What’s the difference between a buyer’s REALTOR® and a seller’s REALTOR?
A buyer’s REALTOR is legally obligated to operate at all times in the best interest of the buyer. A listing, or “seller’s” REALTOR has similar responsibilities, only with the seller’s concerns at the forefront. And if a REALTOR represents both the buyer and seller in negotiations, this is known as dual agency.
Real estate professionals are required to disclose exactly who they represent in a transaction. But it’s always smart to discuss the pros and cons of various types of representation with your REALTOR - including dual agency – to ensure that you understand what’s best for your specific situation.
How do you know if a property listed on the MLS® is fairly priced?
The Multiple Listing Service indicates a specific price for each property. But how do you know if the list price is fair? One that’s on par with similar property in the area?
Buyers who choose a licensed REALTOR to represent their interests have easy access to unbiased comparable information. This info - known within the real estate industry as ‘comparables’ – specifies lesser known details relating to the specific property and properties in the surrounding area, often providing additional insight not detailed in the MLS listing.
Your REALTOR can also determine the buy-sell history of any property, the availability of similar property in the area, and whether or not there are competing bids – information which is crucial in assessing the fairness of the listed asking price, and making an educated purchase offer.
What’s the best way to negotiate price once you’re ready to buy?
Moving forward with an offer can be complicated, which is why you should agree on details with your REALTOR, and then allow them to use their experience to enter into negotiations on your behalf.
As you’d expect, your REALTOR will use in-depth ‘comparable’ information as a valuable negotiating asset when presenting your offer to the seller. But it’s also a good idea to authorize your REALTOR to relay pertinent details such as your desired possession date and financial ability to complete the sale. Having a substantial deposit on the property at the time of the offer is also recommended, to show that you’re serious about the purchase. Sellers are much more likely to accept an offer if they’re confident that it’s financially solid.
How can you find a property’s historical buy-sell information?
Great sources for historical property information include the land titles office and the city property tax administration office in the related area. But of course, these methods take considerable time and effort, and the information you find can be difficult to understand. Here’s where working with an experienced REALTOR pays off.
A knowledgeable professional can locate several years worth of historical property information by searching through MLS database systems – viewable only by licensed REALTORs. Not only do they know where to go to acquire the information you need, but they have the industry experience to determine what’s relevant to the property you’re interested in.
Of course it’s still a great idea to do as much of your own homework as possible, but make sure you provide your findings to your REALTOR for additional details and insight that you may have overlooked.
How can you discover “hot” properties not currently listed on the MLS?
Quite often the best properties in a ‘hot market’ are sold before they ever make it to the Multiple Listing Service – and exclusive listings never appear. This is when having a REALTOR on your side is crucial.
On a daily basis, your REALTOR is able to locate new listings in your specified area, and relay that property information directly to you. They do this in part by referencing REALTOR-only ‘hot sheets’, which indicate new properties on the market before they reach the MLS.
Your REALTOR can also alert his or her network of real estate contacts to your specific property needs, and will be notified accordingly when new listings become available that might be a good fit. Your REALTOR can then arrange a time for you to view and perhaps even make an offer on the property, well before it receives MLS exposure.
Are you familiar with ALL the costs involved in closing your transaction?
In addition to the listed price of a property, there are certain incidental closing costs involved in completing the transaction. And although they’re not hidden, they can certainly come as a surprise, especially to a first-time buyer.
These incidental costs include:
- Deed Transfer Taxes
- Mortgage Insurance
- Appraisal fees, legal fees and disbursements
- Adjustments for property tax, property insurance and mortgage
- And applicable home warranties
Incidental costs vary from region to region, so it’s always a good idea to investigate all the details – especially for new home construction. Be sure and ask your REALTOR for a complete list of the estimated closing costs for your market area before you make an offer, so that the only surprises are good ones.