Buying a home is a big event, especially if it is your first home. There will probably be many things you don’t know, because you simply haven’t been through the home buying process before. One of the most common questions of first-time homebuyers is whether they need to hire a buyer’s agent.
There is nothing that requires anyone to hire a buyer’s agent. You can find homes for sale on your own and work directly with the seller’s agent. The problem with that is that the seller’s agent has the seller’s best interests in mind. He will try to get the highest possible price for the seller, and is in fact contractually bound to do so. He is also obligated not to share any confidential information about his client with you.
Working with a buyer’s agent gives you the advantage of having a knowledgeable and experienced agent looking out for your best interests. Your agent will help you find property that meets your needs. He will then assist you in negotiations to help you get it at the lowest possible price.
You can work with an agent without signing a buyer’s agency contract. In fact, it’s a good idea to do so for a while until you’re sure that you want that agent to represent you. You need time to determine whether the agent will listen to your needs, and whether the two of you will be able to get along.
An agent is not legally bound to keep information, such as the highest price you would pay for a property, confidential until you sign a contract with him. If he is a dual agent that also represents sellers and you want to buy a home that belongs to one of his clients, he has to share that information unless he is legally representing your interests. So keeping such things to yourself until there is a written agreement is a good idea.
An agent should not pressure you into signing an agreement right away. That is a bad sign in and of itself. If after a while you’re still unsure, you can talk to the agent about signing an agreement that only lasts for a short time. You could also consider a non-exclusive agreement, which allows the agent to represent you but also allows you to work with other agents.
A buyer’s agent is not necessary when you are buying a home, but having someone with experience on your side can make your home buying experience a more pleasant and potentially less expensive one. In many cases your agent and the seller’s agent will split the commission. That means that you can have your own agent without having to spend more money.