Real Estate Education for Home Buyers: Article 5
This is the fifth in a series of real estate articles for home buyers in Hingham, MA and all the South Shore towns in Massachusetts.
Visit the Alice Pierce Hingham Real Estate website anytime for professional real estate services in Hingham, MA, Cohasset, Hull, Scituate or any of the South Shore communities!
Brought to you from South Shore Realtor Alice Pierce
5 Areas for the Home Buyer to Focus On When Choosing a Realtor
You have been tracking your finances and saving up for a down-payment. Your credit score is headed in the right direction and you can feel that purchasing some real estate is in your near future. Now that you are doing the things that will contribute to your becoming a home owner in Hingham, Cohasset, Hull, Norwell or any other South Shore community, it is time to familiarize yourself with some of the important next steps.
In upcoming real estate articles, you will learn about calculating how much house you can buy, the mortgage industry, pre-approvals and communities where you might want to live. The fact is that you can definitely streamline the home buying process by choosing a Realtor who will be with you every step of the way and will make things clear and logical. A real estate agent is your best source for the dynamic information you need from this point forward in your journey of home buying.
A Real Estate Agent Knowledge Base Trumps the Internet
A professional, seasoned real estate agent has three kinds of knowledge that you can’t find in a book; experience, information and real estate news. The first kind of intelligence is experience within longevity. Your soon to be Realtor has had many real estate interactions and transactions of multiple varieties over many years. This builds a type of wisdom that is deep, confident and broad.
The second kind of knowledge is that which is learned over time. The designation of “Realtor®” as an active member, requires ongoing, formal education, and a thriving real estate career depends on self-motivated learning and curiosity. When new information is learned and joined with experience, it is solidified and categorized in ways that people not in the field of real estate cannot approach.
The third area of knowledge is a true hallmark of an agent who genuinely loves what they do. Like many industries, there are daily changes to real estate law, inventory, neighborhoods, market conditions, the economy and requirements. Someone who stays in touch with current real estate news with enthusiasm and interest is a person steeped in their career.
Regardless of these Realtor characteristics, you might think that the Internet has evolved to such a degree that all can be gotten online. It is absolutely true that you have computer and mobile access to most properties for sale on the active real estate market at any given time. You can install apps with notifications, take tours on virtual reality websites and interact with drive-by technology and it is all free and easily available.
Keep in mind that to be a consumer of online data, one must be a critical and adept reviewer. Most online sources cannot keep up with real time change, never mind the complex decisions made between people at every crossroads. For example, information about listing can become outdated in a matter of minutes, or partial information can go unnoticed for weeks, sometimes months. To rely on the Internet alone in the endeavor of purchasing a home is fraught with obstacles.
What Realtors do When Working With Buyers
When you are buying a house, starting in the earliest stages, a real estate agent immediately becomes many things to you. They take the time to actively listen and understand what you need and want, they act as adviser and advocate, and educate you regarding market conditions, communities and sometimes the realities of your desire.
Your real estate agent will frame your home search within your financial profile and research homes and active listings, all the while referring back to what they know about you. He or she will call you about new homes that come on the market for sale, preview some listings that might be a fit, and will drive you around to see all of the homes that interest you.
When you have seen numerous homes, and once you are ready to act, your agent will help you narrow things down to top picks, and then handle the negotiations when it comes time to make an offer. Your Realtor will be present for the home inspection, and help with the follow up to the inspection, if needed. Then finally, when it is time to close on your new home, your Realtor will be there at the closing, celebrating with you.
Information about an active property for sale is not simply a set of one dimensional facts. Your real estate agent’s insight into neighborhoods, homes, market conditions, finance and most importantly, your vision, is integral towards one of the biggest purchases of your lifetime.
Buying a home is complex and loaded with particulars involving legal information. A Realtor is accustomed to managing these transaction on a regular basis, even though all transactions differ in some way. In the end, there is no one that does not benefit from what a Realtor has to offer.
How to Choose a Real Estate Agent When Buying a House
Choosing a realtor when you are in the market to buy is similar to choosing a real estate agent when you are listing your house for sale. Many of the same principles in the real estate article, “21 Questions to Ask a Realtor,” apply to buyers too. However, the majority of home buyers tend not to interview multiple real estate agents, but it is a good idea to have some questions in mind when you do meet agents.
