Buying A House Without A Real Estate Agent
Buying a home without using a real estate agent may sound like a way to save some serious money. Considering that an agent can make 5%, or more, on the price of the home, that can quickly turn into a few thousand dollars.
However, saving a little bit of money is not always the best option, especially when it comes to a transaction as expensive and long-lasting as the purchase of a home. Here are the top risks of buying a home without a real estate agent.
Agents Do their Job, Without Emotions Playing a Role
It is the job of a real estate agent to help you find a home within your budget that matches the criteria you need for your situation.
The agent is not emotionally connected to a particular home or a particular location. They have their orders, and they are working to help you locate a place that will suit your needs.
If you are looking on your own, you may be tempted to buy a home because it is almost the same color as your grandparents’ home. Or the backyard looks just like the yard that your spouse grew up in. Or you have ALWAYS wanted to live in a particular section of town, even if it is too expensive or too dangerous.
This kind of emotional attachment may blind you to the fact that the location of the home will put you miles away from work and family or that the layout of the home is simply a problem for your family’s needs.
Your agent will not be battling those or similar emotions when they are looking at potential prospects for you. This allows them to choose homes in a logical manner that matches your needs and keeps emotion out of the decision process.
It also means that your agent can deal with telling a prospective seller that you are not interested in their home. It avoids putting you in a negative emotional situation and allows you to focus on your goal.
An Agent Can Do a Search Through a Large Database
When you are searching for a home, you have access to the internet. This gives you the ability to look through multiple websites such as Zillow, Realtor, and a host of other sites.
But few of these are all-inclusive. Those sites usually show only the best homes and sometimes only the most expensive homes in a particular market.
The MLS system used by real estate agents will contain all the houses that are listed for sale across the country. This means the agent can do a comprehensive search, using various criteria to narrow down the homes.
Most agents also have a list of contacts that they connect with frequently. This list of contacts will occasionally have knowledge of homes that are not yet listed on the MLS but will soon be available.
In short, using an agent widens the available pool of homes for you as a buyer and gives you a better chance of finding the right property for your needs.
Negotiating a Home Sale Requires Talent
Most jobs require some talent and practice to become good at producing positive results. This can be said for nurses, police officers, teachers, mechanics as well as real estate agents.
A real estate agent will take time to talk with you, the buyer, to learn about what is important in a potential home and what is irrelevant. This gives them the knowledge to use when talking to other agents about a potential home for you.
They also understand what it takes to convince a seller to accept an offer. Most people think that price is king above all, but that is not always the case. Sometimes the seller may wish to sell the home but remain in the place for an extra 2 months while they transfer to a new job.
Other sellers may wish to accept a slightly lower price if the closing can be moved up sooner.
And there are other potential bargaining points that an experienced agent can use to get you a fair deal on the home that you want.
A good agent will also recognize that it is possible the seller may not accept your offer but counter with something similar. Your real estate agent can handle these negotiations and work through various counteroffers to come to a mutual agreement, instead of you trying to fumble your way through the negotiations without any help.
Agents Comply with the Local Law
Some laws govern the sale of a home. This protects both the buyer and seller from being scammed by unscrupulous people and potentially losing out on a lot of money.
The most popular real estate law is the disclosure of the home. This is a statement from the seller about the condition of the property. In simple terms, the seller is responsible for alerting a potential buyer to any defect or problem with the home. Otherwise, the seller can be liable for a hefty lawsuit.
Disclosing the condition of the property does not mean that everything is in tip-top shape. It is merely a report of the current condition of the home.
For example, the roof may have shingles with a 10-year guaranteed life. And the shingles were installed 7 years ago. This means that the new homeowner will need to consider re-roofing the home within the next few years.
This does not mean anything is wrong with the roof. It simply means the warranty on the roof shingles will expire soon.
Your agent can help you look through disclosures about a property and determine if something is simply a part of owning the home, like the roof mentioned above, or if there is a real safety issue or possible faulty problem with the home.
Being an Agent is a Full-Time Commitment
A real estate agent is dedicated to helping you buy a home. This incorporates quite a few things.
The agent is required to complete a set number of continuing education hours based on the state where they operate.
