I’m gonna go ahead and say this: one man bands are usually terrible. There is something off about the same person trying to play guitar, drums, keyboards, harmonica, flute, saxophone, and whatever other instrument is probably tied to their body. The hilarity of someone trying to play all the instruments at the same time is the same hilarity of trying to represent yourself in a real estate transaction; especially when it comes to buying.
Can you save money not using a real estate agent? Not really. The truth is trying to save money by not using a buyers agent is like bringing your own food to a party on the off chance they are charging to get in the door. This is exactly what happens when you try to buy your own house without an agent. There’s a tiny, tiny chance you can work a deal that way, but 99% of the time it just won’t work.
The number one misconception about using a buyers agent is that they “cost” the buyer in fees that have to get paid out to the seller. Some people believe that if you walk in by yourself that somehow you will get a 3% savings on the price. This might happen a few times a month in your housing market, but the lion’s shares of the listing agreements out there make it so that this can never happen. Even if you decide to represent yourself, the seller’s agent is going to keep that other 3%. In that scenario you are literally paying someone to negotiate against you. The listing agreement already has funds set aside so that a buyer’s agent can represent you, for free, and to help you with the thousands of other things that can go wrong in a real estate transactions.
Abraham Lincoln said it best, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Buying a home is likely the largest transaction you will ever be a part of in your lifetime. If you think you can negotiate all the twists and turns of a real estate transaction, think about your last argument with your significant other. Did it go smoothly? Did you say what you wanted to say in the heat of the moment? Did you and your partner keep emotions low and tempers tempered while you discussed why you haven’t fixed the sink in the guest bathroom yet? Hmm? DID YOU?!?
It is natural in any negotiations for emotions to rise high even when the ones who are actually negotiating don’t have any skins in the game. Think about that for a moment. Even people who have nothing to lose or gain other than their own pride get emotional. I am very familiar with commercial real estate transactions and anytime someone says “It’s not personal, it’s just business” there is a good chance they are the first person who is going to lose their mind. This is not about intelligence or skill level. This is about the science of human behavior. Removing yourself from the center of the negotiations will help you guide your interests without getting in your own way. Not to mention the other benefits of using an agent from their ability to get you in the door with certain showings, paperwork, and the person who is truly on your side during your transaction. All this for free.
Next time you walk into that open house, talk to the agent who is hosting it about how they can help you get started on the process of home ownership. You owe it to your current obligations, your family, and to yourself to have someone help you with saving your precious time. Unless of course you prefer music played by tying a bunch of instruments to the same person. If that’s you, well I see your point. – Stevan