The home purchase is usually the largest purchase of a lifetime. It is a complex and important process that can be daunting. It can also be exciting and gives most people a sense of satisfaction knowing they will enjoy their home and, at the same time, build for their financial future. This is not a process to go through without professional assistance. Conducting a home search in a haphazard fashion will likely yield haphazard results. Buying a home without proper inspections, document and disclosure review, and without the knowledge of the market and contracts, is risky, to say the least. Also, in Seattle, homes can sell within just a couple days so it's important to have someone on your side who is always connected to the market. Working with a good real estate agent is critical to your home buying process. And it's free for buyers!!
Why Use a Buyer's Agent?
- Efficiency: The search for a home or a buyer is a very time-consuming process, especially without the aid of a real estate professional. Good real estate agents are proficient at sorting through available properties to find homes that meet your needs. Agents belong to an MLS (Multiple Listing Service), which lists available properties by numerous searchable characteristics - much more detailed and advanced than the public has access to. This will save you time as your agent can send you properties that specifically meet your needs so you're not looking at everything in the city.
- Keys: Agents have keys to all listed homes. Can you imagine calling every seller of homes you want to see, making an appointment and trying to be there when they are available to let you in? Or just getting into a few houses every Sunday during open houses? Instead, your buyer's agent will let you into many more houses at times that work with your schedule.
- Negotiation: Experienced real estate agents are experts at negotiating the best sale/purchase price for your home. Efficient negotiation can mean signing a contract on your dream home vs. your second choice. Agents can also recommend ways to increase your chances in competitive bid situations and set expectations when they think odds are not in your favor.
- Closing Knowledge: There are a lot of details involved in the purchase of a home. Attempting to finalize all details and eliminate all mistakes on a home purchase is best left to a professional.
- No Cost to the Buyer: If you are a buyer, you don't usually pay for your agent's services. All agents in a transaction usually are paid by the seller from the sales proceeds. The seller agrees to pay their listing agent a certain amount of commission and the listing agent agrees to pay a portion of that (usually half) to the buyer's agent. So, the seller is going to be paying the listing agent the commission funds anyway whether you have a Buyer's agent or not. So, in almost all real estate sales, there is no cost to the buyer for use of a buyer's agent. In the event a buyer purchases a For Sale By Owner property, either the commission can be negotiated with the seller or the buyer may elect to pay their agent's fees. So, you can have an experienced professional on your side for free?? Why wouldn't you?
- Benefit of Experience: An experienced agent will take a keen look at a property and spot potential problems, either visible material defects or potential problems upon resale.
- Market Knowledge: A buyers agent will help you formulate your offer based upon recent sales in the area. The more information you have, the more educated your decision.
- Advocate: A buyers agent will work on your behalf, negotiating in your best interest and looking out for potential pitfalls in the transaction.
Services I Provide
- Round the clock access: I don't go home at 5:00 and say my working day is over. I am available to you 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This is on your schedule.
- Intake: I ask questions to assess your needs and desires around your new home purchase. I ask about your preferred level of communication and involvement. I determine your areas of concern so that I can address and remove those for you in advance. I like to meet with buyers in person initially to have this conversation, but I can also do this via email if you'd like to. If you're interested in having me send you properties that meet your needs, contact me!
- Search, search, search!: I go to work looking for homes that meet your criteria. I usually email these listings to clients, but I can provide them in other formats as you like.
- Visit homes: When you select listings that you're interested in, I coordinate with the seller to get you inside their home - all based on your schedule. While touring properties, I can point out areas of concern about the home, as well as positive aspects. I like buyers to be candid with me about what they like/dislike about the homes so that I can further tailor their search if they are not finding something they like initially.
- Determine the seller's motivation and needs: Structuring the offer to best fit your needs while keeping in mind what the seller wants can mean the difference between getting the home you want and not. For instance, if the seller desires to stay in their home for a month after closing, I could suggest adding that into our offer, but possibly changing other things in your favor. It shows seller's that they are important and you're not just blindly faxing them an offer. This can also mean the difference between obtaining a great buy and paying too much.
