Here is a collection of frequently asked questions that we have put together to assist you. If you have any other questions, not listed here, feel free to call or send an e-mail.
For Sellers - Why Should I Hire a Realtor
1. We are Real Estate Specialists. Not all real estate professionals are created equally. There are approximately 2.3 million licensed real estate professionals, but only members of the National Association of Realtors can call themselves Realtors. This association of about 750,000 brokers and agents provides a Code of Ethics to standardize professional behavior, and it offers advanced educational opportunities to its members, enabling them to offer accredited sub-specialties such as buyer's representation (ABR,) residential real estate expertise (CRS,) or Internet readiness (e-PRO) to the public.
2. We Lower Your Risk. When you have a Realtor as an advocate, you share some of the risk of home buying with your agent. Otherwise, it's buyer beware. Incredibly, many states do not have laws or regulatory bodies in place that protect homebuyers in many situations. If you have a Realtor as your advocate, he or she will make recommendations that will assure that you are buying a home that is safe, environmentally sound and priced fairly according to the current marketplace.
3. We Work for You at Our Own Risk. Can you name another profession that will go to work for you on a contingency basis? Or without a contract? Even attorneys charge by the hour except for some high-risk law suits. You don't typically pay for any services up front with an agent and that is because agents are paid on the back end by the lender's proceeds. When you think about it, that is an incredible endorsement that your lender is willing to finance your brokerage fees. That means you and the seller have no out-of-pocket expenses. Therefore, it's in your agent's best interest to work quickly, diligently, and use all his or her resources to help you meet your goals, or there is no payday. But don't be surprised if your agent asks for a commitment from you in the form of a contract. Wouldn't you do the same if your time and money were on the line?
4.We Understand The Current Market. Real estate professionals have invaluable house-by-house, street-by-street, and market-by-market experience which can't be learned overnight. Realtors who have weathered the pendulum swing between buyers' markets and sellers' markets know that the real estate market can turn abruptly. Rising and falling interest rates affect the number of available homes for sale and their prices within weeks or days. All it takes is the entrance or exit of a major employer, and hundreds of homes in a neighborhood can be affected. As neighborhood experts, experienced brokers and agents can help you with home buying strategies and proposals that will get the right house at the best price and terms.
5. We Have Inventory. Do you want to find a home quickly? With a Realtor by your side, you will. According to The National Association of Realtors, over four-fifths of existing homes in the United States are represented by real estate brokers. So are 70 percent of new home builders and their products, according to NewHomeNetwork.com. Realtors cooperate with each other through an organization called the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that allows them to share their current inventory with each other. Your agent can also show you homes outside of the MLS inventory, including for-sale-by-owner homes, new builder homes, and institution-operated homes. However, no Realtor can be expected to show you this unqualified inventory without a representation agreement that assures him or her of being paid at closing.
6. We Have Information You Don't Have. MLS data entry can take from one to 10 days, depending on the listing agent, his or her broker, and the rules and technology of the MLS. By the time the home is posted on the Internet, it could already be sold, so when you shop for homes on the Internet, you may not be seeing the most current inventory. That's why clever agents network with each other. Your agent will tell other agents about you and your wish list in exchange for information about upcoming homes for sale which are not yet in the MLS or the Internet. Many homes are bought and sold this way without a sign ever going into the yard. If you want to be the buyer positioned to make first and best offers on these desirable homes, hire an agent and be willing to go under contract. If an agent has found out about a home for sale that has not been listed, whom do you think he or she will tell first - you, or a buyer who is committed to him or her by contract? Again, commitment works both ways.
7. We Understand the Complexity of the Transaction. Less than a decade ago, a home could be bought with a two-page contract. Now consumer-mandated seller's disclosures, environmental and structural reports, and other legal documents have turned the home transfer into a potential minefield. Realtors work with contracts daily, and can fully understand which points are harmful and/or beneficial to you. From helping you make a reasonable offer, to providing for the discovery and disclosure of material facts, your agent can also correctly interpret information for you. If you found out the neighbor next door to the house you are buying is building a new fence, would you know to get a new survey ordered? Your Realtor will make sure that the new fence doesn't encroach on your new property.
8. We Work For You... Your agent not only represents your interests but also works on behalf of the transaction. Does that seem like a conflict of interest? It isn't. Buyers and sellers are natural adversaries. You want to buy for the least price, and the seller wants the most. Agents must be skilled negotiators to keep pride, ignorance, or stubbornness from getting in the way of a fair deal for both sides. As the buyer, remember that you are the one in control. You can instruct your agent how far to go in negotiations on your behalf. One day, you'll be glad your agent helped you keep your cool when the seller refused to leave that old chandelier.
