- Help you with your loan – You may have already received your pre-approval letter, but your buyer’s agent will most likely know a lender or two that can actually get it done. What I mean is that any lender can write a pre-approval letter or quote a competitive interest rate, but you want a lender that is efficient and responsive if you are going to get your loan fully approved and funded on time. Your buyer’s agent has had the misfortune of sifting through dozens or hundreds of bad lenders to find the good ones that actually work hard for you and help you close escrow. You should trust their recommendations.
- Help you find your home – Yes, you can use one of the thousands of websites out there to help you with your search, and you should be using them. But your buyer’s agent will help you consider what to search for and what websites to use in order to ensure you are on top of it. As previously mentioned, many sites like Zillow and Trulia have a 48 hour delay. Additionally, your buyer’s agent can perform tasks for you that you should not be spending your time doing, such as reading private remarks of a listing (reserved for MLS members), or calling the listing agent for important details. You may be able to do some of this on your own, but don’t waste your time.
- Help you write a compelling and smart offer – Your offer should be complete and well-presented. A listing agent could also help you accomplish that. What goes into a complete offer is the topic of a later article, but what about making your offer smart? A good buyer’s agent will provide you with a detailed comparative market analysis (“CMA”) for any home you are seriously considering. This CMA will tell you what your expectations should be with regards to the offer and purchase price of any home. If it is grossly over-priced, you are unlikely to find that out through the listing agent’s CMA, if they even provide you with one.
- Navigate escrow – This is perhaps the most important aspect of having a dedicated buyer’s agent. There are multiple times throughout escrow when you need an advocate on your side you completely trust. Disclosures, inspections, advisories, property reports, when to serve notices to perform, how to review a preliminary title report, requests for repair, and on and on. There are literally hundreds of things that your listing agent might neglect to do for you if their main consideration is to represent the seller or to just get the deal done.
So does this mean that you should never use a listing agent? No, many agents are perfectly capable of representing both the buyer and seller ethically and responsibly. However, I wouldn’t recommend it unless it is someone you trust. If you or someone you know has worked with them in the past, or if they are a friend or family member, then by all means, yes, you should feel completely comfortable using the listing agent to represent you as the buyer. You can also read some online reviews, or ask the listing agent to provide contact information for previous buyers they represented while representing the sellers as well.
This is not a comprehensive list of all things that a dedicated buyer’s agent should be doing for you when you buy a property, but these are the major points that hopefully dissuade most from considering using the listing agent as an option. As always, please give me a call with any real estate questions you may have, whether you are looking to buy, sell, lease, or just want to know the current market value of your home.