Guest post by Charlotte H
I’ve been working in some aspect or the other of residential real estate for over 20 years and have spent over 15 of those years working directly with Realtors, so I have a pretty good idea of how home purchases and sales go.
My husband and I recently purchased a new home in a different state, one I happen to have no knowledge of as far as real estate goes (although the overall structure is the same across the nation, each state has their own laws and regulations governing real estate transactions.) As one might imagine, we worked with an agent. Now, I know all the objections home buyers have for not hiring an agent. Many don’t realize that the buyer’s agent is generally paid for by the seller, particularly if the home is listed on a Multiple Listing Service (which most all but “For Sale By Owner” properties are.) The buyer’s agent’s services are in effect free to the buyer. If you are checking out Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia or pretty much any of the other big home listing websites, you are most likely seeing homes being listed by agents hired by the homes’ sellers. A lot of folks who know the seller pays the buyer’s agent feel that this agent is actually secretly working for the seller’s or their own benefit. Then, there are those folks who figure they could save several thousands of dollars in commissions by working directly with the seller.
These are all valid concerns. However, keep one thing in mind; in all states, real estate sales generally have very precise legal requirements for all parties involved INCLUDING the buyer’s and seller’s agents. It’s not like buying a used refrigerator at a yard sale. These requirements can be complicated, and all parties have legal rights and responsibilities. Do you know what they are? As a buyer, do you know exactly what the seller is required to do for you? Do you know what YOUR responsibilities are? Are you willing to gamble that the seller knows more than you do and can have the upper hand in the deal?
You want to protect yourself and the large chunk of money you plan on spending, don’t you? This is where a Realtor comes in. S/he KNOWS what those rights and responsibilities are and is there to advise you on every step of what can be a complex journey. S/he can advise and help negotiate if things don’t seem to be going right. Those same laws that dictate the rights and responsibilities of buyers and sellers also dictate that the buyer’s agent, despite being paid for by the seller, is to represent the BUYER’S interests and NOT the seller’s. Quite frankly, I view my Realtor’s commission as an investment in protecting that BIG investment I was making. I wanted to make sure we were getting a fair shake in this deal, and that’s exactly what she did for us.
I work in the industry and can tell you that my Realtor saved me a LOT of time and headache (which translates into money) by managing our home purchase, and I didn’t pay a penny. Best investment I’ve ever made!