You may be wondering "why do I need a REALTOR® to buy a home when I have access to view so many properties on the internet." While 84% of millennial home buyers, first time home buyers and even experienced home buyers start their search on the internet, 90% of them worked with a REALTOR® to complete their purchase. Consumer sites like Zillow.com have created access to online data regarding homes for sale across the world. While that information can be extensive, it is not always accurate. The home you saw on a real estate search site is generally there because it is first listed on the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and was placed on the search site by the Seller’s Agent. In real estate transactions, the Seller’s Agent represents the Seller, meaning they have a fiduciary responsibility to get the Seller the best deal they can. Think about that for a moment. If you were a defendant in a lawsuit (the person being sued), would you want the plaintiff’s attorney (the attorney of the person suing you) to also represent you in the same lawsuit? Of course not. Similarly, when buying a home, you need your own representation, a Buyer’s Agent, to make sure your needs are prioritized, and YOU get the best deal. Since buying a home will likely be the largest single financial transaction of your life, you should have your own REALTOR® help you through the process.
Would I save money if I choose not to use a REALTOR®? Not as a rule – here’s why. When a seller decides to place their house on the market and they employ a REALTOR® (the Listing Agent) to represent them, they enter into a contract with the agent called a Listing Agreement which stipulates the fee the seller will pay the agent when the home closes. The Listing Agent then may agree to share their fee with a Buyer’s Agent and advertise that information in the MLS Listing. When your REALTOR® submits your offer to the Listing Agent, the shared commission agreement becomes a binding contract between the two REALTORS®. Since the seller agreed to pay the Listing Agent a specific fee, that fee will be paid to the Listing Agent whether you use a REALTOR® to represent you or not. The services of a Buyer's Agent are paid for by the Seller and their Listing Agent. A buyer is not required to pay a REALTOR® for their service. This is also true for new home buyers purchasing new construction homes, the sales agent in the office represents the Seller, you need a Buyer's Agent to represent your interests.
With such an important purchase, you want the best team on your side. When you use a REALTOR® you are getting a licensed professional, educated, trained and experienced in the real estate industry to represent and protect you and get you across the finish line. In a real estate transaction, the goal post of success is represented by the delivery of keys to a home. Your REALTOR® is your complete TEAM and will get you to the goal. They may look like one person, but they fill multiple roles that illustrate why you need a REALTOR® to buy a home:
Your Trainer: Your REALTOR® will listen very carefully to your goals. They will ask you lots of questions to refine your goals and will educate you about the process you are about to go through. They will help you prepare and provide the information that you will need to achieve success with the purchase, the negotiation, the title and lending process, the inspection and appraisal to ultimately get you the keys to your home.
Your Financial Coach: Your REALTOR® will try to determine if your goals are achievable. Can you really buy your dream home and stay within your budget? Will you need a specialty loan program to assist with your down payment or closing costs? Do you have the cash reserves to enter into a real estate transaction? Do you have the credit scores to obtain financing? Do you qualify for veteran benefits? Based on your financial needs, your REALTOR® can recommend a reputable lender to help you qualify to purchase your new home.
Your Research Assistant: There are a lot of internet real estate search sites that provide you access to homes for sale, but they are not always accurate or up to date. In addition, when you use these sites and find a property that you want to see, you will likely receive calls from up to 10 different agents as these public sites all sell your information to multiple agents. Any agent can show you any property, so you should choose only one REALTOR® to work with for all properties. The REALTOR® you select will become your Buyer’s Agent. They will have access to all local listings and can filter the search to screen for properties that only meet your criteria in a way not available on consumer search sites. They can provide you a list of properties that best satisfy your needs…features, location, commute distance, school districts, neighborhood amenities, etc. They can save you the frustration of falling in love with a home that is already under contract. They will set up the showing appointments for homes you like that are actually available. Whether you are a millennial home buyer, first time buyer or have purchased several homes, your time is valuable, let your REALTOR® do the leg work.
Your Guidance Counselor: Now that you have had a chance to see some great property options you may feel overwhelmed with your choices. Be willing to discuss your desires and concerns with your REALTOR®. They have been with you in every home visit and gauged your reactions. They probably even asked you to rank each home, so they can assist in sorting out your options. They are in a good position to give you feedback as to comparable sales in the area and a strategy for getting you ready to submit an offer.
