Should You Use a Real Estate Agent?  

In a real estate transaction, there’s typically a seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. They represent their clients in the negotiations and guide them through the process. Agent fees are paid by the seller at closing. Usually the fees are between 5-6% of the purchase price of the home and they’re split between the two agents. These fees also pay their brokers and support staff. Each agent has an ethical responsibility to protect the interests of their clients and provide different services depending on who they represent in the sale.  
Real Estate Agent Showing Buyers Contract, Man Signing

You’re buying a home: Why use a realtor?

First and foremost, you need to remember that the seller pays all the agent fees. So, really the question should be, “you’re buying a home, why wouldn’t you use a real estate agent?” 

Here’s what an agent can do for you as a buyer:

Help you determine how much house you can afford 

Find homes through the MLS 

Schedule viewings 

Recommend a reputable mortgage broker 

Help you with preapproval 

Assist with the mortgage process 

Conduct market research before making offers 

Give advice in a bidding war 

Prepare and submit your offers 

Protect your interests with contract contingencies 

Negotiate with the seller’s agent 

Oversee the appraisal process 

Address your questions about the closing 

Couple meeting with real estate agent

As you can see, it just makes sense to tap into the experience, knowledge, and skills of an agent when you’re buying a home. There are other valuable and intangible assets agents bring to the table: Years of experience in a specific market; connections and relationships with other agents, mortgage brokers, appraisers, and even contractors who might do home improvement work.  

When choosing an agent to help you find a home, make sure they’re responsive. This is very important in a seller’s market when houses are moving quickly. It’s also important that you are equally as responsive. Clear communication between agents and clients is key. Experienced agents are great to have, especially if they have the time to devote to you as a client. You may also find that a less experienced agent is a great option. They are eager to work, have the time, and usually they have access to experienced agents in their brokerage. Buying a home is personal, and it’s a big deal. In this industry, a trusted agent referral goes a long way.  

Why should you use a listing agent to sell your home?

You might assume that all it takes to sell your house is to put up a for sale sign and get it listed, especially when homes are selling within a few days after they’ve been on the market. It’s important to know that it’s the behind-the-scenes legwork that you don’t see that makes the process of selling a home smooth sailing.  

Before you put the sign up your yard you may want to consider these questions:

Here's a summary of what a qualified listing agent will do for you:

Create and publicize listing on MLS (Multiple Listing Services) 

Help you set a competitive asking price 

Offer guidance when staging your home  

Create marketing materials 

Organize open houses 

Receive offers 

Prepare your counteroffers 

Answer questions about disclosures 

Guide you through the inspection and closing 

Portrait of smiling real estate agent in new apartment

Pick an agent, any agent?

In an ideal world you could pick up the phone and call any agent and trust that you’ll receive the services listed above. If you don’t have a solid or trusted referral, it’s a good idea to vet the agent you choose. Here are some questions you can ask a listing agent: 

  • What experience do you have in this market? 
  • How many houses have you sold in the last year? 
  • What’s the average price of the homes you’ve sold? 
  • How do you market the homes you’re selling? (This is especially important in buyer’s market or economic downturn when homes are not moving quickly.) 

Buyer’s market, seller’s market: Why the market matters?

We’ve touched on it a little, but the market in which you buy or sell makes a difference. If it’s seller’s market, make sure to find an agent who is willing to do the legwork with you and show you homes before they are snatched up. If you’re selling in a buyer’s market, make sure your agent is willing to put the time in to marketing your home.  

What is your commitment in this process?


When you sign with a listing agent, you’re typically committing to working with them for three to six months. If you haven’t sold the house after the agreed upon time period, you can either renew your agreement or find another agent. 


When you start working with an agent to find a house, you’ll likely sign a buyer’s agent agreement. Similar to signing with a listing agent, you’re committing to working with them for a period of time. Why the contract? Agents don’t get paid for all the work they do before a sale or purchase. They’re basically working for free. They’re trusting that if they do this work for you, they will be paid in the end. It’s important to read the contract beforehand and know your rights and responsibilities. 


Ultimately, working with a real estate agent is a partnership. Communicate your plans and expectations clearly. If you aren’t sure you’re going to work with an agent, let them know you haven’t decided yet. Mutual trust and respect for their efforts and your goals goes a long way in the process.