A couple of points from my recent comment on Redfin’s blog:
(Actually, my comment that was submitted to but never made it onto Redfin’s blog…)
The concept of not having a buyer’s agent present at a home inspection (especially since it typically means having the listing agent there with the buyers instead) makes no sense. There are many things a buyer agent knows from years in the business that a buyer would have no reason to ever know, and that the listing agent has no motivation or obligation to point out.
Consider the value of the buyer’s agent who explains to an unwary buyer that a $200 sewer scoping inspection can save them tens of thousands later, or that you often need to tweak the contract language slightly in order to guarantee the buyer a thorough septic insepction? (Twice this has saved my buyer clients money, once to the tune of a $10,000 new septic system.)
And how about just knowing how much to pay for a home? Before I help my buyer clients make an offer on a house we basically do a comparable market analysis, exactly as though it were our home and we were about to put it on the market. Pricing a home correctly (to hopefully about 1% or less plus or minus, not, say, 7% plus or minus, as per Zillow’s stated range of error for Zestimates) takes skill and expertise, and when you look at the money involved, the potential loss that a buyer risks from an incorrect estimate eclipses the amount they stand to get credited back from the buyer’s agent who doesn’t show up.
I have yet to see an online estimator that could tell me when a home has high or low ceilings, an open or boxed up floor plan, good or crummy light, or a large or unusually small master bedroom – just a few of the key intangibles that make a big difference in market value.
The buyer who purchases without this kind of advice simply has no awareness of what they’re not getting. It’s true that “You don’t know what you don’t know” – but it can still cost you plenty.