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Do I Need A Real Estate Agent To Buy A House?

Dan Miller3-Minute Read
July 24, 2020

If you are in the market for a new house, you may be wondering, “Do I need a real estate agent?”

There are many different options, and if you are a first-time home buyer, you might be wondering what role a real estate agent plays in buying a house. If you’re looking at the 6% or 7% commission of many real estate agents, you might wonder how to buy a house without one.

What’s The Difference Between A REALTOR® And A Real Estate Agent?

Before we get into the question about if you need an agent to buy a house, we should first talk about the difference between a real estate agent and a REALTOR®. A real estate agent is a licensed professional who is able to help people buy and sell real estate.

The requirements to become a real estate agent vary from state to state. In addition to becoming a licensed real estate agent, a person can become a REALTOR® by joining the National Association of REALTORS®. Members of the NAR subscribe to their codes of ethics and standards.

Can I Buy A House Without A Realtor?

To be clear, there is no legal or other requirement for a REALTOR®or real estate agent to buy a house in most cases. The only exception is if you are bidding on an FHA foreclosure property.

In all other cases, if you feel comfortable buying a house without an agent, there’s nothing stopping you. That does mean that you won’t have anyone on your side advising you through the home buying process.

It’s up to you whether you feel OK with that. Since buying a home is not something that most people do very often in their lives, it can be comforting having someone you trust along to advise you.

Why Do I Need A Real Estate Agent To Buy A House?

While there isn’t a legal or any other requirement to use a real estate agent to buy a house in most cases, there are several reasons why you might want to use one when you’re buying a house.

First of all, as we mentioned earlier, unless you’ve bought and sold plenty of homes, it’s useful to have someone on your side. This is especially true if the seller has an agent – you might find yourself in a situation where the seller’s agent is taking charge of the process, which could cost you.

A real estate agent will also handle most, if not all, of the (copious amounts of) paperwork that come with any real estate transaction. So unless you enjoy poring over lots and lots of complicated documents by yourself, you might be well served with a trusted real estate agent to help guide you.

If you’re not already feeling supremely confident of how to buy a house without an agent, that may be a good sign that you should consider getting one. A good real estate agent also knows the market well and can provide guidance on what homes are selling for and what they might be worth.

So buying a house with an agent can save you lots of money, and buying a house without one may not cost you any additional money in many cases. We’ll explore that a bit more in the next section.

Do You Pay A Real Estate Agent If You Are The Buyer?

Typically the commission for the real estate agent or REALTOR® is paid by the seller of the home, not the buyer. This is true for both agents – in almost all cases, the seller pays the commission for both his own agent as well as the agent of the buyer. In many cases, the way it works is that the seller agrees to pay 6% commission to his or her agent, which is then split with the buyer’s agent.

You might think that if you’re buying a house without an agent that you can save the 3% commission that would normally go to the buyer’s agent. Unfortunately, that’s not how most real estate transactions work.

The seller’s contract with the agent typically agrees to pay the seller’s agent a commission of 6% – 7%. If there is a buyer’s agent, the seller will pay a portion (usually split) the commission with the buyer’s agent. But if the buyer is buying a house without an agent, the selling agent will often get to keep the full commission.

Keep in mind that in the purchase of a home (as with many transactions), everything is up for negotiation. So it’s possible that you might get the seller to take a lower price than they might otherwise if you buy a house without your own agent – but it is something that would have to be negotiated.

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    Dan Miller

    Dan Miller is a freelance writer and founder of PointsWithACrew.com, a site that helps families to travel for free/cheap. His home base is in Cincinnati, but he tries to travel the world as much as possible with his wife and 6 kids.