What Can Go Wrong When You Buy Without a Realtor

by Jessica Brita-Segyde

Buying a home is a lengthy, emotional process. Sure, the shopping part is fun, but throw in financing, negotiation, and closing conditions, and you’ve got yourself a full-time job for the next sixty-ish days. Unless, you hire a Realtor to handle much of the stress for you.

Your Realtor is Your Hub for Communications

You’ll find yourself working with many professionals throughout your homebuying experience. It’s essential that those professionals are kept in constant communication and made aware of deadlines, changes, and closing conditions. Here’s a small sample of all the people who will rely on your Realtor to bring your deal to the closing table:

  • Your loan officer. If you aren’t pre-approved yet, now’s the time to get started.
  • The seller(s) and their real estate agent.
  • Your builder if your home is new construction
  • The title company
  • The appraiser
  • The home inspector
  • Additional contractors and specialty inspectors
  • Your home warranty company
  • Your homeowner’s insurance agent

All of the parties listed above want to help you close on your new home, but it’s not always a simple process. The professionals involved in your transaction will need frequent updates, sometimes several per day.

When You're Negotiating, You'll Need a Seasoned Advocate

Buyers need Realtors. A Realtor is the buyer’s number one advocate from start to finish. A Realtor can find all homes that match your criteria, schedule your showings, negotiate your offer, help you through the inspection process (which could result in more negotiation) and advise you during and after the closing. Whew, take a breath. That’s a LOT of steps from start to finish, and it’s just a quick overview!

A big stressor for buyers is the Purchase Agreement. The Purchase Agreement is the long document written in legalease that spell-out the stipulations of your purchase. It’s also a legally-binding contract. It includes information like sale price, loan terms, closing date, tax and fee agreements, and any other negotiated terms for the purchase. Making a mistake on said contract could lead to surprise costs at closing. An experienced Realtor will double-check everything on your Purchase Agreement to ensure that you’re aware of everything you’re agreeing to in writing.

And here’s an often-overlooked fact: As a buyer, you won’t pay a commission. You might pay a one-time fee at closing to the Realtor’s principal broker. A principal broker’s overhead fee usually runs between $200-$300, but the larger percent commission is the responsibility of the seller. The seller pays a fee to his or her agent, usually around 6% of the sale price, and the seller’s agent negotiates a share of that fee with your agent. If you don’t enlist the help of a buyer’s agent you risk having the seller’s agent represent you at the closing table.

Bottom line: Choose your own agent and work with someone who is focused solely on YOUR best interests.

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What Happens When You Buy Without a Realtor

This segment could go on forever. As anyone who’s bought a house knows, the process is full of unexpected “surprises.” We’ll just keep it to the top three nightmares that agentless buyers have endured.

  • First and worst, you could pay too much for your home. You might be thinking, “but if a Realtor listed the home, wouldn’t I be okay paying the sticker price?” Maybe, but a property transaction is much more complicated than just agreeing on a price and meeting at the closing table. There’s an appraisal, and sometimes an inspection which could lead to more inspections and repairs. And what about a home warranty? Who pays for the title insurance? On what day and at what time do you take possession (and legal responsibility for) your new home? And don’t forget the pro-rated taxes…

  • This brings us back to our earlier point – Representation. If you don’t use a Realtor, you may be relying on the seller’s agent for advice. This may or may not be in your best interest. Is the seller’s agent the person you would have chosen to represent you from the beginning?

  • Third, consider the stress you can avoid by simply enlisting the help of a Realtor. He or she will handle the scheduling conflicts, phone calls, emails, and other “surprises” that pop-up incessantly throughout the homebuying process. Should you order an inspection before the appraisal? When is it too early or too late to put the utilities in your name? Did you file your homestead exemption in time? Do you even know all the questions to ask?! A Realtor does, and he or she will make the homebuying process as fast and stress-free as possible.

Free Home Shopping Guide

Save yourself the stress and potential expenses that come with going it alone. Choose a Realtor before you start house-hunting. He or she will make the home buying process as smooth as possible and will ensure that you don’t pay too much for your home.

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