In every real estate transaction that you will ever encounter, there will be two parties involved: the buyer and the seller.
And because most people are somewhat unfamiliar with the general real estate process—a process that can take anywhere from a few days to a few months—each of these parties will likely need to get some help along the way.
Buying a home involves more than simply finding a property you like on Zillow and making a bid. This is why there are currently an estimated 2 million licensed real estate agents in the United States alone.
If you are interested in purchasing a home, you might have a few questions about working with a buyer’s agent—like what they do and what your experience might end up being like. Let’s take a closer look.
What is a Buyer’s Agent?
As the term suggests, the buyer’s agent is a real estate agent that specifically works with the buyer. The buyer’s agent is considered a direct representative of the buyer, meaning they have a legal obligation to genuinely represent and pursue the buyer’s best interest. They must ensure their clients are sincerely getting the best deals they possibly can. They will play a crucial role throughout the process, ranging from helping them find a home that fits their needs (and budget constraints) and ensuring that the buyer is actually able to close on the property of their dreams.
How is a Buyer’s Agent Different from a Listing Agent?
A listing agent, on the contrary, is the real estate agent that explicitly works with the seller. They are the ones who will be responsible for listing the property and managing all the steps included in the selling process. Like a buyer’s agent, a listing agent also has a legal obligation to act in the best interest of the client they represent. Most real estate agents work as both buyer’s agents and listing agents. Generally speaking, representing the person selling the property typically involves more work than representing the person buying the property.
What Are the Basic Responsibilities of a Buyer’s Agent?
There are a lot of steps involved in the real estate process, which is why approximately 89 percent of all prospective homebuyers will use a real estate agent. Some of their most important responsibilities include (but are not limited to):
• Helping their clients set a budget: one of the most important things to do when shopping for a home is to determine your budget. This will make it much easier to narrow down your options. A buyer’s agent will usually look at a wide array of personal and financial criteria and then determine what the optimal budget will be.
• Discovering listings: these days, it is very easy to find general real estate listings. The development of the MLS system has helped make this easier. But, despite the usefulness of platforms like Zillow, Redfin, Xome, and others, it is hard to find all of the properties that are currently available. With a good buyer’s agent, you will be able to discover every property available in your area, which might include many you’d overlook will searching on your own.
• House Showings: most people want to see a house before they actually buy it. In most cases, your buyer’s agent will make it much easier to schedule house showings, including the finer details like getting permission to actually go inside, helping you evaluate the state of the house, and expanding your viewing options.
• Answering Questions: there are a lot of questions that will inevitably emerge over the course of the home buying process. Having an agent who has seen the process play out will be an extremely valuable resource—remember, they are on your side!
• Connecting with Other Resources: your buyer’s agent will also make it much easier to connect with the other people you need throughout the process, such as an inspector, loan officer, home improvement specialist, and more.
• Buyer Protections: buyers should be very protective of their resources—working with an agent will help you avoid potential scams, misleading situations, or other unfortunately common obstacles you’ll want to avoid.
• Negotiations: perhaps most importantly, your buyer’s agent will help serve as a critical resource throughout the negotiation process. Negotiations can potentially shift the “true” asking price for a home by ten percent or more (in both directions)—this is where working with an agent will truly be worth it.
Who Usually Pays the Buyer’s Agent?
At first, it is the buyer’s responsibility to pay for their own agent. However, in the majority of home sales, all costs associated with the buyer’s agent will ultimately be covered by the seller.
Do I Really Need a Buyer’s Agent?
It is not legally necessary for a buyer to hire their own agent. However, due to the fact that the cost of hiring one will usually be covered by the seller, it will almost always make sense to find one. Working with an agent will make it much more likely you end up finding the right home, at the right time, at the right price.
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