Preparing to buy a home or land is an exciting time. The agents at Sharon Drake Real Estate look forward to helping guide you through the buying process. Here you’ll find a list of helpful tips and resources to make your buying process as seamless and enjoyable as it should be.
Choosing an Agent.
The Real Estate Agent you choose to work with will be your professional resource throughout your search and purchase. It is important to find a personality that feels right for you. Remember, you may be spending quite a bit of time together. Your agent should be a good listener and be adept at figuring out what properties you will be interested in. Your agent needs to be more than a messenger, shuffling information back and forth word for word. Instead your agent needs to be a skilled negotiator, an educator, a partner, a buffer, a source of information and a guide. Your agent should always listen to you, understand your comfort level, your price range, your time frame and your goals. A good agent will represent you well, be informative, will direct you to other professionals when faced with situations outside of their expertise and will walk you through every step of the buying process.
Understand the difference between being a customer and being a client.
Before you begin working with an Agent understand that Maine Law provides for different levels of brokerage services. You should decide whether you want to be represented as a customer or a client.
As a customer you can expect all Maine Real Estate Licensees to:
- Comply with all State and Federal Real Estate Law.
- Be accountable for all money and property received from or on behalf of the buyer and/or seller.
- Be honest and not knowingly provide false information.
- Disclose all known material defects pertaining to the physical condition of the real estate in question.
As a client you can expect all Maine Real Estate Licensees to:
- Honor all of the services listed above.
- Enter into a written agreement with you creating a client-agent relationship, and to honor the terms therein with skill and care. Unless you enter into a written agreement for representation you are a customer, not a client.
- Promote your best interests by negotiating for the best price and terms.
- Maintain confidentiality on all subjects.
- Provide you with respect, loyalty, full disclosure, confidentiality, accountability, reasonable care and diligence.
Understand the difference between a Buyer’s Agent, a Seller’s Agent and a Dual Agent.
A Buyer’s agent represents and negotiates on behalf of the Buyer only. A Seller’s agent represents and negotiates on behalf of the Seller only. A Dual Agent can represent both the Buyer and Seller within one real estate transaction. According to Maine Law an Agent can only act as a Dual Agent under full disclosure, known as Disclosed Dual Agency. Both the Buyer and Seller must consent to this type of representation in writing. A Dual Agent is bound by law not to disclose to one party any confidential information obtained from the other party.
Buyers also have responsibilities.
Help your agent to help you.
Get pre-approval by a lending institution. This will allow you to make good use of your time, your Agent’s time, knowingly shop for homes within your price range and to feel confident with your offer.
Communicate with your Agent. Let them know what you like and don’t like about the properties you visit. This will help them hone in on the right property for you much more quickly.
Be honest about your wants and needs. It is difficult to find the perfect property if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for. Decide what is most important to you.
Be honest with your Agent. There is nothing to be gained by withholding information. Are you working with more than one Agent? Let them all know so their efforts won’t overlap and to avoid uncomfortable situations when there are questions about who is involved in the transaction. Do you have specific goals? Share them with your Agent so you can both work efficiently and effectively.
Disclose that you are working with a Buyer’s Agent. If you are contacting a Seller’s Agent directly about an interesting listing you should immediately tell them that another Agent already represents you. Honesty is the best policy.
Don’t ask your Agent to do anything illegal. Fraud and deception never pays, so don’t put your loyal agent into an uncomfortable position.
Loyalty goes a long way. Find an Agent you respect and work with them exclusively. When you see a property that interests you let them know and let them make the inquiry. When they sense your loyalty they will work harder for you and you both will benefit from a trusting and respectful relationship.
Be considerate of everyone’s time. Don’t keep your Agent or the Seller’s Agent waiting; it’s not polite and can throw the whole day’s schedule off. Agents don’t get paid for their efforts until a property sells, so don’t waste people’s time if you aren’t seriously looking. Again, be honest about your intentions at the start and let the Agent offer their time to you.
Remember that Real Estate Agents are professionals. Call them during business hours and treat them kindly and respectfully. Give them the opportunity to schedule with you. It is not their job to be on call or available at a moment’s notice. They have scheduled appointments and clients just like you who they are working hard for.
Cooperate with your Agent. Work with your agent and trust their counsel. Fill out any necessary paperwork in a timely manner. Respond to their recommendations and requests and allow them to do their very best for you.
Making your purchase.
What you can expect throughout the process:
The Offer. When you have identified the property you would like to purchase you will be required to submit, in writing, your offer with the purchase price and any contingencies such as financing provisions, property inspections, items to remain or to be removed from the property, etc. Your Agent conveys the offer to the listing agent. The offer is accepted, rejected, or you and the Seller negotiate until there is an agreed upon purchase price and set of terms.
The Contract. Congratulations! You are under contract. Now is the time for you to submit your earnest money deposit, your pre-approval letter and to set up your inspections.
The Property Inspection. These are paid for by the Buyer and are usually scheduled right after going under contract. They are most often completed within 10 business days of an accepted offer. These typically include an inspection of any structures, water supplies, septic systems, zoning, pests, radon levels, etc. Any repair issues as a result of the inspection are negotiated with the Seller at this point.
The Lender and Title Agency. You choose a Lender and a Title Agency. Your Agent can suggest options. The Lender will require current financial information and a credit report. Talk this over with you Agent, they have a lot of experience here.
The Appraisal . Once you have chosen a Lender, they will order a certified appraisal from a licensed appraiser. A survey may also be required by the Lender. As a Buyer your costs for the appraisal and survey will be part of your closing costs.
The Walk-Through. Always insist on walking through the property prior to the closing. Be sure that everything is clean, empty and in working order. Check the heating system, the plumbing, and be sure that the heating and cooking fuel levels are as they have been reported. Chances are you will be buying the fuel in these tanks separately, and you should be sure the estimates are accurate.
The Closing . Your Realtor and Title Agency will work closely with your Lender to coordinate the closing and make sure everything that’s required is properly handled. Your Title Agency will order a title search, purchase title insurance on your behalf, and handle all aspects of the closing process. You may be responsible for obtaining a homeowners policy for the property prior to the closing. In addition to the down payment, mortgage and attorney fees required by your Lender, you will typically pay for the title search, a title insurance policy, your attorney fees, homeowner’s insurance policy, your prorated share of the annual property taxes, any property association dues, and any prorated heating fuel or utilities. Ask your Agent, Lender and Attorney for an estimate of these fees, so you’re not surprised at the closing.