As a Buyer, why do you need to have a real estate agent who represents you?
Legally and ethically, all real estate licensees are required to be honest and fair with all parties. In affect that means any statements made must be truthful and the disclosures required by law must be given to all parties. An agent does not have to fully educate you on all aspects of your buying decision.
Traditionally, a Realtor or a real estate agent's fiduciary has been to the seller, who is the party receiving the funds in a transaction, who then pays a fee to the brokers involved as a payment for services.
Today, real estate agents can represent buyers and be paid by the seller's broker when a sale takes place. This difference can translate to a substantial savings for buyers who have an agent representing them.
A listing or seller's agent is bound to try to achieve the highest dollar value for their seller in a transaction. That agent does not have to, nor is he or she likely to, provide a buyer all the information available to them to determine a fair market value.
A buyer's agent can do things for you in the purchase of a home that you most likely would not know to do for yourself. As an example, your agent should be able to provide you with a thorough knowledge of the neighborhood, including recent sales, schools, commute times and routes, recreational activities, and most importantly a realistic offering price versus the seller's asking price. A knowledgeable agent can direct you to places to find specific information on flight paths, super fund sites, builder complaints, proposed freeways and other factors directly impacting your planned purchase.
It just makes good business sense to have a knowledgeable real estate agent who is looking out for you, with the emphasis on knowledge. Many prospective buyers rely on a recommendation and opt for the services of "a friend of a friend". This may work out just fine provided that the agent is a full-time professional, who has experience, and is completely familiar with your area of interest. If not, don't rely on relatives or friendships. They can cost you needless anxiety and money, and even cause you to lose out on your dream home. Get your own agent, who works, and hopefully even lives in the area, and has a good track record.
One of the common myths when purchasing a resale or a new home is that by having one less real estate agent involved in the transaction, you can save on the real estate fee. This is simply not true. The real estate fee or commission is set by the builder or established by the listing contract. The agreed upon commission is paid to the participating brokers/agents at the close of escrow. If you eliminate your representative it simply means that the bulk of the commission goes to the seller's broker and agent. Although commissions are always negotiable and the seller's broker may agree to a cut in commission to allow a sale to go through, this is the exception and not the rule.
So, if you are looking at new builds, be sure that the first time you walk into a new homes sales office you have Ann with you, or she will not be able to represent you and get paid by that builder.
The bottom line is get yourself a qualified agent to represent you. You might as well, you're paying for it anyway and in most cases more than you need to.