Do I need a Buyer's Agent?
It seems simple enough. If you are in the market for a new home, wake up early on a Sunday morning, go online to view homes for sale, see if any listings pique your interest and follow up on those that do.
If you're a buyer, you may think "Do I really need a real estate agent?". Well, the answer is yes. Here are four reasons why:
- A Buyer's Agent can alert you to homes that meet your buying criteria well before they are listed in the paper or online. Through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), Realtor open houses and other venues, a Buyer's Agent is always one step ahead. This can be especially important when you want to buy in a competitive seller's market. A Buyer's Agent can work with you to purchase For Sale By Owner properties.
- A Buyer's Agent can save you valuable time. Since your agent knows what you are looking for, he or she can pre-screen available homes making sure you would be interested in the property before you look for yourself.
- A Buyer's Agent can let you know whether the asking price on a home you want to bid on is reasonable and how much you should bid under, or even over, that initial amount. A good agent knows what homes are being sold for in the area and can tell you what's a good buy and what is not.
- An agent is especially helpful when it comes to negotiations. Negotiating the price, moving timetables and other variables can be tricky. Using a third party, like a Buyer's Agent to represent your needs is a definiate advantage.
Keeping your purchase on track.
When you do have an accepted offer on a home, it is important to keep your purchase on track. A home purchase is not complete until the closing. Until then, the transaction can fall apart for many reasons. Here are five tips for avoiding mistakes that cause a home sale to fall apart:
1. Be truthful on your mortgage application. You may think fudging your income a little or omitting debts when applying for a mortgage will go unnoticed. Not true. Lenders have become more diligent on verifying information on mortgage applications. If you fib, expect to be found out and denied the loan you need to purchase your home. Plus, intentionally lying on a mortgage application is a crime.
2. Hold off on big purchases. Lenders double-check buyer's credit right before closing to be sure their financial condition hasn't changed. If you have opened new credit cards, significantly increased the balance on existing credit cards, taken out new loans, or depleted your savings, your credit score may have dropped enough to make your lender change its mind on funding your home loan. Although it's tempting to purchase new furniture and other items for your home, or even a new car, wait until after the closing.
3. Keep your job. The lender may refuse to fund your loan if you quit or change jobs before you close the purchase. The time to take either step is after a home closing, not before.
4. Meet contingences. If your contract requires you to do something before the sale, do it. If you're required to secure financing, promptly provide all the information the lender requires. If you must deposit additional funds into escrow, don't stall. If you have 10 days to get a home inspection, call the inspector immediately.
5. Consider deadlines immovable. Get your funds together a week or so before the closing, so you don't have to ask for a delay. If you'll need to bring a certified check to closing, get it from the bank the day before, not the day of your closing. Treat deadlines as sacrosanct.
(Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission from the National Association of Realtors. Copyright 2011)
Cindy Koutnik, Broker GRI, SRES, ABR