The short answer is, yes.
There are very few cases where I’d recommend going unrepresented in a real estate transaction.
You want someone to represent you and your interests. You want to be able to confide in someone, and you want someone who will negotiate on your behalf.
A good buyer’s agent will provide you with more services than you might realize.
Plus, in the vast majority of situations, you won’t pay any extra to benefit from these services.
A good agent will save you time and money.
That said, choosing which agent to sign with and when to sign are key.
I advise people to sign up with an agent as soon as they are confident that they trust and like an agent.
You may feel this way after a buyer’s consultation after chatting with a prospective agent.
Ask about them, their interests, and experience (here is a list of questions I recommend you ask any prospective agent), and make sure they ask about you too.
If you feel like there is a match, there isn’t necessarily any reason to wait.
Having someone representing you at the start of your search allows you to open up right off the bat and fully benefit from your Realtor’s knowledge and experience.
Furthermore, once you are under a buyer broker agreement, your agent will be able to bring you opportunities like for sale by owner listings or not yet listed opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t know about.
So if you feel comfortable, sign.
It may be worth asking what will happen if you realize a few months in that you don’t work well together.
Many buyer broker agreements are for a one-year term so it is a commitment.
This is an area where there is a big difference between company policies.
Some firms will almost never cancel a buyer broker agreement (though may be open to switching you to a different agent), whereas others (like Element, where I work) will do so without hesitation if there is a relationship issue.
Of course, none of us ever like to be in this situation so if you don’t yet feel confident enough in the match with your agent after just one meeting, ask your agent if they are willing to go on a “trial run” with you and see a few properties before you sign.
Keep in mind that your agent won’t be able to tell you his or her opinion of the price during these showings and that you shouldn’t reveal any confidential information.
Until you are under a buyer broker agreement, they do not represent you and in fact are obligated to tell any pertinent information you reveal to the listing agent.
That said, they are also required to disclose any material facts about the property to you and such an interaction will still give you an idea of whether or not your styles jive.
So keep this trial period short.
If you still aren’t sure about someone after going out a couple of times, chances are you haven’t found the right match.
Move on and save both of yourselves time.
Just please take one minute to write the agent to let them know that you don’t think it is the right fit. None of us like to be ghosted, and we understand that we can’t be everything to everyone.
At the end of the day, be ready to sign as soon as you think you’ve found your match.
You’ll benefit from the full range of services a buyer’s agent can provide and have a trusted confidant from day one.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pallas Ziporyn is a Realtor based in Burlington, VT. She is the founder and head writer for The Vermont Real Estate Blog, and she works with both buyers and sellers in Chittenden County and surrounding areas.
In addition to her real estate pursuits, Pallas enjoys serving on the Winooski Planning Commission, skiing, writing, and spending time with her husband Chris and their two small children, Leander and Hugo.