Get My Agent on the Phone
As a first-time homebuyer, you should seriously consider getting your own agent. Although the Internet makes some aspects of finding homes easier than it was 20 years ago, a good real estate agent has access to lots of market information not available to the public, including the confidential selling prices of comparable homes in the area (referred to as "comps"). A good agent will help you use that knowledge to strike a savvy deal that benefits both you and the seller — a win-win situation.
Three things to know about agents:
1) A buyer generally does not pay any money out of pocket for the services of a real estate agent. Agent commissions are typically paid by the seller; the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent split the total commission.
2) A buyer’s agent protects your interests. Using the seller’s real estate agent does not protect your interests. Agents who represent buyers only are known as exclusive buyer agents, and you can find one through The National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents at www.naeba.org.
3) You can go it alone. We don’t recommend you negotiate for the first time alone, but maybe you’re quite familiar with the real estate market, and you have some professional experience negotiating legal contracts. If so, and you want to fly solo, that’s certainly feasible, but we recommend you hire a real estate attorney to approve the sales contract for peace of mind. (It generally costs you an hour or two of the attorney’s time.)