There are literally hundreds of thousands of property sites that allow you to search for your new home online based on your criteria. There is also a ton of how-to and how-not-to advice 'out there' and if you are able to identify the relevant information for you, you might ask yourself "Do I really need a buyer's agent to purchase a home in Maryland?".
Technically, the answer is "No, you don't" but why wouldn't you? Yes, you can house hunt online, you can even arrange to view the homes you are interested in and the listing agent can give you the necessary paperwork. But that is all the assistance you can expect from the listing agent. He/she represents the seller and cannot represent you, too, it is either/or in the State of Maryland.
Wouldn't you want someone to represent you the same way the listing agent is representing the seller?
So, how will a buyer's agent assist you with your Maryland home purchase?
Briefly summarized a buyer's agent's role looks like this:
As you can see there is a lot more to it than looking up some homes online and opening a few doors!
If you would like to get more detailed information, please keep reading. It is impossible to sum up with 2 sentences however, so please bear with me as I attempt to explain my role as a Maryland Buyer's Agent:
- Preparation: I like to take the time for an initial face-to-face meeting. I do believe that in order for your home buying experience to be a pleasant one, we need to "click". If all goes well I need to find out where in the process you are at:
Do you have a loan pre-approval in hand or are recommendations for trusted loan officers needed? Do you have a clearly defined wish-list or is it still a work in progress? Do you understand the market and the home-buying process? What is your time-frame for moving? ...
- Home Search: Your loan pre-approval is needed to proceed with the next step. There's nothing worse then falling in love with a house that you cannot afford. Based on your price-range and wants and needs we'll start the home search. There are several ways to go about it: you can search online and email me what you find of interest, I can set up a search and email you the listings that fit your criteria. I will schedule the showing appointments and we'll start viewing homes .. I'll point out things to you that you may miss (the water stain on the ceiling, the lack of privacy, the missing ...), we'll review what we've seen and adjust your criteria. Sometimes that process ends after just one trip and sometimes it takes several months. Sometimes it involves a reality check or fine-tuning your wish list ...
But however short or long it takes to find your new home, I am committed to finding you the perfect match!
- Preparing the Offer: As soon as we have found YOUR new home, we'll get busy with all the paperwork that I gave you before for review. I will request the disclosures from the listing agent and I'll pull the comps and assist you with your offering terms. I will make sure all i-s are dotted and t-s are crossed. I will talk (again) to your lender to make sure we allow enough time for appraisal and financing contingencies. I will identify necessary addenda and prepare it for you - depending on what jurisdiction your purchasing in, what loan program you are using and what type of home and sale it is will determine which contract addenda is needed.
- Negotiating: It does happen that a seller will just accept the terms you proposed but more often than not, we'll be negotiating. We will discuss beforehand what, if anything, you are willing to compromise on and what your bottom-line is.
There are different strategies depending on the house, how well it is priced, the owner, you, your motivation and wants & needs, inventory, competition and even the listing agent. Price is not the only term that can be negotiated, there are seller concessions, inclusions and time-frames .. all open to negotiations. The goal is to negotiate the terms you are most comfortable with.
- From Contract to Settlement: Congratulations! You are now officially under contract and it's only about 4 - 6 weeks until you will receive the keys to your new home. A lot has to happen during that time frame and it is my responsibility to make sure it all gets done by communicating with all parties involved and staying on top of deadlines, time is of the essence!
Applicable inspections need to be scheduled and performed, the lender & Title Company will receive a copy of the contract and we will work towards removing all the contingencies:
there is the home inspection, termite inspection, radon or mold if you opted to get them done, well inspection if applicable, there is the appraisal and financing contingency and title work, too. Repair negotiations may be necessary, an appraisal problem may present itself, there may be a defect on the title ... ideally all goes smoothly but more often then not purchasing a home may seem like climbing a steep mountain. Rest assured if obstacles do turn up I will work towards getting you passed them.
When all contingencies have been removed and any obstacles have been mastered, we'll hear the magic words Clear to Close! and sprint to the settlement table. We'll take care of the last things that need to get done, transfer of utilities and final walk-thru for example and I will review your HUD 1. I will also attend closing with you, for moral support or in case questions arise and because I love to be the first one to welcome you home!
- Your trusted Realtor® for Life: Closing Days are always bittersweet! Please know that although our client-Realtor® relationship has ended, I will still be available for any questions and always love to hear from you!
Hiring your own buyer's agent has tremendous value and it all comes at no cost to you. It is customary in Maryland for the seller to offer a cooperating broker commission which is how buyer's broker & agent get compensated. At Thompson Company Realtors we also do not charge anyone a "transaction processing fee" thus your buyer representation and all that it entails is free to you.
Are you ready to get your home buying journey started? Then give me a call and we'll schedule a meeting to enter Phase 1!
P.S. You have made it to the end of this very long blog post! Thank you very much for reading ... I look forward to hearing from you,