What are some questions I should ask a prospective agent?

So, you’re thinking about buying a new home! The first place to start is by looking for a professional to help you. An experienced real estate agent will “bind” together the entire process. The right pro will help you find the right property and keep things on track from shopping to closing.

Here are some key questions to ask the agents you are interviewing:

  1. Do you represent the buyer or the seller?
  2. What are your fees and who pays them?
  3. How much time will you have to help me look for a new home? What tasks will you perform for me as my representative?
  4. How often will you communicate with me, and how can I reach you?
  5. Will you refer me to some buyers you have represented recently?
  6. Do you have access to the area multiple listing service, foreclosed listings and other sources of information about available houses?
  7. Will you show me all the available houses in my price range, even if they are listed by another company?
  8. Will you give me a comparative price analysis for any homes I am considering?

What can a real estate agent do for me that I can’t do for myself?

As professionals who specialize in real estate, we complete the home-shopping puzzle. We can help open up the possibilities for your next home with a variety of services:

  • Financing We can help you evaluate your financial circumstances, help you decide how much house you can afford and help you select the best financing plan.
  • Housing needs analysis We can help you sort out housing priorities, the expenses involved in buying a particular home and what steps to take to reach your goal.
  • Home search We can show you what properties are on the market in your price range and take you on a guided tour of the homes you're interested in.
  • Contract We can make sure you understand the terms and conditions of a contract when you are ready to make an offer on a home.
  • Loan application We can help you select the best financing option, help you choose the lender with the best rates and service record and help you prepare your mortgage application.
  • Inspection and Closing We will assist you in a pre-settlement inspection to be sure the terms of the purchase contract are kept, and we’ll follow through to all the way to settlement.

Call us now or send an e-mail to take advantage of our years of experience helping people find the home they want and can afford. We’d love to help you, too!

I’ve heard about “agency.” Who does a real estate agent really work for?

Many home buyers and sellers are confused about who real estate agents represent. Don’t worry, they’re not trying to disguise themselves. A quick look at the various types of agency should help:

  • Seller agency The most traditional situation is one in which the seller is represented by both the real estate company who lists the home for sale and the real estate company who brings in the buyer.
  • Buyer agency This is a relatively new trend in real estate. Just as a written Listing Agreement is required to represent a seller, a written Buyer Agency Agreement is required to represent a buyer. Under that written agreement, the agent represents the buyer with confidentiality and loyalty, and shares with the buyer any material information.
  • Disclosed dual agency In this case, an agent helps both the buyer and the seller. There must be informed consent of both the buyer and seller, using a written agreement with the involved broker(s). Special conditions apply regarding disclosures to both parties, including limitations on an agent's ability to represent either buyer or seller fully or exclusively.

Who pays the fee of a buyer’s agent?

Your purchase offer looks good to the sellers. They are ready to accept it, but you are using a buyer’s agent (also called buyer’s broker). You know that sellers pay their agent, but what about yours?

  • Who represents whom? A buyer's agent is retained by a buyer to look out for the buyer's interests and to negotiate the best price from the buyer’s point of view. Just as the agent who lists the seller’s house owes the seller complete loyalty, the buyer's agent owes the buyer the same degree of loyalty.
  • What do sellers do? Sellers generally indicate on the listing agreement whether the seller is willing to pay the buyer's agent. Most sellers choose to work with a broker who splits the commission with a buyer's agent even though that agent does not represent the seller's interests. This, of course, maximizes the number of potential buyers for the home. Because the listing broker is already prepared to share the commission with a seller’s agent who produces a buyer, most sellers don't mind when their broker, instead, shares the commission with a buyer's agent.

Buying a home directly from the owner will save on the cost of the house, right?

Wrong! The “for-sale-by-owner” sellers are doing their own marketing to save the commission a professional real estate agent would charge. So what is left for you to save? In fact, you might end up paying more if the house is overpriced. Beware of these costly pitfalls:

  • Confusion You end up dealing, in many cases, with an untrained novice who is not familiar with real estate law or the real estate code of ethics. Something might be overlooked that will cost you money later.
  • Additional legal costs You will need a lawyer to draw up your sales contract, which should include safeguards for you that an experienced agent would typically suggest, such as making the contract contingent on a home inspection and approval of your mortgage loan.
  • You will have to be your own negotiator Also, without agents involved, you would have to conduct your own negotiations on the contract and make sure all the details are taken care of before closing.

As professionals with the answers to your home-buying questions, we can make your search for a new home less confusing. Call or e-mail us, or click on “Ask Your Own Questions.”