By Joy Axelson of Axelson Realty LLC

BUYING: In most cases, having a Realtor help you find a home to purchase is free to the buyer. If a property is listed for sale by a real estate brokerage on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), they must offer cooperating compensation to the brokerage that finds a buyer. While there is no standard commission, the brokerage for whom the buyer’s agent works often receives around 2.5­3.0% of the sale price at closing. Then the broker gives the buyer’s agent whatever percentage (for example, 50­80%) of the commission previously agreed upon.

If you find a property that is “For Sale by Owner,” give your agent the address and phone number. The owner may agree to compensate your agent. However, if you are committed to using an agent, it is best to stick with the many properties listed by reputed brokerages.

At Axelson Realty, the buyer’s agent represents only you and tries to get you the property of your choice for the lowest price. Other brokerages allow “dual agency” where one real estate agent represents both the buyer and the seller. Axelson Realty does not find this to be in the best interest of its clients as it is a huge conflict of interest.

In addition, Axelson Realty strongly encourages you to sign a buyer representation agreement so that all parties understand that buyers may only be represented by one Realtor at a time. If, however, you are not pleased with the services of your Realtor, you may cancel this agreement in writing at any time with no penalty.

Therefore, when searching for a home to buy, it is wise (and cost efficient) to have an agent’s help. However, calling the number listed on the yard sign will get you in touch with the seller’s agent, who is required to try to get the highest price for the home. It is best to avoid going through the seller’s agent. Your agent will help you negotiate the best price and contract terms.

Your Realtor can set up an automatic search on the MLS that e­mails you listings that meet your criteria or you can use the free Home Buyers Scouting Report, which is an online search tool similar to the MLS except that it allows you as the buyer to alter your criteria at any time and initiate new searches. Along with the number of bedrooms and other typical criteria, you can specify the school district, taxes, status of the basement (finished/unfinished), and the age, for example. Just let your Realtor know what you want and he/she will show you properties in which you are interested without the inconvenience of waiting for an open house.