Finding an experienced real estate professional to help in the search for a new home is an important step for most homebuyers. While a home purchase can be done without the services of a real estate agent, most homebuyers benefit from the experience of a good agent and the home listing and other information resources they have access to.
Real estate agents are easy to find throughout Maryland. Agents advertise widely, or you may be able to check with someone you know who is a homeowner who can refer a trusted agent to you. However, working with an agent that is familiar with and understands the Maryland Mortgage Program may help identify properties that are eligible for financial support through our downpayment assistance and other programs, and this can help you make the most of the incentives available through MMP.
Maryland Realtors (mdrealtor.org) provides training to licensed real estate agents in Maryland focusing on first time homebuyer programs, especially the Maryland Mortgage Program. Upon completion of this training, agents are considered “Workforce Housing Certified”, and this means that they can provide homebuyers with up-to-date and useful guidance on using the Maryland Mortgage Program.
You can locate agents in your area that have achieved this certification by visiting Maryland Realtors’ homebuyer website at www.marylandhomeownership.com.
Real estate agents receive compensation for their services, and it’s important to understand how an agent is being paid so you know who the agent is representing.
Generally, real estate agents receive a commission (a percentage) of the sale price on the sale of a home paid by the home sellers. In this case, the agent is acting as a “Seller’s Agent”, and their responsibility is to the homeseller. If you visit an open house, the person letting you in and showing you around the property is generally the seller’s agent.
In contrast, a “Buyer’s Agent” works for the homebuyer when they enter into a written contract with a real estate agent, which provides that the agent will represent the buyer in locating a property to buy. That agent assists the buyer in evaluating properties and preparing offers, and negotiates in the best interests of the buyer. The agent's fee is paid according to the written agreement between the agent and the buyer. If you as a buyer wish to have an agent represent you, you must enter into a written buyer agency agreement before a contract offer can be prepared.
Working with a buyer's agent is often cost free for the homebuyer, with the seller paying both agents (buyer and seller) a commission when the sale closes. However, you should always confirm with your agent as these costs may be part of a negotiation.