For most Americans, a home is the most significant and costly purchase they’ll make in their lifetime, with significant financial and emotional ramifications for the parties involved. Having proper representation, therefore, is critical.
In this economy, and with ever greater access to the Internet, it’s easy to see why many people are looking to cut costs any way they can when it comes to purchasing a home.
Given a chance, who wouldn’t want to save that extra 3 percent – an extra $3,000 per $100,000 – of the sale price? That’s typically what Buyer’s Agents make on real estate transactions, and most experts think it’s money well spent.
It’s important to note the Purchaser doesn’t pay the Buyer’s Agent directly – that commission comes from the Seller side in the listing agreement.
It’s true that anyone can shop for a house, and even get a peek inside if there’s a Public Open House, without formally signing on with a real estate agent. But unless you have time to make home shopping a part-time job, a Solutions agent might be able to match you with the perfect property much faster.
Your Solutions agent can take what you’re looking for – an extra apartment, or no swimming pool, a fenced-in yard for the dog or a bonus room for your children – and find out if there’s a house out there to fit your needs, and will be there throughout the transaction.
Who wouldn’t want an expert on their side? Let’s look at some of the top benefits of using an agent to buy a home.
It’s important to note that not all real estate agents are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). NAR agents agree to abide by a code of ethics. That code essentially stipulates that Realtors® deal with all parties of a transaction honestly.
Under the code, the Realtor® is obligated to put the clients’ interests ahead of his or her own. He or she is also required to make full disclosure about the problems with a property and be truthful in advertising and marketing.
When you work with a Realtor®, their fiduciary responsibility is to you. That means you have an expert who’s looking out for your best financial interests, an expert who’s contractually bound to do everything in their power to protect you. That’s big — the value of that commitment cannot be overstated.
Your Solutions agent can set a price on a home the minute they walk through the door. Because they have a lot of experience in a market, they know how well a neighborhood holds its value, too.
While anyone can spend a few minutes online and pull information on sales of comparable houses, our Solutions agents have the experience to know whether a specific house is overpriced or underpriced. In the best-case scenario, they’ll have such a good idea of what you’re looking for that he or she won’t even waste your time touring houses that won’t work.
They can also share information about a home that you wouldn’t otherwise know. For example, they can tell you about the perils of polybutylene piping (a plumbing material that’s prone to bursting), or the concerns with FRT plywood (a roofing material that can spontaneously combust in higher temperatures, like those in attics).
Not only can your Solutions agent provide all the data on local home sales that you want to see, but they can also bring assets to the deal that come from years of watching waves of transactions in the neighborhood.
Finding the Right Features
Aside from the technical aspects of a sale and the mistakes people can make in the paperwork, your Solutions agent knows the area’s neighborhoods and houses inside and out.
If a Buyer wants a house with a gourmet chef’s kitchen, for example, their Solutions agent will know the houses that are for sale that have that feature.
In a more general way, a Solutions agent will be aware of features that don’t show as well on the Internet. If a Buyer is looking for a house with a space that could be used as an office, an attached apartment unit or a room that’s perfect for showing off a prized China figurine collection, a human agent is more likely to find a match than a real estate Web site.
Finding Available Homes
Though most homes for sale are widely available for Buyers to assess on web sites, in some cases, Sellers don’t want the fact that they’re selling to be widely publicized. In those cases, only the real estate agents know the houses are for sale.
Sometimes health problems, financial problems or divorce factor into the need for privacy. Or sometimes, people don’t want the sale advertised during the holidays. Either way, working with a Solutions agent gives you access to homes you might otherwise miss seeing.
We’ve discussed the Home Inspection Process in another recent blog, but often, the touchiest part of a transaction involves the delicate dance of requesting repairs. Your Solutions agent will be able to identify trouble that you may not see, as well as recommend a good independent home inspector who will provide a detailed report on problems with the house.
These reports can be quite long, and some problems are important and others aren’t. If the house is in reasonably good condition, requests for repairs can make or break a deal. Your Solutions agent will have a good sense of what’s reasonable to request and what’s excessive.
In many cases, it depends on you as the Buyer, too. Your Solutions agent can determine and suggest what would work for you.
As levelheaded as you think you are, when you’re fighting with a Seller over adding guards to the gutters because the water drains directly on the ground and isn’t sent away from the house, it’s easy to lose your cool. Having a Solutions agent to write the requests objectively and forward them to the Seller saves you the trouble of getting overly emotional about the deal.
Say the Seller won’t budge on the gutter guards and you want to adjust your offer. Your agent can handle that part calmly, too. Experts advise that you let the agent take the heat in difficult negotiations.
The best way to make a deal is to look for the positive part of every offer and counteroffer, and never let the other party see you make a unhappy face. Often, the most effective way to do that is to present the face that’s doing business — not your own.
If you want to buy a house near a business district and turn the front living room into a tea room, you need to know if the city will allow it. Typically, an experienced Solutions agent is familiar enough with local zoning ordinances to make sure you don’t buy the wrong house.
By the same token, if you want to build a fence in the backyard or add a bedroom, an agent should be able to make sure you’re buying a property where the city allows it. Also, some cities may require expensive upgrades on older properties when they sell.
For example, if a house isn’t connected to the county’s sewer system, and a Buyer will be required to spend tens of thousands of dollars to connect the property, the real estate agent will make sure that requirement is disclosed before the deal goes very far.
Thorough record keeping
Although your Solutions agents aren’t lawyers, they can serve as good resources years after a deal is closed. In some states, licensed agents are required to keep full files of all documents in all transactions for several years.
While you may (and should) keep files yourself, you can count on your agent to keep that information organized and safeguarded should trouble crop up with the property in years to come. You’ll also be able to contact your Solutions agent at any time in the coming years should you have questions about the property yourself.
Tackling the Paperwork
Buying a house generates a ton of paperwork, which probably includes the written offer, the written and signed counteroffer, the little details (like specific repairs) and what exactly was and was not included in the sale.
This is when your Solutions agent can save the day. Often, these offers and counteroffers are limited by a time frame. The odds of missing something, not initialing a margin or not checking a box, can drop substantially when you’re working with someone who knows the paperwork inside and out.
Avoiding Closing Problems
When a sale nears closing, all kind of pitfalls can kill the deal in the final hours. Your Solutions agent knows to watch for trouble before it’s too late.
For example, the title of the house may not be clear — some long-lost relative might be listed on the title who hasn’t signed off on the sale. Or maybe the lender is causing a problem by not meeting the timeline on financing.
Real estate agents are used to dealing with these types of issues and can work through almost any challenge that arises.