I am assuming the fee you see is the commission paid to the selling Brokerage and not your agent directly. The amount your agent receives as his commission is based on an arrangement between the agent and the broker.
Researching homes is only one aspect of a real estate agent's responsibility. Can you do this process on your own? Sure, but it may be more time consuming and costly. You will need to contact each listing agent directly to view the home they have listed.
Once you decide on which home you want to submit an offer, you will need to research to determine the best price to offer based on comparative market data, the condition of the home, and your assessed value, and are there any competing offers to consider. Is the property a foreclosure, short-sale, or regular? How much negotiation room would you possibly have based on type? What if any seller subsidies could you ask for based on type? Should you ask for a home inspection? What does "as-is" really mean? Even though they say "as-is" can you ask for repairs?
Then when you've determined that, set up an appointment with an attorney to draw up your sales contract / offer. You can probably use this attorney as your closing attorney if your contract is accepted.
What are the legal required disclosures / disclaimers forms required for the property?
What is required of the listing agent? Are they (the sellers) meeting their obligations? Are they meeting their deadlines?
If your offer is accepted, hire a home inspector, be present for the inspection. Determine what to ask for in repairs. Are there timeframes / deadlines that must be adhered to during this process? Negotiate with the seller to fix repairs -- Submitted in writing - what should be stated to protect you and to ensure the repairs are done correctly. Follow up prior to closing to ensure repairs were completed. (Do the repairs need to be completed by a licensed contractors.)
At the same time, continue to work with your lender to ensure everything is going through in a timely manner and that the lender will provide settlement agent with the required documents on time. Determine how much money to bring to the table covering all costs.
What do you do if there is a title issue or a survey issue? What if the fence is on the neighbor's property?
What do you do if their is an HOA or code violation?
Follow up to ensure receipt of the HOA / condo documents.
Find out what the timeframes are for getting out tof the contract based on what conditions and contingencies.
Schedule a time to do your final walk through. What if you discover that something was not completed or a new problem arises? What if they took the chandelier that you saw or a mirror in the bathroom, of the hot tub?
What do you do if the seller's closing on the home that they were going to purchase is delayed or falls out completely?
Your agent is more than than a researcher. His value is in the knowledge required of the contractual process of real estate, the coordination and the oversight of the process and essential deadlines, the negotiation to get you the best deal throughout the process not just with the sales price, the contacts for reputable inspectors, contractors, etc. and if any issues come up, the problem solver. He is there to look out for your best interest and your protection in order to get you to a successful closing or to get you out of a bad situation.
Sun Realty of Fredericksburg
Licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia