With MLS listings available everywhere on the internet, why do you need a buyer’s agent?

After I finish a long day of real estate, I am usually reading late into the evening. What kinds of books and articles do I like to read? Why, anything having to do with real estate, of course.

One of my top two favorite real estate blogs is I found this post the other day and thought about how well written it was. I was thinking about writing a post along similar lines; then, when I got to the bottom of the post the author, Greg Swann, gave permission to re-post. So that is what I am doing, because I couldn't have said it any better myself.


This from Greg Swann's Arizona Republic real estate column (permanent link):

Here’s an intriguing question: Given that it’s so easy to search for homes on the internet, why do you need a buyer’s agent?

Face it, if you use the MLS search tool on my web site, you’re seeing exactly the same listings I see. And you know better than I ever could what you like and what you don’t like.

By now, the home search process is at best a partnership between the agent and the buyer. In some cases the buyer and I will work together to perfect our search criteria. But many buyers simply search the available inventory on their own, emailing me the MLS numbers of the homes they want to see.

So why do those buyers need a buyer’s agent?

Realtors hoarded the MLS data for so long that even they came to believe it was the source of their value to buyers. But this is very far from the truth.

You don’t need me to search for listings, although I’m happy to do that. And you don’t need me to open lock-boxes. You need a buyer’s agent to guide you through what is in fact an arcane and perilous process — potentially a financial disaster. You might not need me to find your next home, but you need me to make sure that you get it — or that you pass on it, if that is what is truly in your best interests.

A skilled buyer’s agent will write the kind of purchase contract that will prove surprising to you at every turn, with every term and condition tailored to achieve your best advantage. Your agent will supervise the inspection process and negotiate the optimal solution to the repair issues. Your agent will be prepared for every pitfall in the escrow process.

If you bought and sold houses every day, you could do all these things yourself. It’s because you don’t — and because the seller and the listing agent are looking to take advantage of your naivete at every turn — that you need a skilled buyer’s agent as your steadfast champion in the home-buying process.


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I am an Associate Broker and Marketing Specialist with Prudential Northwest Realty Associates. I specialize in homes located in the Burien/North Highline/West Seattle area, and I am here to serve all of your Real Estate needs.
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Comment balloon 10 commentsLisa Bosques • July 19 2009 06:57PM


The internet has definitely changed the way people search for real estate.  So buyer's don't necessarily need an agent for that.  What they need them for is their expertise in getting the buyer the best deal and avoiding potential pitfalls along the way.

Posted by Rob Arnold, Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F (Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Finding a home is the easy part.  Always has been.  Getting to the settlement table is not always so easy.


Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

The Internet has changed the perception of some buyers that we don't provide value but as your post indicates, there are a lot of things we do that many buyers don't appreciate and never will. We find that previewinghomes for our buyers is helpful because the Internet photos only tell part of the story and differentiates ourselves from many other agents who merely rely on MLS photos. 

Posted by Dan and Amy Schuman, Luxury Home Specialists (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) almost 11 years ago

Rob - So true.  And there are so many potential pitfalls out there.

Lenn - Getting to the settlement table is downright torture sometimes.  In trying to shield our buyers from much of the behind-the-scenes work and worry that takes place, people somehow get the impression that our job is easy - not so!

Dan & Amy - Previewing is a great service that buyers should appreciate.  And yes, we do so many things that buyers either don't appreciate or don't know about.  Our particular company's motto is, "Providing the Perfect Experience".  We can't do that if we freak our buyer out at every turn with minutiae of the business.  That's why they don't know the half of what we do.

Posted by Lisa Bosques almost 11 years ago

I don't like the statement that the listing agent and seller are taking avantage of anyone. With the internet and education available, buyers know as much as we do. In fact they probably know more about pricing than most agents.

The reason they need an agent is to get to closing with all the paper work and laws as well as some agents are better negotiators than buyers are.

Posted by Charles Stallions, 800-309-3414 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl. (Charles Stallions Real Estate Services ) almost 11 years ago

I have to disagree with Charles.  Buyers and sellers, unless they are professionals, do know know as much as we do.  That is why the MLS is still proprietary.  Plus, I have experience and do a whole hell of a lot of homework on the buyer's and seller's behalf and information  that they could not or would not be able to access.  We need to undo the misconception that anyone can do this.  It's simply not true.  We have market information that the public does not have.  And, if an agent is worth their value, they make that completely understandable to the client at the first meeting. 

Posted by Suzanne McLaughlin, Sabinske & Associates, Realtor (Sabinske & Associates, Inc. (Albertville, St. Michael)) almost 11 years ago

Bravo to Charles and Suzanne.  I couldn't have said it better.

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, -) almost 11 years ago

In the end, no matter what the consumer finds online, they still need a Realtor to help them.  This is a person to person business.  It will most likely always stay that way no matter how much information is online.  It doesn't cost the buyer any money out of their pocket to use a Realtor.  All you have to do is look at all the FSBO's gone bad to see the need for a Buyers Agent.  My guess is most of those disasters wouldn't have happened if there was a good Realtor involved. 

Posted by Mitch Ribak (Mitch Ribak - The Real Estate Success Network) almost 11 years ago

Charles, I will say that some buyers THINK they know more than we do.:) It's like this - as Realtors we spend so much more time in the field than the general public; their knowledge in most cases is limited to surfing the real estate websites and visiting Open Houses. We have that 10 times over, plus lots of education and years of applied knowledge and experience.

Suzanne, we have the experience necessary to look out for the buyer's best interests.  I would say that even with all of our experience as agents we learn something new(and sometimes get a huge surprise) with every transaction.  I can't imagine being a buyer flying solo.

I agree, Kenneth - good discussion!

Mitch - I agree.  There are too many potential "disasters" out there to take buying a home lightly.


Posted by Lisa Bosques almost 11 years ago

Lisa.  Thanks.  You just insprired a blog post.  I hope I get to it today.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

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