Here’s a story from a previous client:
“When I was buying my first home fifteen years ago, I was literally clueless. I drove around neighborhoods looking for “For Sale” signs, and I would show up at my chosen homes around noon the following weekend, hoping for an open house. Needless to say, I didn’t make much progress in my home search for the first few months. Then I happened upon a storefront with a “Buyer Agent- No Fee” sign, and I practically broke down their door. Two months later I closed on my home, and I owed it all to my buyer agent!"
You’re most likely not as clueless as this client was (it’s okay if you are)! However, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer, you probably have at least a few questions about buyer agency and what it entails.
This client thought she had tapped into a secret advantage, but in fact, buyer agents are no secret. Liz and I are buyer agents; we should know! We never cost a cent to the buyer, and we are legally and ethically required to be completely loyal to your interests throughout the buying process. And there truly is no catch. Ever.
Let’s start at the beginning: What exactly is a buyer agent?
That's a great question! A buyer agent is a trained real estate agent who helps a buyer purchase a home. Some of our services are listed below. We’ve also included links to blogs we’ve written about many aspects of buying a home, so if you’re ready to read more, go for it.
A. We help you find a house not only through the online Multiple Listing Service (referred to as MLS—the gold standard for listing homes in the U.S.), but also using off-market, pre-market, and “For Sale By Owner” avenues.
B. We analyze the property you love in order to advise you on the best offer price.
C. We consult with you on negotiation strategies, and do the actual negotiating with the seller's agent.
D. We can recommend home inspectors and will accompany you on inspections, so we can review and contextualize the results with you.
E. We can recommend, and will communicate closely with, your attorney, who is responsible for reviewing condo docs (if you buy a condo), negotiating the Purchase & Sale Agreement (the more detailed version of the original offer), and making sure you are ready to close.
F. We can recommend, and will communicate with, your lender to make sure that everything stays on track, the appraisal value comes in high enough, and you are able to secure a loan.
G. We provide you with information about scheduling your move and what you need to do prior to closing and moving (the attorney also contributes greatly as far as the closing is concerned).
H. We schedule and attend the "final walkthrough" of your new home to make sure there are no unexpected issues, and will negotiate a solution if any issues arise at the closing.
I. We will attend the closing.
Most importantly, working with a buyer agent is a no-brainer because it doesn't cost you anything: the sellers have an agreement with their listing agents that govern commission, and regardless of whether or not you have a buyer agent, that commission remains the same. Then the commission is shared between both agents, so the fee comes out of the seller's proceeds.
If you have questions, or are ready to start looking for a home, contact us. We’re here to help.
If you would like to learn more about the legal requirements associated with buyer agents, we've pasted the text from our Buyer Agency Agreement, the document we share with buyers we're working with.
Buyer agents will:
"A. Use reasonable efforts to locate through the Multiple Listing Service a property acceptable to Buyer.
B. Work in the Buyer’s best interest and perform the fiduciary duties owed by an agent, including: obedience to lawful directions, loyalty, disclosure of material information, confidentiality, accountability and reasonable care*.
C. Assist Buyer with other aspects of the transaction, including coordination of inspections, securing a mortgage and other relevant services.
D. Refrain from disclosing financial information about Buyer to the seller or seller’s agent, except as reasonably required to establish Buyer’s financial qualifications."
*Known in the business as the OLD CAR acronym.