Can I “Google” my way to buying a home?

I taught a homebuyer class last week and at the end I opened the floor for final questions. One gentleman very politely thanked me for my time and expertise and then proceeded to ask ‘why he needed a Realtor?’ He said that everything he needed for the homebuying process was on-line and he could just Google the information. He felt that the process was not that complicated and he could handle it all himself. I did my best to not look horrified at the question and instantly I began to process my answer. The other people in the class immediately disagreed with this gentleman but waited for my answer. Here it is…

To begin with, a person working without a Realtor would have to conduct the homebuying search alone. This means setting up your own on-line search, calling every listing agent for availability and scheduling showings. Because you won’t have an agent to give you access, you would have to be willing to set appointments with the listing agent for every home you would like to see. If you find a home being sold by the owner without an agent (FSBO) then you are coordinating the showing directly with the seller. All of this would be done for you if you were using a Realtor.

Now Congratulations – you have found a home you love and would like to purchase. Now what? There are two possible scenarios… first possibility; you found a home listed by a Realtor. If this is the case, then that Realtor is now your Realtor by default. This happens quite frequently with new home construction -there is an agent on-site in the community but that agent represents the builder/seller. They can process the paperwork, draw up the contracts and answer questions but they work for the seller and must keep their clients’ best interest at heart. This is what happens with resale listings as well. The listing agent can help you with the purchase but only as a “customer” and not a client. There is a big difference is what that agent can do for you legally. If you want to look at this possibility in another way, it is similar to getting a divorce but only your spouse has an attorney.

Perhaps, you find a home being sold by owner without a Realtor. These are known as “For Sale by Owner” or FSBOs. If this is the case, what purchase contract do you use? Do you know how to complete the contract in a way to best protect your interest? Do you have an attorney to review the contract prior to submitting it to the seller? How much would this attorney charge you? Do you feel comfortable negotiating with the seller directly throughout the process? What happens if there is a conflict – can you resolve it?

My best answer to the gentleman that wanted to “Google” his way through the homebuying process is that you can do it that way but why would you want to? The services of a buyer’s agent are 99% of the time FREE to the buyer. That’s right – the seller pays our commission. Therefore, we do all of the heavy lifting on your behalf for free! I am not certain if the man in the class had a bad experience or he just wanted the challenge of doing this all himself but most people recognize that the homebuying process is complicated and they value the work that the Realtor does. Google is many things but a Realtor is not one of them.

If you want more information on the services of a buyer’s agent, check out my guide and call me when you are ready to purchase.