Sign up for our FREE Monthly Email Newsletter
In addition to keeping in the financial know, you may be interested in checking your credit score and report.
¹The credit scores provided under the offers described here use the Equifax Credit Score, which is a proprietary credit model developed by Equifax. The Equifax Credit Score and 3-Bureau scores are each based on the Equifax Credit Score model, but calculated using the information in your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit files. The Equifax Credit Score is intended for your own educational use. It is also commercially available to third parties along with numerous other credit scores and models in the marketplace. Please keep in mind third parties are likely to use a different score when evaluating your creditworthiness. Also, third parties will take into consideration items other than your credit score or information found in your credit file, such as your income.
²The Automatic Fraud Alert feature is made available to consumers by Equifax Information Services LLC and fulfilled on its behalf by Equifax Consumer Services LLC.
³Equifax Credit Report Control™ is only available while you have a current subscription to Equifax Complete Premier. Locking your credit file with Equifax Credit Report Control will prevent access to your Equifax credit file by certain third parties, such as credit grantors or other companies and agencies. Credit Report Control will not prevent access to your credit file at any other credit reporting agency, and will not prevent access to your Equifax credit file by companies like Equifax Personal Solutions which provide you with access to your credit report or credit score or monitor your credit file; Federal, state and local government agencies; companies reviewing your application for employment; companies that have a current account or relationship with you, and collection agencies acting on behalf of those whom you owe; for fraud detection and prevention purposes; and companies that wish to make pre-approved offers of credit or insurance to you. To opt out of such pre-approved offers, visit www.optoutprescreen.com/.
4We will require you to provide your payment information when you sign up and we will immediately charge your card $4.95. After that, we will charge the card $19.95 for each month you continue your subscription. You may cancel at any time; however, we do not provide partial month refunds.
Equifax® is a registered trademark and Equifax Complete™ Premier is a trademark of Equifax, Inc. © 2014, Equifax Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. All rights reserved.
In many ways, the Internet has made buying a home easier. Instead of relying on a real estate agent to mine the best listings for you, you can simply plug in your search criteria to a national or local real estate listing site to see what’s available in your area. You can also apply for and prequalify for a mortgage, check out neighborhoods, and track home prices over time.
Once you’ve found a home, you can find many of the services you need—including inspectors, movers, remodelers, and settlement services—online as well.
Still, navigating the housing market can be a challenge. Here are four reasons you might want to consider using a real estate agent:
1. In some markets, homes aren’t available. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), while 92 percent of buyers searched for a home online, 89 percent also used a real estate agent. This is due in part to the fact that prices are rising and inventories are slim in many parts of the country, so buyers are turning to agents for help finding a home.
When housing inventory is hard to come by, using an agent could be to your benefit. Many agents learn about listings before they hit the market or have access to what are known as “pocket listings”—homes for sale that are not listed on the multiple listing service (MLS).
2. In today’s real estate market, buying is more complicated than ever. Buyers are turning to agents for help with local real estate laws—which change virtually every year—and for advice on getting financing and assistance with contract negotiations.
Since the housing market crash, lenders have become stricter about to whom they lend, and sellers have become more particular about which offers they accept. A seasoned real estate agent can help you navigate the mortgage market and can also help you put together an offer that is enticing to a seller.
3. Negotiating a sale can be complicated. A good real estate agent has more experience negotiating real estate contracts than you have, so he or she can help you get the best price possible. If there are repairs that need to be made, for example, your agent can use them to negotiate the sale price down.
Once you’ve found a house, your agent can also help you find and schedule the services you will need to close, such as a home inspector, title company, and settlement service. Your agent can also provide you with estimates on closing costs.
4. You aren’t paying for it. As a buyer, your agent’s commission is already built in to a seller’s budget in the form of a split commission. In most instances, a seller’s agent and buyer’s agent split a commission—usually around 6 percent, total—that is paid by the seller. That commission is paid to the selling agent’s office, and that office pays the buyer’s agent once the sale has closed.
If you choose not to use an agent, the seller won’t automatically give you the equivalent of your would-be agent’s 3 percent commission. Instead, that seller may keep the commission or share it with his or her agent.
Buyers who purchase directly from a builder or from an owner they already know tend not to use an agent. Often, this is because these types of sellers aren’t providing a buyer’s agent commission through the MLS. Should you use a buyer’s agent for those types of transactions, or other transactions that don’t involve the MLS—such as a for sale by owner property—you may have to pay your buyer’s agent out of your pocket.
Steve Cook is editor of Real Estate Economy Watch, and is a member of the National Press Club, the Public Relations Society of America, and the National Association of Real Estate Editors, where he served as second vice president. Twice he has been named one of the 100 most influential people in real estate. In addition to serving as managing editor of the Report, Cook provides public relations consulting services to real estate companies, financial services companies, and trade associations, including some of the leading companies in online residential real estate.
Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.