Why Hire a Realtor to Buy a Home?
There's a widespread belief that a Realtor just shows a few houses and then gets a check for $10,000. "I could do it myself and save the money!"
Maybe you can. I don't know you - perhaps you're very resourceful :)
I promise you there is a LOT more that goes into a real estate transaction than just showing clients houses and waiting for that commission check to roll in.
What exactly does a Realtor do that would make it worthwhile to hire one (such as myself?)
1. I Help You Prep Before Even Seeing House #1
You decide you're ready to buy a house. Step 1 - go look at houses, right? Wrong! I've gotten many phone calls where someone wants to see a house but doesn't even know if they can afford it. The first step I always recommend is to get pre-approved for a loan (or if you're paying cash, check how much you actually have to put into a house with room left for a cushion). A pre-approval will tell you the maximum of what you qualify for.
You should also know what your ideal timeline is and when you'd like to be in your new home. Often houses are ready for immediate occupancy, but not always. Are you okay waiting 4 months to get into the house? Do you have to sell a house before buying the new one? What's a short sale? What's a foreclosure mean? These are all questions to consider before purchasing.
2. I Know the Market
All day (okay I take breaks to sleep and have coffee) I'm looking at properties online, gauging prices and trends, scoping out neighborhoods, etc. If you're worried about the price of the home, I'm your best bet to help you determine if the asking price is good, too low, or too high and where to come in with your offer. If you've ever heard someone on HGTV say, "What do the comps say?" that's what I do day in and day out. A comparable or "comp" is a similar property to the one you're looking at, but needs some adjustments based on size, condition, rooms, etc. So if you're looking at a house for $300,000 and the neighbor's house sold for $250,000, it does not mean the house you're looking at should be worth $250,000. There's more to it than that! (Ask me to learn more!)
3. I Coordinate Appointments
You're pre-approved, you're excited, you're ready to see houses, there are 4 you want to see today. When can you see them? Oh boy, better leave that to me. I have access to an online booking system and can see when the houses are available to see and can coordinate your availability with the home's availability. You give me the addresses, I make it happen! I've even been out with clients before and we pass a listed house they want to see immediately and I've gotten us in with a quick phone call or request!
4. Reviewing Home Info
You read through a listing and it looks amazing. A-ha! Fooled! The disclosures say there's significant water seepage in the basement, a bat problem, and the furnace hasn't been inspected since 1991. I always help read through the online disclosures, the inclusion/exclusion list, can look up town records and permits for the property, see when it last sold and for how much, and review inspection results once you've completed your inspection. Of course these are things you can do on your own, but it doesn't hurt to have an ally who is very familiar with all of these documents to help you scan them over.
5. Navigating Contracts and the Homebuying Process
Time to submit an offer. Did you fill out the correct contract and do it accurately? Did you sign the disclosures, inclusion/exclusion form, lead form? Did you send a photo of the earnest money check? Your pre-approval? Different properties will have different forms to submit and it's so much easier to rely on me to help review everything you need to send and organize it. What's your offer price? Your EMD? When is your loan approval date, close date?
The same thing goes for the entire timeline of the buying process. One of my main jobs as a realtor is to keep everyone on track all the time - that means you, the lender, the lawyer, and the seller's agent. Contracts are legal documents that include deadlines that need to be met or there can be consequences. I put together a timeline for each client I work with to keep everyone on track to get the home closed on time. There are many little tasks and steps that go into the process.
Why are there so many.....sites about lenders? What's on the other side?
Sorry, channeling my inner Kermit.
I know a LOT of people who don't trust realtors' recommendations at all. There are, unfortunately, Realtors out there who will just try to get a deal done as quickly as possible and run off with their money. You can speak to my past clients - I am not one of those agents.
I keep a list of lenders, lawyers, repair people, and insurance providers to recommend to my buyers and sellers. If an issue comes up with anyone on this list (made a glaring mistake, took advantage of a client, fell out of contact during a deal) they're outta here. I take my clients' feedback seriously and don't, in good conscience, recommend anyone that's given my clients trouble. I only recommend people I've worked with or gotten excellent feedback about. Trying to build a network based on dishonesty never works. My goal is happy, satisfied clients who hopefully will seek me out in the future again. I've helped clients switch lenders a week before closing day to get a deal done after the first lender dropped the ball.
7. You Don't Pay Me!
Really! As a buyer, 99.9% of the time, you never pay an agent for their work - it comes from the seller's side once the transaction is complete. Both the buyer's and seller's agents get their commission from the seller's side and it is not an additional cost with your purchase price. Also, if you're concerned about privacy with a Realtor (especially if I'm your friend) just remember - 1. I never have to see your income or financial statements - those often go directly to the lender; 2. If I do see anything about your finances, that information is completely confidential and does not get told to anyone outside of my broker (if necessary) or your lender.
Does it Sound Like You Need My Help?
Here's a little stat from NAR's website
88% of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker—a share that has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.
So there are 12% of you that may not need my help - that's okay. I'd like to help anyway, if you're trying to buy on your own and have questions. Deep down, I like to help others just to...be helpful. Not sure how to fill out the offer? Give me a call. And if this whole process seems entirely overwhelming, which it may for 88% of you, never hesitate to reach out and ask me any and all the questions you have.