Q: Do I need my own real estate agent to go view homes on the market?
A: Hi Garett,
The short answer is no, but the safest answer is yes. There are a couple of reasons why you will want to hire your own real estate agent to help you conduct a search for a new home.
Gathering Accurate Information
If you’re like anyone with a pulse, you’re starting your home search online. If you’ve never done a home search before, you might not be aware of how and where to get information on homes. So, what do you do? You open up Google and type in something like “homes for sale in mississauga”.
Of course you get a billion results and you’re off searching. The only problem is it looks like all of the sites you’re going to look exactly the same and they’re all owned by real estate agents. How can 20 different agents all be advertising the same listing? And how do I know who actually owns this listing? Who do I talk to?
So you call up the first agent and they tell you that that property has been off the market for about two weeks.
You try another agent and another listing and again they tell you it sold weeks ago.
*Just as a warning, any good agent you call up to ask about a listing will do their best to keep you on the phone and get you to hire them.*
So, how are you supposed to find out where active listings are and if you can actually see them? Well, the best place to go is Realtor.ca. It will be updated about as fast as any public site can be updated. There’s only one other way to get the most accurate and up-to-date listings…
Hiring Your Own Real Estate Agent
Real estate agents all pay a yearly fee to their specific real estate board in order to maintain their independent MLS (multiple listing service). This data can only be accessed by licensed real estate agents. The information is also updated there first and then distributed to all the public sites. So, the best way to get the most accurate and updated listing information is to hire a real estate agent who can provide that information.
Other Benefits of Hiring an Agent?
Beyond finding listings, the role of the real estate agent is extremely crucial. Many people feel that the real estate agent is just a middleman and they will go straight to the listing agent in order to purchase. But, let’s use a common example to show how having your own representative is preferable for a potential buyer.
You’re scrawling the Internet and come across a listing that really piques your interest. You don’t have your own real estate agent, so you call up the listing agent in order to make an appointment to view the place.
Hurray! It’s actually available this time!
You make an appointment and the listing agents meet you at the property. You do a walkthrough and love the place! You want to put an offer on the place but don’t know how. So the listing agent says they can do that for you and even get you a great deal. Perfect!
So, you purchase the home for a price of $450,000. Everything seems great, right?
Well, what if I told you that a very similar home across the street actually sold for $435,000? In fact, its roof and windows had been updated and the kitchen upgrades were much more your style.
How would you feel about paying that extra $15,000 premium?
In the case of the listing agent, they’ve technically not done anything wrong. They’re obligation is to protect the best interests of their seller and achieve the highest possible price for them. To you, they don’t have the same obligation. You’ve more than likely signed a Customer Service Agreement which has pretty vague language about ‘ethical and legal’ duties owed to you by that agent. However, what it does make clear is that the agent will not be representing your interests and instead is representing those of the seller.
So, what could you as the buyer have done to protect your best interests?
Hire your own representative.
All of the duties and obligations that the Listing Agent provided to their seller would be provided to you by your Buyer’s Agent. This way, before you submit an offer, you have someone solely on your side who will disclose all relevant and pertinent information and work diligently to acquire the property for the lowest possible purchase price.
And that’s only the price aspect of purchasing a home. We haven’t even broached the subject of potential issues with the home, neighbourhood or schools in the area. Are you as the buyer coming armed with all of the knowledge and experience of an agent? If not, it’s best to have one on your side that can point out potential flaws and issues that the listing agent doesn’t want (and often isn’t obligated) to disclose.