Many people think that they will get a discount if they call the agent whose name appears on the "for sale" sign in front of a house. This is actually far from the truth. The agent on the sign has signed a listing agreement that promises the seller they will do everything in their power to get the best price and the best terms to benefit the seller. They have no such contract with a buyer. If the agent on the sign offers to sign an "exclusive right to represent buyer" agreement with you, run! This is a clear conflict of interest, and is not ethical. What will happen to the comission? Nothing! The comission is set in the listing agreement, and the only thing that happens if you use the listing agent to buy is that he or she does not have to split it with another agent. They still represent the seller, and not the buyer.
A buyer's agent will help you to find the exact property that you want, and will negotiate on your behalf to get you the best price and the best terms. Most buyer's agents also list properties, so they know exactly what the listing agent (the one on the sign) is trying to do. A buyer's agent can help you through the complicated process of filling out the contract, which in many cases is well over 20 pages long. If you have questions about the contract or any of the additional addendums, a buyer's agent can explain it to you. He or she will keep you informed all along the way about any additional decisions that may have to be made, deadlines that must be met, and changes that may occur during the process leading to settlement. Most importantly, the buyer's agent will represent you, not the seller!
This is the best part of all. In most cases, there is no charge at all for you to use a buyer's agent. The total comission has already been set in the listing documents, and will be paid out of the seller's proceeds at settlement. The only exception to this is if you decide to buy a house that is offered for sale by owner, and the owner refuses to pay the comission. In that case, you would be responsible for the agent's fee, usually between 2-4% of the total sale price. Most owners today will agree to pay the buyer's agent in order to attract potential buyers to their home, but there are still some that will not. If you decide to look at a house that is listed by owner, ask your agent if the owner is prepared to pay comission or not.
This is an excellent time to buy, especially if you are a first time buyer. Prices are low, interest rates are low, and there are still plenty of good deals available. Many houses are sitting on the market for a long time, so owners are frequently willing to pay a portion of your settlement charges or make other concessions and repairs, leaving you with less cash needed to get into a house or farm. Check out the "find a mortgage" tab at the top of the page for more information about how to secure a mortgage.
If you want to search the multiple listings for homes now, click on the "search the listings" tab at the top of the page. This will take you to the same multiple listing service that the agents use. You can enter information about the type of property you want and look at everything that is currently active on the market that matches your selections.