In addressing this common question, it is prudent to begin with what the role of a realtor is.
What Services Will A Good Realtor Provide?
A good realtor will:
- Help you find neighborhoods that meet the desired characteristics you outline;
- Answer questions you may have about communities and neighborhoods;
- Help you find homes that meet your wishes;
- Assist in the coordination of inspections, closing, financing, securing title insurance, and other matters necessary to properly complete the sale;
- Coordinate your visits to personally view homes of interest;
- Provide comparable home sales to you to help you determine the relative value of a home;
- Provide assistance in the negotiation of repairs identified during inspections. They also can help connect you with quality contractors who can provide estimates and conduct the work at a reasonable price;
- Provide assistance in properly wording contingencies you may wish to put in your offer of purchase.
It is important to note though, that in most places a Realtor is the agent of the seller, and is therefore required to represent the interests of the seller. While Realtors must abide by a strong set of professional ethics, their duty to represent the interests of the seller does create some potential conflicts as respects your interests.
What Is A Buyers’ Agent?
Many states will allow you to have a realtor represent you. The term varies, but is often referred to as a “buyers’ agent.” Usually, you need to sign a form with the realtor that spells out that they are representing your interest. Often, in exchange, you agree to use them exclusively for some period of time, and not to use other realtors. The benefit of this approach is that the realtor can give you unfiltered advice on a home, it’s price, the neighborhood, etc. as the realtor is no longer legally representing the seller. A buyer’s agent can be your strategic negotiator to drive the best bargain possible on the home you wish to purchase.
Now that we have covered some of the services a good realtor will provide for you, we can address the question this article poses:
What Concerns Do I have If I Buy A House Without A Realtor
When you are working without a realtor, you will need to figure out how you accomplish those services listed above that they would normal provide:
- Evaluating Neighborhoods/Communities: Numerous websites exist that allow you to evaluate crime, schools, mass transit, walk friendliness, bike friendliness, and various other attributes. You may also want to look at local newspapers, school board meeting minutes, and to talk to people who already live in a particular neighborhood;
- Googlemaps allow you to do flyovers of neighborhoods to see the layout, surrounding parks, distance to freeways, etc. Google Streetview lets you preview streets with a virtual drive through the neighborhood;
- Various websites allow you to search for homes in neighborhoods that meet specified criteria. Some of these websites provide additional tools, such as market value estimates, historical sales records, recent comparable sales, and historical tax information. Two popular sites are http://www.zillow.com and www.realtor.com;
- If you are not working with a realtor, you will need to coordinate your own visitations for properties. This just means you will need to contact the listing agent yourself to arrange for a viewing of a property;
- You may wish to work with a quality residential real estate attorney to help you with constructing a proper offer with the right contingencies and to walk you through securing clean title, a proper closing, and title insurance;
- You may need to line up and coordinate your own inspections and to find your own good contractors to provide estimates for any issues identified. Finding a quality home inspector is key. You want someone who is very thorough and detail oriented. You want to find the inspector that most listing agents fear – because they are so thorough that they are viewed as deal killers. The good news is that defects found during an inspection, usually must be disclosed to other potential purchasers. So, identifying all the defects gives you piece of mind and puts you in a strong negotiating position for a better price on the home.
Useful Link: 184 Tasks That Real Estate Agents Do For You
Often buyers select realtors who know a particular community or area very well. That realtor will often know about brewing problems in a school, a big real estate tax increase that is about to go through, problems with drinking water in a particular area, proposed changes to plane flight paths that could impact noise levels, a planned new highway that will be cutting through the neighborhood, etc. When you work with a realtor as a buyers’ agent, you may gain the benefit of all this local knowledge. When you go it alone, and you are looking at moving to a community you are not intimately familiar with, you run the risk of not being aware of important facts that could influence the present or future desirability of a property.
Your decision on whether or not to use a realtor may be influenced by many things. If you elect to use a realtor, it is probably advisable to find an agent who knows your target city or town well and to work with him or her as a buyers’ agent. The less familiar you are with the local area, the more value a realtor will likely bring for you.
Useful Link: Picking A Real Estate Agent
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Enhanced Insurance is not written by attorneys. If you’re looking for legal advice, you need to contact a lawyer. Further, insurance practices and forms change constantly and are varied from state to state. For definitive answers in your area, contact a local agent.
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