Should you use a buyer’s agent when looking for a home?

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

What is the difference between using a listing agent, buyer’s agent or just finding a house on my own using the Internet?  Over 80% of people start their home search on the Internet, and in my opinion usually continue to use the Internet throughout your search process.

The Internet should include all tools available including e-mail, Web searching, and agent offered tools such as CleanOffer or Home Alert.  The Internet is a great tool to give you a basic understanding of the prices of homes available and also to rule out some homes you find undesirable for one reason or another.  If you know the type of home you are looking for i.e.: number of bedrooms price range cities and school district it is possible to have those listings e-mailed directly to you as they come on the market. 

Okay, now you’ve searched for your home on the Internet found a likely suspect and it’s time to just go to the listing agent and make your offer right?  Some buyers to go directly to the listing agent to make their offers and it is not illegal for the agent to write your offer and some agents love it, after all they get double the commission.  Now it’s time for the negotiations to begin.  The listing agent you’ve chosen as legally committed to represent the seller’s best interest and now you as a buyer can in the picture and they are also you represent your best interest?  Some agents love this for obvious reasons others shy away from it just to avoid the appearance of a possible conflict of interest.  I think what the buyer is hoping is that because the agent gets double the commission they will share some of that with them and the buyer will end up with a better deal.  Theoretically that better deal is possible, however, in reality because the agent is negotiating with himself they may not have the same incentive to get you the best possible deal which could far exceed any commission savings are in my opinion, this is like going to a car dealer and asking the salesperson to go to the manager and have them tell you the best deal he can give you on the car.

I good buyers agent will give you an honest opinion of the value of a property show you other properties that perhaps are even a better deal.  They will take the time to learn what type of house you like, the neighborhoods that appeal to you and give you an honest opinion of the value of that house in that neighborhood.  Their fiduciary responsibility requires them to negotiate the best possible deal you and they will also show you homes that may not even be on the Internet yet.  For most buyers, this is by far the best method to use when looking for a new home.

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