Congratulations, on making the decision to buy your new home. You’re probably flying high with anticipation and exhilaration about now, and energized over the prospect of locating your dream home. And then, you take your first tentative steps initial excitement dissolves into fear; hopes into frustrations or maybe just shear panic ensues as you investigate your options.
You’ve explored the internet until your eyes have glazed over with the massive amount of information and choices. You’ve met with Realtors who’ve all promised you they can locate that perfect home in your price range but they continue to show you everything but. You’ve toured a slew of homes that appeared promising only to find out they were either dumps or would break your bank account. You’ve spoken to lenders who’ve asked for every little piece of financial and family information under the sun and still demand more. You’ve been asked to sign this document and that document until you’ve lost track of what you’ve signed. And through it all, you’re no closer to moving into your new home than the day you made the decision to buy.
Everyone including the friend who just bought their house tells you that’s the way it is when you buy or sell real estate – it’s a challenge or nightmare you must endure, like scaling Mt. Everest. It is a physically and mentally demanding process that will hopefully turn into success and a sense of accomplishment when you reach the summit or end up in failure or defeat when you determine that buying your dream home is out of reach.
The truth is that there is a better way. There are significant actions you can take to make the buying process smooth, worry-free and maybe even surprisingly enjoyable (alright maybe enjoyable might be a stretch for some). Yet, there are several ways to make the home buying process less daunting.
The most obvious and yet often overlooked critical first step to a better buying experience is to hire a knowledgeable and professional Realtor as a Buyer’s Agent to represent you exclusively in the buying process. A Buyer’s Agent is bound by a legal contract between you and the agent to do everything possible to represent and protect your interests exclusively. Only with a Buyer’s Agent can you be assured of getting the best service and counseling throughout the buying process.I know, I know . . . you may have had a less than desirable experience with a real estate agent or two in the past and can’t begin to contemplate the idea of being obligated to one, let alone signing a contract with them. But let’s remember “not to throw out the baby with the bath water.”
Let’s be practical for a moment. Many of us have had a bad experience with a doctor or two, but if you had a complicated and life threatening medical condition, would you ever consider treating yourself instead of seeking out the best qualified medical doctor in that field? In spite of the distain we often have for lawyers and the fact that they are the butt of many of our jokes — if you were being sued for thousands or millions of dollars, would you ever consider defending yourself instead of hiring a top notch litigating attorney with a proven track record.
I’m going to assume the answer would be “No.” So it begs the question – why would you consider purchasing your own home without ensuring you had the best representation from the start. Let’s just to take a brief reality check – buying a home is a very complicated, expensive, long and drawn out endeavor that is often fraught with peril. No one wants to make the mistake of buying a “bad” or “wrong” home. For most, the purchase of their home is their largest financial investment and the risk of making the “wrong” choice can end with loosing not only your initial investment in the home, but the house itself.
I believe the real reason why some buyers often mistakenly skip the critical first step of hiring a Buyer’s agent to represent them in the purchase of their home boils down to two simple reasons:
1) not knowing the benefits of hiring a Buyer’s Agent to represent their interests exclusively and
2) the misinformed belief that all real estate agents are made equal.
Unless you hire an exclusive buyer’s agent, the agent you engage has a legal responsibility to the seller not to you, even though that agent supposedly is negotiating on your behalf. This means that unless the sellers give their permission, the Realtor is not allowed to disclose personal information or Seller confidences that might give you an edge – for example, revealing that the sellers are in the midst of an ugly divorce and that the Sellers will take a much lower price just to sell the home quickly or that a relocating Seller will entertain a substantially lower price in order to avoid having to pay two mortgages.
And conversely, a Buyer’s Agent is legally bound not to disclose to the Seller any confidential information about you. And lastly, the most significant and probably the least realized advantage to using a buyer’s agent is that they routinely show homes that are for sale “by owner” “by builder,” or “homes not listed on the MLS” which by the way seller’s agents often neglect to do.
Just as there are a few “bad” attorneys, and a few “bad” doctors, the real estate industry is no different. You will discover that finding a good real estate agent to represent you and having the confidence of knowing your Buyer’s agent is good is truly half the Battle. Remember, not all real estate agents are alike.
The first step toward having the confidence of knowing you’ve hired the best Buyer’s Agent is to interview a list of prospective real estate agents and have a set of pre-determined criteria rather than selecting an agent by happenstance. For instance, selecting the services of the first Realtor you speak to; or choosing a friend, or a friend of a friend with a real estate license; or hiring the listing agent representing the sale of a home you are considering purchasing, is not a good way to vet their credentials.
Let’s be honest here, you wouldn’t think of hiring the CEO of your company without interviewing several candidates and gathering information on their educational background, professional experience and business acumen. There is certainly no reason to do anything less for someone who is going to assist you in the purchase of one of your largest financial assets — your new home.
