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Ask McEnearney: Why do I need an agent when I buy a home?

This week’s Q&A column is written by Darlene Duffett of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Darlene at 703-969-9015 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Why do I need an agent when I buy a home? I’m pretty sure I can do this myself.

Answer: There are so many reasons why you need an agent that has your best interest in mind while searching for the home of your dreams. Here are some insights into how a buyer’s agent may help you purchase your dream home.

Guidance: A buyer’s agent is your personal guide through a complicated real estate process. An agent will walk you through the steps and alleviate stress while they are helping you. Buying a home is not as simple as taking a tour and putting in an offer. Your agent has been through this process and brings the experience to ensure a smooth transaction.

Contracts can be confusing. Ask your Realtor to review the entire contract prior to beginning the home buying process. When that day comes and quick decisions need to be made, you will know exactly what each contract section means. Your agent will also be available to answer any question you have throughout the process.

Advocate: A buyer’s agent is your advocate. They have your best interest in mind every step of the way. This may be the most important aspect of having an agent. The agent that represents the seller’s property (that you may tour) has the seller’s best interest in mind. Their goal is to get the best outcome for the seller, period.

A buyer’s agent should be well versed in the local real estate marketing. Furthermore, your buyer’s agent is not influenced by a seller’s interests and will provide an honest assessment of the property. Your agent will be your ally while looking at properties, negotiating, and shepherding the process to get you to the closing table on time.

Lender Introduction: Finding the right lender is incredibly important. It is essential to speak with a lender to receive the proper type of approval to include with your offer. Not all types of approvals are the same and you realtor and lender can guide you through the differences and how to have your offer look more favorable.

Your buyer’s agent can give you lender choice guidance based on years of experience working with the best lenders in the area. The mortgage industry is incredibly competitive. Lenders range from large national providers to smaller local mortgage brokers. Your realtor will make recommendations based on the quality of loan officers and processors.

Save You Money: A buyer’s agent can help save you money. Yes, I said save you money. As a buyer you do not pay any of brokerage fees. The seller’s and buyer’s brokerage fees are paid by the seller. So having a Realtor on your side saves money. Real estate is local. Your agent will know the neighborhood comparable properties that have sold recently along with area trends. Your Realtor will know what you should offer and then negotiate depending on the property and current market.

Save More Money with Home Buyer Programs: Did you know that there are a variety of home buyer programs available to help you get into the home of your dreams? Some programs include down payment assistance, grants, tax credits, low interest loans, financial incentives to reinvest in certain areas of the community, discounts for first responders and teachers, or even lower down payments. Each program has qualifications, and each jurisdiction (state, city, county, and even specific neighborhoods) has programs designed to make buying a home more affordable and accessible. Your Realtor will guide you to all available options to make sure you are not leaving money on the table. They can match you with a lender that can walk you through the different program processes.

Save You Time: Your Buyer’s agent will save you time. Buyer’s agents sift through properties to find what meets your needs and budget. They search listings to find the best fit, provide access to not currently listed properties that are coming soon, or can match you with someone that they know might sell if the right offer came along. They may even be able to find properties priced below market value and connect you with resources to make it your dream home.

Negotiation: A buyer’s agent will negotiate on your behalf. Negotiating the purchase of a home can be a complicated and emotional process that could result in a competitive bidding war. An agent will have the experience to know when and what to ask for. Sometimes it is a lower price. It may be asking the seller to buy down the mortgage points or letting go of contingencies.

A buyer’s agent provides valuable insight into the current state of the market including average prices, average and median days on market for specific property types, availability of different property types, and current trends in specific areas. Having this knowledge will give you leverage when negotiating the contract.

Relationships: A buyer’s agent will have relationships with other agents and brokers. This network offers a larger pool of properties. There are sellers that do not want their home to have open houses or tours throughout the day. Those sellers will ask their agent to reach out to their network to best advertise their property to find the right buyer. These relationships are priceless.

The Spring market is here! Now is the time to find an agent to work what that will walk you through the process. Give me a call. I’d be honored to partner with you on your real estate journey.

Would you like to receive a free Homebuyer’s Guide? Click here and I’ll get one right over to you.

Darlene Duffett is a licensed real estate agent in Virginia with McEnearney Associates Realtors® in Old Town, Alexandria. She is licensed in Virginia and Washington, D.C. She has built a reputation of partnering with her friends and clients through the homebuying process and loves working with first time home buyers.  If you would like more information on selling or buying in today’s complex market, contact Darlene at 703-969-9015, [email protected] or visit her website

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703.549.9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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