All too often, we hear of people who decide that they are going to set out on their lonesome to find the home of their dreams. Despite it being the biggest purchase of one's life, all too often, the need for a trained, zealous advocate to assist, advise and shepherd the home buyer through the process is seen as unnecessary. A lot of this can be attributed to bad information propagated by individuals who just haven't done their homework or are looking to save pennies on a purchase worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Here's the truth: in order to have a favorable outcome as a buyer you must work with a buyer's agent, whether it's us or someone else you trust to take up your cause. Here's why (and why a lot of that bad information is so bad):
1. It's free. In New York, sellers typically pay for the agent's commission as part of the transaction costs, so that commission is free to the buyer. The seller has agreed to pay it up front, right when the home is listed. Many buyers think that they can negotiate a lower price by going at it alone. That's simply a misconception.
2. You need an expert for this. Buying a home is a complex process with untold twists and turns. Things that at first seem like a big deal aren't and things that seem like fine points can be deal breakers. Working with a buyer's agent gives you expert counseling on the home buying process at no additional cost.
3. A buyer's agent will get you the right price. A skilled buyer's agent knows the market well and can offer advice on not only current prices, but on what the trends are. He/she can best predict future prices which will help you determine, among other things, the value of your equity. This is critical because that value will tell you whether you are making or losing money at a given sales price.
4. They are trained to negotiate with other agents. You may think you are a great negotiator. In fact, you very well may be be a great negotiator. But, you probably haven't negotiated much with other real estate agents, if at all. You also probably haven't negotiated a purchase of this magnitude. Buyer's agents do just that on a day to day basis. Why risk misreading the market or taking the wrong tact with an agent when you can have a skilled advocate in your corner at no extra cost to you?
5. You need an advocate. Many buyers believe they can negotiate, on their own behalf, with the listing agent. If you deal directly with the listing agent, you have no advocate. The listing agent, even in a dual agency situation, owes a higher duty of loyalty to the seller. Moreover, the listing agent's goal is to maximize the sale price for the seller, not to maximize value for the buyer. Going at it alone puts you at an incredible disadvantage.
6. Access to more listings than the public knows about. Buyer's agents (the true full time ones) are in the market all the time and know of off-market opportunities. This means they are uniquely aware of homes that have not yet been listed publicly or have expired but have a seller still eager to sell.
7. Can create additional opportunities for you. Your agent can also create off-market opportunities by actively prospecting for you. Like a certain type of home in a specific neighborhood? Your agent can call owners of homes fitting the bill that aren't up for sale to see if that homeowner would consider selling knowing they have a ready buyer. Just one example of the many creative ways a buyer's agent can creatively represent your interests.
8. They put you in the best position to get the home you want. Your agent knows other local agents and will help you present yourself as the best prospect. It's important to recognize that a seller wants not only the highest price, but the highest likelihood of being able to ultimately close the deal. A good buyer's agent can help you be the winning bidder even if you aren't the highest bidder, by how they present your offer and position you as the best option to quickly and efficiently close the deal.
9. They can assist in all facets of the process. The home buying process extends far beyond finding the home of your dreams and making an offer. A buyer's agent can recommend trusted people to help in the rest of the process -- lender, insurance agents, lawyers, home inspectors, movers, referral agents (if you are selling first out of state or out of area).
10. Finding one trusted agent saves you a lot of time and heartache. Find one agent you trust and work exclusively with him/her. If you do it yourself (i.e., just work with listing agents or "For Sale By Owner" listings) you have a lot of work cut out for you in scheduling, following up, researching, negotiating and tracking the market. All of this assuming that you have taken the countless hours of time necessary to educate yourself on the process. If you work with multiple agents on a "whoever finds me a house first" basis, you end up getting duplicate information, dealing with good, bad or horrible agents and having to keep everything straight on your own. Either way you have a lot of work cut out for you. And that doesn't even account for the above nine things you are missing out on. Do yourself a favor that you won't regret - work with a single skilled buyer's agent in the search for the home of your dreams.