Don’t Shop For Homes Alone
by Blanche Evans
Homebuyers are increasingly shopping for homes with a real estate agent. Eighty-eight percent of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker, up from 69 percent in 2001, says a new report from the National Association of REALTORS®. That means your competition has professional help. Do you?
In 2014, buyers used a wide variety of resources in searching for a home, with the Internet (92 percent) and real estate agents (87 percent) leading the way. And 90 percent of homebuyers who searched for homes online ended up purchasing their home through an agent. Buyers who used the Internet were more likely to purchase their home through an agent than those who didn’t (67 percent).
When buyers were asked where they first learned about the home they purchased, 43 percent said the Internet. That’s up from 36 percent in 2009. Thirty-three percent learned about their home from a real estate agent. That’s pretty impressive odds.
So in the age of homebuying apps, why are more buyers using a real estate agent? A number of reasons. First, the bubble and implosion in housing values made buyers more cautious. Then the housing market rebounded, leaving many buyers unprepared for bidding wars, investors, and a tighter mortgage market. Last, buyers have been on the sidelines so long, that they’re entering the market with more maturity than buyers of past generations.
There’s no reason not to use all the help you can get. Licensing laws allow agents to work with both buyers and sellers as both fiduciaries and non-fiduciaries, depending on state disclosure requirements.
When an agent contracts with a seller to sell their home, the agent contracts commission fees with the seller to cover the costs of paying the buyer’s agent. Buyers may not realize that most agents are paid at the closing, and that they won’t be out any upfront money to hire their own agent.
Having an agent multiplies the buyer’s chances of finding the right home at the best price. The buyer’s agent networks with other agents to find the right home and they learn which homes are coming onto the market before the general public. Many homes are bought and sold without a sign ever going into the yard.
But, if a buyer goes to open houses, or builder model homes without registering their buyer’s agent’s name, or calls on a listing without mentioning their agent, the listing agent or builder’s agent has every right to assume the buyer is unrepresented. They may refuse to pay the buyer’s agent commission.
Today’s agents are like today’s buyers and sellers. They’re more technology-savvy and willing to work hard to please their buyers. They know that buyers eventually become sellers, and sellers become repeat buyers.
That’s how good agents build their businesses, through repeat business and referrals. They are highly motivated to do the best job possible for homebuyers.
Why wouldn’t any buyer want to take advantage of that?