Ready to embark on the exciting journey of buying your dream house? While most people team up with a real estate agent, broker, or Realtor, did you know that you have the option to go solo? Yes, that’s right. You can certainly choose to buy a house without a Realtor or other representation. However, it’s important to arm yourself with the right knowledge and know-how.
But before you dive in, let’s go over what’s involved with buying a home, the differences between Realtors, agents, and brokers, weigh the pros and cons of enlisting help, and learn how to successfully buy a home without their assistance.Check your home buying options. Start here
In this article (Skip to…)
- Preparing to buy a home
- Distinguishing between Realtors, agents, and brokers
- Pros and cons of Realtors, agents, and brokers
- Buying a home without a Realtor, agent, or broker
- The bottom line
Preparing to buy a home?
Buying a home is a multi-step process, from securing mortgage loan financing to finding the perfect neighborhood and making that sweet offer on your future abode.
There are a lot of moving parts in the process and many complications to sort through. This is why the vast majority of buyers partner with a real estate agent, broker, or Realtor.Check your home buying options. Start here
Consider that 86% of purchasers use a Realtor, agent, or broker, while only 10% buy directly through the previous owner without representation, per National Association of Realtors research.
Fact is, you are not obligated to work with any of these professionals in a real estate transaction. You can opt to do it alone as a buyer, instead negotiating directly with the seller to complete the deal. But doing so has its advantages and disadvantages.
Distinguishing between Realtors, agents, and brokers
Is buying a home without a Realtor, agent, or broker the right decision? Before attempting to answer that, it’s helpful to better understand the differences between these titles.Check your home buying options. Start here
According to Realtor.com, a real estate agent is a person with a professional license to assist clients in buying, selling, or renting all manner of real estate and housing. To be properly licensed, states mandate that these professionals receive prelicensing training, the minimum hours for which vary from state to state. Once fully trained, the professional must pass a written licensing exam, which earns them a real estate agent license in that state.
A real estate broker, on the other hand, has been trained and educated past the agent level on more in-depth topics like contracts, morals, insurance, laws, and taxes, as stipulated by state laws, and has passed a broker’s license exam after typically spending a minimum amount of time (often three years) as a licensed real estate agent.
“A Realtor, by contrast, is a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) who has earned the designation of ‘Realtor’ by joining a local Realtor Association and adhering to a strict code of ethics set forth by the NAR,” explains Boyd Rudy, an associate broker with MiReloTeam Keller Williams Realty Living in Brighton, Michigan.
Now, a Realtor is a special breed – they’re agents who’ve earned the title by joining the National Association of Realtors. They also adhere to a strict ethical code. It’s like the black belt of the real estate world, symbolizing a higher level of commitment.
Buyers and sellers can choose to work with either an agent, broker, or Realtor – or not.
Pros and cons of Realtors, agents, and brokers
There are several good reasons why buyers (and sellers alike) choose to be represented by one of these real estate experts.
“Realtors, agents, and brokers can offer valuable market insights, guide you through the buying process, and help you make more informed decisions,” continues Rudy. “They also have access to multiple listing services and can provide you with a broader range of available properties that meet your criteria.”Get preapproved for a mortgage. Start here
Perhaps most importantly, these professionals will negotiate a home’s sale price, contract terms, and concessions on your behalf. This will save you from any direct confrontations with sellers. They have the experience and savvy necessary to work out a deal with your best interests in mind. The paperwork? They’ve got it covered. They’ll even coordinate the appraisal and professional inspection, ensuring a smoother and faster closing process.
An agent, broker, or Realtor can also carefully review your real estate contract and any paperwork you have to sign. This will help ensure you are not legally vulnerable, although experts still recommend hiring a real estate attorney.
“A buyer without a Realtor or agent can basically jeopardize the deal at every step,” cautions Desiree Avila, a Realtor in Fort Lauderdale. “Buying a house is not the same as purchasing a car. It’s much more complicated. There’s a lot to look out for, and the buyer can get themselves in a jam and potentially lose money without help.”
Additional benefits of buying a house with representation
But hold on, there’s more. When you work with them, it’s usually the seller who pays their commissions. You get their expertise at no direct cost. Agents, brokers, and Realtors charge a commission, but it is the seller who pays it for both their representative and the buyer’s representative collectively.
In fact, there are very few drawbacks to working with a Realtor, broker, or agent.
“It’s possible that relying on an agent’s availability and schedule may limit your flexibility and control over the buying process. Also, the agent’s interests may not align perfectly with yours, and conflicts of interest can sometimes arise,” Rudy points out. “Also, while the buyer doesn’t pay the agent’s commission directly, this commission expense is usually factored into the seller’s price.”
On that latter point, if you buy a house without a Realtor, agent, or broker, you may want to ask the seller to lower their price by the amount they would have paid for the buyer’s agent. The seller may or may not agree, depending on how much leverage they have in the negotiation.
Buying a home without a Realtor, agent, or broker
Navigating the complex landscape of real estate transactions involves a myriad of tasks and responsibilities that real estate professionals—Realtors, agents, and brokers—skillfully manage on behalf of their clients.
These experts play a crucial role in simplifying the home buying process. Here is a list of tasks typically undertaken by Realtors, agents, and brokers during a real estate transaction:Check your home buying options. Start here
- Conducting thorough research to identify properties that meet your criteria
- Attending open houses and scheduling/attending private showings
- Writing a real estate contract/purchase agreement that protects your interests as the buyer
- Making an offer and possible counteroffers and negotiating directly with the seller on price, contract terms, and concessions
- Making sure the contract is properly and fully executed
- Ensuring that all disclosures and attendant paperwork are submitted with the offer
- Checking that the earnest money is deposited on time
- Cross-checking the property information
- Completing and submitting a homeowners association application for residency (if you are purchasing in an HOA)
- Scheduling and having a professional home inspection and appraisal (through the lender) conducted
- Hiring a title company and ensuring they have everything they need
- Guaranteeing that the seller is completing their agreed-upon tasks on time
- Handling all mortgage, title, and legal paperwork
- Preparing for and attending the closing date
- Ensuring the proper transfer of funds and settlements
Other considerations for homebuyers exploring the professional-free path
Sounds like a lot, right? If you still choose to buy a house without a Realtor, agent, or broker, be prepared to familiarize yourself with the entire home buying process, local market conditions, and relevant regulations so you can make more informed decisions.
“Be thorough in your research, including property inspections, title searches, and financial assessments. This will help identify any potential issues or risks associated with the property,” adds Rudy. “Remember that buying a home is a significant decision, and rushing the process can lead to regrets or financial burdens, so take the necessary time to carefully evaluate your options and make the best choices possible.”
If you buy a house without a Realtor, expect a longer and more complex process. You’ll have to conduct your own research and handle various aspects of the transaction, notes Min Hwan Ahn, a Philadelphia-based attorney.
“I highly recommend that even if you don’t use a Realtor, agent, or broker, at least hire a real estate attorney to review your contract and guide you through the legal aspects of the transaction. This will ensure that you are protected from potential risks that your representative would normally handle,” Ahn says.
The bottom line
So, here’s the bottom line: partnering with a real estate professional offers numerous benefits and very little risk. Plus, you won’t ever have to pay their real estate commission directly. You can benefit from their knowledge and negotiating prowess, too. For these and other reasons, it’s often best to have a trusted real estate professional in your corner.
But if you are determined to buy a house without a Realtor, agent, or broker, and have confidence in your research, financial, and negotiating skills, you can successfully close the deal without representation. Just be aware of the risks as well as the rewards.Time to make a move? Let us find the right mortgage for you