In real estate, a buyer’s agent typically represents a home buyer and helps the buyer purchase a home. The buyer’s agent may help the buyer tour for-sale homes, make an offer to purchase a home, and meet the requirements and contingencies of the purchase contract. The buyer’s agent usually is paid a portion of the commission that the home seller pays the listing broker, so there is usually no additional cost to the buyer for the buyer’s agent’s services. That said, some buyer’s agents work for a flat fee that is paid directly by the buyer. Agents who represent only buyers are sometimes called “exclusive buyer’s agents.”
Shopping for a Home
Most agents have access to the local multiple-listing service (MLS), which contains information about homes that are listed for sale. By searching the MLS, the buyer’s agent can find homes that are in the buyer’s preferred area and price range. The agent can then preview for-sale homes, pick out those that may meet the buyer’s needs, find out when those homes will be open to viewing--perhaps at a weekend open house, or arrange private showings of those homes for the buyer. A buyer’s agent can also help the buyer understand the home-buying process and the trends in the local housing market.
Making an Offer
A buyer’s agent can help a home buyer figure out how much to offer for a home based on the location and condition of the home and the recent sales prices of other comparable homes in the local area. The buyer’s agent also can help the buyer understand why a home might be worth more or less than the seller’s asking price and figure out an offering-price strategy. That strategy can be especially important if the seller receives multiple offers for the home. Many buyer’s agents are skilled negotiators who can help a buyer purchase a home at a reasonable price and on acceptable terms.
What's Not Included
A buyer’s agent can’t ensure that the buyer will pay a low price for the house. Also, few buyer’s agents are also attorneys or mortgage brokers. That means these agents can’t give legal advice or tell the buyer how much he can afford to borrow or spend to buy a home. The buyer’s agent gets paid only if the buyer purchases a home, but it’s up to the buyer to feel comfortable about the cost of the home, the monthly mortgage payment, and the future maintenance and repair costs.