Buyers’ Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do I really need to work with a buyer’s agent?
A: It’s not a rule, but definitely the best way to go. Some buyers think they can rely on the agent selling the home they’re interested in purchasing — but remember, that agent’s first duty is to their seller. You need someone on your side! Look for an agent who’s experienced in the local market, and who’s a strong negotiator. Buying a home is an extraordinarily complex business — there are dozens of inspections, reports, disclosures and other documents and issues to navigate. You should have someone working for your whose primary purpose is to get you the best property for the best price, while protecting your interests.
Q: What should I do to prepare to purchase a home?
A: Your first step should be talking to your banker or mortgage lender to work out how much you should spend. They’ll work with you to get prequalified for a loan, and provide you with a prequalification letter that helps let sellers know you’re a serious buyer. You’ll also want to have a preliminary discussion with your real estate agent to refine your list of requirements for your new home, help narrow down possible areas and neighborhoods, and give them a good indication of what your needs and wants are. It’s also a good idea to take a look at a number of properties online to get a general indication of what types of homes are available in the neighborhoods you’re interested in and what the current market values are. But take any info you find with a grain of salt — you may have no way of knowing whether the listings you’re looking at are vastly overpriced, or whether the estimated values shown on one of the popular home value sites is anywhere near accurate. Your agent can give you a more detailed and accurate overview of the current market.
Q: Once I’ve selected a home, what kind of inspections will I have to do?
A: Your agent will handle scheduling of all necessary inspections, and will go over the resulting reports with you. Generally, there’ll be an appraisal (required by the lender), a physical inspection to check for any major issues with the home’s construction and systems, plus termite and mold inspections. Some properties may also require a geological or other inspections, as well. The reports will detail any problems that need to be addressed; if there’s anything serious, your agent will work out a suitable agreement with the seller and their agent to either get the problems repaired, or get you a credit against the sale price or closing costs.