Frequently when people are thinking of realtors, their mind goes directly to a Listing Agent. A Listing Agent is the Seller's representative. Put simply, this means that he or she has a legal obligation to the SELLER. the Listing Agent's end goal is to do everything in their power to get the best possible deal for the SELLER.
Have you ever "home shopped"? Seems simple enough. Drive by a home, see 'For Sale' sign in yard, call phone number on sign to schedule a tour. You love the home and want to make an offer. It doesn't even occur to you that you might need to work with your own Real Estate Agent. After all, the Home Seller already has an agent willing to handle everything on behalf of both parties. This is what is referred to as Dual Agency. It may seem harmless, but it can be incredibly tricky business. In fact, in some states it is illegal business. Regardless of whether or not it's illegal, it certainly poses a conflict of interest.
Consider this: How can a Real Estate Agent possibly represent both the BUYER and SELLER'S best interests? The very nature of of the situation dictates near mutual exclusivity. For example, the Seller wants the Buyer to pay top dollar while the Buyer wants the Seller to sell for bottom dollar. If a Real Estate Agent is representing both parties, how can he/she possibly work to get the best deal for each client? Furthermore, it may be very tempting for the agent to work in THEIR OWN best interest? i.e. Higher selling price = bigger commission check.
So, conflict of interest is the biggest reason why Home Buyer's should have their own Real Estate Agent. Beyond that, here are a few other great reasons to hire an agent if you are shopping for a new home.
- Market Knowledge. You can absolutely do your own research regarding things like market conditions, neighborhood information, and comps. Information is literally at our fingertips every minute of every day. However, most of us simply don't have the time to investigate the market the way we should. We, after all, have jobs, families, and life in general to keep up with. Let a Buyer's Agent hand this information to you! It's their job to know the local market.
- Tailored Listings Updates. Let an agent do the leg work for you. All you need to do is give them a criteria list and they'll weed out the listings you don't need to waste your time with. Additionally, Real Estate Agents frequently catch wind of new listings before they go public giving you higher odds of snagging your dream home.
- You Don't Know What You Don't Know. There's a ton of paperwork and legal documentation which goes into buying a home. Having a "contract babysitter" sure makes life easier. For the average person, much of the legal ease in a contract is tough to decipher. Having someone in your corner to decode that information is invaluable and helps keep the process moving along quickly.
In the end, you could certainly navigate the entire process without the help of a Buyer's Agent. But will you get the best deal? Will it be a smooth process and closing transaction? Typically, the commission of both Real Estate Agents is paid by the Seller, so you have virtually nothing to lose and everything to gain by working with a Buyer's Agent.