Buying a House Without a Realtor: What You Need to Know
We’ve covered selling a home without a realtor before (and why it’s not normally a good idea), but what about if you’re on the buyer end of the equation? At face value, buying a house without a realtor seems easy enough. You browse the listings, find a property you love, and go from there. But in actuality, realtors bring a whole lot of expertise to the table that you’re definitely going to want when you’re trying to get the best house and the best deal possible.
If you’re asking yourself “do I need a realtor to buy a house?” you’re starting with the wrong question. Instead, ask yourself what the benefits are of going it alone. For sellers, choosing to work without a real estate agent usually comes down to cost. Unless otherwise agreed upon, it’s the sellers who are responsible for paying agent commission fees, and that includes fees for the buyer’s agent. Buying a house without a realtor probably isn’t going to save you money, but it will almost certainly cost you some. Here are a few things to consider before you take on the task of buying a home all on your own.
Sellers might be less likely to consider your offer
The relationship between buyer and seller is a tricky one, since both parties are focused 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, there’s a lot riding on credibility and trust. Having an agent means you have a qualified representative vouching for your integrity, in turn making it more likely that a seller will open up their property for a showing or take your offer into consideration. If you already know the seller this probably won’t be a huge concern, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re starting the home purchasing process without any leads.
Realtors are true negotiation pros
How good is your poker face? Are you comfortable bartering? Successful realtors have a knack for accomplishing big things in negotiations—a skill that a typical buyer may not be particularly 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’re not seeing the whole scope of available properties
The internet has made it easier than ever before to see what’s out there in terms of homes for sale, but if you’re buying a house without a realtor 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 to research
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 it comes to securing a mortgage). It certainly is possible to do the research on your own, but it will take more time and it’s possible that you’ll miss something. For true surety that the listed price is the right price, you’re probably going to want the help of a realtor.
Real estate language can be difficult to understand
Just like legalese and tax forms, real estate is full of convoluted language that’s inherently confusing to outsiders. Sure you can use Google to look up what a confusing real estate term or acronym means, but do you really want to trust one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your life to the search engines or take the risk of legally binding yourself to something you don’t fully understand? Small mistakes can have big consequences in real estate, and it’s usually best to have an expert in your corner.
You risk not asking the right questions
There are a lot of questions that ideally need to be firmly cleared 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 pretty big risk in assuming that all of 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 do their very best to ensure the answers come out in your favor.
You usually need an agent with you during the inspection
You’re typically required to have an agent along with you when you go to the home for inspection, and that’s almost always going to be a buyer’s agent that tags along. You can ask the seller’s agent if they’ll accompany you, but that can create some problems in terms of your own standing in negotiations as well as how commission is divvied up. It’s best to have an agent with you during the inspection who is purely focused on advocating for your best interests, and often, that’s going to be a buyer’s agent—not a seller’s agent.
You’ll still need a real estate attorney
Whether selling on your own or purchasing on your own, you’re not going to be able to go through the entire process without some added assistance. Real estate attorneys are a necessary part of any home purchasing deal and add a further layer of protection to both parties. A realtor usually has an attorney or two that they work well with, and together, they can negotiate the best deal possible for you.
It helps to have a knowledgeable guide
From questions that pop up in the middle of the night to help understanding the fine print on your contract, it’s incredibly 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 quite 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 realtor is difficult and not usually advised, but it does happen. About 10% to 15% of home purchases happen without the assistance of a real estate agent. Is it the right choice for you, though? If you’re fully 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.
Published at Tue, 02 Oct 2018 16:59:04 +0000