Exclusive buyer's brokers work only with buyers and don't take listings. They're obliged to help you find the best deals and lowest price. Unfortunately, agency standards have changed so much in the past ten years that real estate agents themselves are likely to be confused about their obligations to buyers and sellers, even though in most places they are supposed to give you a disclosure form explaining your relationship. Bottom line: You don't truly have an advocate in your corner unless you both sign a contract saying so.
Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine
If you ever doubted the value of real estate agents who work solely for home buyers (as opposed to traditional agents who report to sellers, consider this: A recent study by U.S. Sprint found that 232 relocating Sprint employees who hired buyer's brokers paid an average of 91% of a home's list price. People who use traditional agents typically pay about 96%. On a house originally priced at$150,000, that's a difference of $7,500.
When Sallye and Jim Ryan wanted to move from their Tampa apartment to a three-bedroom home this spring, the busy couple used a buyer broker, Beth Tansey, to help. Within a week, they had bid on the house they now own. Sallye liked being able to delegate the house-hunting. "With both my husband and me working, it was a lot easier," she says. "I don't think I would have found this house that I really love without her. There are so many homes for sale here, I would probably still be looking.
Because Tansey is a buyer broker, who exclusively represents the home buyer's interests, the Ryan's trusted her to find the best deal on a house that suited their needs. By contrast, a traditional real state broker is legally bound to work for the seller who pays the commission and therefore may be more intent on selling listed homes than finding your dream house. Even Realtors who don't hold the listing on a given house act as subagents to the seller. So unless a broker says that he or she is working for you -- brokers are now legally obliged to disclose who they represent -- you can assume the broker is working for the seller. Such agents must pass on information such as the buyer's income to the seller, who then has a better idea of what price to hold out for.
Because these brokers are obliged to get buyers the best deal possible, they approach houses with a critical eye for apparent flaws. You'll still need an inspector to uncover hidden defects, however. Buyer brokers also show properties sold by the owner, which can be cheaper because the only commission is what you agree to pay your broker. Sellers' agents usually won't show these homes because they don't make commissions on them.
Brokers representing buyers should also appraise the value of the house, negotiate the price, and pre-qualify you for a mortgage, sometimes at a better rate. Buyers' Agent brokers, for instance, narrow mortgage bids from 15 lenders nationwide to the three best offers -- and then get those three to rebid. "A well-trained, experienced buyer broker is a great asset," says Peter Miller, author of How to Sell Your Home in Any Market ($12, Harper Perennial) and other real estate guides. "You won't do any worse, and you may do a lot better.
Usually, the buyer broker splits the sales commission with the seller's agent, just as a subagent who didn't have the listing would with the broker who did. So the fee still comes out of the sale price. Some people might assume that buyers' agents have an incentive to keep the price high. But again, the broker must get you the best deal. "In my experience, all of them do," says Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America.
A conflict of interest is more likely when a real estate firm that represents sellers assigns you one of its brokers as a buyer agent. That's why many people believe an "exclusive" buyer broker is preferable. If there aren't any in your area, and you have to use a listing broker, "make sure they disclose when they are showing you properties they have a financial interest in," says Brobeck.
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Reasons To Get A Home Loan Before You Start Shopping For A Home
You do NOT have to have a home under contract to obtain a home loan. The lender is looking at your credit history and income when considering a loan application.
Some potential home buyers think they will have no problem qualifying for a loan only to be disappointed when they find out they don't. Others may afraid they won't qualify so they don't apply. We often see people who don't think they qualify for a home loan but don't know that many lenders offer loan programs for all types of borrowers.
Avoid disappointment resulting from looking at homes that are out of your price range. Looking at homes in a price range you can afford will keep you from being disappointed if you fall in love with a home only to find out that it is beyond your financial abilities.
Insure that you will meet your moving dead line. Knowing you must move by a certain date and still working on proving you are qualified for a loan can be a stressful experience. The two most common problems are resolving credit issues and proving you have the cash for your down payment and closing costs.
Applying for a loan as soon as possible will insure that any incorrect information in your credit history can be corrected before the closing date. It often takes 60 days or more to have information corrected in your credit files.
Having a Loan Commitment in your hand is like being a cash buyer. Every seller wants to work with cash buyers. It gives you leverage when presenting an offer and negotiating a counter offer. It will insure that the closing process goes smoothly when you do find your new home. Do not mistake a Loan Commitment with a pre-approval or pre-qualification, a pre-approval does not carry much weight with a seller since a pre-approval is only a cursory look at your credit history.
Applying for a home loan online can be a real convenience. You can apply for a mortgage online 24 hours a day 7 days a week. You can apply from your home, office, local library or any location that offers Internet access. No need to take time off work or away from play. Avoids feeling pressured by sitting in a lenders office and allows you ample time to collect all the necessary information.
Be sure you check the rates and fees for several lenders before you decide which one to use. Compare the lender fees, not just the interest rate. Ask each lender to provide you with a "Good Faith Estimate" of closing costs and carefully review it. If you see a fee you don't understand ask the lender to provide a clear explanation of the item. Then ask your real estate Agent to review the Good Faith Estimate. Being more familiar with the forms the Agent can spot any hidden "junk" fees.