All Articles on Buying | Back to Previous Page
Advantages of Buying |
Home Finance 101 |
Preparing to Shop |
Your Real Estate Team |
Making an Offer |
Getting a Mortgage |
Closing the Deal |
After You Buy
Your Real Estate Team
The Team and the Players, The Perfect Agent, Understanding Agency, Selecting an Agent, Your Agent and You, Who is the Broker, Other Key Advisors
The Team and the Players
You don't have to become an expert in property values, mortgages, tax and real estate law, title insurance, escrow, pest-control work, and construction techniques in order to buy or sell a home. Instead, you can hire people who've already mastered these skills. Home buying is a team sport. Your job is to lead and coach the team, not play every position. After you assemble a winning team, your players should give you solid advice so you can make well-informed decisions.
You need to determine which experts are necessary and which tasks you can handle yourself. You are the one who must determine how competent or challenged you feel with the various aspects of the home-buying process.
Here's an overview of the possible players on your team:
- You: You are the most important player on your team.
- Real estate agent: Because the house that you're getting ready to buy is probably one of your largest investments, you want to protect your interests by having someone on your team who knows property values. Your agent's primary mission is to help you find your dream home, tell you what your home is worth and then negotiate on your behalf to get the best deal.
- Real estate brokerage: All states issue two different real estate licenses: one for salespeople (agents) and one for brokers. Real estate brokers must satisfy more stringent educational and experience standards than agents do. If your real estate agent is not an independent broker or the broker for a real estate office, the agent must be supervised by a broker who's responsible for everything that your agent does within the course and scope of the duties of a real estate sales professional. Your agent's broker will provide back-up support to ensure a successful transaction.
- Lender: A good lender offers competitively priced loans and may even be able to help you select the best type of loan from the financial minefield of loan programs available today.
- Property inspectors: A house's physical condition greatly affects its value. Your home should be thoroughly inspected from roof to foundation before you purchase it to ensure that you actually get what you're buying.
- Closing officer: You and the seller need a neutral third party, a closing officer, who'll handle funds and paperwork related to the transaction without playing favorites. The closing officer is the home-buying game's referee.
- Financial and tax advisors: Before you buy a home, you should understand how the purchase will fit into the context of your overall financial situation. You should address the issues of what your financial goals are and, given those goals, how much house you can afford.
Each player brings a different skill into the game. Assemble a great team, and they will guide you through any situation that may arise during your transaction. Good players act as advisors, and ultimately, the decision making is your job.
The Perfect Agent
A good agent will be the foundation of your real estate team. An agent can help you find a home that meets your needs, negotiate for that home on your behalf, supervise property inspections, and coordinate the closing.
Recognizing the attributes of the best agents
All the best agents have certain important qualities in common:
- They educate you: Your agent knows the buying process and carefully explains each step so that you understand exactly what's happening at all times.
- They enable you to make good decisions: Your agent always explains what your options are so that you can make wise decisions regarding your best course of action. They advise you if they think that you should add other experts (property inspectors, lawyers, and so on) to your team.
- They have contacts: Folks prefer doing business with people they know, respect, and trust. You can make use of your agent's working relationships with local lenders, property inspectors, lawyers, title officers, insurance agents, government officials, and other real estate agents.
- They have time for you.
Agents are bound by certain obligations, which you are entitled to as a client:
- Loyalty (act in the best interest of the client)
- Obedience of all lawful instructions
- Accountability (for all monies)
- Reasonable skill and care
- Declaration of all material facts
- Honesty and fairness to all
State laws clearly define the duties for each type of brokerage relationship. States have mandated agency disclosure forms and rules to provide meaningful and timely written disclosure and describe licensee's duties upon termination of a client relationship.
As you start communicating with an agent, ask for a clear explanation of your state's current agency regulations. Also request a copy of your agent's company's policy regarding agency so you will know where you stand on these important matters.
This agent works solely for and represents the seller. A seller's agent has no fiduciary responsibility to the buyer.
This agent works solely for and represents the buyer. A buyer's agent has no fiduciary responsibility to the seller even if the buyer's agent gets a portion of the commission paid by the seller.
One agent may represent both buyer and seller in a real estate transaction, but only if both parties consent. Buyer and seller must sign a dual agency disclosure statement that describes the duties and obligations of the dual agent. A dual agent may not disclose any confidential information that would place one party at an advantage over the other party, and may not advocate or negotiate on behalf of either of the two parties.
Most states permit dual agency relationships as long as the agency status is disclosed to both the sellers and the buyers in advance, and both parties agree to it.
Selecting an Agent
What's important is you!
Quality customer service is the combination of personalized attention with instant information. Today's real estate agents do more than host open houses or take you on tours of homes, they are trained customer service professionals who are relationship focused and technologically empowered. Our agents exemplify our company's belief that "what's important to us is you."
A quality agent is someone who listens to you, understands the market in which you are looking, and is able to communicate in an effective way to meet your needs. Agents are trained experts in negotiation as well as transaction forms and finance options.
When you're shopping for a home, access to information is valuable. When you choose our agents, information is available instantly. Our agents provide industry leading technology and customer service, allowing you to get comprehensive information about homes on the market, take tours of these homes in person, and get information as new homes come onto the market.
Our agents offer:
- Personalized service
- Trusted relationships
- Knowledge of the market and their communities
- Expert negotiation skills
- Knowledge of transaction forms and finance options
- Instant and continuous communication by phone and email
Your Agent and You
Good buyer/agent relationships are based upon mutual loyalty and trust that develop over time.
- A high-quality agent will show you every available home for sale that meets your price, neighborhood, size, and condition specifications. If none of the homes meet your personal needs, your agent will keep looking until the right home comes onto the market. Your agent shouldn't limit their searches to homes listed by their office.
- Your agent should inquire as to how much you want to spend because they need to be sure that they are showing you properties that you can afford.
Who is the Broker
When you select an agent, your agent's broker is part of the package.
- All states issue two markedly different types of real estate licenses: one for salespeople (agents) and one for brokers. Agents who have broker's licenses have to satisfy a much more stringent level of educational and experience standards.
- Your agent may have either type of license. Broker's licensees have the option either to operate independently or to work for another broker. An agent who has a salesperson's license, on the other hand, must work under a broker's direct supervision, ensuring that you have access to the broker's higher lever of expertise if you need it.
- Good brokers develop and maintain relationships with the people with whom their office deals -- other brokers, lenders, title officers, city officials, and the like. This reservoir of good will is yours to use. Brokers with strong business relationships can work near-miracles for you in a crisis.
- Contact your broker if you and your agent are faced with a tough problem.
Other Key Advisors
A home's price is usually related directly to its physical condition. For example, fixer-uppers are usually priced lower because whoever buys them must spend money on repairs to improve their value.
You can't know how much work a house may need just by looking at it. Invisible defects can cost a significant amount of money to repair.
You don't want to inadvertently become the owner of a home with hidden problems. To avoid this, you need a property inspector on your team. None of the other players on your team are qualified to advise you about a house's physical condition or the cost of necessary corrective work-that's why you need a property inspector.
Finding financial and tax advisors
If you want to hire a financial or tax advisor, interview several before you select one. Check with your agent, banker, lawyer, business associates, and friends for referrals. As is the case with selecting your agent, you should get client references from each tax advisor and call the references.