Agent

4 buyer unknowns agents can battle with preparation

There's so much more to buying a home than making an offer and moving in
  • A serious buyer is an engaged buyer.
  • Much of what a buyer wants to know is subjective.
  • Real estate agents are limited in what we can provide buyers.

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If you work exclusively as a buyer’s agent, you have some concerns that listing agents might not have, whether or not your clients sign airtight contracts.

Too many real estate agents are reluctant, afraid or untrained about how to take charge of a buyer’s agent relationship (assuming it is even possible, given the avalanche of free information so readily available with no strings attached). This is proven by many agents not getting representation contracts signed.

New buyer’s agents need to construct a business model that will help them achieve success, which means that it has to make sense for their prospective clients as well as for them.

After all, our job is so much more than driving around and opening doors, isn’t it?

What is urgent compared to important? What does the law and our Code of Ethics require? What does our broker or manager expect? What does our errors and omissions insurance require and expect?

I believe that a buyer must be all-in, fully engaged in what, for most, will be the most important decision of their financial life.

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Making a mistake can be very costly and hard to undo. As a listing agent, I have encountered that all too often.

There are a few basic steps to maximize a buyer’s chance for success. Despite the best advice, there are “unknowns” with any purchase, and the best we can hope to do is to minimize them.

Here are some basic advice and action steps you can give your buyer clients to ensure their success:

1. Get prequalified

Buyers should get prequalified and determine their comfort level in terms of their down payment and monthly payment.

2. Determine the goals

Ask your buyers: Do you see yourself staying in a home for a long time or a short time? Is a house something you will “grow into” or “grow out of”?

Agents need to remember Fair Housing laws and be careful about what they ask.

3. Figure out location

Agents are allowed to discuss the house and the real estate market. We may be the source of the source for information that a buyer needs to evaluate a neighborhood, but we are not allowed to steer them to or away from areas.

Having the best of intentions is not an excuse if someone thinks we have an agenda. Buyers need to understand that you can take any specific house and affect its market value by simply placing it in several locations.

The buyers need to be as diligent researching potential locations as they are picking fruit in the market. Location is a major variable in valuing a house: You can improve a house to some extent, but you are stuck with the area around your house.

I encourage buyers to drive by a house before we consider scheduling an appointment. This will allow them to evaluate the area and potential neighbors. They should also do whatever research they need to satisfy themselves.

For example, they might have questions about the school system, the quality of life and other variables outside of our practice.

Unfortunately, in a seller’s market, there might be little time to do this type of due diligence, so buyers might cut corners and risk making an ill-informed decision. That should not cause us to deviate from our role in the process.

4. Re-evaluate commitment

Most real estate sales involve a number of steps, which might offer both parties an opportunity to re-evaluate their commitment to the process.

That is not to suggest making uninformed decisions, but buyers need to know that a purchase is not necessarily concluded when a seller signs their offer. They should consult a real estate attorney and completely review documents if they have questions.

An engaged consumer is the best to work for. We need to keep the process on track, and there is so much more to buying a house than making an offer and moving in.

Andrew Wetzel is an associate broker with Long and Foster Real Estate in Havertown, Pennsylvania. Follow Andrew on Facebook or Twitter

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