When a person starts thinking about buying a house, they often start looking at copies of local real estate magazines, calling on For Sale by Owner (FSBO) properties, and calling the listing agents on houses that they drive by. Potential buyers often don't know how the buying process works but they also don't want to commit to more than a ten second conversation on the phone to find out because they are "just looking". This Blog will explain what you should be looking for before you start looking for a house - A Good Buyer's Representative.
In South Carolina, a buyer has a right to his/her own representation in the purchase of a home. This means that the buyer has someone working for them. It requires a signed contract (yikes!) which forms a commitment (yikes!) between the buyer and their agent. This may sound scary but if your agent knows you are committed to working with them (and not calling every agent that you run across) then that agent is going to work harder for you. With a signed commitment, your agent doesn't have to worry about losing the sale to someone else and they will be more willing to give up their nights and weekends to help you buy a home. This link explains the SC Agency Relationships.
A good Buyer's Representative will be sure that the buyers have a pre-approval letter from a lending institution and be sure they were advised not to make any purchases of any kind so that their credit score doesn't change. A good Buyer's Representative will listen to what the buyers are looking for and show them properties that fit. A good Buyer's Representative will advise their buyers before writing offers and use comparable recent sold properties as back up. A good Buyer's Rep will negotiate hard in favor of the buyer for the best "reasonable" terms and price. A good Buyer's Rep will advise the buyer to have inspections on any items that are of concern and be sure that the items are addressed to the buyer's satisfaction. A good Buyer's Rep will keep in touch with the persons responsible for details of the financing, the repairs to the property, and be sure that the closing attorney is receiving all the required information to make the closing happen on time. A good Buyer's Rep will follow up on the buyers shortly after the closing and be sure that all is well. A good Buyer's Rep will keep in touch frequently and remind the former buyer that he/she is still there to help.
The name on the "for sale" sign at a house you drive by usually displays the name of the listing agent. You don't have to call the listing agent to see the house. I repeat, you don't have to call the listing agent to see the house. Yes, this person probably knows more about the details of the house than any other agent, however the listing agent represents the seller(s) of the house and is going to work for the best interests of the seller(s). If you have your own Buyer's Rep, you call your Rep and ask them to look up the information on that particular address and if you like what you hear, then your Buyer's Rep can show you the house. This way, you don't have to go through the whole process of explaining what you are looking for. Your Buyer's Rep already knows. He/she is already on the lookout for the properties that would suit your needs and budget.
If you find a home online or in a real estate magazine that you like, you can ask your Buyer's Rep to get the information and show you the home. If you contact the listing agent with questions for each property you like, you'll have ten agents thinking that you want to work with them and they'll be emailing you and calling you and you won't know which way to turn. You only have to deal with one agent - Your Buyer's Representative.
If you see a FSBO sign, you can still ask your Buyer's Rep to contact the seller for you. Often, a FSBO property is owned by someone who does not have much equity in their home and are trying to sell it for as much as they can possibly get for it. You might think you will save money buying a FSBO but if you are not familiar with the buying process, you may not protect yourself in certain areas and end up overpaying for the home in the long run, or end up with unforeseen expenses as the new owner. A FSBO can be the toughest owners to negotiate with because no one has advised them about the current home sales or given them any marketing advice. Your Buyer's Rep will get required information, plan a showing and make arrangements to get paid if it ends up being the house you buy. A buyer still should have representation even if purchasing a FSBO.
So, if you are looking for a home, start shopping for a good Buyer's Representative first. Ask people who have bought homes recently about who represented them and what they liked about their work to see if they would be a good fit for you. Go to www.REBAC.net to the Find a Buyer's Rep tab to search for local Accredited Buyer's Representatives recognized by the National Association of Realtors. These agents have gone through three days of extra training for working with buyers.