Tips & Tricks
What Is a Buyer’s Agent? What Do They Do for You?
Are you ready to purchase a new home or property? The process can seem overwhelming from the very moment you say to yourself that you are in fact “ready”, especially if you are a first-time buyer.
Everyone has heard the phrase “listing agent”, but have you heard about a buyer’s agent? Would you want to go into a trial without a lawyer representing you for anything more than a traffic ticket? I think not. Why, then, would you head out into the world to make one of the largest purchases of your life without a professional by your side, someone who has the same fiduciary responsibilities, privacy commitment and ethical licensing standards? Surely you must think this level of professionalism is going to come at a hefty price, right?
How Much Do Buyer’s Agents Cost the Buyer?
Home buyers don’t need to worry about the expense of hiring a buyer’s agent. Why? Because the seller pays the commission for both the seller’s and buyer’s agents. Yes, you read that correctly, the agent working on your behalf comes at no cost, to you, the buyer.
Buyer’s agents help real estate buyers navigate the real estate market; they will save you time and money on the road to
your closing and do so much more along that path.
Benefits of Using a Buyer’s Agent When Buying Real Estate
Here are some of the things a buyer’s agent can do for you the buyer and are free to you.
After determining your specific needs and wants, the agent can build you a custom search and provide you up-to-the-minute listing information. You will receive notification of new listings that fit your criteria, price changes, etc. There are countless websites that can you spend countless hours scouring only to be disappointed by the results. These third-party sites have a delay in updating information from the multi-listing service and therefore can make them useless. You might see the perfect place today, only to find out that it has actually been under contract for quite some time already. An agent working within a large office also will have information about listings that aren’t even live yet, as offices share their coming soon information often weeks or months prior. Often times an agent can narrow down what you even go look at by having a strong understanding of exactly what you want. The agent will then schedule showings to see homes that fit your needs. The agent can also explain the ins and outs of various properties and neighborhoods, to help buyers decide which home is right for them.
The buyer’s agent will advise clients on an appropriate price to offer and present it to the seller’s agent. This is where the agent’s experience in negotiating can save you money and help you avoid pitfalls. An experienced agent will always let you make your own decisions, but you can trust in their opinion and market research to help.
Even the best home inspectors can miss things, and even the most knowledgeable inspectors can fail to accurately convey the information they find to you as a buyer. Your buyer’s agent should be at the home inspection to hear exactly what the home inspector finds. When the home inspection is over and you are given the report from the inspector an excellent agent will counsel you on what should be brought to the seller’s attention.
The information you get from the home inspection can provide you with leverage in negotiations. You can request repairs based on the information from the home inspection and you can sometimes get price or other concessions based on the problems found in the inspection. Your agent is best qualified to negotiate for these things because they are knowledgeable about how each issue affects the value of the home. The agent will make sure any serious problems are addressed by the seller. This could be in the form of a price reduction, a repair, or a seller’s concession. A buyer’s agent should also let you know when you are asking for unreasonable requests. Buyers need to remember the purpose of a home inspection is not to make a perfect home. Nearly every home has issues large and small. A good buyer’s agent will keep your focus on what is important and what to let go of. Your agent will communicate with the seller’s agent and attorneys or title company throughout the sale. Everyone needs to be on the same page for a home purchase to go smoothly. Your real estate agent will be responsible for keeping everyone informed, including the seller’s agent and your attorney or closing company.
Excellent buyer’s agents are always staying on top of things including monitoring the buyer’s mortgage commitment. The financing commitment and underwriting involved to get to the closing can be a very stressful part of the entire process if you don’t have an agent that communicates well and keeps all of the parts moving along the way. Your real estate agent should monitor the status of your loan and advise you on how to protect your approval. He or she will make sure that you understand not to make any large purchases or take out any loans, like buying a car, before you close on the home.
You only need to make it through the closing to finally get your home. But there are a surprising number of details involved in a closing, all of which need to be wrapped up before you officially become the owner of the home. Failing to take care of everything could cause the closing to fall through. Your agent will finalize all the loose ends so that the closing goes through without issue. Your agent should be there alongside you at the closing so you have support and advice should you need it.
A good agent will stay with you for the rest of your life. Things may arise after a closing that they can handle quickly on your behalf, perhaps a title issue or a tax bill that somehow needs to be addressed. They will be available for any future real estate needs, are full of information that would benefit any homeowner, and perhaps will become one of your best friends too.
After The Closing Check List
It is recommended you keep all records pertaining to your home together in a safe place, including all purchase documents, insurance, maintenance and improvements.
You have been supplied with a set of keys that unlocks the doors to your new home. To ensure security, change the locks upon moving in.
If you have not already done so, contact the local service providers to make arrangements for electricity, gas, water, phone, and cable or satellite services. While some providers may need as little notice as a day to activate your services, it's best to give them a few weeks' notices.
You may have received a First American Title Owner's Policy at the closing table. If this service is not available in your area, you will receive your policy by mail-in four-to-six weeks.
Once recorded in the official county records, the original deed to your home will be mailed directly to you, generally within four-to-six weeks.
At the closing, written instructions were provided with details for making your first loan payment. You should receive your loan coupon book before your first payment is due. If you don't receive your book, or if you have questions about your tax and insurance escrows, please contact your closing agent or attorney.
At the closing, property taxes were prorated between the buyer and the seller based on occupancy time in the home. You may not receive a tax statement for the current year on the home you buy; however, it is your obligation to make sure the taxes are paid when due. Check with your lender to find out if taxes are included with your payment and if the tax bill will be paid by the lender from escrow funds.
If the home you purchased is in a homestead state, you may be required to declare homestead or file a homestead exemption. A homestead exemption
reduces the value of a home for state-tax purposes. Please check with the local county recorder's office to determine eligibility, filing requirements and
Your local Post Office can provide the necessary Change of Address forms to expedite the delivery of mail to your new home. You can speed up the
process by notifying everyone who sends you mail of your new address and the date of your move. Many bills provide an area for making an address
You are required by law to notify your state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) after any relocation so a new driver?s license can be issued. You will also need to have your auto registration transferred to your new address and depending on your state, submit to a driving test and vehicle inspection. Check with your state DMV to determine requirements.
Free (or nearly free) Ways To Cut Your Winter Energy Bills
None of these moves require a big investment, but they all can save you money. A lot of money if you do them right now. Winter is upon us but it’s not too late to make adjustments to curb your energy costs. Heating living spaces account for about 48 percent of your home’s energy bills, according to the US Department of Energy. Doing all you can to cut consumption of heating fuel can have huge savings. Here are some easy and nearly free things you can do to cut energy costs.
By setting your thermostat seven to ten degrees lower for eight hours a day, you can save nearly ten percent a year. Digital thermostats are easier than ever to install and thermostats like Nest work great and will definitely pay for themselves over and over again.
The US Department of Energy recommends keeping your water heater's thermostat set at 120 degrees, anything higher is not necessary. Water that's any hotter than 120 degrees can also be dangerous.
Every 10-degree reduction in your water heater's thermostat can shave 3 to 5 percent off your bill.
Thoroughly check the interior and exterior of your home for gaps and cracks paying particular attention to areas around chimneys, furnace flues, pipes, electrical outlets, windows, and doors. Fill small leaks with caulk. For larger gaps and cracks that are allowing air to flow you can run to the hardware store and grab a can or two of the expanding spray foam insulation.