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Seven Reasons Why Home Buyers Need Their Own Agent

Aug 17, 2007
Except for 'For Sale By Owner' homeowners (AKA as unrepresented sellers), Sellers who have their home listed will have an agent looking out for them.........so why not you, the Buyer? Shouldn't you have someone in your corner 'looking out for you'?

Sellers with their home listed have a Listing Agent, who is contractually bound to 1) make every effort to obtain the highest price for the home, and 2) exclusively negotiate favorably all terms and conditions for the Seller. So, when you call on a listing, you'll most likely get the Listing Agent. Although the agent may be friendly, personable, and offering accommodating arrangements to show and describe the home, when it comes time to write a contract and beyond, that agent will be looking out for the seller.

Buyers are often lulled into thinking they'll be alright. They may get lucky and do okay, but more than likely, they will come out better, both financially and contractually, had they had a Buyer Agent on your side.

Let's put one issue to rest right up front......and that is this common thought, "Well, if I only have to deal with one agent, instead of two, that's one less commission that gets paid......money that can reduce the price......to my benefit."

Sounds good, and one espoused by some ill advised seminar leaders out there, but in the majority of cases, it doesn't work that way. For that idea to work, one must essentially negotiate away from the Listing Agent half of the commission that the Seller has already agreed to pay them via the Listing Agreement (a legal contract). The Seller, again via the Listing Agreement, has agreed to allow a Buyer Agent who procures a Buyer to share in the commission. But there is no Buyer Agent, as the buyer is unrepresented. So guess what......that money stays with the Listing Agent.

A 'commission cutting' buyer will have to be a very good negotiator to persuade the Listing Agent to give up half of their paycheck. One may get a small percentage break, but more likely it would be less than what a good Buyer Agent can negotiate on the transaction.........like a lower price, more Seller paid closing costs, better Seller paid repairs, a Seller paid home warranty, etc. So, unless one plays the negotiating game daily, like most high volume Listing Agents do, the buyer is more likely to pay more in the end than if they had a Buyer Agent......so much for saving money!

So, just what is it that makes a Buyer Agent so beneficial? ....or better yet, what's the benefit to you to use one? Here's seven reasons......there's most likely a few more, but seven is everyone's lucky number:

1. A good Buyer Agent will negotiate the best price for their client and their client alone. They bring knowledge of the local market, awareness of zoning issues affecting property value, and they network with lots of agents revealing perhaps the sellers motivations (now doesn't that present an advantage in negotiations?).

Also, they can advise buyers on the future marketability of the property (remember....the buyer, or the buyer's heirs, will need to sell the property some day.

2. Over the years, experienced Buyer Agents get to know who the good home inspectors are and also the bad ones.......and unfortunately, there's plenty of bad ones. In some states, home inspectors are totally unregulated. It's the weakest link in the home buying process, where transactions often fall apart. Here in Georgia, a ladder and flashlight will put someone in the home inspection business ............and we're not too sure about the ladder!

Knowing the right vendors go beyond just home inspectors. What if the HVAC needs to be checked out? How about the roof? Home inspectors typically don't go beyond a cursory check of these components and often recommend that a licensed contractor inspect these components, anyway. A good Buyer Agent will know the honest contractors who will complete an objective inspection for a reasonable fee.

3. There's no cost to the buyer! Buyer Agents are paid by sharing in the listing broker's commission as previously agreed to by the seller via the listing agreement (a legal contract) when the property was listed. Commission costs to the seller are the same, regardless of who sells the home.

As stated earlier, thinking one can buy the home for a lower price because there's one less agent involved is erroneous thinking. Listing agents aren't about to give up any dollars the seller has already agreed to pay. Furthermore, one can argue that attempting to 'downsize' that commission can be interpreted as "interfering" with a legally binding contract.......that's illegal, folks.

