Should You Use a Buyer’s Agent?

In these times of the web, Zillow and real estate being sold over the internet, people keep asking: “why should I use a Realtor?” Let’s face it someone pays the 4-6% fee to the agent. The reality is that while the seller agrees to the fee, YOU the buyer pay the fee. That is right, at closing the money comes out of the sale of the home and that is the price you pay.

I don’t think you can ignore the incremental cost of an agent. The seller knows the money that he is willing to sell the house, then he tacks on the cost of the realtors’ commissions and that is his bottom line price to you if you go through a Realtor. So, in the end, you are paying between 3-7% more for the same product. However, this can be well worth it if you have a good Realtor.

The Wrong Reasons NOT to use a Real Estate Agent to Buy a Home

Save the Buyer’s Agent Fee

Many people then jump to the conclusion that No Buyer’s Agent is the right answer. After all, you can go to seller’s agent with a filled out standard form from the Realtor’s Association. You can even hire a Real Estate Lawyer to make sure you have everything filled out properly. Won’t that save 3% (Buyer’s Agents fee)? So, just not using a real estate agent to save money is a reason, but it may be the wrong reason to NOT use an agent.

In addition, don’t use an agent and then try to go around them. That is ethically wrong. Please be ethical, these people work for a living.  Besides morale issue, you may have a legal fight later if they were involved in a good faith helped you to find a home.

Reasons to Use a Real Estate Agent to Buy a Home

In my opinion, there are several valuable reasons for using a realtor and a few personal choice reasons as well. Remember that if you buy the right home, then any incremental cost is worth it. Now, let’s talk about the value you get with using a Realtor.

Finding Available Homes

There are a lot of things to consider in the selection of the home you want. It’s true that you can shop for a house, go to open houses, and view homes on Zillow, etc., without a real estate agent. How much time do you want to take researching homes, neighborhoods and matching them to your desires. Unless you enjoy shopping for a home, this could quickly become a part-time job! If you’re looking for something specific, a real estate agent is the person. It is their job it is to know if there’s a house out there to fit your needs.

A Realtor will do the searches, look properties and identify homes worth your consideration. They should go beyond a search of the MLS and internet sites like Zillow and After all you could do that. A GOOD Agent will preview homes with your desires in mind. A Great Realtor will most likely know about unadvertised homes that you may have missed, broadening your search.

Though most homes for sale are widely available for buyers to assess on Web sites, in some cases, sellers don’t want the fact that they’re selling to be widely publicized. In those cases, only the real estate agents know the houses are for sale. Health, financial or divorce issues often lead to the need for privacy. Holidays and family events also may play a part as the seller may not want to advertise during those times. Working with a real estate agent gives you access to homes you might otherwise miss seeing.

Finally, GREAT Realtor will show you the possible “outside” of what you were looking for in a home. Sometimes what you are looking for is just out of reach, it helps to have a Realtor that understands what you can afford that is a great fit for you. It just wasn’t what you were looking for, but it is your new home.

Pricing Expertise

A good real estate agent should have a keen eye for home pricing. Great Realtors can understand and explain the price on a home the minute they walk through the door. They have a lot of experience in a market. They know how well a neighborhood holds its value. Anyone can spend a few minutes online and pull information on sales of comparable houses. A good real estate agent will have the experience to know whether a specific house is overpriced or underpriced. A Great Realtor will have such a good idea of what you’re looking for that she won’t even waste your time touring houses that won’t work.

At a minimum your Realtor provides all the data on local home sales that you want to see. The good agents also bring assets to the deal that come from years of watching waves of transactions in the neighborhood. The great real estate agents can explain the whys and how that applies to today’s market and the home you want to make an offer on.

Dealing with the Contracts

Paperwork and Tasks

You may dread the thought of dedicating a full shelf somewhere to the documents involved in the process of buying a home. It can make your head spin: the written offer, the written and signed counter offer, the little details (like specific repairs) and what exactly was and was not included in the sale. The paperwork can be tiresome. This is when a good real estate agent can save the day. Often, these offers and counteroffers are limited by a time frame. A good real estate agent will be a taskmaster and help to move all of the documents along to meet the deadlines.

Great Realtors will manage the tasks for you and make suggestions on how to proceed. The odds of missing something, not initialing a margin or not checking a box, drop substantially when you’re working with someone who knows the paperwork inside and out.


I wrote a good article about negotiating with a FSBO follow the link: Negotiations with a FSBO. I suggest you review it. A good agent will help you to come up with a price to make you offer. A Great Realtor will understand everything that I shared in the Negotiations with a FSBO page and help you write a nice letter to the owner with reasons for not offering the full price.

Once the negotiations start, emotions can get between the buyer and seller even if they both want the sale to happen. A good real estate agent will keep you informed and help you to be less emotional. A Great Realtor will be a step ahead and make sure little things do not stop the purchase of your new home.

Code Expertise

It’s important to know about your city’s codes when buying a home. Your agent should be able to fill you in. You want to buy a charming little house on the beach and turn it into a B&B! You need to know if the city will allow it. Typically, an experienced real estate agent is familiar enough with local zoning ordinances. You don’t want to buy the wrong house. Or a fence in the backyard, a pool, or add a bedroom. A good real estate agent should be able to make sure you’re buying a property where the city allows it. 

Some cities may require expensive upgrades on older properties when they sell. For example, if a house isn’t connected to the city’s sewer system, and a buyer will be required to spend tens of thousands of dollars to connect the property, the real estate agent will make sure that requirement is disclosed before the deal goes very far.

Final Word

There are good realtor and bad real estate agents. If you are going to use a real estate agent,  you should find a GREAT REALTOR. You are paying for them, you should expect them to be the best. This doesn’t mean aggressive,  overbearing or rude. It means someone that knows their profession, the local market and can save you time and money.