and it may be more time consuming than using an agent.
Can a buyer work with multiple agents
A buyer may work with multiple agents depending on the contract they have with their agents. Some buyer’s agents will only work with a client if they commit to exclusivity.