For first time buyers who are just getting started in their search for a home, there is plenty of conflicting information out there. You might hear one, or more, of these statements, from well meaning friends or family.
All of the information that you need is on line.
You don't need an agent--you can just call the sign agent.
You can apply for your mortgage on line. Just fill out the form and wait for approval.
Buying a house is pretty straight forward...why should anyone make a boat load of money of your purchase?
Let me just say that while there is a kernel of truth in (some of) these statements, buying a house is not as straight forward as you may might believe. There are state requirements regarding property association and condo associations, there are potential violations of these association guidelines to be worked through. There are surveys and potential encroachments by neighbors or by the seller. There are possible title issues. Their are pest inspections. There are home inspection issues to negotiate and resolve. There are timing issues to work through. There are appraisal concerns and sometimes appraisal discrepancies to work through. There are two different parties with completely different objectives working toward the same outcome.
The information on-line is often old and incorrect. It may surprise you to learn that not everything that you see on-line is true (I am being sarcastic, of course!). It is also not always updated promptly or, sometimes, ever. Information about selling is very regional. It is governed by state and local laws, so what goes in California is not true, necessarily, of Virginia.
You can apply for your mortgage online, but having a person (and their cell phone number) that you can call when things get tense or there are problems is invaluable to the process. It is even better when your buyer's agent knows, and has worked with, your lender. Getting a loan to the closing table is really what you are interested in--not just the approval process.
And finally the big one--a buyer's agent represents YOU and works to make sure that you not only check the important boxes along the way, but that you understand each step in process. They also work to make sure that you don't skip any steps. We do this without making a 'boat load' of money. Yes, we receive a percentage of the sales prices, but from that we pay the broker fees, the state licensing fees, the lockbox and association fees and all of our own marketing costs. Don't forget our taxes and any money we contribute to our retirement funds. The sign agent is interested only in getting you to sign on the dotted line at closing--they represent what is best for the seller. You may feel like they are really helpful, but they have a contract that says they are working in the seller's best interest. If you work with a buyer's agent, there is a contract saying that they work in YOUR best interest.
You will continue to see business models that cut out this buyer representation and it might be tempting--and look easy--to take advantage of them. Do so at your own risk. It is like everything else, you don't know what you don't know. Buying a house is not a great time to 'fake it 'til you make it,' since you might end up with a really expensive lemon of a house.
If you want to buy, give me a call and let's chat. If you aren't in my area, I can put you in touch with a top-notch agent who will represent you, and only you, in your first home purchase.
Making your biggest investment is not the time to cut corners or just go with what looks easy. Make sure you know what you are doing each and every step of the way!