Can You Buy a Home Without a Realtor?
A home purchase is a big step and major investment, and you may be asking, “Can you buy a home without a realtor?” Concerns over having to pay out exorbitant fees or commissions to a realtor or agent can have you questioning their value in the process and whether or not you should work with one.
It is true that commissions can vary, and while payment usually falls on the seller, that may not always be the case. It helps, then, to know that you are not obligated to work with a realtor or agent on the home purchase, but there are distinct benefits to doing so.
Can You Buy a Home Without a Realtor?
A realtor is a licensed professional and member of the National Association of Realtors, which allows them access to MLS (Multiple Listing Service) for their clients. While homebuyers don’t have to work with one of these professionals to purchase a home, they do provide a valuable service.
Each party in a real estate transaction usually has its own realtor, often referred to as the seller’s agent or the buyer’s agent. The benefit to having one on your side is that your realtor will work on your behalf and deal directly with the seller’s agent, including when it comes to negotiations and making an offer.
Can You Buy a Home Without a Real Estate Agent?
Confusion often surrounds the difference between a realtor and a real estate agent. Simply put, real estate agents are also licensed professionals who have passed the real estate exam and can serve buyers or sellers.
Keep in mind that your selected real estate agent or realtor is there to keep your best interests in mind. Without one, you may find yourself paying a higher price for a house that ends up needing repairs or more.
Another issue revolves around the use of complex terminology in agreements and other paperwork. Real estate law is filled with confusing terms, and potential loopholes exist that you may be unaware of. It can all get quickly overwhelming, and you will benefit from working with a real estate lawyer, realtor, real estate agent, or a combination of these.
Benefits of Working with a Realtor or Real Estate Agent
To help you decide whether to work with a realtor or not, take a look at what they can do for you. These are the same tasks you will be responsible for if you choose to take on the process yourself. These include:
Conduct a Thorough Real Estate Search
Unless you already know what home you want to purchase, you’ll need to conduct a real estate search to find potential properties that fit within your budget and provide everything you want or need. While you can conduct research on your own, you may miss opportunities that the realtor will be alerted to ahead of a public listing. This can be particularly helpful in a seller’s market.
Review and Evaluate the Market and Comparable Home Sales
Reviewing comparable home sales in your chosen neighborhood or area will help to determine a justifiable price range. This way, you can tell if the seller is asking for way too much money, as evidenced by the market.
Realtors can also evaluate the prices of homes that are currently on the market to determine fair market values and keep you from overpaying for your home.
Get to Know the Surrounding Neighborhood
Before purchasing a home, it pays to understand the surrounding neighborhood or area. Reviewing neighborhood statistics, such as crime rates, can be helpful in your decision-making process. So, too, can information on school districts and local zoning codes.
Recommend Mortgage Lenders
While realtors are prohibited from profiting from referrals, they can recommend mortgage lenders if needed.
Negotiations are a part of the majority of real estate transactions and include price, offers and counteroffers, contingencies, and other purchase agreement clauses that can make a big difference to you.
Ask for Disclosures
Seller disclosures are an important element in the home-buying process. The seller may provide these voluntarily, or you may have to ask for them. A realtor will know exactly what to ask for, including those disclosures required by law in a particular state.
In Florida, for instance, state law requires that the seller disclose conditions or known facts about the property that can substantially impact the property’s value. You will be provided with disclosures regarding . . .
- electrical, plumbing, and HVAC defects
- appliances in need of repair
- structural issues, including with the foundation, walls, or roof
- environmental concerns, such as asbestos, lead paint, or termites
- legal concerns, such as boundary disputes or deed restrictions
- dangers involving radon gas
- property taxes.
Other disclosures may include coastal property regulations or erosion and whether the property is governed by a homeowner’s association.
Oversee Home Inspections
Relying on a seller’s disclosures can be problematic down the road if issues with the home arise. For this particular reason, it is always prudent to hire your own home inspector before going forward with a purchase. If problems are found, credits or repairs can be negotiated with the seller before going any further.
Specialty inspections may also be beneficial. For instance, in Florida, many homes have swimming pools or docks which require specialized inspectors. Your realtor can recommend reputable services that they work with and also oversee the process for you.
Find a Real Estate Lawyer
A realtor or agent cannot provide you with legal advice, so will need to recommend a real estate lawyer to advise on any legal matters that may arise. These matters may involve title issues, including any easements or liens.
If you decide not to work with a realtor or agent, you can involve your real estate lawyer early on in the process for guidance all the way through to the final transaction and closing.
Attend the Closing
The closing is an exciting event for you as the buyer but can involve much paperwork and last-minute questions. With a realtor or real estate agent by your side, you can get through this much quicker and take that final step.
As you can see, there are several steps involved in purchasing a home. While the answer to “Can you buy a home without a realtor?” is “yes,” consider whether you are up to the challenge and, if not, find a realtor or real estate attorney you feel comfortable working with.
Should You Buy a Home Without a Realtor?
While there are no definitive reasons for going out on your own and not working with a realtor or real estate agent, there are situations where this often occurs.
- You are knowledgeable about the real estate business.
- You previously purchased several properties and have an understanding of the process involved.
- You are buying a home or property you are already familiar with in some way.
- You are involved in an intra-family transaction, or you have a direct connection to the seller (e.g., neighbor).
- You want to avoid paying a high commission on an expensive home (which may be approximately 3%, which can be a large amount if the house is over $400,000).
- The seller resists paying a commission to the buyer’s agent, and you, as the buyer, do not want to pay one either.
- You prefer to work directly with a real estate attorney.
While the desire to save money is understandable, in the end, you may find yourself paying out more than you should or experience preventable problems with the property in the future.
If you do choose to forgo working with a realtor or real estate agent, it’s highly advisable that you work with a trusted real estate lawyer who can guide you through the process and the complexities of the final transaction.
Contact Your Plantation, Florida, Real Estate Attorney Today
Real estate transactions today may involve complex situations that require the guidance of a real estate lawyer. Attorney Carlos M. Amor has extensive experience in Florida real estate law and will advise you throughout your home-buying journey, working on your behalf to ensure your interests are always safeguarded. Call 954-453-7200 today to find out how. Attorney Amor offers free consultations, by phone, via video meeting, or in person for your convenience.
ATTORNEY CARLOS M. AMOR
Carlos M. Amor is a skilled and experienced attorney and real estate broker. His legal practice in South Florida focuses on real estate litigation, real estate investments, tax deed and foreclosure auction purchases, traditional real estate transactions, short sales, foreclosure defense, and civil litigation. Carlos thinks “outside the box” and takes a practical approach to finding solutions that benefit his clients. [ Attorney Bio ]