It seems like there are a few people who are buying new condos "naked" (without an agent to represent them) direct from the project's salespeople. Many people do this successfully -- especially agents themselves who are investing in property or professional real estate investors.
For most people however, using a buyer's agent makes a lot of sense. Full disclosure: I am a full time Realtor so obviously, I'm a big fan of people using agents :-)
That said, there are a number of good reasons to use a buyer's agent; here are some of them:
- First and foremost, it doesn't cost you anything. The prices you pay at the sales center are the same if you are buying a place with or without agent representation. Many people think that they can get a better price without an agent -- this is almost never the case since most sellers want to create a win-win relationship with the thousands of Realtors and their clients.
- Second, having an independent buyer's agent protects you from being pressured into any one particular condominium project. Remember, the sales center staff are employed by that project's developer and are compensated for selling through that project's inventory. Your buyer's agent, on the other hand, gets paid regardless of which development you buy so advice and analysis of comparables and other buildings will be much more objective.
- Thirdly, a buyer's agent can do a lot of the heavy analytical work before you make your decision. Buyer's agents answer questions like what's a fair price per square foot, what are the comparables in the market now, what new listings are on the horizon, is this a building all the agents are talking about as investments for themselves, how would this specific unit and layout appeal to future buyers, etc.
- Lastly, a buyer's agent is also a project manager. When it comes time to iron out the inevitable wrinkles with the upgrades, managing the closing process, or negotiating for incentives, your agent can be a real life saver -- especially since most buyers have day jobs and don't have time for chasing down the details ;-)
These are some of the reasons a buyer's agent can help you make the right decision and manage the entire home buying process. Here's a post on what to look for in an agent if you haven't picked your representative yet.