While estate agents act as intermediaries between vendors and buyers, they aren't really neutral. The vendor is the one paying for the services of the estate agent, which means there's an expectation that the agent works for them. An estate agent's job is to get the best price for their client.
Because of this, the buyer can be left feeling like they’re in it on their own, trying to work out the best way to approach buying a home with little to no help – unless they use a buying agent. Over the years, the buying agent's role has become more prominent, as buyers hire a third party to help them make smart property decisions.
And yet, there is still a mystery around buying agents, what they do and how they operate. So if you're wondering about their role, this article is for you. Read on, and discover everything you need to know about using a buying agent and how they can help.
What is a buying agent?
While the vendor employs the estate agent, a buying agent works exclusively for the homebuyer. They are essentially a resource, offering their expertise and providing assistance in the property-buying process.
Having someone on your side is helpful for many reasons, including instant access to professional advice. You'll go into the negotiation process with more confidence, tapping into a knowledge base and expertise that wouldn't otherwise be available.
Buying a home is a complicated process, and having the presence of a buying agent saves time and hassle for many homebuyers. Cost-efficiency, convenience, and access to experience, as well as trusted advice, are just some of the reasons why homebuyers employ a buying agent.
What does a buying agent do?
Buying agents provide many benefits, from the moment you start your property search right through to exchanging contracts. Buying agent responsibilities include:
Why should you use a buying agent?
Access to off-market properties
Buying agents are well connected, which means they have access to more properties than the usual stock you see on portals like Rightmove and Zoopla. They have built up experience over the years, getting to know owners and estate agents. That means they can tap into those resources on your behalf and find property gems you may have otherwise been oblivious to.
A buying agent gives you better access to the overall market and you can feel more confident about finding value, thanks to direct access to someone who has plenty of experience. Not only will buying agents give you more insight into current market economics, but they’ll also provide advice so that you don’t overpay for a home.
Negotiating is one of the key components of buying a home, and no one wants to feel short-handed. They'll negotiate on your behalf, alleviating you from having to navigate one of the trickier aspects of the buying process. A good buying agent can help you achieve a better price with their negotiation skills, thanks to their connections and knowledge of the market.
Many buyers are time poor and can't spend a significant amount of time looking for a property. This is where a buying agent can be beneficial, as you become their client. A buying agent understands your needs and views properties on your behalf. Afterwards, they’ll report back with the best options for your requirements. That means you only spend your time viewing homes that are an excellent match for your needs.
How much does a buying agent cost?
Buying agent prices vary depending on the area and type of properties that interest you. The buying agent earns their fee by saving at least the amount from the purchase price, thanks to their knowledge of negotiations and how they work.
They typically charge a retainer upfront, which means they'll spend those hours searching and viewing potential homes. The fee is usually around 1.5% of the sale price or 15% of the saving – whichever one is higher.
There's also a misconception that buying agents work solely for wealthy people and large-scale property investors. However, this is no longer the case. You can use a buying agent for any type of property purchase, whether it’s £200k or £2m.
Are there any alternatives?
Buying agents are unique in how they work, but there are tech-related options that can do part of their job or work in tandem with them. For example, if an estate agent has a digital offer button on their website, like ours, you can have greater confidence in making your offer directly online.
Doing so saves time and provides you with more transparency over the offer process as all interested parties can see the highest offer and have more visibility. A buying agent can do this on your behalf, feeding back and updating you of the latest information after they’ve found a home worth making an offer on.
Final thoughts: buying with an agent
A buying agent can be helpful if you're a buyer, aiding you in finding the ideal property while also providing advice throughout the entire purchase. Many buyers can do without them, but they provide an extra option and take away some of the stress during the process of buying a home.