Do You Even Need a Realtor to Buy a Home?

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

Spring is coming, and that means the ideal time to buy a home is approaching, according to Realtor.com. It’s easier to move in the spring or summer because school is out, and you don’t have to deal with snow. One of the most important things to consider when you are going to look for a home to buy is how to prepare your finances; regardless of your price range, you will need to figure out how you are going to pay for the home. Once you are sure you can afford a home, and you begin to prepare your finances, you can start looking. One question you will need to answer is whether you should use a realtor to purchase your new home. Although there are many pros and convenient aspects to using a realtor, doing so isn’t the right choice in every situation.

There are many advantages to using a realtor when searching for a home. A realtor will probably know more about the area you are searching in than you do; this is usually the case, but it is especially true if you are moving to a new area. The realtor can consider all the different requirements or wants that you desire for your new home, and take homes that don’t fit your list out of the running.

Realtors also often have access to advanced searching methods and are able to complete a comparative market analysis for you (you can do this yourself too if you want to put the work in). They also may have contacts with other realtors who can make suggestions. Because realtors see many homes with different clients, they can also save you time by narrowing your search down based on which homes they have seen that might or might not work for you.

Agents also have experience negotiating price, so they may be able to save you a significant amount of money by using the negotiation tactics they learn in classes. Because they take classes in various real estate matters, their training makes realtors an ideal choice for finding your perfect home. Realtors who are members of the National Association of Realtors have to follow a code of ethics and they are required to protect you as their client; it can truly benefit you to have someone advocating for you when you are purchasing a home, which is a large purchase for most buyers. Real estate agents should know all rules and policies that are involved in purchasing a home.

The cons

Sellers often seriously consider whether they should use a real estate agent to sell their home, because they know that they will have to pay a commission. However, buyers should also think about this commission because sometimes purchasing a home without using a realtor can actually help you get a lower price. This is because homeowners who are selling their homes on their own, and even sometimes homeowners using a realtor to sell, might be willing to negotiate a lower price if they don’t have to pay a commission for a buyer’s agent (usually the commision is 6% and split between both realtors, but this can vary).

Another advantage is that you can make an appointment to see homes when it works for you and the homeowners (or agents) instead of trying to find a time that also works for your agent (however, you will have to spend more time conducting searches, making appointments, and potentially, negotiating with the buyer and completing a contract). You also will have the advantage of working with the seller (or the seller’s agent) directly, and you won’t have to wait for your realtor to call the seller’s realtor to make an offer, and then wait to hear back from your agent.

Determining whether or not you should use a realtor depends on your individual circumstances. Using a realtor can certainly save time and potentially protect you from home-buying mistakes, but you can get a great deal by purchasing a home yourself as long as you do your homework and protect yourself. Much of your decision will depend on how much time you have to do the necessary searching, viewing of homes, and negotiating.

If you do want to proceed without a realtor, you can have a successful transaction by determining how much you can afford and where you want to live, getting pre-approved for a loan, searching for homes, getting a valuation of property report, hiring an attorney, locking in your mortgage rate, and getting an inspection before you close.

More from Money & Career Cheat Sheet: