According to the National Association of Realtors 2018 Survey of Buyers and Sellers 87% of home buyers purchased their home through a Realtor. This number has remained very consistent over the years which is somewhat surprising in the internet age. While online trading has dramatically affected most stock brokers and many of us don’t remember when we last called a travel agent, real estate brokers have remained integral to the process of buying and selling homes. Here are a few reasons why.
1) The good houses go fast: Buyers typically begin their preliminary searches on the big portals such as Zillow or Realtor.com. After just a few inquiries they often discover that many of the homes they’re contemplating are actually “in escrow”, hence unavailable. By hiring their own representative buyers ensure that they are receiving accurate information in “real-time”.
2) Buyers want to find the right house: Most buyers start with the basics such as bedrooms, baths, price range and neighborhoods. To me, that’s the “what” but a good broker will also focus on the “why”. Buyers must have trust in their broker before they will feel comfortable discussing their underlying dreams and motivation. By hiring a trusted advisor that they know and like, buyers will find it easier to make big decisions in a short period of time.
3) Buyers do not want to overpay: Any broker can provide a market analysis or buyers can simply check the Zestimate. However, real comfort comes from footwork, personal experience, and getting out and looking at homes in a timely manner. How many houses does a buyer need to see before feeling very confident in their judgement? For some it’s just a few, while others may need to see dozens. Most brokers will have strategies and systems to help buyers narrow down their decision.
4) Buyers want to get home “on-time”: While hiring a Realtor doesn’t guarantee that the deal will close as planned, it certainly will improve the odds. Real estate transactions are inherently complicated with many timelines and contingencies. Once the contract is accepted, seasoned brokers tend see their role as that of an air traffic controller. Buyers have a lot to do themselves and many decisions to make. The broker’s role is to manage the details.
5) There are legal considerations: This is not a sexy topic, but many of us in the real estate business make it our life’s mission to help our clients avoid legal conflict. To do this we remain well informed of legal issues affecting the industry and we master the required forms and real estate contracts. While most brokers are not attorneys, we do have tools that will help our buyers avoid the need to have an attorney. Buyers that approach listing brokers, developers, or private parties directly almost always find themselves unrepresented.
6) Buyers need local knowledge: Here again the internet is a great tool but not a complete resource. There is really no replacement for face-to-face conversation with a knowledgeable professional.
Clearly there are many benefits to hiring a real estate broker to help you find your next home. I use the term “hire” rather than “used” or “worked-with” because I often utilize a Buyer’s Broker Agreement. Not unlike a Listing Agreement, this is a bilateral contract that spells out the rights and obligations of the buyer and their broker of choice. Of equal importance, the Buyer’s Broker Agreement provides for exclusive representation and requires a high degree of loyalty from both parties.