There are a lot of misconceptions about how it all works in real estate. Buyer’s agent vs. Seller’s agent. What is a listing agent? Do I really need an agent? Can I get the house for a cheaper price if I don’t use an agent? Here are a few tips that might help explain how it all works.
In Illinois, both buyers and sellers are entitled to representation by a licensed real estate agent. It is in your best interest as a buyer, to have an agent in your corner during the process of buying or property. There is a lot that happens after you find the best backyard in the #1 school district! Your Real Estate agent, along with your attorney, home inspector, insurance agent and mortgage lender, all play important roles in the transaction. And they all work, for you.
Understand Agents work for commission and where that commission comes from.
In Illinois, the seller of the home typically pays all commissions. They will have an agreement with an agent (seller’s agent aka listing agent) to sell the property for an average of 5-7% commission. Through the MLS (multiple listing service) the listing agent’s office agrees to share a certain percentage of that commission with the agent that brings a buyer. If you as a buyer go in unrepresented, it doesn’t change the amount of commission the homeowner is paying. Therefore in most cases, it is not going to work as a bargaining tool on price. It only leaves you at a disadvantage and without representation. Working with a buyer’s agent doesn’t cost the buyer any fees at all. It is one of the only times in life where you get the services of a professional at absolutely no cost to you. Why wouldn’t you use an agent?
Choose an agent and sign an agreement.
It is important to choose an agent you like and trust. When you have found that person, sign an agreement. This solidifies the relationship between the two of you. They know you’re working with only them and you know they are now your designated agent. They will keep information confidential and represent you. If you ever become dissatisfied with your agent, you can always ask to break the agreement and choose someone else.
Don’t call the listing agent directly.
Let your agent do it for you, that’s his/her job. It’s not in your best interest to talk to the listing agent because they represent the seller of the home. You deserve to have someone with your best interest in mind working for you. If you attend an open house alone, without your agent, just give the person at the open house your agent’s business card. That is the best way to let them know you’re represented. Make sure to let your agent know what you thought about the house and if you had any questions. Your Realtor can help you find out more information on any property that interests you, they will be the best, most trusted source of information.
Be open and honest about your needs and be prepared for when you find the right home.
Your agent needs to know what kind of place you’re looking for, how much you want to spend, what area you want to live in and what your timeline looks like. On your end, you need to be ready to buy. Get yourself pre-approved. There is no reason to look at $500,000 homes when you can only get a loan for $350,000. It is a waste of everyone’s time, including your own.
ONLINE TIP: If you’re searching for properties online, the websites that are available to the public
download their information from the MLS periodically. If you are truly have interest in a property, have your agent find out the most up -to-date information, they have access to the direct source and can get you in for
a private showing. Beware of clicking on realtor ads or “schedule a showing” when searching online. In most cases, the website is matching you with a buyer’s agent they have a partnership with. If you already have a relationship with an agent, you don’t want to mistakenly correspond with another agent by clicking on the website to ask for a showing. When you see something you like, shoot an email to your agent with the property address.