Hi Gabbi, you don't have to use a buyer's agent, but I believe it's better for you; if you follow a few rules and choose carefully. If you go to an open house, the agent there will be a seller's agent. The seller's agent works for the seller and owes his loyalty and fidutiary responsibility to the seller, not you. If you tell a seller's agent your strategy or plan, they are bound to inform the seller as they are working for them, and in their best interest. If you have a buyer's agent they are working for you and can help you formulate a strategy to find the best deal for you, with making offers, comparables, and many other things; anything you say to them is confidential, they are working in your best interests.
The only two things I would recommend when working with a buyer's agent is 1. make sure they will take whatever the seller offers as their full compensation. 2. Do not sign an exclusivs agreement. Many buyer's agents won't work with you if you don't sign the exclusive agreement, but others will. The exclusive agreement binds you to that agent for the stipulated time period. If you get a lazy agent you'll be stuck, or if you and the agent just aren't on the same page you'll have to wait out the time period or reach an agreement with the agent you signed with.
Tom Brady SFR, e-PRO, SRES, GREEN, BPOR
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
Notary Public, Retired N.Y.P.D. Lt.
#1 Listing & Selling Brokerage in NY
Charles Rutenberg Realty, Inc.
255 Executive Drive - Suite 104
Plainview, New York 11803