This column is written by D.C. Realtor and resident Sean Forschler. Licensed in DC, MD & VA, he has been in the business since 2001 and currently works at RLAH Real Estate. He may be contacted at [email protected].
So you’re thinking about spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on buying a new home.
You think, sure, I can save lots of money by doing it myself or with the help of my 3rd cousin twice removed on my mother’s side who lives in Albuquerque. Or I can go directly to the seller’s agent (listing agent).
There are a ton of websites nowadays that allow us to do things for ourselves, such as book flights and hotels, write a will, buy a car, etc. Just ask people who used to be travel agents! But now is not the time to go it alone. Before opting for the DIY route, I felt compelled to give you a (biased) list of tasks that a buyer’s agent should do for you.
Educate and help you navigate the entire process by orchestrating the various stages of the purchase; drafting and submitting your offer, arranging inspections, appraisal, walkthrough and closing.
It’s expected that you’ll have tons of questions which they will answer or point you in the right direction. They also facilitate communications between the seller’s agent, lender, title attorney, appraiser and any other professionals involved in the transaction.
Assist you in locating sources of mortgage loans. Buyer’s agents see mortgage products and rates frequently enough to compare and share which lender offers the best for your situation.
Creation of an e-mail alert system that notifies you of properties that fit your criteria before most people are aware of the property. Although you will inevitably search properties on sites like Zillow, Trulia or Realtor.com, our instant alert search is set up through BrightMLS which is the master database that supplies property listings to everyone, ensuring that you’re getting data directly from the source!
Analyzing the pros and cons of properties you select. Are you considering buying the best and most beautiful house in the crappiest neighborhood? Like a stockbroker monitors their market values daily, agents do the same and have more data than you can imagine.
Speaking of Data, you should know everything about about the current and specific market. There are a lot of aspects to this; recent sales in a neighborhood, inventory (past, present, and future projections), pricing trends, appreciation, average days on market.
Agents should provide statistics of what percent of list price the sellers in an area are currently receiving and any patterns of negotiation observed of the listing agent. In spite of this crazy market, some properties are overpriced and you certainly don’t want to overpay. All of this valuable information gives you a competitive edge when making an offer.
Prepare you for multiple offer situations, developing negotiating strategies to help you write the winning offer. Should you offer a gigantic deposit, do a pre-contract inspection and/or request super short time frames for the appraisal and financing contingencies?
Translate real estate jargon and help you interpret data, such as CMAs, convey, escrow, points, etc.
Explain the sales contract and contingencies to make sure you don’t miss any deadlines. You don’t want to send an inspection notice one day past due or have a seller terminate a contract because you failed to provide a conditional commitment letter within a specified timeframe.
Negotiate on your behalf, promote and protect your interests by creating a relaxing, stress-free environment. Your agent works for you and represents your interests. Specific duties of confidentiality, loyalty, obedience (as long as it’s lawful), accountability, disclosure and reasonable care are owed to you, the buyer!
Save you time by scheduling showings, arranging property tours and previewing properties. Your agent becomes your point of contact, advocate, and advisor. You no longer need to contact a bunch of listing agents, register on new construction sites and call numbers off signs to schedule on someone else’s timeframe. You’re busy and don’t have time to deal with all of this.
Provide quality service provider referrals such as home inspectors, contractors, electricians and plumbers because they have an extensive network of licensed professionals.
(It’s apparent that there are lots of questions, right?)
Your agent will remain a life-long trusted advisor regarding real estate questions, needs or concerns and buyer’s agency typically doesn’t cost the buyer anything.
Did I leave any tasks out? Am I too biased? Regardless who you hire, make sure you love your Realtor.