How Do I Buy a Home Without an Agent?

In California, there is no legal requirement that a buyer has to use a real estate agent for their home purchase.  A number of buyers find a property through a self-directed search, and contemplate completing the purchase without an agent.  If you’ve found the home by yourself and are ready to put in an offer, why should you work with an agent who stands to make $60,000 when you’ve done all of the work?

Most Bay Area buyers, particularly those that have been through the home buying process before, would gladly buy their next home without an agent if they could ‘earn’ the buying agent commission.  With rising Bay Area real estate prices, the buying agent commission is tens of thousands of dollars (and income tax free!). However, there are a couple of reasons why this could be problematic.

Firstly, listing agents would rather refer unrepresented buyers to a colleague or even steer them into a dual-agency agreement whereby the listing agent represents both the buyer and seller and earns twice the commission (whose interests are they really looking out for?).  For buyers who are adamant that they don’t want a buyer’s agent, the listing agents may straight refuse to work with them, and ignore any purchase offer that they submit.

Secondly, arcane real estate laws only allow real estate brokers to be paid the agents’ commission.  Thus, even if a buyer does not have a buying agent, they would not be able to be paid the buying agent’s commission.  While in theory you could submit a slightly lower purchase offer to account for the absence of a buying agent’s commission, the listing agent will likely steer their sellers away from such an offer.  So unfortunately, you’re unlikely to ‘earn’ any of the commission by buying your home without an agent (you may still want to go down this route for a more seamless process).

Thirdly, even though you may be comfortable going through the home buying process without an agent, it is always prudent to have an expert by your side. The seller is likely represented by a licensed real estate agent, so you'd be better off having an expert representing your interests.

Fortunately, Unlocked is here to help such buyers who’d like a better deal than a traditional agent.  We give buyers 1% of the purchase price cash back! That’s most of the commission back to the buyer (where we think it belongs).  Whatsmore, with Unlocked, you’ll get a full-service buying agent who’ll be able to help you with all aspects of the purchase. We’ve leveraged technology to deliver insight and streamline the process, to help buyers where we think we can add a lot of value (e.g., valuing a property, reviewing the disclosures and submitting a competitive offer).

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Buyers' Guide