The Value of a Real Estate Professional ~ Buyer's Agent
Are you ready to buy your first home? Are you considering a move into a larger home, or are you ready to downsize? Or are you thinking of investing in income property? Are you looking for local tips for buying your home? If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, enlisting the services of a Realtor who is familiar with your prospective neighborhood should be your next step. Please explore the areas below to learn more about what advantages a buyer gains by employing a real estate agent.
Your real estate agent can be a valuable resource in helping you select a lender, which may be a bank, a savings & loan, or a mortgage company. The first step in the loan process is meeting with a loan consultant and getting prequalified for the loan that best suits your needs and your current financial situation. Your loan consultant will consider such factors as your credit score, your desired monthly payments, and your down payment, in order to determine the purchase price for which you are prequalified. Your loan consultant will then compose a letter providing the details of your prequalification. It is customary, when submitting an offer, that such a letter accompany the offer. For this reason, and because it is much more practical to look for houses that are in your price range, it is wise, if not imperative, to complete the prequalification process before the house hunting proper begins.
Naturally, any loan consultant will need to review a number of documents to select the loan that best suits your needs. Chief among these items are the following: Social Security Number; W2s from the last two years; your two most-recent pay stubs; your two most-recent bank statements; and a current Driver's License. With this information a loan consultant should be able to give you an answer, a price range, a prequalification letter, a credit report, and a good-faith estimate, within about thirty minutes.
Assessing and Understanding Buyer's Needs
Next, your real estate agent will interview you at length to determine your needs with respect to the home itself. For instance, what type of home are you looking for, a single-family home, a condominium, a townhouse or perhaps a duplex? How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? How large a home? What size of yard best suits your particular needs? Is a one-car garage sufficient, or do you require a two-car garage? Are you looking to put elbow equity into a fixer, or are you only interested in a turn-key property? Do you want a fireplace? a formal dining room? hardwood floors? a view? a pool? It is also important to let your agent know what you don't want. If you don't want to be on a busy street, or on a corner lot, or behind a business, or on an alley, or if there is anything else you want to avoid, it is important that you share this with your agent.
Other important factors are aspects outside the property. For instance, the neighborhood, the schools, freeway access, and the proximity of other points of interest, are all extremely important factors for most buyers.
Once your agent knows your price range and your needs it is time for them to clock in and begin doing what they do best-finding you a home that best meets your needs. It is important to remember that not every home that is listed for sale has a sign in the front yard, or open houses, or advertised to the public at all. In some cases, the only place the home is marketed is on the Multiple Listing Service. At CENTURY 21 Town & Country. we pride ourselves in actively and aggressively pursuing and scouring active listings, previewing properties, narrowing down the field of possibilities, saving your time and getting you into escrow as soon as possible. In many cases, your realtor will be able to present options to you that you were previously unaware of, but that meet your needs. One of the key values of a buyer's agent is the ability and discipline to exhaust all the options.
- Price: Your realtor will review recently sold comps, comps in escrow and comps currently on the market. Also, market conditions should be considered, as well as how long the property has been on the market, etc. The offered price, albeit the single-most-important aspect of an offer, it is by no means the offer in toto nor is a strong price alone sufficient for acceptance.
- Terms: escrow length, allocation of costs, loan, down payment, deposit, etc.
- The Overall Package: Loan Letter, first page of credit report, copy of deposit check, proof of funds (note: all confidential info, Social Security Number, Account Numbers, etc., should be blackened out when this material is submitted with offer), addenda (WPA, AD, SBSA, etc.), cover letter from agent, personal letter from buyers, etc. A crucial duty of the buyer's agent is to know what this overall package should include and how it should be presented. Sometimes the details make the difference.
- Closing Costs: Need closing costs from the seller? A strong buyer's agent will be able to maximize your chances of negotiating costs from the seller. There are two times when closing costs are usually negotiated: In the original offer (and subsequent counter offers, if any) and after the home inspection(s).
- Middleman: Most buyers prefer to negotiate with someone who is unbiased, professionally trained, emotionally divorced from the property, and experienced in finding mutually beneficial solutions to problems that may seem insurmountable. Further, Buyers are more likely to express objections to agents in hopes of resolution, than they are to raise the same objections directly to the Sellers. Often, it is easier for Buyers simply to opt for another property and move on.
- Objectivity: Working with a Real Estate Professional allows you to evaluate proposals in confidence, without compromising your marketing position.
Managing the details, keeping it all running smoothly toward a satisfactory closing
- Handling an Overwhelming Process: The process of Appraisals, Inspections, Title Insurance, Natural Hazard Reports, Retrofit Standards, City Reports, Financing, etc., involves a minefield of possible pitfalls and potential disasters. The sheer volume of required paperwork and legal forms is enough to sabotage the efforts of even the savviest seller working without professional representation.
- Experience with Escrow Instructions: Escrow instructions must be clear and complete; fluency in reading and understanding escrow instructions is an absolute imperative. Your agent is the best person to explain your options, facilitate the communication of your needs, guard your best interest, and move the transaction toward closing (settlement).
- Inspectors and Other Professionals: Your agent can meet specialists and negotiate the costs and extent of any repairs needed to complete your contract. Industry contacts provide your agent with resources in many areas, resources that will prove essential in successful closing of escrow. Misc.: pulling permits, talking to neighbors, nighttime walks, etc.
The 21 Points of The CENTURY 21 Buyer Service Pledge
As an independently owned and operated CENTURY 21 office, we are dedicated to providing you with service that is professional, courteous and responsive in helping you find a property. To fulfill this commitment, we agree to provide you with the following services:
- Dedicate myself to making the process of buying your next home as easy and as successful as possible.
- Respect you, your needs and be honest and forthright.
- Hold your best interests in the highest regard throughout the process.
- Value and respect your time, being as efficient and effective as possible.
- Understand your needs and respond quickly.
- Consult with you to determine your particular real estate wants and needs.
- Use my base of experience, knowledge, tools and the most up-to-date training to best serve you.
- Explain each step of the process and act as a guide to help you make the most informed decisions.
- Disclose material facts known about the property and respond to questions concerning the property.
- Help determine your purchasing power, while explaining alternative methods of purchasing and/or financing.
- Provide and action plan for locating the right property, at the right price and terms, in an acceptable time frame.
- To the best of my ability, continuously show you new properties that fit your needs.
- Provide a Customized Home Search Plan for locating the right property for you, only showing you properties that will best meet your needs and in accordance with Fair Housing Regulations and ethical real estate practices.
- Use the most comprehensive database of listings in the area, to help you find the home that best meets your needs, whether that be the Multiple Listing Service and/or other methods.
- Provide the resources of the CENTURY21.com that offers thousands of listings, allowing you to easily review homes that are right for you, access in-depth information on neighborhoods, and additional information.
- Use my knowledge and expertise to promote the most valuable purchase on your behalf. I will assist you in evaluating the market value of properties that are of interest to you and help you obtain the most advantageous price and terms.
- Provide access to financing that meets your needs, at the lowest possible rates available to you.
- Advise and assist you in completing your purchase agreement and present your offer with integrity in a light most favorable to your needs.
- Upon acceptance of an offer by you, pre-settlement (escrow) activities throughout the closing process will be monitored as permitted by law or local practice.
- Offer to provide you with the information of other professionals (e.g., attorneys, accountants, inspectors, contractors) that may assist your during and after your move.
- Utilized the CENTURY 21 System of thousands of offices to provide you with the name of an office in the area of your new home, to assist you further.