How a Buyer’s Agent Can Help Your Home Search

A buyer's agent will represent your interests when negotiating a home purchase.
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Written by Barbara Marquand
Senior Writer
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Edited by Alice Holbrook
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Fact Checked
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Co-written by Kate Wood
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Editor's Note: In April 2024, a judge granted preliminary approval to a settlement in a class-action lawsuit over real estate agents' commissions. See how that will affect home buyers and home sellers.

A buyer's agent will find potential homes, communicate with sellers and their agents, and represent your interests when negotiating a home purchase.

A good buyer's agent can act as a guide on your homebuying journey. They'll show you properties that fit your criteria, help you craft a competitive offer, negotiate on your behalf and generally provide you with knowledge and support throughout the homebuying process. And P.S. As a buyer — you don't pay them.

Here's what you should know about working with a buyer's agent.

What is a buyer's agent?

A buyer's agent is a real estate professional who represents the purchaser's interests in a real estate transaction. They play a different role from the listing agent, who represents the property's seller.

Most residential real estate agents work with both buyers and sellers. For example, when someone is selling their current home and buying a new one, they'll often use a single agent who will be their listing agent for the home sale and act as buyer's agent on their home purchase.

Some home shoppers might think they can take a shortcut to making an offer on a home by working with the home’s listing agent instead of hiring a buyer's agent. But home buyers and sellers have inherently distinct goals, especially when it comes to negotiating a purchase price. Having the listing agent represent you as a buyer is an example of dual agency, which is illegal in some states and at the very least creates a conflict of interest. You want your own buyer's agent who's firmly on your side.

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What a buyer's agent does

A buyer's agent guides you through the homebuying process — from house hunting to closing. Among other things, a good buyer’s agent will:

  • Find homes for sale. A buyer's agent will help you understand the type of home you can afford in the current market, find listed homes that match your needs and price range, and then help you narrow the options to the properties worth considering. Additionally, a buyer's agent will dig up additional information on any listings that you find. With access to the Multiple Listing Service, agents can see more information than you can using real estate websites and apps.

  • Know the area inside and out. If you're not a local, a buyer's agent can provide you with the inside scoop on schools, neighborhoods and more. Even if you're from the area, they may know details about zoning or taxes that you don’t.

  • Set up tours. Scrolling through listing photos just isn't the same as viewing a property in person. Your agent will work with a home's listing agent or owners (if the property is for sale by owner) to schedule showings. They'll also fill you in on anything they learned about the sellers or the property from that communication.

  • Help you make offers. After you've found a home you want to buy, your agent will advise you on how much to offer and what contingencies to include in the contract, based on the property and an analysis of the market. A good agent will explain the contract terms, answer your questions and walk you through each step of the process.

  • Negotiate with the seller. The agent will inform you of the seller's response to your offer and advise you on the next steps, such as whether to accept a seller's counteroffer or negotiate on price and terms.

  • Refer you to other professionals. A buyer’s agent can refer you to other professionals, such as real estate attorneys and movers. The only pro you'll definitely want to find on your own is the home inspector, who you’ll want to be sure is completely impartial.

Last, a good buyer's agent will help you weather the highs and lows of the homebuying process. In addition to being a major financial transaction, buying a home often gets pretty emotional. If you're feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, you can lean on your agent. If there's an issue with the sellers or negotiations become frustrating, your agent can help you keep calm and get the best possible outcome.

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