Home buyers may have a picture-window view of their picture-perfect home. But most need some help navigating the field and narrowing the choices. A real estate professional can simplify the home purchase process.
Buying a home is a major financial commitment marked by important, but often complex or unfamiliar details. Here are seven keys to consider before scanning those classified ads and for sale signs:
Home Buying Key #1: Realtors Know the Ropes
Home buyers and sellers typically work with a Realtor. “Realtor” is a trademark that designates a licensed real estate professional who belongs to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). They complete extensive education and training. They’re held to strict professional standards and ethical principles. Realtors understand the ins and outs, from finding financing to negotiating an offer and closing the deal.
Home Buying Key #2: Realtors Know the Neighborhood
Realtors have valuable insider knowledge. They can match what home buyers want and can afford to available properties. Most Realtors have toured local homes and can help screen, preview and assess properties. They can show suitable homes and limit time spent house-hunting.
If home buyers are torn between the lakeside townhouse, the suburban ranch or the brick bungalow, Realtors can provide tie-breaking insights.
Realtors know features, neighborhoods, perks and pitfalls. They understand municipal, state and county laws, home association pros and cons, and other factors. They’ll know which area has the lowest crime rate, the best schools or a convenient corner grocery. Details matter. Safe neighborhoods and good schools are among many key factors in selecting sites, building equity and determining future resale value.
Home Buying Key #3: Realtors Have Resources
A good Realtor has been around the block. They can help buyers decide how much house they can afford, what style of house best suits their needs, and where and how to find it.
Realtors are familiar with properties listed in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database of MLS members’ and other homes for sale. They can also access facts about everything from home association dues to tax rates and city ordinances to the selling price of comparable homes. They know local customs and practices, which can vary widely by region. Realtors can estimate utility costs or even recommend the best neighborhood bakery!
When it’s time to seal the deal, Realtors help buyers navigate the world of appraisals, mortgage terms, title companies and closing documents.
Home Buying Key #4: Realtors Have Contacts
When buyers need an appraiser, home inspector, surveyor, title company, or other experts. Realtors can recommend local pros. Whether it’s a lender who’ll work with home buyers on flexible terms or a roofing contractor to shape up that fixer-upper after buyers move in, a Realtor offers an edge in finding reliable partners.
Home Buying Key #5: A Buyer’s Agent Can Give Buyers an Extra Edge
Buyers often work with sellers’ agents who show their own contracted property listings and other agents’ listings. Sellers’ agents are typically paid by a commission, which is a small percentage of the selling price. If another agent sells the house, they share the commission.
Some buyers choose a buyer’s agent who works exclusively for them. A buyer’s agent can guide and negotiate with the buyer’s needs and interests in mind. Buyers should keep in mind that sellers agents work for the seller. The bidding process has many nuances. A buyer’s agent can help ensure that the best interests of the buyer are considered.
Some buyer’s agents are paid via a percentage of the seller’s commission. Others work on a flat-fee or hourly basis. Ask about terms before signing an agreement.
Home Buying Key #6: Realtors Help Tame the Paper Tiger
Whether finding financing, making an offer and closing the deal, the paperwork can be daunting. From appraisals, inspections, offers, counter-offers and contingencies, to closing documents required to finalize the sale, there’s a lot to review. A Realtor can explain details such as types of home loans, down payments, interest rates and terms, or how to address or re-negotiate based on problems identified during a home inspection.
Home Buying Key #7: Before Finding a Place, Find a Pro
The right real estate professional can simplify the process, save money and help avoid common pitfalls. It’s worth the effort to take time and ask a lot of questions. A good agent will be a good listener who seeks a clear understanding of a buyer’s needs. Ask friends and families for referrals.
Check with established real estate firms. Talk to agents at Open Houses. Narrow the list and contact a few Realtors from different agencies. Have a prepared list of questions. Buyers should trust their instincts and find someone whose personality and style are a good match. When they do, it’s a sure sign there’s a “sold” sign in their future!