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Buying a Property With No Agent

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I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal that discussed the proportion of real estate buyers using an agent when buying a property.  Surprisingly, the propensity for buyers to utilize an agent is trending down.  Specifically, in 2010 approximately 57% of buyers used an agent, compared to 62% in 2009.  I found this trend to be interesting so I thought I’d pull back the covers and see why this might be happening.

It turns out that there are several reasons for this trend.  One reason is that there is a plethora of real estate information online these days.  Thus, some buyers probably feel like they can do the job of an agent themselves because they have access to the same information.  Another explanation is that some buyers may simply decide to work with the seller’s agent, erroneously believing that the seller’s agent will represent their best interests as well.  A third reason specifically related to income property investors is that they sometimes feel that they have gone through the buy/sell process so many times that they are “experts” and can therefore save money by foregoing the services of an agent.

That said, I for one would never buy or sell an investment property without an agent.  I simply do not have time to personally conduct the duties of a rental property agent.  These duties typically include things like doing the research needed to value a property, scheduling appointments, negotiating, gathering due diligence information, and coordinating the closing process, to name a few. 

So, although it is interesting to know that over 40% of homes were bought without a buyer’s agent in 2010, most investors would still benefit greatly from leveraging the services of an agent.  No matter how much experience you have, doing the job of a buyer’s agent can be time consuming and stressful, and can lead to errors or omissions in the process.  Thus, think long and hard about trying to navigate these waters solo.

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