Buying a home is a big deal – likely the biggest financial commitment most of us will make. But, it can be hard to know who’s on your side and who you can trust.
A buying agent can give you some protection. Let’s take a closer look at what’s involved to help you weigh things up.
What is a buying agent?
A property buyer’s agent is a real estate professional who guides the buyer through the process of buying a home – from start to finish.
They represent the buyer and are legally obligated to protect their interests, making sure they get the best possible deal.
Why might you need one?
Real estate agents traditionally represent the seller, not the buyer. They charge a percentage when the property is sold, so it’s in their interest to secure the best purchase price as possible. The higher the price, the higher their commission.
However, while this works well for the seller, there’s no one fighting the buyer’s corner. Yet, they are the ones spending the money.
A home buying agent ensures a buyer’s interest are looked after with professional representation as well as providing advice and guidance throughout the process.
What does a buying agent do?
A buying agent is there to help you buy a house at a good price first and foremost. However, they will also provide:
- Knowledge of the local property market within which they operate
- A realistic view of the property
- Help guide you on the price you should pay
- Negotiate the purchase on your behalf
- Liaise with your solicitor
- Local insights & neighbourhood information
Essentially, they’ve got your back in the same way seller agents do.
What won’t a buying agent do?
It’s also important to be aware of what an agent won’t do when considering if this is the right option for you.
Find you a mortgage
They’re not there to help you make decisions about what mortgage you can afford and how you can keep up with monthly repayments.
It’s your responsibility to ensure you can afford the property you’re looking to buy. Ensure you speak to a mortgage broker and understand what you’re getting into, including what will happen when rates adjust.
Need help connecting with the right people? Get a mortgage quote below.
Promise you a bargain
Agents are there to help potential buyers get a fair price – they can’t promise a bargain.
Pros of using a buyer’s agent
Let’s take a look at the advantages of using an agent:
Gives you representation
There’s nothing wrong with estate agents trying to secure as high a price as possible when selling a home, it’s their job. But, they won’t have your best interests at heart – they work for the seller alone.
A buyer’s agent can provide you with insights and information, looking out for what you want in the process.
Could save you money
Hometrack data suggests that home buyers typically pay 97% of the property price. An agent could save you money.
Securing a fair price is in their job description, which could help you avoid overpaying for a particular property.
During price negotiations, it can be easy to be swayed by an estate agent’s selling tactics. Your buying agent will structure an offer that suits you better.
Negotiation isn’t just about price! They can negotiate timescales that better suit you, and what’s included in the sale, such as certain fixtures and fittings.
Could save you time
Your buying agent could help you avoid wasting time looking at properties in areas that aren’t best suited to your needs. What’s more, negotiating a house price (or the wider terms of the deal) can be time-consuming and difficult.
An agent could help make sure the process of buying a house doesn’t drag on for longer than is necessary. They’ll carry out all the chasing and calling, saving buyers significant amounts of time.
Provides a rounded view
When viewing a house, it’s easy to get swayed by certain details or become convinced you’ve found ‘the one’. An agent will take a rational approach, noticing things you might miss.
They’ll know what to look for, spotting key details and elements, making you aware of everything you need to know before you part with your cash.
One of the essential parts of this is providing insights into the area a property is in. They have their ear to the ground and can provide local knowledge you may otherwise not know.
The area will play a pivotal role in how much you enjoy living somewhere. A property report can pull everything you need to know about a property in one place, including crime rates and sale prices for similar properties.
Helps overcome hurdles
From the initial viewings to the property survey to negotiations, there’s a lot that needs to happen – and therefore a lot of chances for things to go awry.
One third of sales never reach completion, so it can help to have someone on your side, ensuring you’re prepared and holding the deal together.
Some estate agents share private, off-market information with buying agents, as they usually pose no commercial threat to them. This means you could find out about the best properties before they go online.
Access to unique properties
If it’s a unique home you’re looking for, a property finder can help you; they’re equipped to deal with specific criteria. An unrepresented buyer might struggle to find the ‘ideal property’, so having specialist guidance and assistance can really help here.
Helps you appear prepared
No one likes a time-waster, least of all sellers. Getting a buying agent demonstrates that you’re prepared, committed to the sale and organised. So, if a seller has lots of interest around their property, this could give you an advantage.
Negotiation on purchase price
House negotiations are notoriously hard to tackle, and some buyers end up paying more than they should.
An agent will look beyond asking prices, delving into how much a property is really worth. They’ll do their due diligence to ensure you’re paying a fair price, and help it being driven up unnecessarily.
Cons of using a buyer’s agent
Of course, it’s not all good news, there are some inevitable disadvantages. Some things to watch out for include:
Remember you’re paying a fee
A buyer’s agent will be an additional cost at a time when you’re already paying out a significant amount. There’s nothing to guarantee that the money you could potentially save on a property will outweigh these costs. While it’s possible, it’s not definite.
Securing a sale works in their favour
Different agents use different commission structures, but it’s likely they’ll take a percentage of the purchase price. They’re not there to ensure the sale price is as high as possible, but they are there to make sure you buy a home. They really want you to buy, and while, this doesn’t necessarily create a conflict of interest, it’s essential you’re aware of it.
They are there to represent you in the process. Therefore, buyers must ensure they are committed before engaging an agent. If a buyer decides to pull out or withdraw then they will be charged for time worked on their behalf.
What if I find a house without my agent?
This will likely depend on what kind of agreement you have in place with them. Ensure you understand your agreement and how your agent works before going forward.
A buyer should not go out and search at the same time, as this creates a conflict of interest and prevents the agent from doing the job they’re being paid to do.
Should I use a buyer’s agent?
The answer to this depends entirely on your individual circumstances. Consider whether the market is hot or cold. If there’s more supply than demand, is an agent a necessity? However, in terms of high demand, it could be something to consider.
What’s your price range in terms of buying a property? If it’s high, a buying agent might be something you can more easily afford. Having someone to negotiate higher sale prices down can be a welcome addition.
What to look for in a house buying agent
Your adviser should be someone who has:
- Local area knowledge and can share insight and advice
- Local market insight, able to compare different locations on price, location, amenities
- Good research skills
- Be well connected within the estate agent community to hear about properties coming to the market, or even some that may be off market
- Excellent connections and relationships to learn why the seller is selling and find points for negotiation (e.g. do they need to sell quickly due to family circumstances?)
- Ability to assess relative value
- Finely tuned negotiation skills
- Excellent communication skills to liaise with other parties, e.g. surveyors and conveyancers and hold your deal together
- Insight on potential for capital growth
- Experience and is someone you feel you can trust
Need help finding one? Before Location, Location, Location our founder Phil Spencer founded one of the first property finders in the UK, (which is still operational today)!
Tips when using a buying agent
Think this is the right option for you? Here’s some advice:
- ‘Shop around’ for agents to find some reputable, has experience and offers a fee structure and agreement that works for you
- Most agents of a no-obligation meeting – take advantage of this and suss them out
- Ensure now is the right time to buy
- Can you afford it?
- If you have a property to sell you should be under offer?
- Are house prices high or low?
- Make sure you know what you want from your home
- Get a good understanding of your mortgage options and what you’re committing to
- Ensure you trust and have confidence in your agent
- Don’t rely on the buying agent alone, ensure you fully understand the process and what needs to happen when
- Find a good solicitor
The right legal professional is an absolute must when buying a home. We can connect you with the people that will give you the best chance of a successful purchase. Get a conveyancing quote below.