When you decide it’ time to start a family in your own home you don’t need just the money to find it – you also need the time to find it, and the knowledge to do so. That knowledge consists of a wide range of skills that real estate professionals have been learning for years, so it’s not a surprise that almost every homeowner hires a buyer’s agent before he makes his purchase. Their responsibilities and duties are there to make a pretty esoteric process of home buying much more tangible and easier. Home buying is an adventure full of potential pitfalls and therefore requires some experienced assistance. If you’re still not sure we’ll point out what to expect from your agents and how to follow their lead.
1. Expertise & Practicality
Buyer’s agents need to have an immense working knowledge of the real estate market in order to help you buy a home – from neighborhood conditions and amenities, zoning issues, and price trends, across real estate laws, taxes, and financing, to insurance and negotiating. But the best of them are also familiar with the psychology of home buying which provides them with very practical insight and the ability to avoid stressful situations. If you want to hire one of these ‛streetwise’ ones it’s mandatory to organize smart interviews that will indicate this skill. Just make sure the agent is aware he’s in an interview stage and never interview two different ones from the same company.
2. Money Talks
The first thing your agent will do during the initial meeting is to help you to determine the viability of your needs and wants regarding your new home and its neighborhood. He will make it clear how much you can afford by explaining current market conditions and help you to find suitable financing. Finally, he’ll devise a shopping plan or a strategy based on this conditions. In the midst of these ‛money talks’ don’t make a mistake and think that buyer’s agents are public servants who work for free. They might make it look that way, but they need to be paid a commission. This way they won’t get paid if they don’t close a transaction, making them highly motivated to get the job done. Some buyer’s agents might be willing to work on salary, but you need to stay away from those.
3. Looking Around
Your agent will take you on a tour of available properties so you can discuss countless details. You need to make a precise agreement when it comes to the arrangements during these tours. Many agents will pick you up at your front door and drive you back home, but some of them will prefer meeting you at the office. Of course, plans change, so you also need to establish the means of communication – will it be emails, text messages, or phone calls? Once on location, your agent will discuss with you everything from floor plans and home’s pertinent selling points to the proximity of work centers, schools and shopping centers, and the crime rate in the neighborhood. He’ll also know to tell you if it’s okay for you to attend open houses alone since in some areas appearing unescorted is frowned upon. Even if you go alone always hand your agent’s business card because that announcement of representation will protect you from vouchers. If you have any questions about the sellers and their motivation let your agent ask them because he’ll definitely use the approach that works. And if you’re displeased don’t be afraid to say it right away – it will make the job of your agent much easier.
The last job of your agent is to obtain disclosures. They will make sure that all the repairs and home inspections are done properly and they will coordinate all the activities of every professional engaged in your purchase, from your lender and attorney to the roof inspector. They will also take care of the bargaining over the price if that’s necessary, and be present during the signing of final documents to make sure everything is in order. Although they might look like people who do everything, they shouldn’t be representing the buyer and the seller at the same time. Curtis Associates, for example, have built their remarkable reputation precisely due to the fact they’re not also property managers. Reason for this precaution is highly justified since ‛dual agency’ is quite a common occurrence, especially in hot competitive markets. Many buyers split their time acting also as listing agents and that could lead to a serious conflict of interest.
This is what you can expect and – if you choose right – what you’ll get. A mix of expertise and buying psychology, an outstanding financial advice, and a sharp eye for detail on every tour. Of course, if you have any ideas, concerns or questions about the things we didn’t mention, your agent should be able to provide you with an answer or at least refer you to another person who can help.