The role of a buyer’s agent is fairly simple. Their primary duty is to help you find a house that meets your needs, and to facilitate the purchase of the home. In exchange for this service, the real estate agent earns a commission, which is usually expressed as a percentage of the sale price.
The buyer’s agent plays an important role throughout the home-buying process, but especially during the early stages. Your agent should compile a list of potential homes that may suit your needs. This list will be useful when you start the house-hunting process.
Once you find a home you are interested in buying, your agent will help negotiate the deal between you and the seller, serving as a go-between for offers and counter-offers until an agreement is made.
What Real Estate Agents Do for Home Buyers
Here’s what a real estate agent should do for a home buyer:
- Help their clients decide what features and qualities they need from a home
- Screen all homes for sale in the area to identify possible candidates
- Take the buyer(s) on tours of properties including open houses
- Point out the positive and negative features of each property
- Evaluate each home to see if it meets the buyer’s needs and wants
- Determine the market value of a desired home based on comparable sales
- Write up the purchase offer and submit it to the seller and/or listing agent
- Help the client negotiate with sellers and make counteroffers as needed
- Facilitate the scheduling of the real estate settlement / closing process
- Keep in touch with all parties to ensure everything is on track for closing
- Take the buyer on a final walk-through of the property just before closing day
- Attend the closing or settlement with their clients (in some cases)
Your agent should keep the communication flowing and the process moving. This will be done through follow-up phone calls and emails, and by “pushing” anyone who may need a little push now and then. Communication and process management are two key duties of a real estate agent.
Depending on the state where you live, your agent may also attend the closing / settlement process, or they may not be involved much at all. Either way, it’s helpful to have a professional on hand who is familiar with the transaction from start to finish, just in case additional information or negotiations are needed.
Note: This list represents the bare minimum of what a real estate agent should do for a buyer. Some may go above and beyond this list to perform other duties, such as home staging and professional photography. But at a minimum, your agent should do all of the items listed above.
Earning the Commission
In the past, a 6% commission was standard for the services rendered by agents. The commission is typically split between the buyer’s and seller’s agents, with 3% of the sale price going to each. But these standards have changed a lot over the years. Today, commissions vary based on several factors, including the extent of the services provided.
These days, many real estate companies have found ways to leverage the internet to bring in more business. They also charge a lower commission than the customary 6%. So the exact duties of the agent may vary based on the commission structure and the services being offered.
What They Do for Sellers
This article explains what real estate agents do for buyers. But even if you’re buying a house, you should have some idea what a listing agent does for the seller. Here’s a related article that explains the basic duties of a listing agent.
Brandon Cornett is a veteran real estate market analyst, reporter, and creator of the Home Buying Institute. He has been covering the U.S. real estate market for more than 15 years. About the author