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Colleen Barlow's Blog

By Colleen Barlow (301) 717-1663 | Agent in Potomac, MD

Why do you need a Buyer Agent to help you buy a home?

Although Buyers can search through homes for sale on the Internet, buying a home involves so much more than just searching the MLS and looking at the homes for sale. Buying a home is a process with many, many steps that most people simply aren't aware of. Over and over I've been told by my clients that they had no idea that buying a home was not at all as simple as they thought it was. Thankfully, they usually are so gracious and they tell me that they were so glad that they hired me to guide them through the process. Many have said that they could not have done it without my help, or that I saved them money in the end -- that always feels good. Who doesn't love working at a job that helps other people?

Many people try searching for homes on the Internet and going to open houses without an agent. Did you know that this might be the worst thing a Buyer could do for him or herself? Technically speaking, if a Buyer goes to an Open House without their Buyer Agent; the Listing Agent would be considered to be the "procuring cause" of that Buyer buying that home. Therefore, if the Listing Agent and her Broker decide to play strictly by the rules, the Seller will most likely owe their Listing Agent/Broker the entire commission (both “sides” so to speak).  The Buyer still has the right to hire a Buyer Agent to represent himself, but he will have to compensate the Buyer Agent himself out of his own pocket.  Most Buyers would not be happy to do this.  If you’re working with a Buyer Agent, be sure to let your agent know when you want to attend an Open House without her.  She can call the Listing Agent and ask him to “honor your relationship with her.”  Most agents will do so, but not all.

A Buyer Agent works for YOU. She looks out for you. She will represent your best interests. Why purchase a home directly from a listing agent who works for the Seller? The Listing Agent is required to be fair and honest with you, but if you were in a civil lawsuit; would you want the opposition's attorney helping you represent yourself or would you want your own professional representation? In most cases, Sellers owe a full commission to their listing agent even if she sells their home herself (without a Buyer Agent being involved). It's a lot of work to represent both sides of a transaction. It's very stressful trying to ensure that you're being fair to the buyer, but still working towards our Seller's best interests. In most cases, I feel that Buyers should be presented by a Buyer Agent.

When would it possibly be worth not working with a Buyer Agent? The exception would be if the commission on a particular home (negotiated between a Seller and their Listing Agent Broker) is "variable" which means that the Listing Agent will accept a lower commission if he sells the home himself. Some Buyers believe that this savings (which is usually only a difference of .5 to 1.5%), is worth trying to represent themselves in a transaction. Knowing the many legal implications involved in a real estate transaction, it's my opinion that that savings, if it even ends up being a realized savings; would not be worth it. Even though I've been a licensed real estate agent for over 20 years, I would not purchase a home in another area without the benefit of a Buyer Agent. Laws change constantly. Buyers have so many rights which they are not aware of. In the converse, all parties of a transaction have responsibilities which they are obligated to perform. For example:  Something as simple as a Buyer not being aware of a state or county exemption for first time home buyers in that area can end up costing an unrepresented Buyer spending an extra half of a percent in taxes at the settlement table.

Let's say the Seller wants to sell you his home and then rent it back from you (the Buyer) for a few months after settlement. How much rent should the Seller pay you for those months? What's customary in this area?

Did you read all of the fine print in the contract?  Did you know that some portions of a contract state that if you don’t respond within 3 days, you’ve automatically accepted the terms offered by the other side?  It’s best to have a good Buyer Agent to help you negotiate through all aspects of a transaction.

A Buyer Agent can also provide referrals to qualified professionals such as mortgage brokers, home inspectors, settlement attorneys, insurance agents, home repair pros, and movers. I've spent years gathering information from past clients and other agents regarding their experiences with these professionals. I also subscribe to Angieslist.com, Washington Checkbook, and other services which provide valuable reviews of service providers for my clients. One other thing that my clients find helpful is that I belong to several buying clubs which they can take advantage of to purchase furniture and appliances for their new homes at discount prices.

These are just a few of the services a Buyer Agent can offer you as a Buyer.  I hope that you won’t go through the home buying process without a good Buyer Agent to help you.  If you’re not currently working with another agent, I’d enjoy meeting you and helping you find and purchase your next home.

Wishing you and yours all the best!  Enjoy!
Colleen Barlow, Realtor and Certified ePro
Phone or Text: 301-717-1663
W.C. & A.N. Miller Realtors, a Long & Foster Co.
10200 River Road, Potomac, MD 20854 
Broker Office: 301-299-6000

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