Technically you don’t need a real estate agent to buy a home, but it’s probably for the best. An experienced local Realtor has insight into your neighborhood and the housing market — and you won't have to shoulder the cost of agent fees as the homebuyer. In 2022, 86% of people used a Realtor to help them find and buy a home.1
While it may not seem like it at first glance, buying a house without a Realtor by your side is a very real option. A real estate agent or a Realtor (a licensed real estate salesperson who belongs to the National Association of Realtors) provides you with a lot of support during the home buying process, but if you want to fly solo, you can.
Legally, you aren’t required to work with a Realtor or real estate agent to buy a house. Finding and hiring an agent though can make the whole process go a lot more smoothly, but you don’t have to work with one, if you don’t want to. (Because many real estate agents are in fact Realtors, we will be using these terms interchangeably to explain what your options are as a buyer.)
Only 14% of homebuyers did not use an agent to buy their home in 2022 and all buyers who did found their agent to be a useful source of information. Even people buying new construction homes can benefit from using an agent; these licensed experienced professionals can help negotiate with the builder on your behalf.
There are a few select circumstances when you can forgo a realtor. If you plan to buy a house from a family member, friend, or neighbor, you may not need an agent as much as someone does in a normal sale when they're buying from a stranger. You may however want to hire an attorney or a transaction coordinator to make sure everything checks out legally.
If you have a real estate license, it's perfectly legal to act as your own agent when you're buying (or selling) your own house.
If you aren’t a Realtor and decide not to work with one, here are a few important steps you'll need to handle on your own.
→ Here are 19 questions to ask when buying a house
Before you make a decision regarding whether or not you want to work with a real estate agent while you hunt for the perfect home, keep these advantages and disadvantages of doing so in mind.
If you are very familiar with the homebuying process, have bought homes in the past, or are purchasing a home from a friend or family member, you may be able to navigate the process without hiring a Realtor. It’s important to negotiate a discount if you do make an offer without the help of agent. If the seller won’t budge on price, you’re better off bringing your own Realtor in to help you finalize the sale since you aren’t the one footing the bill.
But if you’re a first-time homebuyer, still house hunting, or buying in a competitive market, you may benefit from having an agent. A good Realtor can help you find a home that meets your budget and suits your specific needs. (If you need a home in a good school district with a mother-in-law's suite and double ovens for under $800,000, your agent will research all the comparable homes in your area to find the ones that meet your unique specifications.)
Having an agent can save you a lot of time and stress, by helping you negotiate your offer to make sure you not only get the best deal financially and logistically, too. Because buyers don’t pay the realtor fees, money shouldn’t be the reason why you decide not to work with an agent when searching for a home.
A home is likely the biggest purchase you will ever make, and more often than not using a real estate agent will better your odds of making the right moves during the process. Buying and selling a home at the same time? When you work with Orchard, you'll have a dedicated local agent who'll help you find a home that checks all the boxes.
Related: Here are 19 question to ask when buying a house
Buying a house is one of the biggest investments you'll ever make, so it's important to have a plan in place to ensure a smooth and successful process. If you're considering buying a house without a realtor, here's a checklist to help you get started:
1. National Association of Realtors: “2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.”
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