When you meet with each of these prospective Buyer’s Agents, you should keep in mind that there is more to being a skilled buyer’s agent than being a glorified chauffeur with a real estate license; you should look for a real estate agent who can effectively save you time, money and remove the stress out of the home buying process.
A Good Buyer’s Agent Will Save You Time! A good Buyer’s Agent is first and foremost a good listener. They will help you save valuable time locating the right home for you and your family by first inquiring and learning more about your specific real estate needs. A good Buyer’s Agent will go beyond the basics of size and style of a home and will ask you about your needs and assist you in prioritizing the elements you most desire in a house — your “must-haves” versus your “wants” or “wish” list.
They will help you delve into the specifics of your new home and ensure it is compatible with your current lifestyle and future needs. They will have a general knowledge of the real estate market, so your expectations will be realistic. They will assist you in identifying neighborhoods that suit both your lifestyle and budget by providing you valuable information about schools, traffic, public services, shopping, and real estate value trends. And lastly, they will outline a process to help you locate the right home in a manner tailored to your specific needs and time frame.
Here is an important tip to keep in mind, if the agent does all the talking and very little listening, they are not going to have an understanding of your goals and what you want to accomplish. Or worse yet, if they rush to show you houses without first discovering what’s important to you, this agent will likely waste your valuable time showing you properties that have no semblance to what you want or need.
Remember, it doesn’t take competency to drive you around looking at hundreds of homes many of which you can’t afford or aren’t what you are looking for – a taxi cab driver has the skills do this. You want a Buyer’s Agent that has a proven process to quickly and effectively locate the right home for you and this process should be customized to your specific needs.
A Good Buyer’s Agent Will Save You Money. Here is where the real value of a Buyer’s Agent can come to light (or as they say, “the rubber meets the road”). Having a Buyer’s Agent to assist you with locating and determining the right home from the onsite is of paramount importance to your ability to save money. I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “Knowledge is King.”
Having a good Buyer’s Agent assist you in knowing what you want and what you should buy and the right price to pay for it is the key.Here is an important tip for you to remember, the time when you make money on your home is when you buy it, not when you sell it. This is particularly true if your timeline for owning the home is relatively short. A good Buyer’s Agent will provide you with market data on value and appreciation trends, information on neighborhood desirability and home feature and design trends that will help you determine the homes current and future desirability.
They will obtain the tax records that will give you the price the Seller paid for the house and when the Seller bought it. They will compare the current price of that specific home with the selling price of similar homes that sold in the neighborhood and provide you with an informed opinion of that homes real value. They should be conversant regarding different financial options and be able to refer you to lenders who will help you obtain the best loan with favorable rates and terms based on your circumstances. They will ensure that you are pre-approved for financing up front so that you will know exactly how much you can afford and how much of an initial investment you will be required to make before you submit an offer. And, they will utilize your pre-approved status to put you in the strongest possible negotiating position with the home seller.
Last but most importantly, a Buyer’s Agent should have the knowledge and skills to expertly negotiate the best price for you. Here is an important tip to remember, if the Buyer’s agent who represents your interest is willing to “flip flop” on their compensation, they are going to “flip flop” when it comes to negotiating on your behalf. You want to choose a real estate agent who is able to communicate their value and hold firm on their compensation fee. It goes to reason that a Buyer’s agent who is able to effectively communicate their value to you is going to be effective in negotiating the best price and terms for you.
A Good Buyer’s Agent Will Minimize and Often Remove the Stress Related to the Home Buying Process. Buying a home is not as simple as going out and buying a television or car — it is a complex real estate transaction that involves a whole array of matters including appraisals, financing, legal, physical condition, construction, insurance, title, deadlines, disclosures and most importantly closing. Navigating all of these issues requires having systems and a well-proven strategy. There are a whole gamut of ways to do things and only one that is best. This is especially true in a real estate transaction.
You should run screaming the other way, if your real estate agent has a “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” method of handling a transaction. A real estate agent without a proactive step-by-step process in place will ensure that your home purchase will be rife with problems from start to finish. You will be doomed to miss important deadlines, fail to perform vital inspections, skim over essential disclosures documents and mistakenly sign away potential legal rights.
On the other hand, a good Buyer’s Agent will have a spelled out plan to help you navigate each part of the home buying process and will discuss it with you at your initial meeting. They will introduce you to systems and support personnel who will ensure your transaction stays on track and will have well established policies to handle issues when and if they should arise. With a well laid out plan of action and a prescribed method for following it, your Buyer’s Agent will help you find, purchase and move into your new home faster and cheaper.
To know how Lynette Williams and her team can help you save time, money and stress in your home purchase, please check out the Buyers Advantage Program for details.