If you plan on purchasing a home, the first step is to find a reliable buyer's agent who will help guide you through the process.
A buyer's agent is your agent and represents your interests.
If the property is listed the seller already has an agent who is looking out for his or her interests. You have the same right to your own representation.
While it is illegal for the seller and listing agent to conceal known defects about the house such as a leaky roof or faulty furnace, it is not required for the listing agent or seller to disclose many other items such as:
- Information regarding adjacent parcels of land.
- Information regarding whether anyone in the home had been killed or committed suicide.
- The age of appliances and other features of the home.
- What other homes in the neighborhood have sold for.
- Whether or not there are registered sex offenders in the area
- Whether the house had been previously damaged by fire or a storm (once the damage is repaired it is not a required disclosure)
- How long the house has been on the market
- Whether the property was listed previously by another agent
- Whether or not there have been any price reductions on the house
- information about proposed changes in school boundaries
- information about proposed road or highways
Your buyer's agent has the responsibility to make sure you have any available information on the house, adjacent parcels, and the community. Your agent also will help guide you through the contract writing and negotiating process. He or she will help you understand the current market and whether it is a buyer's or seller's market. They should research the history of the house to find out how long it has been for sale, whether it's been listed before, and how much other homes in the area have sold for.
They will take all available information about market conditions in mind when they help you make a purchase offer. They also advise you about other information such as:
- home inspections
- obtaining a mortgage and getting pre-approved for a loan
- home warranties
- obtaining home owner's insurance
- new homes versus resale
- what makes good resale
- writing the actual contract
- what to expect throughout the entire process
- obtaining an attorney or settlement service to conduct your closing
A good buyer's agent is a valuable resource throughout the home buying process and beyond closing. The best news is that in most states, the commission earned by your agent is paid by the listing firm. While that money does come from the seller's proceeds at settlement, you do not have to pay directly for your own representation.
You buyer's agent may ask you to sign a "buyer's agency" agreement. This is the document that outlines their responsibilities and fees. Read the document carefully and make sure you understand the terms.
You might want to interview several agents before choosing the one who will help in your home purchase. To find an agent you can search the Internet, asks friends, or call a nearby real estate office. Make sure you check their credentials and ask for references.
Remember always get copies of everything you sign through the process and ask questions. Buying a house is a large financial undertaking, but having a good buyer's agent on your side can help make sure your money is well spent.