What Is a Buyer’s Agent? And why do I need one?

Most home buyers begin the process by surfing the internet on sites like Zillow and Trulia, which is actually not a bad place to start.  Unfortunately, many buyers will then start contacting the listing agents directly to learn more or schedule a showing.  As a result, they will need to work with dozens of different listing agents that may not be completely loyal to them.  Those agents will be considered dual agents and cannot provide the same level of advice. 

For example, a brokerage firm acting as a dual agent will not be able to put the buyer’s interests ahead of the seller’s and cannot advise or counsel either party on how to gain an advantage on the basis of confidential information.

Buyer’s agents on the other hand, work solely for you. They will assist you every step of the way and can also save you tons of time and money on the road to home ownership.

Benefits of using buyer’s agents

Here are some of the things a buyer’s agent can do:

  • Find the right property. After determining what clients are looking for and what they can afford, the agent will schedule appointments to tour homes that fit the bill. The agent can also explain the ins and outs of various properties and neighborhoods to help buyers decide which home is right for them by explaining the pros and cons of various options.
    • Automated MLS Notifications. After learning about what type of home you are looking for and showing you what is currently on the market, I’ll set up an automatic notification system for any new homes that enter the market that meet your parameters.  This saves a lot of time searching and ensure that you don’t miss any new opportunities.
    • HomeSnap Pro.  I also provide my clients with HomeSnap Pro, which allows home buyers to access the same information used by real estate agents, even on homes that are not on the market.  It is GPS enabled so will also show you any homes for sale and all their data/photos as you walk through the neighborhood.
  • Negotiate the offer. The buyer’s agent will advise clients on an appropriate price to offer and present it to the seller’s agent.  This is where the agent’s experience in negotiating deals can save you money and help you avoid pitfalls like a fixer-upper that’s more trouble than it’s worth.
  • Recommend other professionals. A buyer’s agent should also be able to refer you to reliable mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, movers, and more. This can also help expedite each step of the process and move you to a successful sale all the faster.
  • Help overcome setbacks. If the home inspector’s report or appraisal brings new issues to light, a buyer’s agent can advise you on how to proceed, and then act as a buffer between you and the sellers or their agent. If negotiations become heated or hostile, it’s extremely helpful to have an experienced professional keeping calm and offering productive solutions.

Buyer’s vs. listing agent: What’s the difference?

Buyer’s agents are legally bound to help buyers, whereas listing agents—the agent representing the home listing—have a fiduciary duty to the home seller.  Think about it this way: If you were getting sued, would you hire the same attorney as the person suing you? Of course not. You need someone who will diligently fight for only your interests and rights!

Let’s say, for instance, you walked up to the listing agent at an open house and gushed about how you love the home and want to buy it, but you will need to move soon because you’re expecting your second child and need to decorate the nursery pronto, or the lease on your rental is up in a couple of months. A seller’s agent could then use this information against you by informing the seller that your clock is ticking, so they shouldn’t budge too much on their asking price—or at all.

Yet make this same confession to the buyer’s agent you’re working with, and it’s all fine—this professional would know to keep this info private from sellers (and their agents) so it can’t be used against you.

How much do buyer’s agents’ cost?

Home buyers don’t need to worry about the expense of hiring a buyer’s agent. Why? Because the seller pays the commission for both the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. Typically, the commission equals about 5% of the home’s sale price and that commission is split between the by buyer’s agent and the listing agent.  It is then split again between the agent and the broker.  Your agent then would get only about 1.25% of the sale price.   

If you’d like to work with a buyer’s agent at Jersey City’s top independent brokerage, please contact me.  If you’d like to learn more about me, please take a minute to review my resume and client reviews.  Hope to hear from you soon.