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When I received my realtor’s license in 2009, I vowed not to be the realtor I dealt with on my first home purchase:
I bought my first home in 1999. We found a great home at a great price, with great bones and only had a few shortcomings, thanks to the thorough home inspection. We did not use a buyer’s agent for our purchase, which we later came to regret. We were young and home buying virgins! We didn’t know about a “final walkthrough” or know that we could be a part of the negotiations beyond the price.
On closing day, we sat at the closing table with the buyers and it was all good. Paperwork took about 45 minutes and at noontime, we headed over to our new home with a full truck and high hopes. We expected that the house would be empty, cleaned out and generally in good shape. What we did NOT expect: the seller still moving out and believe it or not, still packing! We were flabbergasted, to say the least. Finally, at 4:30 in the afternoon, the sellers were gone and we started to move boxes into our new home.
Nothing could have prepared me for the mess that was left; trash, dirty floors, spilled cat litter, leftover boxes, newspaper, etc. I was definitely upset. To top things off, the selling agent stopped by around 6:00 p.m. to drop off extra keys she had promised. She walked right in without knocking and seemed to be oblivious to the fact that six hours after the closing, we were heavy-duty cleaning, so that we could move our things in. The moving truck sat out front, full of our belongings. I immediately let her know that we walked into a still-occupied, very dirty home and that we were appalled. She looked genuinely shocked and tried to apologize. I realized right there that we had made a mistake in not being represented. A buyer’s rep would have insisted that the sellers had vacated 24 hours before closing, that we scheduled a final walkthrough and that we would inherit a “broom clean” property. Since we were not represented, there was no one to set these terms and see that they were followed.
As a buyer, you should be fully represented and here’s why:
- It’s free. 9.9 times out of 10, it costs a homebuyer nothing to engage a buyer’s representative to help them find the perfect home. There are some agreements where the realtor is paid by the buyer client, but it is uncommon.
- Buyer agents have access to information and the expertise and training that a non-realtor does not. Websites like Zillow and Trulia have generalized information that is run through aggregators to arrive at “Zestimates” and opinions of value. Your realtor has access to a live database (MLS) to find comparable properties, local data and real-life instances to draw from when they are helping you find a property, for the price you are willing to pay. They can see not only how long the home has been on the market, but how many times it has been listed, known issues with a home and they may even know the listing agent. A website cannot perform these functions.
- A buyer’s agent will represent your best interests – they are bound to reveal nothing about your search, situation, financials or anything else that would give the seller favorable information about you.
- Establishing a relationship with a buyer’s agent is a heck of a lot less work than contacting different listing agents on every home you are interested in. The listing agent is working for the SELLER. Make no mistake; a listing agent owes their loyalty and fiduciary responsibility to the seller, not to an interested buyer. Any information you tell to a seller’s agent will be used to help their client receive top dollar for that listing. Working with a buyer’s agent will save you time, money and while negotiating on your behalf, will keep your information confidential.
- The buyer’s agent knows their community and different neighborhoods. They can recommend the areas with the best schools, best retirement communities or whatever amenities the buyer is looking for, especially if they are moving from out of state.
Next month - Why Sellers Also Need Professional Representation - Stay Tuned!