Buying a home is probably one of the largest financial investments you will ever make. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just finding your dream home on the market and moving in. There are many steps that are required between submitting an offer and being handed the keys to your new house. Because of the complexity of the process, hiring a buyer’s agent is critical to protecting your best interests and ensuring that the large investment you’re about to make will be a good one.
I recently spoke with Lindsay Walston, a real estate agent in Atlanta, GA, about the benefits of enlisting the help of a buyer's agent. Yoiu may be thinking, "of course she think you should get an agent, she is one!" When I brought up this point, she shared her first home buying experience before becoming an agent.
We almost backed out of buying our first house the night before closing. If we’re being honest, I hated that house when we bought it. It was dated, closed off, smelled like cat pee, and had 7 different types of flooring (seriously) on the main level alone. But, it had potential and we were not exactly rolling in cash at the time.
A good agent would have coached her through this situation. Unfortunately, she did not have a good agent.
This house got me into real estate but not in the way you’re probably imagining. We were first-time homebuyers with literally no idea what the heck we were doing. We had zero support and I’m 99.9% sure our agent just wanted to be rid of us. It was a terrible experience. So bad, that we (ok I) strongly considered a last-minute exit until we were told we could be sued for bailing at the 11th hour. And that’s how we bought our first house.
As Lindsay has learned more about real estate in the Atlanta market, she gained a greater understanding of the value a buyer's agent provides.
Here are her top seven reasons you should get a buyer's agent when searcher for a home.
#1 - The Seller Pays for Your Representation
One of the first things to know about hiring a buyer’s agent is that it likely won’t cost you a dime. Typically, the buyer’s agent is paid by the seller once you purchase a home. So, not only is it not going to cost you anything but hiring an agent will actually save you a good bit of time and money. However, just because hiring an agent might be “free” doesn’t mean you should go with just anyone. It is important to ensure you have a good working relationship with this person and that he or she will represent you in the best way possible.
# 2 - Professional and Personal Representation
For some reason, many buyers think they will get a better deal on a home if they go straight to the listing agent. This is one of the biggest myths in real estate and can cost you more than you might realize. Think about it, the listing agent represents the best interests of the seller, not you as the buyer. Even if the agent agrees to give you back some of their commission, their end goal is to do everything in their power to close the sale. This motivation means you could overpay for the home or not be represented to the level you would with your own agent.
Representing both sides of the sale is a conflict of interest (and even illegal in some states!). Smart buyers know to avoid dual agency whenever possible. - Lindsay Walston
As a buyer’s agent, my job is to make purchasing a home as seamless and easy as possible and to be in your corner throughout the home buying process. I protect your best interests from the start of your home search, to contract negotiations and the closing table.
#3 - A Personal Specialist Who Knows Your Needs
By getting to know you and your real estate needs, a buyer’s agent can streamline the home buying process by identifying the best potential homes for you. Finding the right home can be a time-consuming process. It’s crucial to have a bit of help, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer or just a very busy person. You don’t have time to scour the real estate listings for hours.
That's my job - Lindsay Walston
Plus, an experienced buyer’s agent can help you spot potential problems when viewing homes like moisture in the basement, roofing problems, or other potential issues before you place an offer. Can't find your dream home in the current inventory? Once we know what you want, an agent can reach out to their network to help find you homes before they even hit the market.
#4 - A Market Expert
Whether you are moving to a new area or just aren’t as familiar with the real estate market, a buyer’s agent can help to advise you on a target area based on your individual priorities and needs. He or she is highly knowledgeable about what is going on in a given area and this knowledge will help to ensure that you are investing in the right property for you. In addition, as a market expert, your buyer’s agent will be in tune with local property values and will be able to protect you from overpaying for your home.
#5 - A Professional Negotiator
Negotiation can be uncomfortable. It can be hard to ask someone to reduce their price, provide some other concession, or perform a needed repair. The good news? You don’t have to.
Once again, my job. - Lindsay Walston
A great buyer’s agent is a skilled negotiator that can help advocate for you and get the best possible deal on a home. Leave the negotiation to the agent.
#6 - A Contract Expert
Real estate contracts can be long and confusing. Plus, they’re not just about money. Contracts also establish specific timelines that need to be closely followed. If deadlines are missed or forms are skipped, you risk losing out on a deal, missing an opportunity for negotiation, or even losing your earnest money! Part of an agent's is to make sure all deadlines are met and to be acutely aware of even the smallest details so that your home buying process is as smooth as possible.
#7 - A Long List of Professional Contacts
If you’ve purchased a home before, you can appreciate exactly how many different professionals are required to get you from submitting an offer to the closing table. You’ll need a home inspector to perform a thorough assessment of the home, specialists if something is found during that inspection process, a home insurance agent, mortgage broker, movers, and maybe even a contractor or two if you want to do some work on your new home.
How do you know who to hire?
Since buyer’s agents spend so much time in the business, they can provide you with a list of highly qualified vendors to choose from. Lindsay only recommend individuals with a strong reputation that she has either used for her own home or who have a proven track record of delivering excellent service.
To be honest, a great buyer’s agent is worth their weight in gold. They will have your back at all times and will help to ensure the process is as smooth and stress-free as possible. Once you have the keys to your new home, you’ll be so glad you hired someone to represent you throughout the process. - Lindsay Walston
When it is time to look for a home, trust a professional.