I’ll meet with you to discuss your needs and goals, and plan a search for your property. We’ll talk about your options, your time table and your price range. If we’ve been e-mailing we can continue do so, but we’ll also need to meet periodically—at least monthly—to look at homes and make sure we’re on the same page. E-mail is great, but I’ve found that it's no substitute for the face-to-face communication I need to help you buy a house.
If you’re not already pre-approved for a loan, I’ll offer to arrange an appointment with a reliable lender or mortgage broker to identify your price range. Most sellers will expect to see your offer come with a pre-approval letter. A bona fide pre-approval—one that means what it says and doesn’t put you at risk—takes time to process, so start before you think you need to. There is no substitute for actually applying for a loan. Don’t put much faith in the mortgage calculators you’ll find on the 'net.
I’ll show you properties that meet the criteria you’ve selected. Some buyers like to look at homes on their own. That’s great if you’re just starting out and not sure you’ll really buy. But experience tells me I need to be with serious buyers when they're looking. That’s the only way I'll get the constant, in-depth feedback I need to help you find the right house.
We’ll discuss the positive and negative features of a property that affect its current and future resale value. I can do this best if I see the property with you.
We’ll review all inspection reports and seller disclosures concerning the condition of the property. Most homes in this area are older than the people who buy them, and an old home will typically have at least a few defects (and often many). Our review can easily take an hour or more, so be sure to budget plenty of time. I’ll also disclose any physical defects of the property that I’ve observed. This process is time-consuming but gives you a clear picture of the condition of the house. Only then can you decide to accept each defect or specify the remedy you’d like from the seller. Remedies for any disclosed defects should be addressed in the purchase offer.
I’ll explain to you the option of contingencies for inspections, financing and appraisal. A “contingency” is a time period built into your offer that lets you verify your financing or the suitability of the property. You tie up the property so you can put it under the microscope. If you see something you don't like, you can either walk away with impunity or renegotiate your offer. Contingencies protect you but make your offer less appealing to sellers. Their appropriateness depends on the area and on market conditions. Sometimes contingencies are expected, while at other times they may cause your offer to be rejected.
To reduce your risk of repair when purchasing a property, I’ll pay for a basic one-year home warranty.
general, termite and other inspections
I’ll recommend that you obtain professional building and termite inspections, and any other inspections that may be indicated. I’ll recommend inspectors, call them and schedule appointments to fit your schedule. I’ll meet them at the property and walk through the inspection with them. You should meet them as well, to get clarification on potential problems as soon as they’re spotted.
I’ll prepare a negotiation strategy for the property you’ve selected, including a written Comparative Market Analysis and general advice on the initial price and terms to offer. We’ll talk about comparable properties that have sold recently and why they sold for what they did. As we go through the eight-page purchase contract, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of the many options it gives you to tailor your offer to your needs.
I’ll prepare a written offer on the property you chose to purchase, with terms approved by you. If the level of competition is unclear, we may prepare more than one offer. I’ll work with you to write a purchase offer that asks the seller to repair the items you specify after we review the inspection reports. As a practical matter, your ability to request repairs in a successful offer depends on the amount of interest in the property. If more than one buyer makes an offer, the seller may be able to sell with few or no repairs. Buyers are at a disadvantage when they compete, yet multiple offers are common to certain houses in certain price ranges.
I’ll ask to present your purchase offer directly to the seller in the presence of the listing agent. I’ll also ask the listing agent for an indication of the amount of interest in the property, so that we can tailor your purchase offer accordingly.
closing the sale
I'll monitor and inform you of the progress of the purchase agreement, including the satisfaction of all contingencies and conditions during the entire transaction. Since people are people, the “straightforward transaction” exists only in real estate theory. The other party to the transaction, the seller, shares only one goal with you—to sell the house. Everything else may be negotiable, or renegotiable, or subject to interpretation. We’ll depend on vendors—inspectors, contractors, appraisers, lenders, title companies and others—to do their jobs perfectly under tight deadlines, and even the best sometimes get sidetracked. An agent who keeps cool and reacts appropriately can prevent problems, and keep things on track if they occur.
I’ll accompany you on a thorough walk-through of the property before closing, and help you in dealing with any problems discovered during the walk-through.