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The vast majority of Americans use a realtor to buy a home — but Diem Nguyen went it alone. It might have saved her a little cash, but it can be risky.

Going Solo: The Story of a Homebuyer Without a Realtor

In October, Diem Nguyen purchased a home in the San Francisco Bay Area for $1.6 million, but what made her experience unique was that she did it without a realtor. Instead, the 36-year-old tech worker utilized Aalto, a home-buying and selling website that resembles Zillow or Redfin. Aalto provides users with the ability to browse on-the-market and off-market homes in specific parts of California, access market data, and even submit offers. Moreover, buyers receive up to 1.5% of the purchase price as cash back, which in Nguyen’s case amounted to $24,000. This cash back can be used to cover closing costs, buy down interest rates, or increase offer prices.

Why Most Homebuyers Choose Realtors

Although Nguyen’s story is an interesting one, it is important to note that she is in the minority. According to Zillow’s research, about 88% of homebuyers in 2023 used a real estate agent. The primary reasons for this are the relative risk-free nature of using a realtor and the fact that there is no cost for buyers, as sellers typically pay 4% to 6% of the purchase price to their broker, who then splits the commission with the buyer’s agent. Furthermore, new or inexperienced buyers often benefit from the guidance a veteran realtor can provide, such as referrals to mortgage lenders or help discerning whether an asking price is too high or too low.

The Pros and Cons of Buying a Home Without a Realtor

Nguyen felt confident navigating Northern California’s housing market without a realtor because she had done it once before and had a good understanding of what to expect. The cash back offered by Aalto was also an incentive for her to proceed without a broker. However, there are some potential downsides to buying a home without a realtor.

While some buyers may believe they will pay less for a home by foregoing a realtor, experts warn that those who choose this route may end up overpaying, purchasing the wrong home, or relying on incorrect information. Additionally, real estate agents offer more than just finding a home on Zillow; they can help answer questions about the market and provide a fuller picture of the property a buyer is planning to purchase.

For Nguyen, buying without a broker worked out well, but it might not be the best choice for everyone. She prefers newer homes, which typically come with fewer maintenance issues and costs. However, if she were interested in a unique older home, she would consider using a traditional agent who could offer more advice. Ultimately, the decision to use a realtor or not depends on the buyer’s preferences and needs.

Considerations for Those Contemplating Buying Without a Realtor

For those who are considering buying a home without a realtor, it is important to weigh the pros and cons and carefully evaluate their own level of experience and comfort with the home-buying process. Additionally, researching various home-buying websites and tools, such as Aalto, can help determine whether this approach is suitable for a particular buyer’s needs.

If you have purchased a home without a real estate agent and would like to share your story, please email reporter Jordan Pandy at

To learn more about the home-buying process and how a realtor can assist you, visit Jessica Fulk’s website.

Orginal article: Link To Article – provided by Kansas City Realtors