Demystified: The Home Buyer Consultation
So if you haven’t learned from my other blogs that I am a big proponent of the buyer consultation, let me be clear: I am a big proponent of the buyer consultation! Most buyers (even some agents) have never heard of a buyer consultation and typically react negatively when I suggest meeting for
coffee to discuss what you’re looking for.
I get it. You can look for homes online and you’re more informed as a buyer class than any other buyer class before you. You just contacted me because I can get you into the door, and you want to limit the amount of time you’re with me, one of the least trusted professions in the world. But, let me throw it back on you – do you want to work with someone who does not insist on buyer consultation because they’re afraid of losing a commission or do you want to work with someone who has the heart of a teacher and takes time to answer your questions and fill in potential blanks that could save you thousands of dollars?
That being said, I wanted to explain what happens during a buyer consultation and why it’s important, so without further ado…
1. Getting on the same page.
When I ask buyers what they’re looking for, a fairly common answer is “3 Bedrooms, 2 Bath, and some land.” I could find you a ton of properties that match that description, but in my experience it’s not all about marking the check boxes – it’s about the feel of the home. It is extremely difficult to find that “feel” you’re looking for without delving deeper. For example, “some land” may mean 1 acre because any more would be too much to maintain where another buyer would say a minimum of 5 acres. I’ve had buyers call me, tell me a home is perfect for them, they want to go see it immediately, but after meeting change their mind because they didn’t realize it was in a flood zone! Once we’re on the same page about what you’re truly looking for, you won’t need to take time off work to look at homes that don’t cut it!
2. Discuss the entire home buying process, the length of time it will take to complete each phase, and what it will cost you to purchase.
Buyers are incredibly informed, more so than previous buyers because the internet is a wealth of information. However, there’s not a lot of information out there about the process, time, or cost to purchase. The typical home search in my area is about 3 months. A ratified deal can take as little as 4-5 weeks or as much as 8-10 weeks. It’s going to require a significant investment of your time and energy, not to mention money! Many buyers think they don’t have enough money saved for a down payment and are shocked to learn that a conventional loan (used to be 20%) is now only 3%. Also, there’s still a couple 0% down loans available in the Lewis County area. But’s that’s not all the costs involved. You still have to save for the inspection, appraisal, closing costs, and other miscellaneous fees typical in a contract to purchase. One fee you won’t pay is your Buyer’s Rep commission!
3. How Realtors get paid and why it’s important.
Many buyers don’t want to use an agent to purchase because they don’t want to pay a commission. However, buyer’s don’t pay their Realtor’s commission – the seller pays both! Why wouldn’t you use professional representation if it’s free? So, the commission on a house is set by seller and seller’s broker. Typically, it is split in four between both agent offices and both agents. Nobody gets paid unless the deal gets closed! This is a good system that makes agents work harder and think outside the box to keep deals together, but you could feel pressured to complete the deal as well. This is another reason to meet with your agent first and see if you like them and can trust them. If things start to go south, you want to be confident they’re fighting for you, not their commission.
4. My value to you and why you should work with me instead of other agents.
I hear this a lot in the agent community said to buyers and sellers: “There’s really no difference between agents, just pick someone you like and get along with.” While you do want to pick someone whom you don’t hate, any agent who tells you there is no difference is a red flag. First, they say there is no difference because they don’t know any better. Second, if they don’t have the ability or confidence to separate themselves from other agents, how hard do you think they are going to fight for you if they don’t fight for themselves. Third, you’re not going to be receiving the best service possible. There is NOBODY providing better service or results than me, and you can take that to the bank – no, literally, you’re going to save thousands with me than with the average agent (and I’ll show you the stats)!
5. Legal disclosures required by Government.
Real estate is becoming more and more regulated, which is both a good and bad thing. I provide you with legal disclosures upfront, allowing you to actually read through them rather than having you sign off on them when writing the offer. Also, I provide you with the Realtor Code of Ethics so you know the rules I adhere to.
6. What does an actual contract look like?
A real estate purchase and sale agreement is multiple pages long, sometimes 30 pages or more. I provide you with the main form where all the meat and potato terms of the deal show up. Of course, I explain everything while making the offer, but it’s always a good thing to be knowledgeable of what’s required. And you’ll be prepared before actually seeing the large stack of papers that you’ll have to sign/date/initial over and over and over again!
7. What’s the next step?
Finally, you’re going to leave the meeting with a game plan of what needs to be done over the next few days and the course of the deal. This is one of the most frequently asked questions I get, “What happens next, where do I go from here.” If you don’t have the consultation, you’re at the whim of your agent who let you in the door after just meeting you at the house!
Hopefully this blog has shed some light and demystified the Home Buyer Consultation. On the same note, hopefully you see the intrinsic value of meeting with your agent before looking at homes. If you want a glorified gatekeeper, there are plenty of agents ready and willing to take that call. My background is customer service so I do things a little differently. If your agent doesn’t take the time to truly understand your needs and provide Extraordinary Service, how are they going to deliver you Extraordinary Results?