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8 Reasons Buying a House without an Agent Representing You Might Be More Difficult than You Anticipate

Sonja Bush May 7, 2024

The proposed settlement of a recent class-action lawsuit will give homebuyers the option to forgo working with a buyers’ agent and represent themselves when buying a house. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

To an outsider, the process probably seems pretty straight-forward and easy:

  • Find a house you like online
  • Go see it in person
  • Make an offer
  • Do a little paperwork
  • Sit back and relax until closing day

If you look at it that way, yeah, it probably does seem pretty easy to buy a house without working with a buyers’ agent. But it’s not that simple…

Here are 8 reasons buying a house without an agent representing you might be more difficult than you anticipate:

1) There’s No Universal Way of Doing Things

While the overall process of buying a home is similar in most areas, there are differences from one area to another, from the type of forms and disclosures that need to be dealt with, to the way offers are handled, and even how closing day is handled. Experienced agents would likely find it confusing to represent themselves in an area they aren’t familiar with, and would benefit from the help of a local agent.  This is especially true in a second home/vacation market like Mammoth Lakes.

So whether it’s a new area to you, or one you’ve lived in your entire life, the local process is likely as unfamiliar territory to you, as it would be to an agent from another part of the country.

2) It Won’t Be That Easy to Get Into the Houses You Want to See

Buyers’ agents are often seen as glorified door openers, despite the fact that they do so much more for their clients. But even just the door opening part of the job is a lot of responsibility. Homeowners are able to trust complete strangers to come in and take a look at their home without being there because buyers’ agents are vetted, in good legal standing, and leave an electronic record of when they entered the house through the lockbox system.  Add to the equation that most properties in Mammoth Lakes are vacation homes and on a rental program.  The property management company is not going to give the keys to just anyone.

Homeowners aren’t likely to just leave you a key to their house and let you swing by to take a look at your convenience. And if you want to see several houses, good luck trying to get every homeowner to accommodate the various times you need on a day of house hunting if they (or their listing agents) all need to be home to let you in. A buyers’ agent makes seeing homes as efficient as possible by coordinating with sellers and property management companies.

3) Finding and Using “Comparables” Might Be Tough

Sales data is a lot more available to the public nowadays, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to find and interpret it accurately. Determining how much to offer for a house, and justifying your offer to sellers and their agents not only relies on being able to have a handle on the most recent sales, but also knowing how to choose the most relevant houses to use as comparisons.

Keep in mind that houses that recently sold are historic data — even if it hasn’t been that long — and since the market is constantly changing, you may be in the dark about what agents are seeing happen in the market that hasn’t been recorded and published to the public eye yet.  In addition, Mammoth Lakes Board of Realtors is a closed MLS (multiple listing service) making some data not available to the general public.

4) You’ll Be Dealing with Someone Who Knows What They’re Doing

It’s legal for you to represent yourself in a court of law, too. That may be fine if you’re dealing with a traffic violation, but something you may want to reconsider if someone is suing you for a lot of money and has their own attorney representing their interests. A lawyer who knows courtroom procedures, the ins and outs of laws, and has experience arguing their clients’ side of things will likely win against an unrepresented opponent.

The same goes for buying a house… The sellers’ agent is going to be representing their clients best interests, and have much more experience than you do, so the odds are in the seller’s favor to get the better end of the deal.

5) It Might Be Difficult to Gain the Trust of the Agent and Seller

There’s a lot of things that need to get done after an offer is accepted and all the way through closing day. The listing agent will be doing what needs to be done on the seller’s end, but they’re not likely to do the job that a buyers’ agent would be doing for you.

No matter how good your offer is, it won’t matter much if you can’t successfully get everything done correctly and on time. So the seller and their agent will likely be considering whether you’re capable of doing what needs to be done — especially if they have other competitive offers to consider from buyers who have an experienced buyers’ agent they know won’t drop the ball.

6) You’ll Probably Have to Take Time off of Work

It’s one thing to go see houses on the weekend or after work, but once you’re in the process of buying one, a lot of the work that needs to happen gets done during weekday work hours. If you have a lot of time off, a very understanding boss, or you are your own boss, then you should be fine.  This is even more worrisome when buying a second/vacation home hours away.

But definitely be prepared to drop what you’re doing and deal with any number of appointments, phone calls, or paperwork that needs to get done and is usually handled by a buyers’ agent behind the scenes.

7) Coordinating Inspections and Appraisals Could Be Tricky

Much like getting in to see houses you want to buy, it might be difficult for you to schedule the various inspections and appraisals that will need to be completed along the way without having access to a lockbox. Sure, a seller might trust you to have a key to their house so you can schedule inspections and meet the appraiser at times that work for you and the service provider, but you’re more likely going to find that homeowners don’t want you having unaccompanied access to their home.

So plan on being at the mercy of the seller and/or their agent to be home and let you in whenever you need to get in throughout the process.

8) You’ll Probably Need Advice and Emotional Support

There are a lot of questions, decisions, and emotions that come up when you’re buying a house. An experienced buyers’ agent has probably seen every issue you might have to deal with and would be able to explain things, give you some perspective, keep you calm, and help you make more informed decisions.

It might not seem like something you’ll want or need when you’re envisioning saving money by forgoing the help of a buyers’ agent, but you’ll likely appreciate the value of a buyers’ agent when times get tough, or you’re unsure of what decision to make.

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