In New York City, buying a home can be just as complex as selling one. In addition to the legal and financial considerations, buyers have so much to decide: borough, neighborhood, co-op or condo, etc. In any market, it’s wise for buyers to have someone representing them while making one of the biggest purchases of their lifetime. That’s where buyer’s agents come in. 

A buyer’s agent, or buyer’s broker, is a licensed real estate agent who represents the buyer in the home purchasing process and is compensated by the seller at closing. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, in 2022, 87% of buyers used a buyer’s agent when purchasing their home1. However, some buyers still wonder if they should hire a buyer’s agent or not. Here are a list of questions to ask yourself in coming to this decision.

You can also learn more about the benefits of working with a buyer’s agent in this episode of our YouTube series StreetEasy Home School:

Video Thumbnail
Table of Contents

    Manhattan Homes Under $800K on StreetEasy Article continues below

    How many questions do you have?

    The first question to ask yourself is, well, how many questions do you have about buying a home? A buyer’s agent can answer any you may have, no matter how small or silly – without judgment. Rather than Googling your way into a frenzy, you’ll have a real human full of answers to consult.

    How well do you know the market?

    Today’s homebuyers, especially in New York City, are savvy, confident, and independent. They do their homework. However, no one keeps a pulse on the local real estate market like agents do. They know it because they’re in it, constantly, and will help manage your expectations with honesty and transparency. For example, telling you what you should expect to pay for a two-bedroom co-op in the West Village with private outdoor space, or whether your desired timeline from offer to closing is realistic.

    Get matched with an Expert with verified experience helping buyers like you


    Inventory fluctuates, but during peak home shopping season, New York City has upwards of 25,000 homes for sale (you can use the StreetEasy Data Dashboard for more inventory metrics). It can be overwhelming, and there are many factors to consider: neighborhood, nearby transit, school districts, amenities, home type, budget, timeline, etc. Why not just give someone your criteria and have them come back to you with a refined list of options? A buyer’s agent can do that for you, saving you a lot of time and effort.

    Brooklyn Homes Under $800K on StreetEasy Article continues below

    How vigilant are you when looking at homes?

    You’re only one person, and there’s so much to look out for when seeing a property. Even the most savvy buyers can miss things. The seller’s agent can answer your questions, but since they represent the best interests of the seller, not the buyer, you can’t rely on them to be totally forthcoming about an apartment’s drawbacks. Plus, there’s more to a New York City apartment than meets the eye: monthly fees, potential resale value, future renovations, and more.

    A buyer’s agent can be your second set of eyes when evaluating properties, pointing out things you may not have noticed otherwise and making sure you’re not overlooking anything. Buyer’s agents also have a fiduciary duty to disclose to you any known issues with a property that may affect its value.

    Do you need guidance in coming up with a bid?

    Coming up with a bid on a home is both an art and a science. It requires a deep understanding and knowledge of the market and what comparable properties have sold for, as well as a strategy to come up with not just any offer, but a winning offer. A buyer’s agent can handle both, while working with you to decide on a bid you’re comfortable with.

    Are you a good negotiator?

    Real estate negotiations can be intense, and with so much money involved, the stakes are high. The difference between a good negotiator and a great one can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself! 

    A buyer’s agent will negotiate on your behalf and get you the best possible price. In addition, they can secure the deal to your liking not just in terms of purchase price, but timeline, type of financing, closing costs, etc. Lastly, buyer’s agents have insider knowledge of the room for negotiation, as well as clever ways to save you money, like tax abatements and concessions.

    Queens Homes Under $800K on StreetEasy Article continues below

    Do you know what it takes to be approved by the co-op board?

    If you choose to pursue an apartment located in a co-op building, there will be more to the purchase process than just a financial transaction. You’ll need to be approved by the co-op board. Each board is different, but the process often consists of putting together a packet of information and documentation, obtaining letters of reference, and doing an interview. It can be a lot to take on for one person. A buyer’s agent will help you with all of it, including preparing for the interview. A good buyer’s agent will also have insider knowledge of different co-op boards and what it takes to be approved by them. 

    Do you need referrals?

    Even without a buyer’s agent, you’ll need to hire some people when buying a home in New York City: at the very least, a mortgage broker and a real estate lawyer. If you do hire a buyer’s agent, they can refer you to these other professionals, saving you the work of having to find them on your own. Buyer’s agents tend to have very robust networks, and you can count on them to refer you to the best person for your needs.

    Are you worried about what it will cost?

    Unbeknownst to many New Yorkers, using a buyer’s agent doesn’t cost you anything, since they’re compensated by the seller at closing. Some buyers are still reluctant to hire one, thinking they’ll end up paying a higher price for the house due to this commission structure. However, without someone representing you and negotiating on your behalf, you could end up paying much more than you would have otherwise.

    12022 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report by National Association of REALTORS® Research Group

    Find the right agent for you