Today we tend to do everything on the internet. The internet is an excellent source of information and a great starting point. It can’t replace the knowledge of a skilled professional. After reading a few articles, you might be lead to believe you can buy a house by yourself using the internet or some other method. You potentially could do so, but that might not be the best course of action.
Fact is, if you are a licensed Real Estate Agent in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts you can sell residential real estate anywhere in the Commonwealth. Should you? That is a topic of debate. Before getting into the multitude of reasons to use a Buyer’s Agent, we should first discuss the importance of using a local Real Estate Agent. Unless you are moving from out of the area, you probably have a decent idea of the Towns you want to target. Then go find an Agent that does business in those Towns, knows the Towns, maybe lives in one of the Towns. Having street level knowledge of a Town makes a huge difference, as does an Agent that proactively takes the time to preview inventory. In most Towns, Agents have days where they get to preview new listings (in my area it is Tuesdays and Thursdays). If I am not out with a client on a Tuesday or Thursday, I am previewing property – I am not golfing, not at the gym, not getting my car serviced, I am out doing my job – keeping up with my product (homes). So first and foremost, find a Local Agent.
For most people, the purchase of a home is one of the largest financial commitments they will undertake and often involves saving up that 20% down payment which in the Boston Market can easily push $150,000, plus a sizeable mortgage to go along with the sizeable down payment. Before you get to the point of using the down payment, an experienced Real Estate Agent should be working for you.
There are a few main reasons to use a Buyer’s Agent:
The Buyer’s Agent Works for You - Going directly to the Listing Agent is almost never a good idea. The Listing Agents job is to get the best price and best terms for the Seller. Please reread that sentence again. Your Buyer’s Agent job is to get the best price and best terms for you. While price is important, so are the terms – contingencies, dates, etc. There is give and take throughout the entire process from Offer to Closing. You need someone acting on your behalf the entire time. What happens, if your Buyer’s Agent wants to show you one of their own Listings? Be very cautious. Okay, maybe be very, very cautious. You have an Agent that is representing both the Seller and the Buyer in the same transaction. Whose interests are they representing best? Probably their own, rather than either the Buyer or Seller.
Experience - A Buyer’s Agent job is to help Buyers and to assist Buyers. This is what they do. They view homes all the time. They attend Inspections all the time. They write up Offers all the time. Most people purchase a house only a handful of times in their lives. An experienced and active Buyer’s Agent does this all the time. Narrowing down the correct property and the correct neighborhood takes time, lots of time, a good Buyer’s Agent can save you time and effort on this. And, when you find the right home, a good Buyer’s Agent will save you money in negotiating the Offer and potentially Inspection items. Plus, a good Buyer’s Agent should know the local market. I personally, have been in over 1,417 (and counting) homes in my local market in the last four years.
There is NO Cost to You - Typically, the Buyer’s Agent fee is paid by the Seller. The fee charged to the Seller is usually split equally between the Listing Agent and the Buyer’s Agent. Now, that Buyer’s Agent is not paid until you actually buy a house. A Buyer’s Agent may want some sort of commitment that you agree to use them if they will be working on your behalf. This is fair. If you are asking a professional to take you on as a Buyer and commit time and resources against you to work for you, agreeing that you will use them is reasonable.
Do You Know the Area? - If you are relocating from out the area, then this is so very important. Even if you are local, you might not have much knowledge, just a few Towns over. An Agent with street level knowledge is important. Most Agents know a few Towns extremely well and other Towns in the area decently. Don’t be afraid to use two different Agents if you have not narrowed things down. But, do tell them. Any good honest Agent should respect this. I do. A good Buyer’s Agent will ensure the things that are important to you are nearby – be it schools, parks, recreation, restaurants, etc.
Money, Your Money - This is a big one! A good Buyer’s Agent knows the area, knows the neighborhoods. Knows what is not in the pictures. They will help you to craft a solid Offer that represents a fair market Offer. If you get into a competitive situation they can help craft a winning offer. If your offer has more than the normal amount of contingencies (a home sale contingency, for example), they can help you craft an Offer to account for that. One of the most important skills is the Buyer’s Agents ability to suggest the proper purchase price.
Your Personal Assistant - Scheduling and viewing homes takes time. There is often back and forth with the Listing Agent and your Buyers Agent often can work out a viewing schedule especially if you want to see several homes in a day. A Buyer’s Agent has direct and easy access to information and documents or they can easily get them. You don’t want to be chasing ten Listing Agents for information. Let your Buyer’s Agent do that.
Your Project Manager - The goal is to get to the Closing. Numerous things can go wrong, a Buyer’s Agent job is to minimize turbulence and keep the momentum going. A good Buyer’s Agent will track the Milestones and provide you with a list of Key Dates. A good Buyer’s Agent will be the communications hub between all parties when appropriate – Buyer, Seller, Attorneys, Banks, Inspectors, Appraisers, etc. A good Buyer’s Agent will employ their office team to help make the process as smooth as possible. At Coldwell Banker Realty, we have a dedicated administrative staff and a dedicated non-selling management team to assist us. Sorry, I had to put in a plug for one of Coldwell Banker’s many points of differentiation.
Connections - A Buyer’s Agent has great connections in the real estate world. Has a readily available list of home improvement contractors (heating, roofing, structural, electrical, painting, plumbing etc.), one or two good handypersons, a cleaning service, legal referrals and lawn service providers. You should never have to go to Google or the phone book to find help.
Your Negotiator - Most of us don’t like to negotiate. Plus, you might be bad at it. Get your Buyer’s Agent to do it for you. They will know when to push the Seller some and when not to. Your Buyers Agent has the knowledge, skill, confidence to help negotiate the deal. They can act as a buffer and keep things at a professional level. If you deal with a Listing Agent directly, things can get personal quickly.
A good Buyer's Agent is your proponent at all times. You have a business relationship with each other. The reasons above make it clear as to the benefits of using a Buyer’s Agent. There are really few, if no reasons, not to use a Buyers’ Agent. Do take the time to interview a few different Agents. Once it is all over, and you are in your new home, you will be pleased an Agent did all of these things for you.
Doug McNeilly is a REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker Realty in Wayland, Massachusetts. He specializes in Wayland, Sudbury, Natick, Framingham and the Greater Boston Metro West Area. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dougmcneillyhomes.com