The Benefits of Using a Real Estate Agent
By Shelley O’Hara
- Agent commissions and how they work
- How an agent can help you
You’ve done your research, and you are ready to purchase a home. Should you take action on your own or use an agent? Use an agent.
As a buyer, you don’t gain anything by not using an agent, because the seller pays the agent a commission. A percentage of the commission, usually half, goes to the listing agent (the agent who put the house on the market on the seller’s behalf), and the remaining commission goes to the buyer’s agent (the agent that represents you, the buyer). Typical commissions range from 5 to 7 percent.
In the past, agents always worked for the seller. The bigger the sales amount, the higher the commission. Now that’s not usually the case. Instead, you sign a contract specifying a buyer’s agency or representation. If you aren’t sure about the type of agent, ask!
An agent can help you in many ways, including the following:
- An agent can help you determine how much you can afford when purchasing a home. They can recommend lenders and work with lenders on your behalf to prequalify you for a loan.
- Agents have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that lists homes for sale. While you can also find houses on your own by attending open houses, reading your paper’s real estate section, and searching online, your agent is the best point of access for all homes and can arrange showings for houses of interest.
- Your agent can help you narrow your search by going through a home with you and noting what you like and dislike. The agent is also a source of information about the home itself: how long it’s been on the market, the neighborhood and school system, the home’s best features and so on. Rather than being flooded with properties of all type, your agent can help you find a match for your specific needs and wants.
- Your agent can also answer questions about the current market, interest rates and other home buying issues. She can also refer you to other specialists whom you will need, including a home inspector or a lender.
- Your agent will negotiate on your behalf when you make an offer on a house. The agent can help you determine exactly what you offer, not only in price but also in other factors, such as appliances, seller’s help on closing costs and other negotiation issues). The agent will write up the offer and present it to the seller’s agent.
Next article: How and Where to Find an Agent >>