You’re ready to buy a home. You have your budget set, you know where you’d like to live, you’re armed with a checklist of features. Chances are you’ve already done a fair amount of research. Google is now your new home page. You’ve got real estate classifieds as placemats. You’ve become the creepy people who slowly cruise neighborhoods – yes, your tag number adorns many a scrawled sticky-note. But finding the perfect home and getting through the process may be trickier and more time consuming than you think. The solution? Professional help.
One of the very best decisions a home buyer can make is to enlist the help of a real estate agent. An agent’s involvement can make the house-hunting adventure as enjoyable as the reward (new home!). So what are the benefits of working with a real estate professional?
- Knowledge. A real estate agent’s knowledge and expertise can save you immeasurable time and effort. It’s their job to understand the market and can provide you with up-to-date information essential to your search. Have your heart set on a specific neighborhood? Your agent will have the inside scoop. They’re knowledgeable about the community, the schools, even the underground “buzz” – things you could never determine from a glossy ad with a smiling family. And finding a home is just a scratch in the surface. The purchase process itself can be daunting if you don’t know what to expect. A knowledgeable agent will guide you every step of the way and make certain your questions are answered and your transaction runs smoothly.
- Dirty Work Management: Searching for a new home can become a full-time job. So before you take a leave of absence, grab your list of criteria and let your agent get to work. He/she can easily and effectively weed through the mass of listings and provide you with qualified prospects in no time. An agent will also gather all background information on each property. That cute little Tudor on the corner may not be so cute when you learn what lurks in its history. Knowing what questions to ask is essential and your agent’s experience can prove invaluable. Even further, your agent will coordinate your showing appointments, alert you to open houses, and keep you informed of new listings and other market happenings.
- Contacts/Networking: The relationships and contacts your agent has formed can be very beneficial to you. Purchasing a home involves a virtual line-up of professionals (lenders, appraisers, inspectors, et. al) and knowing whom to choose can be difficult. Although most agents won’t recommend one person/company over another, most will likely provide you with a list of personally-trusted vendors to help with your selection. Also, one of the most important things an agent can do is to network with other agents to keep “up” on what’s available. It can take days for a new listing to hit the Multiple Listing System (MLS), by that time a home could already be sold. Agents networking with each other will have the word on the street before the sign potentially hits the street. “Buyer’s market” or not, it’s still competitive for the best homes and having an agent’s assistance can mean the difference between getting your dream home and a missed opportunity.
- Negotiating: Negotiating goes a lot further than just presenting an offer, this can become an arduous, emotional task. This single step determines whether a potential sale exists or not. Having a knowledgeable, skilled negotiator on your side will save you time, effort, potential frustration, possibly even money. It’s not just a price war; there are a number of variables that could come into play: contingencies, clauses, counteroffers with stipulations, revisions - you need someone experienced and able to meet what arises. It’s your agent’s mission to get you the best deal possible, while keeping a firm grasp on your best interest.
- Paperwork/Legal: Real property transactions have become exceedingly complex and regulated (The average file can be several inches thick!). Having someone handle the volume of paperwork . More importantly, the legal side of the transaction mandates the importance that everything is in order. From the initial purchase agreement to the final closing paper, your agent’s top priority is to make sure you’re protected in your purchase and if things don’t go as planned. It only takes one missed detail or tiny mistake to cause potential legal or financial chaos, so entrusting this step to a professional is definitely wise.
- Post-Sale: A good real estate professional knows the relationship is not over once the transaction is complete. Your agent will be happy to answer any questions or be available if any transaction-related concerns arise after-the-fact. Most of a real estate agent’s business is based on referrals and repeat clients, so this Also, once it’s time to sell your home and look for that next property you already have a trusted