Q: My fiance and I are looking for our first home. We actually made an offer on a home this past week with our buyer broker, but it didn’t work out.
When we started working with this buyer broker, we signed a disclosure statement. The problem is we have looked at all the houses that are listed in the part of town we want to live in with our broker and have found nothing.
On the other hand, there are a few homes that are for sale by owner, and we would like to look at those. But we don’t know how to do that with the disclosure form we signed with the buyer broker.
If we do look at these homes, and find one to buy, what happens with the commission? We don’t want to end up paying the commission out of our own pocket. Ideally, we had planned to buy something when my lease ends on July 31st. What should we do?
A: What kind of document did you sign with your buyer’s agent? Did you sign an exclusive representation agreement? Or, did you simply sign a disclosure agreement that says you are working with a buyer’s agent?
Start by reading your agreement and figuring out what it means.
Your next step is to tell your agent you are going to look at a few homes that are for sale by owner. You or your agent can approach the owner to see if he would be willing to pay a 2.5 or 3 percent commission to your agent.
This might work because a savvy homeowner will willingly pay 2.5 or 3 percent in order to have a qualified buyer. From your end, you’ll have the benefit of the agent assisting you in the negotiations, making sure you do not overpay for the property.
If the seller rejects this offer and you still want to be able to have the agent’s assistance, you may be able to work out a deal with the seller where the final price for the property includes the 2.5 or 3 percent paid to your agent. This fee would be paid out of the closing proceeds. Instead of paying it out of pocket, you’d be financing it.
As a first-time buyer, you would surely benefit from having an agent around to make sure the process goes smoothly, and your seller gives you all the disclosures to which you’re legally entitled. But should you decide to go it alone, please be sure to hire a real estate attorney to guide you along the path.