Your Chief Negotiator: You have narrowed your selection and after careful consideration and discussion with the family, you have decided to submit an offer on the perfect home. Since your REALTOR® is already familiar with your budget and goals, coupled with the fact that they have worked closely with your lender during the selection process, they will be able to assist you in preparing an offer that best suits your needs. Do you need seller assistance with your closing costs? Do you want to ask the seller to leave some appliances? Let your REALTOR® know everything that is important to you to make your offer realistic and achieve your goals. They are trained in negotiation and have a fiduciary responsibility to get you the best deal.
Your Emotional Stabilizer: From the property search to the closing appointment and everything in between, you may find the process to be an emotionally charged experience and this certainly is an important reason you need a REALTOR® to buy a home. There are specific milestones that must work in sequence so good communication and planning with your REALTOR® is important. Some jokingly suggest the lending portion is an “extreme sport” and you will need a doctor’s release to complete the transaction. During the time it takes to complete the purchase process, frustration can occur. Just talk to your REALTOR® and let them help you work through any issues or concerns. They have been there many times and usually have experienced the same situation with another client. You and your REALTOR® have a set of goals and the seller and their REALTOR® have another. Offers and contract negotiations can become stressful at times but don’t let it become personal. Keep your goals in mind. You love the home and can’t wait to move in. Things do work out and your REALTOR® has a way of smoothing out the bumps.
Your Inspection Advisor: Your REALTOR® will have recommendations for several highly qualified, reliable inspectors and related vendors to assist you. Regardless of who you work with, your REALTOR® will have had experience with a variety of home inspectors, pool contractors, roofing contractors, painters, landscapers and others so they can assist you in evaluating any of the inspector’s findings. If the contract provides you the ability to address any repair concerns with the seller, your REALTOR® can make suggestions as to what items should be corrected prior to your occupancy to ensure your safety.
Your Rules Consultant: Every purchase contract is a bi-lateral agreement that contains a variety of time sensitive events that must be adhered to by both parties.Whether you are a millennial home buyer, a first time home buyer or a seasoned pro, you need a REALTOR® who knows the details of the contract and will make sure you abide by the terms and conditions and meet all deadlines. They will also monitor and ensure the seller performs their responsibilities, and, if there is breach of contract by the seller, your REALTOR® will know what steps to take to protect you in the transaction.
Your Relocation Coordinator: You found the perfect home, you negotiated a great deal and you are ready to start packing and lining up the movers. You should discuss your plans with your REALTOR® before you lock in any dates. Would anything in the inspection or appraisal process cause a delay? Has your lender encountered any paperwork issues that would delay your loan approval and affect your move-in date? Your REALTOR® can help you identify some specific benchmarks that will keep you on track or allow you to be prepared to make last minute adjustments.
Your After-Market Resource: You just unloaded the last box off the truck and you can’t wait to get the furniture arranged and the décor just right. You notice that one of the ceiling fans that was working during the final walk through has stopped working. You know you have a home warranty for such things, but that paperwork is still buried in one of the boxes. What to do? Call your REALTOR®! They are happy to assist you with a variety of questions and concerns after closing. They would love to hear from you and assist you whenever they can. Allow them to be an on-going resource for years to come.
NOTE: A Real Estate Agent is licensed by the state to represent parties in the transfer of property. Every REALTOR® is a real estate agent, but not every real estate agent is a professional REALTOR®. REALTORS® are members of the National Association of Realtors and the name itself is trademarked by the Association. They are bound by a strict 17 Article Code of Ethics, belong to state and local Boards and have a wealth of resources at their disposal, including the Multiple Listing Service and continuing education programs. You have a choice of which REALTOR® you want to work with, however you should only work with one at a time. Your REALTOR® will dedicate their time and attention specifically to you to ensure you get the best service possible and only ask that you do the same. Pick the one you feel is the best for you and let them do their job.
DeWitt & Sharon Lang are Associate Brokers with HomeSmart Elite Group in Arizona. They are Team Leaders of the Lang Group who specialize in representing Buyers and Sellers of Residential Real Estate. They have years of experience in assisting their clients successfully navigate the home buying and selling process. Their motto is “When Experience Matters.” They can be contacted at 602.796.9060 or on their website at www.azhomeonline.net.