The overwhelming majority of all houses are sold through real estate brokers retained by the sellers. Since a broker is obligated to serve the best interests of whosoever pays the commission, it follows that brokers and buyers generally have an adversary relationship.
At the same time, there are many services a broker can offer to a purchaser.
Structuring the sale is a key brokerage function. It is the broker's job to take the needs of the seller and match them against the desires of a buyer. In many eases this requires the broker to devise innovative agreements and financial packages.
Sales offers are usually conveyed through blank forms which, if accepted, become legally-binding contracts. The broker must use the best form and complete it in a manner that fully reflects the intentions of both parties.
While a broker cannot give legal advice, a broker san assist in the preparation of an offer and make recommendations concerning its desirability. A broker knowing the needs of both parties can often suggest compromises to close a deal. For example, a broker may know that the sellers do not want a basement freezer and use this knowledge to trade for a better price or terms from the buyer.
In the financing area, a broker is often aware of mortgage choices with which a buyer is not familiar. These choices may create conditions that make houses affordable.
In Montgomery County, for example, a buyer was recently able to purchase a condominium under a county-backed mortgage program with a low rate of interest. The Broker arranged all the details for the special financing. The result: a purchaser who could not otherwise get financing was able to purchase a home.
A broker is often a substantial source of information. Brokers can advise on such matters as the inventory of homes available at certain price or in a specific neighborhood, local taxes and assesments, commuting routes, energy costs, schools, religious facilities and shopping.
Many purchasers seek homes in specific neighborhoods. Brokers can be particularly helpful here since real estate is an intensely localized bussiness. Many brokers specialize which are either on the market currently or may be within a short time. This can be a valuable service in situations where a seller wants to market a home quietly without signs, advertising, or an open house.
In cases where a broker drives a prospective purchaser from house to house, the buyer should realize that the broker is first obligated to the owner of each property.
Also, if a person is both a broker and a friend, unless you are paying the commission the broker is employed by the seller and responsible to that person.