Last Updated October 19, 2022
The age of internet home shopping has made things a lot easier for buyers. The question is understandable – do I even need a buyer’s agent in Bend, or anywhere for that matter?
The short answer is “yes,” but we won’t just give you the same tired arguments for hiring a real estate agent that you’ve heard a million times.
Instead, we’ll go into detail about the unique challenges that home buyers face in Bend’s market today. We’ll tell you what a buyer’s agent can do for you in Bend, and what they can’t.
Then you can decide for yourself whether to hire an agent or not. And if you do decide to go with a buyer’s agent, you’ll have a much better idea of what to look for.
Sound reasonable? Read on and we’ll walk you through the many considerations related to hiring a Bend buyer’s agent in our ever-changing market.
- Traditional Buying Process
- Traditional Bend Real Estate Brokers
- How to Choose the Proper Buyer's Agent
- Bend, Oregon Real Estate Agents – What We Bring to the Table
Traditional Buying Process
In the old days, information about new listings was hard to come by.
Sure, there was the Sunday paper with its itty-bitty property photos. In order to stay up to speed on the market, though, you basically needed to be working with a buyer’s agent.
To get detailed information, your Realtor would need to call the listing agent. Then, to have any sense of a home’s interior, you would need to tour it with your agent.
Even when online listing portals started to become popular about 10-15 years ago, property photos were typically very low quality. Virtual tours were unheard of.
While listing portals received property feeds from the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service), updates were often delayed for several hours. In fast-moving markets, that could mean the difference between going into contract or missing out.
But, in recent years, all of that has changed.
Listing portals now receive updates almost instantaneously. All that’s missing is notes in the MLS and attached documents reserved exclusively for Realtors.
Extensive indoor and outdoor photography is now a given. Virtual tour technology has improved and is more common than ever, especially on higher-end properties. So, it’s easy to think you have a good handle on the market just by looking at Zillow on a daily basis and maybe going to some open houses on the weekends.
Couple that with online lending platforms that offer (seemingly) great rates and make the process of qualifying for a mortgage a breeze.
The gist of all this is that buyers agents in Bend – or elsewhere – are no longer as central to the home buying process as they used to be. We aren’t saying that’s a entirely a bad thing.
A home is the largest and most significant purchase most people will ever make. The more information you have at your fingertips, the easier it will be to make the right decision for yourself and your family.
There are some negatives, though, to more modern ways of shopping for homes. Let’s look at the home buying process from a couple different angles.
Traditional Bend Real Estate Brokers
We’ll talk first about what it’s like not to work with a traditional buyer’s agent in Bend or elsewhere. There are several different possibilities.
First, you might represent yourself, working directly with either the listing agent or the owner (in the case of a For Sale By Owner).
Alternatively, you might have the listing agent represent you in the transaction. Several non-traditional brokerages also promise commission “refunds” to buyers at closing.
Representing Yourself Pros & Cons
Usually, the idea behind representing yourself goes like this: because the seller doesn’t need to pay out to a buyer’s agent, they can offer you a discount and still net the same amount of money. 99% of the time, buyer’s agent fees are paid by the seller, not the buyer. Read our guide to real estate commissions here.
Most sellers, though, prefer to have an agent on the other side of the transaction. Just about any listing agent will advise their client not to work with an unrepresented buyer.
In competitive markets, that can result in a rejection, even if you’ve got more money on the table than other buyers. And needless to say, if you have more money on the table than other buyers, you’re not really saving money.
The motivation for that isn’t selfish: when buyers represent themselves, there’s just more room for more things to go wrong.
There are FSBO sellers out there who want to “leave out the middleman.” The savings can be real – assuming a seller has a realistic idea of what their home should sell for. That’s not actually so common, though.
On top of that, being in direct contact with the seller has all manner of perils. A casual statement interpreted the wrong way can sour a transaction pretty fast. That’s not even going into the mishaps that can pop up when one (or both) of the parties doesn’t have an accurate understanding of the real estate process.
What Dual Agency Means
If a listing agent is representing the seller, it’s more common for the listing agent to represent both parties. In the real estate industry, we have a term for this: “dual agency.”
Often, a buyer will contact the listing agent directly if they want more information or want to tour a home. Let’s say the listing agent shows you a property, you really like it, and decide you want to make an offer. Having the listing agent represent you might seem like the fastest route between Point A and Point B, but it comes with disadvantages.
Think about it this way: if it’s in your best interest to spend less money and a seller’s best interest to net more money, how can a single agent represent both of your interests at the same time?
Everyone may see eye-to-eye at the start of a transaction, but things can get pretty sticky pretty fast if you need to ask a seller for concessions. Dual agency may work in a few very limited scenarios, but generally, you want your buyer’s agent to represent you, not the seller.
Are Non-Traditional Real Estate Brokerages Worth It in Oregon?
In many ways, non-traditional brokerages that offer commission credits or rebates are a more compelling option than anything else we’ve mentioned. They aren’t really an option in Oregon, however.