- Market knowledge and research: I know the market well. I study it closely and know the value of neighborhoods for buyers trying to secure a new home. I'll also do research of recent sold comparables to show you what the market is like in your area and to help you structure an effective offer to purchase. Many times it is this extra edge that saves you. Curious about appreciation rates for your particular neighborhood? Or how condos compared to houses as an investment? I can provide any and all of this information. Writing Offer to Purchase: When you are ready to make an offer on a particular home, I'll draft the Purchase and Sales Agreement, advising you on protective contingencies, customary practices and local regulations. I can also write up any special clauses you'd like (e.g. you need the seller to pay part of your closing costs, you want the seller to repair a broken window, etc). You won't believe how many times I've seen uninformed agents write contracts for buyers that are harmful to them.
- Present offer: If possible I will hand deliver all offers to the seller or their agent. This gives a personal touch and puts a face to the contract.
- Make your offer compelling: There are certain things I can advise you do to improve the odds that your offer becomes the winning one in a competitive bid situation.
- Acceptance of Offer: After I present your offer to the agent and seller, the seller has three options: they can accept your offer, counter your offer, or reject your offer. My negotiating skills, experience, and knowledge of your needs will benefit you in reaching a final agreement.
- Open Escrow: When the Purchase and Sales Agreement is accepted and signed by all parties, I'll open escrow for you. Escrow will receive, hold and disburse all funds associated with your transaction. They will also handle the final paperwork and record the sale with the County. Throughout the transaction (typically ~30 days) I will be in close communication with escrow to make sure all is progressing smoothly and get them anything they need.
- Contingency Period: I'll assist, consult and facilitate during the contingency period to confirm financing/appraisal, inspections and any other contingencies to which your purchase is subject. Typical contingencies include: approval of the sellers Transfer Disclosure Statement (Form 17), approval of the title report, loan approval (including an appraisal of the property), inspections of the property and possible subsequent repairs. I will manage all of these activities to make sure they are done on time and correctly. I will advise you through every step of the process.
- Close Escrow: Several days before closing you will need to submit your down payment funds and sign your loan documents/closing papers. On the closing date, the deed will then be recorded at the Whatcom County Recorder's office and you will take ownership of your home. I will assist through all of this making sure that it goes smoothly and your questions are answered.
- Recommendations: Over the years, I have cultivated a network of industry contacts to help support you through the transaction process. I can recommend a good escrow company, contractors, home inspectors, tax/legal specialists, insurance companies, mortgage brokers, etc.
- Be your advocate: That is my sole purpose - to be on your side and advocate your best interests throughout the process.
- Ongoing support: I will educate, assist and advice you along the way to buying a home. But you may also find that you have questions after the transaction has closed and you are settled into your new home. I am always available to you. Even if you purchased years ago.
The Buyer/Agent Agreement
A buyer's agent and the buyer will usually sign a loyalty contract which states that the buyer will work exclusively with the agent. Real estate agents require their buyers to sign a Buyer/Agent Agreement. The reasoning is simple: if a buyer is working with 3 different agents, each agent is doing their best to serve the buyer yet only one agent, ultimately, will receive compensation. The agreement is to ensure compensation for the agent's efforts. You wouldn't have 3 different plumbers working for you, but only pay one. If your agent is doing his/her job, you'll only need one! If they are not, discuss it with them and move on if improvements aren't made. It isn't fair to an agent to be serving a buyer who is working with other agents without their knowledge. The Buyer/Agent Agreement is a good practice; however, I recognize that a positive relationship either exists or it doesn't. A relationship is not about a piece of paper legally binding a buyer to an agent. A relationship is about a mutually beneficial interaction based on integrity and respect. If for some reason our relationship is not meeting your expectations please let me know immediately and we I will make adjustments immediately.
I believe it's imperative that buyers have agent representation. It is such a major purchase and too risky to do alone or under the representation of the seller's agent (not really representation at all!). Keep in mind that buyer's agent services are FREE to buyers. It's smart to have someone on your side and makes the process a fair one. You should select a buyer's agent that you feel most comfortable with. Someone who listens well, is responsive, asks you important questions, has good suggestions, and shows you properties that meet your specifications. Someone that is committed to you and is happy to invest the necessary time so that you find the home that is right for you. Not someone who will be annoyed after you've seen 10 houses and haven't chosen one. You want someone who is patient, responsive and hard working. I am the agent for you.
I am committed to finding you the best home in the best location at the best price!