Start by networking with your friends to find out who they know. According to the National Association of Realtors, 52% of first-time buyers found their Realtor through a friend. Plan on attending some open houses to meet local Realtors, or to check out agents that are recommended to you. The benefit to this is that you can see how they interact with other customers. Look for someone who has good relationships with other real estate agents, and is easy to be around. Throughout the home buying process, you want to feel confident that this person can relate well to all of the different professionals like mortgage consultants, home inspectors, and attorneys.
A lot of people use online tools like Realtor.com®‘s “Find a Realtor” search. You can find a fair amount of information about an agent including number of years in the field, number of homes sold, and the price of homes typically sold. Even if you find the name of a Realtor through networking efforts, it is a good idea to find out more about them online.
Some home buyers naturally work with friends or family members. This is a personal decision based on a personal relationship. Friendships are obviously more relaxed than forming a new relationship and there is value in not having to explain things about your preferences in detail. At the same time, even a friend should ask you questions about your priorities. This is because close friends might dream for you, and have visions of seeing you in a living space that isn’t realistic.
Having your Realtor friend show you homes and invest in your future lifestyle as a person who already cares about you often results in that person working extra hard for you. It is not unusual for Realtors to spot an unusual home they wouldn’t have otherwise noticed because it is a good fit for a friend. After all, a good friend becomes part of your mind’s eye without any effort.
For more detail on asking a Realtor friend to show you houses, please see my earlier article about boundaries and using a friend or family member as your real estate agent.
There is no reason to expect anything less than impeccable professionalism and a proven track record of success. There are basic expectations to be met within your Realtor/buyer relationship, and anything that falls short is not acceptable. All licensed real estate agents are supposed to adhere to a stringent set of documents called the code of ethics and standards of practice.
You want honest and full disclosures, and frequent communication no matter what the means. If you send an email or a text they should both be treated like phone calls and even if your Realtor is busy, an acknowledgement of the receipt needs to be given. This also speaks to the overall availability of the real estate agent. Once you start looking at homes, you will be making yourself available, and you can expect your Realtor to do the same. If you cannot take time out from work and get home at 7 pm, expecting to see some homes then is perfectly reasonable.
A lot of Realtors are still catching up on technology, and while it might seem unfair to hold this as one of your criteria, the fact is that all technologies are important tools, and you want the person you are working with to have a handle on them. Whether it is a drive-by app, or electronic signing, make sure that the most current applications are in use. Knowing the local markets, and different town regulations, along with school and commuting information is also something that, as a buyer, you cannot do without.
Who Represents Who?
While an in-depth discussion of brokerage relationships is deserving of its own article, an overview here might be useful.
It is true that real estate agents traditionally represent the seller, not the buyer, although recent years have seen growth in the buyer’s agent. The more common relationship is still the seller agency in Massachusetts, meaning, it is the seller who is the “client,” and the buyer who is the “customer.”
The designated seller in this real estate brokerage relationship pays the agent’s commission, and the seller’s agent owes the duties of loyalty, disclosure, and reasonable care. All licensed agents are automatically agents of that seller unless the role of buyer’s agent is specified. More simply put, unless your Realtor is acting as a real estate agent for the buyer, that Realtor is obligated to the same loyalties as the listing broker.
Some buyers decide that a buyer’s agent is good choice for them. A buyer’s agent is a Realtor who represents the interest of a home buyer, but before you go this route it is very important to understand what a buyer’s agent can and can’t do.
What do the Different Names Mean?
A real estate agent is anyone holds the license to sell property. Although requirements vary by state, most agents take about 40 hours of course work and then have to pass the state exam. A broker is a real estate agent who continues on with more education so that he or she can hire agents to work. A Realtor can be either, and is an active member of the National Association of Realtors®.
Maybe it is time to actively look for the best Hingham real estate agent for you!
As always, thank you so much for reading my Massachusetts real estate articles. I welcome feedback and ideas at any time. If you are considering a move to the beautiful South Shore of Massachusetts I can show you premier waterfront homes for sale, and I can list your home for sale in Hingham, Cohasset, Norwell or any of the surrounding areas. Contacting me is easy! Call 781-762-7622, email me, or visit my real estate agent website.