Buying a home is a major decision. At Prudential Georgia Realty, we welcome the opportunity to assist you in the process of finding the right home. As a Buyer’s Agent, I can help make the home buying process efficient, stress-free and successful.
Real estate transactions are becoming increasingly complicated, as contracts and related laws are changing. It’s also important to consider the negotiation process; as a Buyer’s Agent, I am a trained professional negotiator with the experience and insight to guide you to the best deal on the perfect home. How much should you offer? Should you counter? Did you know that there are 14 new changes in the Georgia contract and how to avoid big problems? These kinds of choices are much easier to make with a Buyer’s Agent advising you. The resulting deal will prove less stressful and much more financially beneficial.
What is a Buyer's Agent?
A Buyer’s Agent is a real estate sales associate who strictly represents you, the buyer. This legal distinction is important to understand because agents for the seller conduct the majority of today's real estate transactions. A seller's agent is contractually bound to obtain the price and terms most favorable to the selling party. That naturally puts the buyer at a significant disadvantage. The listing agent works for the seller; a Buyer’s Agent works for you.
What does a Buyer's Agent do?
Your Buyer's Agent stands ready to assist you in every possible way, from start to finish. Our service begins with getting to know your needs, preferences and requirements to focus the search on only the best properties for you. You can count on their local knowledge about communities, local schools, market trends and more. Your Buyer’s Agent will keep you up-to-date as properties come on the market and help you find just what you’re looking for.
Your Buyer’s Agent can assist you with your home selection, financing, and even construction details in the event you decide to build. Your Buyer's Agent is the only source you need to make a successful move. All the while, typically you pay them nothing! That's right! Most Buyer's Agents get paid out of Seller paid commission.
Where do I start?
Let me invite you to begin your search for a new home here on my interactive website. All properties for sale in the multiple listing services are available on my site. You’ll find not only detailed descriptions, photos and tours of homes for sale, you’ll also discover information on local schools and other important community features that help you make the right decisions before you move.
If you are the type of buyer who enjoys doing the legwork of the home finding process, you will most likely visit an open house, builder's model home or Parade of Homes. Or, you may make phone calls to listing agents or builders' representatives to see a particular property.
You should be aware that in order to have independent representation, you should avoid direct contact with builders' representatives or listing agents. This includes registering at a new home neighborhood or attending an open house. In the case that you desire independent representation, you should choose an independent buyer's agent as one of your first steps in your home search. You would then want to sign a buyer's agency agreement and keep your real estate professional closely involved with all aspects of the home search. Failure to do this may result in your preferred real estate agent being unable to represent you in the transaction.
WHY? Procuring Cause -- A confusing term meaning that whoever introduces a buyer to the property he or she elects to buy is entitled to compensation for the sale. For example, if you were to find the home you want to buy while attending an open house hosted by the listing agent, and you were not previously involved with or introduced to the listing by another agent, the listing agent of the home is entitled to both the listing and selling side of the sale, to be paid by the seller. You would only be able to have independent representation in this case if you chose to pay a buyer's agent his or her fee for representing you.
How to Preserve Your Right to Independent Representation...
There are two things you must tell a listing agent or builder representative to retain your right to independent representation:
1. You already have an agent. Give his or her name and phone number to the seller's or builder's agent.
2. Your agent told you about the property. Have the date and method by which you were told about the property (i.e., by phone, in person, e-mail).
1. Plan ahead -- From the moment you think about buying a home, start planning. Home buying is a time-consuming and demanding process, and it’s good to utilize your management skills early on.
Start by requesting a copy of your credit report. Carefully examine it for errors, and clean it up before you talk to a lender. Are you currently renting? Check your lease for an early release clause. If you'll be subject to penalties, try to time your closing with the expiration of the lease.
During this planning phase, consider your life over the next five to seven years. Do you plan to start or grow a family? Will an in-law eventually move in with you? Will you be working from home? The number and layout of the rooms you require will depend on your answers.
If you qualify for financing based on a dual income, will you be able to survive on one salary in order to fulfill a long-range plan, such as one parent staying home to raise a child? Once you've answered these questions, establish a plan. Then direct the process with reference to the plan. Don't let the process dictate to you.
2. Understand the home buying process. Homebuyers need to ask questions. Lots of questions. So choose a real estate agent who has experience and is willing to explain the entire home buying process-from viewing homes to negotiating, to financing, to escrow and closing-in detail.
3. Stay within your budget when searching for a home. What can you do to avoid becoming enamored with homes that are out of your price range? Monitor your expenses for a couple of months. Then, based on your findings, develop a budget that truly reflects your lifestyle. Talk to a real estate agent who can provide insight into new home expenses and taxes. Then revise your budget.
It's smart to ask your lender to pre-approve, rather than pre-qualify, you for a mortgage. Pre-qualification only tells how much you can afford. Pre-approval goes a step further. Your lender will thoroughly evaluate your application-including verifying employment information and financial disposition-then clear you for a loan of a determined amount. Having your loan pre-approved gives you a sizeable advantage: Your new status as a cash buyer makes you more attractive to the seller.
Once you learn how much of a home you can afford, stay within your budget. Just because you've been approved for a certain amount, doesn't mean you'll feel comfortable with monthly payments at the high end of the range. Ask yourself if you can live with these payments. Do they fit your established budget? If not, rethink your spending limit. Your new home should give you great pleasure, not hold you hostage.
When you relay your price range to a real estate agent, ask to view properties within that range only. By restricting yourself, you'll avoid disappointment later on.
4. During the home search think with your head, not your heart. Curb appeal can be a powerful force. It's the buyer's kryptonite. By disengaging the mental faculties, it leaves the homebuyer emotionally vulnerable. To counter its effect, you must be objective. Brutally objective.
Look at many homes, including an assortment of types of homes. When you view a property, list the positives and the negatives. Make certain your furniture will comfortably fit into the space. Visit at various times of day to see how much natural light floods the rooms and check for changes in traffic patterns, especially at local rush hours. Have an inspector or engineer pick apart the property. And recruit a friend to view the home and provide you with objective feedback. Ask if he or she can picture your family living there and discuss the whys and why not’s. Jot down the points for later review.
Also, think about how long you plan to own the house. Would it be difficult to resell? List the negatives. Could you eliminate or reduce them?
5. Investigate the area in which you are thinking of buying. Don't stop your inspection at the property line. Examine the surrounding area. Is it safe, well maintained and moderately quiet? Is it convenient to work, schools and shops? Ask about zoning and that lovely forest of vacant land across the street. Could the highway nearby be widened in a couple of years? How far is the train? Within ear shot? If you're not familiar with the area, ask friends and colleagues about it. Do your research.
6. Understand the financing. Here's where it helps to be a quick study. Homebuyers have to contend with an assortment of mortgage types and the associated jargon. Your real estate agent can be a great resource.
Get every detail in writing, in particular, the lock-in rate, points and fees. And request a copy for your file. You should also request an estimate of your closing costs, which generally run between 3% and 6% of your loan. Inquire about prepayment penalties. Have the lender attach an addendum to your contract that specifies that no penalties will be imposed for prepaying the loan. This step could save you a good deal of money.
Before you get to the table, read all the documents related to the purchase of the property, and have a professional review them. You're signing a binding, legal document. Make certain you understand the conditions of the loan.
Most of all, remember to use your Prudential Georgia Realty agent as a resource. Ask him or her to explain anything you aren't clear on. Your agent is there to educate & guide you, and protect your interests.