Until you are actually engaged in the process of buying a home, you may not give much thought to how the actual process works. I know I didn’t! How does the Realtor® relationship with a Buyer work?
Selling seems to be much clearer, and makes more sense – at the very basic, you know that someone is representing you because they have a for sale sign up in front of your house! But what if you don’t have a house to sell, but you want to buy one? Who helps you then and what do they do? Do you have to use the person on the sign?
Of course you can, but you need to know what that entails – and that is multiple representation – which at its simplest form means that your interests are being represented by the same brokerage as the sellers interests are. And since these interests can often be opposing, it is really important for you to understand what level of service you can expect from your Realtor® in this situation. It has limits in terms of information that can be shared with both sides and limits on negotiating ability.
My advice to Buyers is the same as to Sellers – get representation with someone you trust, someone you feel is listening to you and has time to help you find the home you’re looking for. It can feel odd that you “hire” a Realtor® as a Buyer because you often are not going to be the one paying them – in most cases their fees are paid by the Sellers (though not always, so be sure to ask your representative about this and how it is laid out in your agreement). This doesn’t mean they don’t play a vital role in helping you understand the steps and requirements, finding the right homes, deciphering all types of documents, helping you with direction on financing, processes for home inspections, and certainly not least of all negotiating the offer – how much to offer, is the house well priced, what are the comparables and why do you care about them?
Before you start looking at homes, look for a Realtor® who can help you in that process, and probably save you a lot of time and frustration helping to guide you from the start – ask for referrals, or if you’ve bought before, call up your previous Realtor® of course!
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