- the Dangers
- Buyer's Broker
- The Process
You've found it! Now what? Nothing upsets buyers more than losing a potential home they've become attached to because they didn't act quickly enough. That's why your buyer's broker had you get a pre-approval as one of your first steps
Once you have found the place you’ve been looking for -- and are certain as you can be up to this point -- you need to make an offer to purchase in a timely manner. You need to balance two competing needs:
You need to take swift action. (Before another buyer does.) You also need to remain prudent. (Avoid buyer's remorse.)
The CMA (Comparative Market Analysis)
You want the seller to accept your offering price -- or at the very least engage in a negotiation. This is where working with an experienced buyer’s agent can really pay off, because the first thing they can do for you is a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to determine the property's appropriate market value. A CMA is very similar to a property appraisal. Appraisals are an opinion of value done by licensed real estate appraisers and are the opinion of value used by banks and other entiites as the basis for determining mortgage loans and home values.
A proper CMA is what real estate agents use to help determine the likely market value of a property and is similar to an appraisal in that it compares similar sold properties and makes adjustments to their value to arrive at an approximate value for a prospective home or property. It also can take into account the asking prices of other currently listed properties as well. This can also help evaluate how the house compares in price to other similar properties that are competing in the same market place.
You can then base your offer on (1) value as determined from the CMA and (2) factors such as overall condition and the functional obsolescence of various building systems and appliances. (You also need to be sure what you're offering fits your budget.) The more sound the reasoning put into this number, the more likely you are to be able to justify it and sell it to both the seller and their agent.
Making the Offer
A good buyer’s agent can use their CMA and other information to make the best case on your behalf to substantiate your purchase offer price.
It is also important to note that an offer to purchase contains considerations other than price. Most purchase offers are made subject to a variety of contingencies, including but not limited to the ability of a buyer to secure financing -- usually for a specific amount, within a certain time period, and at a desired interest rate. Other common contingencies include acceptable structural inspections and reports, water and septic tests and, depending on the property, certain environmental tests. All of these contingencies are part of what you are using an experienced buyer’s agent for. They'll make sure you include the appropriate contingencies in your purchase offer.
The offer is made. Let the negotiations begin! Your offer might be accepted - -but if it's rejected, there may be a round of counter-offers (as many as it takes until both buyer and seller reach a meeting of the minds.).
Here again the expertise of a good buyer’s agent can help immensely. There are several sophisticated, creative ways to negotiate a real estate transaction well beyond mere haggling over a price, and that's when experience counts the most. Most people only buy or sell real estate a few times in a lifetime. A good buyer’s agent is doing as many as 30 transactions a year. You'll be very glad you're not going it alone.
Congratulations! You have an accepted offer. Now what?
- Hire a lawyer (you need one who specializes in real estate)
- Have your lawyer review the offer agreement drawn up by your buyer's broker
- Both you and the seller sign the purchaser offer agreement
- Put an earnest money deposit in escrow. [glossary?]
- Order inspections
- Order a survey. (Some lenders require one and sometimes they don’t.) Usually this is only done after inspections and contracts have been signed because a survey can be costly. [glossary: legal description that includes the location and dimension of the property]
Think of the time and money your buyer's broker has already saved you! And there's more to come.
This web resource will help you better understand what a buyer's broker is -- and how they can save you time and money.
Note: The terms "buyer's broker," "buyer's agent," and "buyer representative" are used interchangeably on this site. Different locales use different terminology for the same idea: a real estate professional who represents you -- the buyer.