9. Realtors Offer Flexible Services. We offer a menu of services that will meet your needs and wants.
For Buyers - Important Questions
1. Why do I need a pre-approval?
Being prepared is one of the smartest things you can do to help your home buying process run smoothly. Getting prequalified and then preapproved lets you know what your loan program and the amount you can borrow will look like in advance. This can give you a big advantage at different stages of your house hunt, from helping you prepare your budget and set your expectations, to strengthening your negotiations
2. Is it true that you can only show me the listings you listed?
False. In fact, we can make your job search less stressful by doing a complete search on MLS and find you the home of your dreams and the price you want.
3. My offer got accepted, now what?
Congratulations! Here are some steps you need to follow to help you along a smooth and stressless transaction:
~ Within the First 10 Days of Acceptance
Contact your mortgage person to apply for your mortgage. The mortgage person will begin the financial process and order an appraisal for your new home.
Order your home inspection. A home inspection is not required, but highly recommended. This will no doubt be the largest purchase you make. Spending a couple of hundred dollars to have a qualified person thoroughly inspect your future home may prevent thousands of dollars of unexpected repairs later on. Contact a licensed home inspector of your choice (if you are working with a "buyers agent", then he/she may recommended one). The home inspector will set an appointment that is convenient for you. The inspection must take place during your inspection period, usually 10 days from acceptance of your offer.
Arrange for the second deposit. The second deposit on your new home is usually due 10 days from the date of your offer. This is normally 5% of the purchase price, but could be significantly less depending on your financing and your available funds. This must be made by bank check, certified check or money order. If you need to transfer funds from a retirement or money market account, or borrowing money from a relative, do it as soon as possible to allow time for the check to clear.
Have the purchase and sale agreement reviewed by your attorney. Although not required, having an attorney familiar with real estate law will save you peace of mind and possibly money should any legal issues come up. An attorney will help to make sure you are financially protected should anything go wrong during the home buying process.
Sign the Purchase and Sale Agreement. The is the contract that contains all the details of the real estate purchase. Occasionally, this may take place beyond the 10 day period if there are any concerns that are being negotiated between the buyer and seller.
Inform your landlord you are purchasing a home if you are renting. Most landlords require at least 30 days notice that you are moving or you may forfeit any deposits you have on your apartment.
~ Within 30 Days of Acceptance
Contact your insurance person to arrange for coverage for your new home. Most lenders require you to pay one year's insurance premium up front. Your insurance broker can let you know how much this will be, and will provide a binder for you to bring to the closing.
Stay in contact with your mortgage person. You must obtain a mortgage commitment letter before your financing period ends (usually about 30 days after your offer is accepted).
Arrange for a mover. This should be done 30 to 45 days ahead of the closing date. Care should be given not to make firm arrangements until you have a confirmed closing date and you have received your financial commitment letter from your mortgage person.
~ 1 to 2 Weeks Before Closing
Arrange to have the utilities for your new home transferred to your name. And don't forget to have your current utility services disconnected. This includes (if applicable) gas, electric, telephone, cable television, and internet service. If your new home has city or town provided water, this will be handled by the seller's agent. If the home you are purchasing is heated by oil, you will have to pay for any oil that is left in the tank at the closing.
Make sure you have the funds available for closing. Your mortgage person should have given you a good faith estimate of the amount that you will need. If not, contact him/her as soon as possible.
Make final arrangements with your movers.
~ 1 to 2 Days Before Closing
Arrange for a final walk through of your new home. Your agent will arrange a final inspection of the home you are about to purchase. Most likely everything will be fine, but check to make sure everything is in the same condition as when you first put your offer in.
Verify the time and place of closing. Call the closing attorney for the time and place that the closing will occur. Your agent may do this for you.
Get the final amount you need to bring to the closing. Call your mortgage person for the amount of the certified or cashier's check you need to bring to the closing.
~ For the Closing
Bring the following items to the closing:
Picture I.D. (drivers license, passport, etc.) The closing attorney will need to make a copy of it for the registry of deeds.
Personal checkbook. In case you have to pay for any incidental charges such as heating oil, bottled gas, taxes, etc. that have already been paid by the seller.
Certified Check in the amount given to you by your lender.
Insurance Policy or binder.
Your personal attorney, if any.