Let’s say, for instance, you walked up to the listing agent at an open house and gushed about how you love the home and want to buy it, but you will need to move soon because you’re expecting your second child and need to decorate the nursery pronto, or the lease on your rental is up in a couple of months. A seller’s agent could then use this information against you by informing the seller that your clock is ticking, so they shouldn’t budge too much on their asking price—or at all.
Yet make this same confession to the buyer’s agent you’re working with, and it’s all fine—this professional would know to keep this info private from sellers (and their agents) so it can’t be used against you.
How to find a buyer’s agent
A good buyer’s agent can ease your way to homeownership—and a bad one can result in a bumpy ride. As such, don’t just take the first buyer’s agent you meet (which is what two-thirds of home buyers do), or blindly accept the recommendation from a friend (over half do this). Instead, it’s best to interview at least three agents and ask them a few questions, including the following:
- What neighborhoods do you specialize in? Real estate requires local expertise, so you should find an agent who’s extremely familiar with the areas you’re interested in.
- What’s your schedule and availability? Part-time agents who are committed can do a fine job, but if the house of your dreams pops up or you encounter last-minute closing snafus, you want an agent who will be readily reachable.
- How long have you been a real estate agent? You ideally want someone with a couple of years of experience, and a proven track record of selling homes.
To find real estate agents in your area, head to realtor.com/realestateagents, where you can also read online reviews provided by past clients and learn more.
The agent/buyer contract
Once you agree to work with an agent, you will have to sign a contract called an Exclusive Buyer Agency Agreement outlining the agent’s services and compensation (more on that next). This contract also means that this agent will be your sole representative and that you won’t work with other buyer’s agents.
How much do buyer’s agents cost?
Home buyers don’t need to worry about the expense of hiring a buyer’s agent. Why? Because the seller pays the commission for both the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. Typically the commission equals about 6% of the home’s sales price, which is split evenly between both agents (on a $200,000 home, that would be $6,000 apiece).