Does a buyer need a realtor to represent him/her? If not, what are the disadvantages of not having one?

Asked by Sophie, Cummings, KS Mon Sep 3, 2007

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Ute Ferdig, Agent, Newcastle, CA
Mon Sep 3, 2007
The answer to your question depends on whether or not the house that you are trying to buy is listed with a brokerage. If you are dealing with a FSBO (for sale by owner), then you and the seller can conduct the sale without involving real estate agents. Whether it's a good idea will depend on how savvy you are in real estate. The fact that you are asking this question suggests that you may not be an experienced buyer (no offense intended). A real estate agent will protect your interests and negotiate terms that are protecting you. The buyer's agent also can explain things to you. If the property is listed with an agent, there's really no advantage to not having your own buyer's agent as the seller pays for that. Yes, indirectly the buyer pays because the commissions are paid out of the proceeds from the sale of the property, but with a listed property representing yourself is usually not an option. In summary, I would say being represented by far outweighs any benefits that you might gain from being unrepresented. Don't get me wrong, there are some buyers for whom buying without representation worked, but for the most part I think buyers wish they had been represented.
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Ruthless, , 60558
Mon Sep 3, 2007
You don't mention what state you are in. That might make a difference because of different laws regarding Dual Agency and rebating.
1 vote
Mark Delgado…, , Sacramento, CA
Mon Sep 3, 2007
In addition to what Irina said, I'd also point out that if you don't have your own agent to represent you and your best interest you will be represented. It just will be by the Listing agent who already has an established relationship with said seller. Now I'm not saying that a Listing Agent can't fairly represent both buyer and seller in a transaction, I'm just saying that... it may not be the best idea. So, keep that in mind, as well as all the other great information and tips that others responded with as well :)
1 vote
Irina Netcha…, Agent, San Marino, CA
Mon Sep 3, 2007
Hi Sophie,

You have a lot of great answers below. The main thing to consider is if you are not represented, the seller in almost all cases is. So... since the seller pays the buyer's agent commission - it makes no sense whatsover not to have representation.

Ask your family and friends for referrals to an agent that they've used and were happy with and then go out and buy a home!

Good luck!
1 vote
Bruce Lynn, Agent, Coppell, TX
Mon Sep 3, 2007
I would guess most of the time you could go unrepresented. Why would you do that? Lots of disadvantages to not doing it.
1. Do you know which lenders close on time?
2. Do you know which lenders charge the lowest fees?
3. Do you know what disclosures are required?
4. Do you know which fees are standard for the buyer to pay and which are standard for seller to pay.
5. Is there any way to save money on these fees?
6. Is there normally a free look period or option period?
7. Which title companies close on time?
8. If you have a question that needs answered by an attorney, realtors often have contacts they can call for board, state association, maybe firm attorney. Who will you call and how much will it cost?
9. Are you an expert at the details of the contract....realtors or their brokers should be.
Plenty of other disadvantages, but those are starters. Ask a Realtor on this board if they would go unrepresented in a community outside of their own. I'd guess most would not.
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1 vote
Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Mon Sep 3, 2007
As a buyer, you are not required to use an agent to make a property purchase. Your need for one will depend partially upon who else is assisting you, how knowledgeable you are, how knowledgeable the seller is, and how complicated the property and the documentation surrounding the property is.

If comps are easy because the home is newer and very similar to others in the neighborhood, that would simplify pricing discussions. If the property is older, has underground storage tanks, a swimming pool, and a cloud on the title, you have just done taken on some complicated issues.

Finding a home is only part of the Realtor’s job. A strong buyers agent will bring a different final transaction to the table as compared to a weak negotiator with minimal market knowledge or weak persuasive skills. So, part of the consideration is who the agent is and how effective they are. In your marketplace, there are surely some weak agents and surely some that will light a fire.

If you buy from a FSBO, you may successfully close on the property, and even without any headaches or curveballs. You won’t know, even after closing, if you would have done better with representation. If you purchase a home represented by a sellers agent, I recommend that you hire your own buyers agent.

If you are shopping with a Realtor for homes, you will gain much information about comps and market trends . That Realtor only gets paid when you close a sale and he/she represents you. You can retain that same Realtor to represent you w/ a FSBO, and ask the seller to pay the commission. Most sellers will do this.

An agent will guide you through comps, purchase decisions, negotiations, concessions, inspections, and post inspection negotiations. An agent will provide resources and contacts throughout the transaction. These may include, but are not limited to inspectors, insect treatments, USTs, pool inspectors, engineers, builidng code, zoning, permit info, insurance, mortgage, insurance, and title referrals, and be on watch and on call through closing ready to solve any problem that might arise.
1 vote
Lee Taylor, Agent, Charleston, SC
Mon Sep 3, 2007
In my state it cost the same whether a buyer uses an agent or doesnt use an agent. If that is the case, why would you not use an agent who has been through this maybe hundreds or thousands of times? I met an agent the other day that has done over 2300 transactions. Wouldnt there be something worthy in associating with him?
1 vote
Pam Winterba…, Agent, Danville, VA
Mon Sep 3, 2007
If a property is listed with a Realtor they will need a Realtor to represent them. If the property is a by owner or FSBO they can engage in a purchase contract.

The disadvantage of not using a Realtor can be multi-fold. A Realtor is here to protect and inform you along the transaction. They should know the market conditions of the community you are purchasing in. They will pull comparable to see if the property is priced correctly, assist you in preparing the offer, go through the negotiating and inspection process. They will explain the inspections to you and negotiate any repairs to the property.

In addition the will work with your lender if you have one or refer you to a reputable one and review you closing paper to see if everything is in order.

In short, using a Realtor is protection for you best interest.
1 vote
Melissa Manc…, Agent, Plainville, MA
Tue Sep 4, 2007
Hi Sophie,

It is not a requirement, but a buyer(s) who goes against a represented seller without representation of their own is at a huge disadvantage. A buyer(s) agent will determine what fair market value of the home is, ensuring you don’t overpay for a home, create an offer to purchase in your favor, negotiate the best price and terms for you, assist with the home inspection, research disclosures, provide neighborhood information whether current or upcoming and assist you in finding the best financing options just to name a few. In my market, the seller compensates the buyer(s) agent, so this is not an additional cost to buyers.
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0 votes
Paul Renton &…, , Atlanta, GA
Mon Sep 3, 2007
In GA buyers representation is free!! So it is a no brainer. Having worked new construction you go in with no representation you have to ask who is the other agent working for? So who will benifit, you or the seller? If you are in a state where you have to pay for representation do your homework and pick a top producing agent they can usually save you ay more than the comission you will pay.
If you had a major tax,medical or legal issue would you represent yourself or hire the best you could get?
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