4. A good Buyer Agent can find homes that meet the buyer's requirements faster and better than the buyer, regardless of all the wonderful public internet websites that profess to have _all_ the listings in their database. How? Active networking agents will know about homes that are available, but not listed.

Past clients of active high production agents will often tell them 'Susie Agent, we really don't want to deal with the rigors of listing our home, and we're certainly not under any 'must move' time constraints, so if you come across someone who might be interested, please keep our home in mind'......happens all the time.

Another scenario is where the Buyer Agent knows of a home that's undergoing minor repairs or updating in preparation to being listed soon. These homeowners are typically more than happy to entertain an offer and avoid the listing process.

5. Verify the value of the property. Sellers can ask anything they want for their home, but a savvy Buyer Agent will ensure the buyer doesn't pay anymore than necessary.........and at least be comfortable that the appraisal will come in at or above the contract price.

An effective Buyer Agent will conduct a comparative market analysis, which essentially is an unofficial appraisal, and arrive at a value range for the home. Regardless of the asking or list price, offers, and subsequently contract price, should be within that range.

6. Present a wide choice of lenders, one of which may have just the right loan program for you. Interest rates and closing costs are not always the major selection criteria for a mortgage.

For example, did you know a loan program is available where the costs of any improvement, renovation, restoration, or repair can be rolled into the original mortgage? Again, a good Buyer Agent will know the right lenders, with the right loan products to offer, and match them to the particular situation.

7. Negotiate contract terms and conditions beyond price. There's a lot more to be negotiated in a purchase and sale agreement than price. Among others there's seller paid closing costs (if any), closing date, possession date, earnest money amount and who holds it, and inspection terms (often called Round 2 of Negotiations)............and any number of special stipulations that may apply. Sometimes negotiating the price is the easy part!

Okay, now that hopefully the value of a good Buyer Agent is appreciated, how does one find one? Or choose one? Most consumers either have a Realtor they're comfortable with from a previous transaction or are referred to one by a friend, relative, or business associate.

None of those sources guarantee they've found a good Buyer Agent. All Buyer Agents are Realtors, but all Realtors are not Buyer Agents. Probably the surest approach to finding a good Buyer Agent is to look for an EBA (Exclusive Buyer Agent). These folks are hard to come by, and because real estate, in the end, is a local endeavor, there may not be one around to service the buyer's area. EBA's are committed to work only with buyers. These agents do not take listings; hence, 'exclusive' 'agents'. Further, to be really purist about it, an EBA's brokerage should not list properties. Again, their agents only work with buyers.

Short of finding one of these rare birds locally, one should at least ensure their Buyer Agent holds the ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative) designation. This is NAR's (National Association of Realtors) official recognition that the agent has completed the training needed to represent buyers and advocate for them in all phases of the real estate purchase cycle.

Another good rule to follow, in this author's opinion, is to stay away from agents with many listings. If you see a certain agent's name on a lot of 'For Sale' signs around town, chances are that agent is a 'heavy lister', meaning most of the commissions they receive are a result of being the listing agent, i.e. they've built their business and career out of representing the seller, not the buyer. With all that mental and physical energy focused every day on looking out for the sellers, is it reasonable to expect them to shift gears easily and now look out for the buyers? Not likely.

Simply try to find a good reputable agent with an ABR designation who, by choice, does not take many listings. Most active agents network with other agents all the time. So, if you know a local ABR, but need one elsewhere, simply ask the local ABR to refer you to a fellow ABR in the area to which you are relocating......chances are they do it all the time and will gladly help you.

And if you don't know any at all, call or email this agent/author. He'll tap into a national network of ABR designated Realtors and refer you to one with a good track record who services your area.

There you have it. What do you have to lose? Nothing........and a lot to gain.....including dollars. And remember........it doesn't cost you a dime!
About the Author
Kem & AC Roda is a Realtor team with The Home Source Realtors in Peachtree City, Georgia. You can visit or email them at AtlantaHomesSouth.com or give them a call at 678-234-1239.
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