We’ve covered why selling your home alone – FSBO – is usually not the best idea several times here in the past. But what about if you’re the buyer?
On the face of things, buying a Waterloo Region home without a real estate buyer’s agent seems easy enough. You browse the local listings, find a property you love, and go from there. But in reality, real estate agents bring a lot of expertise to the table you will definitely want when you’re trying to get the best house and the best deal possible.
If you’re asking yourself “do I need a real estate buyer’s agent to buy a house?” it’s the wrong question. Instead, ask yourself what the benefits are of going it alone? For home sellers, choosing to work without a real estate agent usually comes down to cost and not wanting to pay commissions. But unless it’s otherwise agreed upon – which is rare – it’s the sellers who are responsible for paying agent commission fees, and that includes fees for the real estate buyer’s agent.
Buying a house without a real estate agent will not save you money in most cases, but it will almost certainly cost you some. Here are a few things to consider before you take on buying a home all on your own.
Sellers May Be Less Likely to Consider Your Offer
The relationship between home buyer and homer seller is tricky, since it focuses both parties on maximizing their own interests while making sure the other is satisfied enough to move forward.
Since you usually never even come in to physical contact with the seller – usually because they have a real estate agent selling, and showing their home – there’s a lot riding on credibility and trust. Having an agent means you have a qualified representative vouching for your integrity making it more likely that a seller will open up their property for a showing or take your offer into consideration.
Do You Have the Negotiation Props?
How good is your poker face? Are you comfortable bartering? A successful real estate buyer’s agent have a knack for accomplishing big things in negotiations—a skill that a typical buyer may not be adept at.
Let’s say you find the perfect home but then learn that past water damage has caused some rotting in the foundation. Your goal at that point is to get the seller to either pay for the repairs themselves or bring down the price enough to cover the cost. But sellers are trying to make a profit, and they’re not keen on budging, especially when it comes to dropping a sale price by thousands of dollars.
While you may be uncomfortable standing your ground in this situation and end up either getting less than you want or giving up on the deal entirely, a good real estate agent can usually work real magic and get you what you want, or at least as close to what you want as possible.
You Might Miss Seeing Your Dream Home
The internet has made it easier than ever before to see what’s out there in terms of Waterloo Region homes for sale, but if you’re buying a house without an agent you’re missing out on a ton of properties that aren’t listed on traditional channels.
Real estate agents have access to a wide variety of available homes, including those that are active but are purposely not being displayed on online marketplace listings. In addition, you may be missing out on other homes that fit your needs but aren’t in your search terms—such as a well-priced home in a different town that shares the school district you’re looking for. If you want to cast as wide a net as possible in your search, you’re best bet is to work with someone who has their pulse on all the data.
Be Ready for a Lot of Homework
A big part of buying a house is getting the assurance that the price you’re intending to pay is the price that the home is worth. And a big part of that is knowing and understanding the comps.
Comps—or comparable sales—are the prices paid for other homes in your same neighborhood that are similar in size, amenities, and features. An agent can easily pull up the comps for you and show you whether the property that you’re interested in is over-priced (a variable that, even if you’re willing to pay it, will have consequences when securing a mortgage).
It is possible to do the research on your own, but it will take more time and it’s possible that you’ll miss something. To be more confident that the listed price is the right price, you will probably want the help of an agent.
You May Not Ask the Right Questions
There are a lot of questions that ideally need to be answered up before a contract closes, including major ones like who is paying what at closing and whether there are any seller disclosures that need to come out into the open.
If you’re working on your own, you’re taking a big risk in assuming that all the important questions will get answered even if you don’t know to ask them. The only way to make sure that all of your bases are covered is to work with someone who knows precisely what those bases are and can not only ensure the questions are asked but also that the answers come out in your favor.
It Helps to Have a Guide
From questions that pop up in the middle of the night to help to understand the fine print on your contract, it’s helpful to have a go-to source who you can turn to as you’re browsing for and purchasing a home. An agent will know all the nuances of your situations, and can respond to questions and concerns in context—something that the internet isn’t as good at doing.
Buying a home can be stressful and overwhelming, and there’s a lot of peace of mind that comes with having the support of someone who can see you through it and out to the other end.
Buying a home without a real estate is difficult and not usually advised, but it does happen. About 5-7% of home purchases happen without the help of a real estate agent. Is it the right choice for you, though?
If you’re confident that you’ve found the best property for the best deal and aren’t worried about your negotiation skills or ability to ask the right questions, it’s possible that you could be fine. Ultimately, the choice is yours when it comes to whether or not to forego a buyer’s agent. Just make sure you’re choosing the option that’s best suited for your needs and capabilities.