With Cape Coral and Fort Myers for sale by owner (FSBO) transactions becoming more and more popular with sellers, we see a lot of buyers asking whether or not they really need representation when purchasing a home. The short answer is, it depends. If you choose not to enlist the help of a buyer’s agent, you’ll need to familiarize yourself on today’s real estate market, make lots of phone calls to FSBO sellers and listing agents, be prepared to do research on pricing, and be able to understand the legalese in your purchase agreement and closing documents.
On the flip side, a Realtor can help you navigate the entire process – from starting your home search online, to recommending trusted inspectors and contractors, right up until you get the keys at the closing table.
At the end of the day, it really is your choice! Here’s some information to help you navigate your options.
What A Buyer’s Agent Does
A buyer’s agent is a licensed Realtor that represents you, the buyer, throughout the home buying process. Most of the time, a friend, neighbor or family member will be more than happy to give you a referral to an agent that they have used in the past with success. If not, you can find a realtor online.
Some key responsibilities of a buyer’s agent:
→ Refer you to a lender for pre-approval to see how much buying power you have before beginning your home search.
→ Look for properties that match your criteria. While there are many online sites that allow buyers to search on their own, a Realtor has access to additional listings and information about the status of properties.
→ Communicate with the listing agent or seller to schedule a time to show you properties.
→ Provide valuable area and neighborhood knowledge.
→ Research comparable homes and help you determine a fair offer on a home you’re interested in.
→ Prepare offers, communicate with the seller’s agent, deliver deposits and handle the negotiations on your behalf.
→ Give you a checklist of items to complete during your due diligence period, and offer recommendations for inspectors and other resources.
→ Will often be present at closing to help you navigate the closing documents and finalize the sale.
Breaking Down The Commission Issue
Here’s something that confuses a lot of people. Often times, buyers assume that they are the one paying their Realtor’s commission out of their closing costs. In reality, the seller is responsible for paying the listing agent a predetermined commission, and from that the listing agent is responsible for paying a commission to the brokerage who brought the buyer to the table. So the seller actually pays all commissions in a standard real estate transaction.
If you don’t have a buyer’s agent, the seller saves a bit of money by not having to pay a brokerage a commission. If you have a buyer’s agent and are working with a FSBO seller, the seller should pay your brokerage a commission directly at closing, unless you negotiate that you, the buyer will pay your realtor. And if it’s a FSBO seller and a buyer with no representation, there is NO commission involved whatsoever.
Still Going It Alone?
If you choose to represent yourself when buying a home, we won’t hesitate to caution you about the importance of a professional title search and subsequent title insurance to safeguard your investment. The average person could spend countless hours trying to trace a property’s title to ensure it’s totally clear of liens, unpaid taxes, judgments or any other obligations to third parties. Failure to find just one small infraction could lead to hefty penalties down the road once you’re the rightful owner of the home.
This is where a title insurance company can be a valuable resource if you represent yourself. A title company can also provide escrow services, act as a notary public and perform witness courtesy closings, all the while ensuring your paperwork is in order and your closing goes off without a hitch.