The agent must stay alert to any changes in local, state, or federal laws about buying or selling a property.
The agent stays in contact with other local agents to learn about new home subdivisions and other new construction to understand potential changes in available homes for sale.
Changes in financing rules and new types of mortgages are also on the agent’s radar since they may have to help their client negotiate different types of mortgage loans to find one that will allow them to buy a home at the cheapest option.
And, of course, the agent is busy contacting other agents on your behalf to find out details about your potential home and to schedule a walk-through of the property.
Separating Potential Homes from Undesirable Homes
When people are shopping for a home, they are usually a bit excited and nervous at the same time. They are happy to be looking for another place to live, but perhaps nervous if they will find something that they like, in the right neighborhood, in their price range.
An agent can take your list of things that you must have in your new home and weed out properties that don’t fit with your vision.
For example, if your family has 2 young children and a large dog and they all love to play outside, you may determine that having a large yard is a must-have at your new place. This means that your agent can eliminate properties like a condo or a place that has a tiny backyard.
Along those same lines, you may feel that a home with 4 bedrooms is necessary, and you refuse to look at anything with less than 4 bedrooms.
A good agent will use that as a guide. But they may find a home that has a large office, or some other large area, that could be easily converted to that 4th bedroom. This is where having an agent on your side is so helpful.
Paying Too Much for a House
One of the most valuable tools a real estate agent has at their disposal is the comparative market analysis. An agent can use the MLS system to find homes that are sold in a particular area over a defined period. This gives you, the buyer, an idea of the current market price of the home.
Without this information, you might put an offer on a home that is priced way above the market. This could potentially put you in a position of having negative equity from the moment that you purchase a home.
Reviewing the Home Inspection
If you pay for an inspection of the home before buying (and it is a smart thing to do) you will be presented with a report from the inspector. This report will point out every single item that is wrong with a home.
At first, this may seem overwhelming to someone buying their first home. Especially if the report contains 40+ items.
However, pointing out that something is wrong does not always mean the home has major problems.
For example, there may be an electrical outlet in the garage that is missing the outlet cover. This is a simple fix that can be handled by going to a local hardware store, buying an inexpensive outlet cover, and using 2 screws to attach the cover, the issue is resolved.
However, the report may uncover a bigger issue like the presence of termites.
An experienced agent can review the report and point out all the little items that are simple and easy to correct as well as alert you to any issue with the home.
The agent can also use the inspection report to further negotiate with the seller (see the earlier point about negotiating a home sale).
Avoiding Issues that Can Come at Closing
Once you have made it through the various home showings, the home inspection, the offer, and the potential counteroffer, it is time to move forward with the transaction and purchase the home.
The lender will review the purchase contract, along with the buyer’s proof of income and proof of assets for any down payment or closing costs. The lender will also review the appraisal of the property and make sure the title search for the home is complete and accurate.
After the loan is approved, it is time to meet at a local real estate attorney’s office and sign the papers.
An agent will work to make sure the lender and the seller are all working together to get the home sold and avoid any issues that can derail the purchase. Items like an oversight on the title search or a missed item on the appraisal have a way of popping up the day before a loan closing and need to be handled quickly to keep the process moving forward.
There is a whole industry devoted to buying and selling real estate. Some agents specialize in just working with sellers while others specialize in working only with buyers.
There are appraisers, home inspectors, real estate attorneys, home decorators, staging professionals, land surveyors, and a host of other people that make a full-time living around the topic of buying and selling homes.
While it is possible for you to locate a good home, submit an offer, and close the deal without speaking to a real estate agent, it is filled with potential risks. Not only are there risks associated with the initial purchase, but you also face the risk of having no recourse after the sale if the sales contract did not comply with the law.
Summing Up The Risks Of Buying A Home Without An Agent
This is why we strongly suggest to all buyers to use a good real estate agent as their representative to ensure you have a solid start to your journey of owning a home.
About the author: This article on “Risks of Buying A Home Without A Real Estate Agent” was written by Luke Skar of MadisonMortgageGuys.com. As the Social Media Strategist, his role is to provide original content for all of their social media profiles as well as generating new leads from his website.
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