By Carla Hill
The latest NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers showed a growing trend among recent buyers. The latest figures show that 89 percent of buyers purchased their home with the help of a real estate or broker. This is a sharp increase from a decade ago, in 2001, when only 69 percent of buyers enlisted the help of an agent or broker.
Why do today's buyers choose to work with an agent? Let's look at just a few of the many reasons an agent can be your biggest ally.
First, agents are licensed professionals, which means they had to complete coursework and pass an exam in order to become an agent. They have the education and experience to help you navigate what will be one of the biggest purchases of your life.
They also have access to a wide range of properties and can guide you to those that are the best fit for you, which can save you time and energy. If you are unsure what type of property you’re interest in, an agent can help explain the pros and cons of things such as condo life versus single-family detached living.
Where are the up-and-coming neighborhoods? Which areas are more walkable or have access to better schools? These are all issues an agent deals with daily.
They can also ease the burden of buying by simplifying the process. They set up showings, drive you to appointments if needed, and help you handle the intricacies of negotiations.
Today's market also presents challenges that simply weren’t present or didn’t dominate the market a decade ago. Buyers are faced with some great deals, but through some complicated channels, such as short sale or foreclosure. How does one handle these sorts of contracts? Your agent or broker will know.
According to the NAR, “More than ever, home-buyers are relying on real estate agents and brokers to help them with their home purchase regardless of whether the home they are buying is a foreclosure, short sale, or even a FSBO sale because they need a real estate agent to help them through the process.”
Finally, buyers are unsure if now is really a good time to buy. They need to rely on someone with local market knowledge. Is this a good neighborhood to invest in? Are prices still dropping in this community? How long do homes take to sell? What is the median selling price? Buyers want the best deal out there.
The 2011 Profile found that more buyers are opting against dual agency, where the agent represents both the buyer and seller. This could signal that today's buyers are very cautious about getting into the market. While a dual agent isn’t supposed to harbor any bias, buyers now want to be extra sure they are getting the best deal possible. In fact, “60 percent of recent buyers had an oral or written arrangement with the real estate agent or broker so that the buyer's agent only represented the buyer and not the seller.”
If you are considering buying a home this year, be sure to strongly consider using a real estate agent. They could be your biggest ally.
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