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Ask the Realtor: Explaining the role of a buyer’s agent

Ask the Expert
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. Associated Press

The other day I received a call about a listing of mine from a buyer named Kevin. He requested a showing as soon as possible. Unfortunately, even though the home had been on the market only a short time, it was already under contract.

Kevin was clearly disappointed with this news.

“I assume you are not working with a buyer’s agent,’’ I said.

I was right.

“Since we only just started looking a few months ago,’’ he said, “we didn’t want to commit to working with an agent yet.’’

News flash: The most important time to start working with a buyer’s agent is at the very beginning of your search. If Kevin had been working with an experienced buyer’s agent, he would not only have been informed about my listing more than a week ago, but also educated on how the home-buying process works. He would have known that timing is key, because of the limited number of homes on the market and high demand.

His buyer’s agent would have also told him that offers were due at noon on Monday, two days before he called me. A good buyer’s agent could have been the difference between Kevin missing out on this house and owning his dream home.

Like any important consideration, research and education are essential. Buying a home can be very exciting, but also extremely overwhelming. It is important to understand how the process works. What baffles me is that many people will spend hours, even days, researching refrigerators or coffee makers, but when it comes to the largest investment of their lives, a house, they don’t take the time to find someone who can help guide them through this complex process. Although the Internet can be a great resource, it’s not a substitute for working with an experienced agent. The job of a buyer’s agent is to protect their client’s interests.

A buyer’s agent’s first step is to set up a meeting to explain everything involved with a home purchase, beginning with making sure you speak with a lender to understand what you can afford. I cannot tell you how many buyers are out looking at houses every weekend, not even knowing how much they can really afford. That’s a waste of time.

Experienced buyer’s agents explore your motivation for purchasing by asking lots of questions: How far away is your day care? How long of a commute can you tolerate? They will ask whether you prefer to be walking distance from the center of town or out in the privacy of the suburbs. They will ask what your nonnegotiables are when it comes to choosing a home. Based on your answers, your agent will make suggestions as to which communities and what types of homes might work best for you. They will listen and help you find an area that will satisfy your needs and financial limitations. They will educate you on what you can get for your money in each community, and once you find a home, will advise you on how to craft a strong offer. They handle all of the negotiations and the paperwork right through to closing. Your agent will also have a list of trusted service providers they can recommend, such as inspectors, lawyers, lenders, electricians, and movers.

Buyer representation will make a tremendous difference in your experience. Unlike Kevin, who missed the offer deadline, you will have all of the information you need at your disposal — when you need it. Without an agent, you may miss out on what could be the perfect home for your family. Don’t be like Kevin. Contact a good buyer agent to help you.

Marjorie Youngren is a broker at Century 21 Commonwealth in Lynnfield. Send your real estate questions to marjorie.youngren@commonmoves.com. Follow her on Twitter @MarjorieTeamC21. Subscribe to our free real estate newsletter at pages.email.bostonglobe.com/AddressSignUp