Do you need a real estate agent to buy a home?

Buying a home today is easier in many ways than it ever has been. Online tools allow you to look at multiple home listings without leaving your house. You can learn about the history of a home and its neighborhood before deciding which ones to visit. You may have even wondered “Do I need a real estate agent to buy a house?”

With so much information at their fingertips, many consumers are opting to buy a house without hiring a real estate agent and to do the legwork and paperwork themselves. While this option can save you money, is it the best choice for you? Here are some things to consider about the benefits and downsides of buying a home without an agent.

The upsides of buying a house without a real estate agent

There are certain benefits to buying a home without a real estate agent. Some of those include:

  1. You save on commissions: According to the mortgage broker company Total Mortgage, about 10% to 15% of homebuyers choose to go through the process without an agent. This can provide the seller with more “wiggle room” in the final price, because they won’t be paying the agent’s standard commission.
  2. You have direct negotiating power: If you're working directly with a seller, you may find you have more open communication because you aren’t waiting for an agent to relay information. This can work to your advantage, particularly in times and markets that are booming and agents may not be as quick to respond to your needs.
  3. It’s useful if you don’t need as much guidance: If you're buying property that you’re already familiar with, such as a neighbor’s home or a property that has been in your friend's family for many years, you might already know more about the property than a real estate agent would. Getting a real estate agent involved might feel like an unnecessary step when both sides have all the relevant information and want to make a deal.

The downsides of buying a house without a real estate agent

Keep in mind, however, that real estate agents are licensed and have special knowledge of what’s needed to make a real estate transaction — this is a complicated sale that isn't the same thing as purchasing a car. Learning how to buy a house without an agent can be a challenge, so make sure you’ve considered all the work involved before you begin:

  • You need to understand the paperwork: As anyone who has ever bought or sold a house knows, there’s a lot of paperwork that goes with it. If you're working without a real estate agent you'll need to hire a real estate attorney who can draw up the proper legal documents for you.
  • It means more legwork: Real estate agents provide you with information such as comparative market analyses and help you walk through the steps of what needs to be done, including getting an appraisal and requesting repairs from the seller. This will become your responsibility if you don't go through an agent, so you'll need to quickly learn what you need to do.
  • You might miss out on some information: This is particularly true if you're moving to a new city or state where you won’t know the history or the subtleties of the area. Agents have this advantage and can help you save time on research.

When it comes to answering the question “Do I need a real estate agent?” there’s no one right answer. The important thing is to make the decision that's best for your needs and lifestyle. Buying a home is a major decision, and it's important to protect your investment. Once you’ve made your purchase, Nationwide can help you find the right homeowner’s insurance.

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