What Is a Buyer’s Agent & Do You Really Need One?
Ready to go house hunting in South Florida? Brace yourself: It’s a jungle out there! Prepare for a flurry of paperwork, stampedes of buyers competing for the same properties, back and forth negotiations, and other challenges before you get your hands on those house keys. While the homebuying process is exciting, it can also be complex and stressful – especially if you’re a first-time buyer or relocating to South Florida from out of state. There’s a lot about buyer’s agents that even seasoned homeowners don’t know about. Let’s break it all down here.
First: What is a Buyer’s Agent?
You may have heard of buyer’s agents, seller’s agents, listing agents, brokers, and so on. You’re a buyer, so what exactly is a buyer’s agent? In short, a buyer’s agent is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: A real estate agent who is legally licensed to help a prospective buyer find a home and represent them throughout the entire homebuying transaction. But more than that, a buyer’s agent coordinates and secures showing appointments for the properties their client is interested in, negotiates the best deal possible on their behalf, and constantly strives to save buyers time and money throughout the entire process.
What’s the Difference Between the Buyer’s Agent and the Seller’s Agent?
Real estate terminology can be a bit confusing. A buyer’s agent is the agent who represents the buyer, but this can also be called a selling agent. Buyer’s agent = selling agent. A listing agent is the agent who represents the seller, and this can also be called the seller’s agent. Listing agent = seller’s agent.
As you begin the search for your dream home, keep in mind that a listing agent is working first and foremost for their sellers; not for you as a potential buyer. On the other hand, a buyer’s agent works for you. They have your best interest in mind and will apply the full force of their knowledge and expertise to secure your perfect property at the best price for you and your family.
What Are a Buyer’s Agent Duties?
First off, a buyer’s agent will know exactly what you, their client, are looking for in a property and compile those criteria before starting the search. Understanding your budget, style, taste, wants and needs, and precisely what you’re looking for in a neighborhood is essential. Your buyer’s agent will help you understand the current housing market and what you can expect from a property and the surrounding community.
Once you and your buyer’s agent are on the same page on where to start looking, it’ll be up to your agent to find property listings for you, set up tours, and compile detailed information on each property. This information will include things like the house details, the schools in the area, crime rates – really, all the important stuff you need to know before investing any more time and energy on a potential property. If you have any questions or concerns at any point, you will direct them to your agent, who will do their best to answer everything and provide all necessary info.
After you’ve made an offer on a home, your buyer’s agent will handle every single transaction on your behalf and walk you through the entire process. Some aspects of this process may include helping you find a loan officer, making sure all the proper paperwork is turned in, obtaining disclosures, and working with professionals (like appraisers and inspectors) who will be evaluating the condition and value of the home. Your buyer’s agent is also in charge of all negotiations, making the process as clean and seamless as possible.
Your buyer’s agent is there for you from start to finish; they may even be with you as you sign your closing documents.
Buyer’s Agents vs. Zillow
You might think that it’s easy enough to find a home using an online search through, for example, Zillow or Trulia, without the help of an agent. But remember: an agent will lead the search, quickly finding available homes that pop up during the day and helping you discern which ones are best to consider. Not to mention, as real estate professionals, buyer’s agents have many tools at their disposal when looking for homes, including access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which provides a comprehensive view of all homes available in an area. Plus, the MLS is more accurate and offers more in-depth information than real estate sites.
Without a buyer’s agent, your search can become all-consuming if you’re in a hot market (like we’re experiencing right now in South Florida), and you’ll need to act within days, if not hours. Add in scheduling all the home visits, conducting price negotiations, and navigating all the paperwork. It could seem like you’re working another full-time job – which, essentially, you will be.
What About the Buyer’s Agent Fees & Commission?
An unrealized advantage to working with a buyer’s agent is that their work is free, at least for you, the buyer. Generally, it’s the seller’s responsibility to cover commission fees, which are split between their listing agent and your buyer’s agent. However, sometimes the commission is negotiable, primarily if the agent represents both the buyer and the seller, which is known as a dual agency.
So, Do You Really Need a Buyer’s Agent When Looking for a Home to Purchase?
Unequivocally, yes. Especially in the unprecedented market we’re experiencing right now in Florida.
Remember, most clients will only go through the homebuying process a few times in their lives. On the other hand, buyer’s agents go through the process continuously. They’ve seen it all! This experience means that they’re aware of all the details to look out for during the homebuying process. They have also likely developed professional relationships with local listing agents, which can be handy when scheduling showings and during negotiations. And unless you’re ready to handle the many demands of a real estate buyer’s agent, you might have trouble purchasing a home without one.
It’s also important to note that buying a home is not as straightforward as, say, purchasing a vehicle. Buyers and sellers must follow state and local regulations, and buyers need to make sure they’re not missing key details that could cost money. For example, a purchase contract should include precisely worded contingencies that address whether you can withdraw from a purchase if specific problems turn up during a home inspection and whether you can move the closing date back if you have problems selling your current home.
The bottom line? Whether you’re purchasing your first home or your 30th, having a Signature International Real Estate professional by your side can make all the difference, especially with a market as hot as 2021’s. Contact a Signature agent today. We’re here to help you find your dream home!