Commission credits are illegal in ten different states, including Oregon. Sellers who go with non-traditional brokerages can benefit from reduced commissions. But, as a buyer in Bend or elsewhere in Oregon, it’s unlikely that you’ll pay any less for a house.
Simply put, sellers are looking for the best offer, and that usually means the highest price. In competitive markets like Bend’s, there’s little chance of scoring a “deal.” The possible exception is dual agency, but as we’ve discussed, that has all sorts of problems.
Because savings are unlikely, there’s little incentive not to seek the highest level of service possible. It’s true that we’re biased, but typically, that will come from a traditional real estate agent. Let’s go over how to choose a Bend buyer’s agent.
How to Choose the Proper Buyer’s Agent
When it comes to buyer’s agents, there are a few important attributes.
The word “agent” itself implies a particular kind of relationship. Realtors are often thought of as salespeople, and there are some agents who feed into that stereotype.
Your agent shouldn’t be trying to sell you anything, though. Our job is to advocate for you and your interests at every step of the process and give you all the information you need to make the best decisions for yourself and your family.
That information may lead you not to purchase a home, or look in a different market. Any agent worth their salt will put their client’s bottom line before their own.
Needless to say, you need a buyer’s agent who gets you. You need to be able to communicate openly with your agent about your goals and your concerns.
Fit and personality are one thing. The other side of choosing a Bend buyer’s agent, though, is that you need an agent with the knowledge and experience necessary to get you into contract and navigate all the potential pitfalls along the way.
Understanding Bend’s Real Estate Market
Oregon’s housing markets in general are extremely competitive. Over the past several years, Bend and other markets in Central Oregon have become especially competitive.
Inventory is incredibly low, and property values have appreciated incredibly fast. Bend’s median sale price is now close to $800,000.
Your buyer’s agent needs to know how to properly handle multiple-offer situations. List prices will tell you very little about what a home in Bend will actually sell for.
They need to be up-to-speed on the latest market data so they can help you make a competitive offer without asking you to stretch your comfort zone too far.
Nowadays, it’s common for buyers to make concessions, like waving the inspection contingency, that they end up regretting later. There’s a fine line between being competitive and being reckless.
Buyers agents with many years of experience and savvy about current market conditions know how to tread that line. They will understand the dynamics of different neighborhoods in Bend and can steer you to a location that will best fit your needs – and your budget.
They can also communicate the right information to buyer’s agents about you, the team behind you, and their ability to close the deal.
The Oregon Senate recently banned “seller love letters.” That ban was struck down by a higher court, but if it comes back into effect, all communication will need to come directly from your agent.
LOHR Real Estate Vs Zillow and Other Bend Oregon Real Estate Professionals
We started off talking about the ways real estate has changed in the modern day, and those changes extend to the way many people choose a buyer’s agent.
Let’s say you’re looking at homes on Zillow and see a listing that you like. The obvious next step is to ask questions about the property or take a tour, and Zillow makes it easy. Click on the appropriate button, and the system will connect you with a Bend buyer’s agent in minutes.
Of course, Zillow doesn’t actually have its own Realtors. Agents from other brokerages pay a fee to receive inquiries. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that, but you won’t have any idea who you might be working with.
We recommend that you take the time to interview any prospective buyer’s agent. That includes us.
One of the things that sets LOHR Real Estate apart is that we’re completely transparent. We want to be a resource for you and give you the data points you need to make your own informed decisions.
Let’s talk about what we bring to the table as Bend buyer’s agents.
Bend, Oregon Real Estate Agents – What We Bring to the Table
Simply put, the agents at LOHR Real Estate are some of the best in Bend and Central Oregon. A lot of that has to do with experience and know-how, but what it really comes down to is how we operate on a day-to-day basis.
We function as a team, with each of our agents bringing their own unique skillsets to the table. At the same time, the buck starts and stops with our owner and Principal Broker, Kip Lohr.
Kip has more than 30 years of combined experience in the real estate and construction industries. That gives him an eye for detail when touring homes that most agents simply lack, and a unique edge when negotiating concessions for repairs.
We have worked extensively both with out-of-area and in-town clients. We offer numerous resources to people considering relocation, including our patented neighborhood tours.
Kip has extensive experience working with buyers and sellers of rural properties in Central Oregon and the specialized knowledge needed to assess them. We serve clients who are looking for bare land, traditional residential properties, new construction homes, townhomes and condominiums, and farm and ranch properties.
In other words, we’re jacks-of-all-trades, but we bring a lot of mastery to the table too.
All of this has just been a basic overview of what to look for in a traditional buyer’s agent and what some of the alternatives are.
At the end of the day, you need to find a Bend buyer’s agent who you can work with and who can get the job done.
Again, we urge you to interview agents. Ask tough questions, and trust your intuition.
Finding and purchasing a home is a big process, especially with how crazy our local real estate markets are right now. Your agent should subtract stress from that process, not add to it, and that’s what a good buyer’s agent will do.
Have a hunch that one of our agents might be a good fit for you? Just click the button to the right, and we can get the conversation started.