Real estate investors just starting out will typically do plenty of research online before getting too far into the process. A simple, “How do I buy a rental property” will yield more than one hundred million results. The internet has no shortage of “how to” articles.

Yet still one of the more common misstepsuse a buyer's agent occurs when the buyers take on the negotiation process on their own without the assistance of a real estate agent. But there’s more to a buyer’s agent than searching for homes.

Consider the following scenario. Some of you veteran real estate investors may find this familiar. You’ve been searching the internet for your first rental property. You know that you want a duplex next to the university with a nice cash flow but so far nothing has come up that meets your specific parameters. Then one day you open your email and find the perfect unit. The right price at the right location and the right cash flow. And there’s an open house today as well! You hop in your car and make your way to the duplex.

You’re first greeted by the listing agent, the individual assigned to sell the home for the owner. The owner will pay the listing agent a commission at closing, say five percent. The duplex sells for $200,000 for a $10,000 commission. Without fail, the first thing the agent says is, “Hi, are you currently working with another agent?” You say, “No” because you didn’t need an agent to search for something you already knew you wanted. The agent then asks if you would like her to look around for other properties if this duplex doesn’t work out. You say, “Sure” and now you have an agent.

The agent’s primary responsibility is with the seller. And since there is no other agent the commission doesn’t have to be split with someone else. Do you think the listing agent will work as hard as possible to get the lowest price? Isn’t the agent also obligated to get the highest price for the owner? Who pays for closing costs, you or the owner? If you’re acting on your own, you really shouldn’t. There is too much professional talent available that doesn’t cost you a dime.