(by Robin Polder) With the recent extension of the $8,000 First Time Home Buyer’s Tax Credit program, the 2009 procrastinators have been given a temporary reprieve. But, we have been warned, this is probably the last time for this program!
The perennial dilemma for First Time Buyers is, “Where do I start?” And, the answer is always the same: Find a good, knowledgeable REALTOR® who has a proven track record and solid reputation for taking care of the Buyer.
Friends and relatives who have recently purchased are a good source for referrals, but we recommend that you take the initiative and interview at least 3 different REALTORS®. If it takes more than 3, so be it, but the feedback we get is that 3 or 4 interviews gives the consumer a pretty good feel for a good agent.
Next, you want to take a list of questions for each of the agents to answer. The following is our suggested list:
1. Are you a full time REALTOR®?
While this sounds silly on the surface, you need to know a good percentage of agents are part-timers. You want a full time agent for the very best service and for so many additional reasons! Not the least of these being the fact that new listings come on all day long and could get sold before your part-time agent gets home from their “real” job!
2. How long have you be actively selling real estate?
You want someone who has been actively selling for at least the last 3 years. Why? You are buying your first home, the largest investment you have made to date—this is not the time to be working with a rookie!
3. Can you tell me approximately how much I qualify for on a mortgage?
There are over 40 different lenders in DM and not all of them carry every one of the 15+ different financing plans. An agent who knows the ins and outs of basic pre-qualifying and the different financing programs is invaluable! You should walk out of that initial meeting with at least 3 different financing plans that you qualify for that give you 3 distinctively different mortgage amounts—and, you should have a complete breakdown of your monthly payments on those plans in writing. If they can’t do this now, they can’t do it right before you sign a purchase agreement. You never want to sign a purchase agreement without knowing how much is it going to costs me to get in (down payment) and how much is it going to cost me to stay in (monthly payment)?
4. If I use you as my REALTOR, whom will you represent?
There are 3 ways an agent can operate when writing an offer:
A. Buyer’s Agent
B. Seller’s Agent
C. Dual Agent
A Buyer’s Agent represents just the buyer in the negotiations and pledges loyalty to that Buyer. A Seller’s Agent does the same for the Seller. A Dual Agent represents BOTH the Buyer and Seller in the same transaction!
Obviously, you want someone who is fighting for the best price, the best terms, and looking out for you: a Buyer’s Agent. There is a form, required by law, that both you and the agent must sign declaring whom the agent is representing at the first meaningful contact. If they aren’t willing to give you exclusive Buyer’s agency, my suggestion is to keep on interviewing!