How Real Estate Agents Work

In this topic, you'll learn:

  • The different between buyer's and seller's agents.
  • Services you can expect from a realtor.

Family looking in a house with a realtor.

Buying a home often inspires a wide array of emotions. The experience is often exhilarating, sure. Yet it can also create a bit of stress - particularly if you're unsure of yourself, or if you have questions about how to navigate the process.

That's where a real estate agent comes in. A good agent can make things simpler, put you into a better competitive position and serve as an excellent resource when you need to be pointed in the right direction. And since realtors are most commonly paid on commission from the seller of the home, as a buyer you will pay nothing extra for the services of your realtor.

With that in mind, let's examine how real estate agents work in the home buying process. 

Representing Your Interests

Somewhat like lawyers, real estate agents represent one side of the transaction - typically the buyer or the seller. While it's possible for a buyer to use the same agent as the seller, many experts suggest that buyers use an exclusive buyer's agent. This agent represents your interest exclusively and will advocate for you throughout the process.

Gathering Information 

The proliferation of comprehensive online real estate websites and services has put an almost inexhaustible amount of data at home buyers' fingertips. Yet the death of the real estate profession has been greatly exaggerated. There's no substitute for solid "ear to the ground" information from an agent who's deeply plugged into the local housing market. As part of the home buying process, the best realtors can tap this reservoir of knowledge to guide prospective buyers during their home search and may also provide information about homes even before they hit the market - a critical advantage for those in competitive housing markets.

Viewing a Home

Once a home you like is identified, the real estate agent plays another critical role by helping you secure easy access to view the house. Without this assistance you'll likely have to schedule an appointment with a seller's agent, as few homeowners are keen on showing their house to total strangers. A buyer's agent can arrange to have a house shown to you, and can provide unvarnished opinion about prices, repairs and other relevant variables.

The Art of Negotiation

Once a house is identified, a real estate agent will negotiate on your behalf. Having an experienced negotiator is a significant benefit, as most buyers are not well-versed in negotiation tactics or knowledgeable about comparable home values. An agent also offers a rational, dispassionate evaluation of the situation. Excitement and anxiety are natural emotions when you're getting ready to close a major purchase such as a home. These feelings aren't, however, always conducive to good decision making.

Drafting Documents and Offering Advice

Agents also play important roles when drafting purchase agreements, purchase offers or comparative market analysis reports. These are all critical steps in the home buying process, so an agent's document preparation expertise is highly valuable.

Finally, agents also serve as a repository of information concerning other necessary links in the home buying process. If you need advice - or a referral for a contractor, attorney or lender - an agent is often in a good position to provide you with an informed opinion.

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