Finding your dream home does not require you to use a real estate agent -- sometimes called a buyer’s agent. According to the National Association of Realtors, the number of people using a buyer’s agent to help them find and buy homes has decreased. While you are not required to use a real estate agent to find your next home, there are advantages and disadvantages to representing yourself when buying your next property.
Sellers usually list their homes on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), so that's the best place to start when looking for a home. The MLS allows you to see the available listings by all agents. It will help you identify homes that meet your needs and show you the homes that are the best match to your criteria. Local broker internet sites will allow you to search for properties listed for sale on the MLS. If you are looking for a home without an agent, the job of finding and reviewing online home listings will be your job.
In addition to the Internet, print publications can provide many property listings, both those listed with real estate agencies and those that are for sale by owner. Most daily newspapers feature classified advertisements during the week and many feature entire real estate sections in their weekend editions. There may be local magazine-style publications devoted entirely to properties for sale in your area, as well.
Another strategy to find homes without the use of a real estate agent is by canvassing areas where you are interested in buying property. Using this approach, either drive or walk around the area and take note of "for sale signs" and phone numbers. After gathering the information for houses that are appealing, contact the seller or their agent to schedule an appointment to see the property. You can also go to "open houses" that real estate agents hold for their listings.
Representing yourself in real estate transactions is completely legal and purchasing a property without the use of a real estate agent could save you money. However, with the steps and requirements of buying a home -- preparing a purchase offer, negotiating with the seller, coordinating a home inspection and appraisal -- you may find there are few savings and more administrative requirements. The fees and time involved may make hiring a real estate agent money well spent.
Mason Tilford-Mabry has extensive experience writing human resources and training materials, both as a corporate manager and as a small business owner. He is a graduate of Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in English: technical communication from Minnesota State University, Mankato.