If you are thinking about buying a house this year or even in the near future, one of the things you might have been asking yourself is whether you need to hire a real estate agent or not. After all, you know how to browse through online listings (which is something you might already love doing during your free time). It should be easy enough to find a property you like, contact the listing agent, and then go from there to get your dream home. So why bother using a realtor? What's the point?
In reality, purchasing a home isn't as simple as buying something online or even buying a car. It’s one of the most significant transactions you’ll ever deal with. Here are just some of the few risks you’ll be leading yourself into when you decide not to hire a buyer’s agent and enter a complicated real estate transaction without representation.
House-hunting nowadays may have been made easier by the internet. Buyers are now able to see homes available for sale in various real estate websites. However, real estate agents have access to a wider variety of available listings that aren't listed on traditional channels. Likewise, a buyer’s agent will help you to widen your search terms so you’d see more homes that fit your needs.
Also, your expectations will be matched with the reality of what is currently available in the market and what houses you can afford. Having a professional who has their pulse on all the data will make the arduous home search process more bearable.
Without a realtor, you're going through this journey with no neighborhood specialist to rely on. Sure, you can and (actually need to) research vital information such as school districts, zoning codes, crime rates, local trends, current market values, etc. But local real estate agents will be able to tell you more about those things, and give you reputable data and other facts about the neighborhood you're considering. They probably even know the best coffee shops or restaurants in town, making them the best resource if you want to familiarize yourself in your potential neighborhood.
Besides, doing some research on your own is a tedious task that is best to have help with, especially if you have no idea where to start.
When touring houses, many first-time home buyers don't know how to spot potential problems that could cause issues in the sale later on. They may be blinded by the cosmetic finishes and upgrades instead of being on the lookout for these potential issues.
But your agent will be able to recognize any telltale signs of issues in a property, such as mold, roofing problems, pests and insect infestation, water leaks, damp or wet basement, cracks in the foundation, and others. With their keen eye and experienced judgement, they will be able to help you determine if there are additional inspections necessary, including radon or mold inspection. Your realtor will also tag along during the home inspection to hear what the inspector finds, and help to accurately convey the information to you as a buyer.
Even if you think of yourself as an expert negotiator, you will need a professional who is adept at negotiating the best price for your home purchase.
By analyzing the value of the home you're looking to buy through comparable sales or “comps”, an exceptional buyer’s agent will help you come up with a competitive offer. They will also advise you on what should be your next steps once the seller responds.
They will help you look at the current conditions of the property to find any issues that could be leveraged during negotiations, especially after consulting the home inspection report. By having a talented negotiator in your corner, you’ll be assured that the price you intend to pay is the price that the home is worth.
When you decide to buy a home without getting the help of a real estate agent, you'll be left to review and understand on your own the tons of documents involved in a real estate transaction. The real estate industry is already full of legal jargon—but more so the multiple contracts and paperwork that also have to be 100 percent correct. Sure, any confusing term is just a Google search away, but would you want to take such a huge risk when your biggest investment is at stake?
Real estate agents can explain the impact of those terms or clauses to you so you can have a thorough understanding of what you’re getting into. They can clarify the difference between a disclosure and an agreement, go over seller disclosures, or explain every contingency that might affect the deal and put you on the losing side. By having an expert on your side, you’ll be able to ask the right questions, cover every base, and to make sure you’re not being taken advantage of by the other party.