We all know the feeling. As you approach the new car showroom you can see the salespeople lurking at the front door and you’d do anything to avoid their ‘help’. You just want to look at the cars in peace. And when you’re ready to buy it gets worse. How do you know what’s a ‘good deal’? And even after you negotiate a price there’s the ordeal with the business office where you’ll get pressure to buy an extended warranty or some other add on.
But what if you could walk into the dealership with your own personal purchasing consultant? Someone who knew everything about buying a car, all the current prices and promotions, tricks to save money on the contract, where to find the best interest rates? Someone who would work for you?
That’s the role of your buyer’s agent for the purchase of a home. And the best part? Their services are typically paid for by the seller. This is really an offer you can’t refuse. Here’s how it works.
Who does a real estate agent represent?
Real estate agents are required by law to act in the best interest of their clients, so it’s important to know who they are representing. If a house is listed for sale by a licensed real estate agent in Texas, by default any other agent is assumed to be representing the seller as well. So if you walk into an open house or call the phone number on a for sale sign you’re talking to the seller’s agent.
Why does this matter? In any financial transaction it’s common for the buyer and seller to have different goals. Price for one, but there are a lot other terms and conditions in a real estate contract, and lots of steps to a successful closing. Although agents are required to treat all parties fairly, an agent representing the seller can’t give advice to an unrepresented buyer.
So how do you get an agent working for you? It’s as simple as signing a Buyer’s Representation Agreement. Now you have a professional who is committed to representing your interests.
How a buyer’s agent can help
Many people think of a buyer’s agent as someone to recommend and show houses. But that’s only one part of their value, and with the amount of information available on the Internet it’s a smaller and smaller part.
The real work starts once you locate a home that you’re interested in. This is when your agent’s expertise can really pay off, by ensuring that you buy the home at the lowest possible price and the transaction completes without a hitch.
Steps to Buying a Home
Ready to get started? Here are the steps on your path to a successful purchase.
- Determine your budget and financing
- Search for your new home and find one you’d like to buy
- Make an offer and negotiate to agreement with the seller
- Complete your due diligence and other requirements to closing and possession.
Your agent will guide you through the process to ensure that your experience is enjoyable and relatively stress free.
Here’s a quick review of each of the steps and answers to common questions.
Budget and Financing
The first step in the process is to determine how much you want to spend on your new home and arrange the financing. When you have a budget you can make sure you don’t spend time looking at homes that are too expensive. But why get financing if you haven’t found a house yet?
Here’s the answer. When you make an offer it’s important to include proof of your ability to pay. This makes your offer more compelling to the seller and will help you compete with other potential buyers and get the best possible price.
Search and Selection
This phase of the process starts with describing what will make your new home the perfect choice, and it isn’t as easy as it sounds. It may take a bit of thought and some time viewing properties to finally explain exactly what it is you’re looking for. And if you’re buying with a partner you’ll rarely agree on everything.
Once you have a good idea of the key parameters your agent can set up a search and start sharing ideas. When you identify something promising they may preview the home to eliminate homes that clearly won’t work without wasting your time with a visit.
Once you’ve found one or more homes that rate a second look your agent can arrange to see them in person. And looking together is a great way to get your agent more familiar with your wants and needs.
Offer and Negotiation
Once you find the perfect home it’s time to make an offer, but how do you know how much to offer? This is where your agent’s expertise in market analysis comes to play. They will survey recent sales and market dynamics to recommend an offer price as well as other terms in the contract that can be important to you and the seller.
Once the offer is presented, the seller can accept it or propose changes. Once both sides agree on the price and terms you can move on to the next step.
Contract to Closing
During this period we’ll go through a number of steps including:
- Inspection and possibly adjustment of the terms of the contract
- Title commitment
- Lender’s approval
Your agent will keep the process on track and make sure that you complete all of the activities required for a successful close.
How long will it take?
Once you have a property under contract it will usually take between four and six weeks to complete all the steps and take possession.
Let’s get started!
As you can see the process of buying a home involves a lot more than finding one on the Internet, and having a professional on your side can make a the difference between a successful purchase and disappointment.