Buying a home is a big decision! When you shift from casual online shopping to serious house hunting, you’ll quickly encounter a multitude of choices and a mountain of unfamiliar paperwork.
If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves, make sure you have expert assistance to navigate the process. Select an Accredited Buyer’s Representative and discuss these critical topics in your initial consultation.
1. Current market conditions.
Every real estate market is unique. Your buyer’s rep can share details about current inventory, buying demand, and other factors so you’ll develop a better understanding of how much you’ll need to spend to get what you want.
In addition to having a finger on the pulse of the housing market, your buyer’s rep can alert you to current mortgage financing rates and recommend lenders. At a minimum, you’ll want to be pre-approved by a lender before beginning your house-hunt in earnest.
2. Services provided.
Most buyers don’t realize how much time and effort goes into finding the right home, successfully negotiating a purchase contract, completing all the steps related to inspections, mortgage financing, and closing documents, plus managing the logistics of packing and moving.
Ask your buyer’s representative to explain how they will support you throughout the purchasing process. Not all buyer’s reps are the same! An agent who has earned their Accredited Buyer’s Representative designation has received specialized training and demonstrated experience in representing buyers.
Even though your buyer’s agent can provide advice and recommendations on many aspects of your transaction, some topics are off limits due to Fair Housing laws, which protect a buyer’s right and ability to purchase a home in any neighborhood they chose.
As a result, agents can point you to sources of information on schools, crime rates, and population demographics, but are not allowed to answer questions like “Is this a good neighborhood?” That’s YOUR decision.
3. Your needs and wants.
If you’re ready to begin working with your buyer’s rep, it’s time to discuss your housing preferences. Consider as many dimensions as possible, including your preferred home style, the number of bedrooms/bathrooms, how the rooms are arranged, desirable outdoor living features, neighborhood amenities, and commuting considerations.
Also be ready to set priorities and tell your agent which features are “essential” versus “nice-to-have.” Most buyers are forced to make trade-offs.
4. The buyer representation agreement.
In the U.S., agents must comply with real estate laws that are unique to their state. Some states require agents to use buyer representation agreements, whereas other states make this optional or employ different laws concerning buyer representation.
Ask your agent to explain how they handle this aspect of your relationship. Buyer representation agreements are incredibly helpful for clarifying expectations and avoiding misunderstandings. You’ll know what services you’re entitled to receive from your agent, as well as what your agent expects from you in return.
5. Other real estate agents.
Once you’ve formed a relationship with a buyer’s agent, it’s important to disclose this to other agents encountered during your search. For example, if you drop into an open house, write down your buyer representative’s name, along with yours, when you sign in. (This helps other agents respect your relationship with your buyer’s rep.)
Also, it’s best to very tight-lipped about your home search. This includes refraining from expressing how much you love (or hate) a home’s features while touring properties.
Remember, other agents have vested interests in helping sellers find qualified buyers. If you become interested in a property listed by their brokerage, any information accidentally shared could hurt your negotiating position.
Everyone deserves compensation for the services they provide. That includes your buyer’s rep.
Most real estate professionals work strictly on a commission basis, which is only received at the end of a real estate transaction. (Commissions are typically split among several parties, but paid through the listing agent’s brokerage firm, using the seller’s proceeds on the sale.)
Talk to your buyer’s rep about their compensation. It’s an important detail that’s often misunderstood! The more you understood about what your buyer’s rep does for you and how they are compensated for their services, the better you’ll feel about working as a team to find your ideal home.
Larry Mitchell, Texas Realtor
Broker Associate, ABR, CRS, GRI, VLB
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