Why do I need a buyers agent?
The benefits of a buyer’s agent are many, the most important of which is representation. We use this analogy often: would you want to use your spouse’s divorce attorney if you were getting a divorce? Of course not. Using the listing agent to represent you on a house is a poor choice as they have the seller’s best interests in mind.
The key is not just having a buyer’s agent, but the correct one. Your buyer’s agent should strive to understand your wishes, match your style and communicate in the way you want to be communicated with. You will be spending a great deal of time with this person so make sure you mesh well at all levels
Isn’t Zillow the same as MLS?
Nope, Zillow is not MLS.
Zillow receives its information from a variety of sources, but it is not the same as MLS. Many differences exist but the major ones revolve around accuracy and timing. There is no guarantee that what you see on Zillow is either a complete list or one whose availability is accurate. Furthermore, the timing between when a home is listed for sale in MLS and when it might appear on Zillow is Nope, Zillow is not MLS.
Serious buyers use MLS for their search.
As a buyer, can I get a password to MLS during my search?
Sorry, but no. The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a paid and closed database and can only be accessed by Realtors, appraisers or other service providers who are members of the MLS. And as a member of the MLS, there are about 40 pages of rules that we have to follow.
That said, an agent can offer you what is called a Portal to MLS, which is a pretty awesome service that allows you to see into the MLS according to a set of parameters that you, as a buyer or seller, can request from your agent. A Portal allows you to see listings as they come onto the market, price and status changes, as well as save favorites and communicate with your agent. And we would LOVE to set up one for you.
When is the height of the condo market? It seems like slim pickings recently…
The biggest issue is that since the market crash of 2008, very few new condos have been built and as demand has increased, there are no longer enough supply to go around. This lack of inventory is not just limited to the condo market. The housing market, especially at affordable prices, is extremely undersupplied as well. The only cure is to be ready to pounce when you see something you like and make your offer easy to accept. We have also had a great deal of luck approaching past clients directly who own condos. We have been able to secure deals that never hit the market using this approach. Using a buyers agent really gives you an edge in this scenario.
What is the explanation for a very low appraisal in a market that is supposed to be “hot”?
The appraisal process is based on looking backwards and in hot markets, it is hard to find comparable sales. We wish there was a better answer. As a seller, one of the keys is to make sure the purchaser is less sensitive to a missed appraisal. If a Buyer A is putting down 25% and Buyer B is putting down 5%, you might be wise to select Buyer A and try to get them to waive part, if not all, of any appraisal contingency. Similarly, as a buyer, don’t get in bidding wars if you are a Max FHA buyer. You will cost yourself inspection and appraisal fees, as well as time, and likely miss out on other opportunities. The lack of inventory is driving pricing up but unfortunately, sometimes the rising prices outpace the appraiser’s ability to find the supporting sales. With anything, preparation is key. Knowing when an appraisal is likely to come in low allows you to put contingency plans in place to handle it if/when it happens.
Do I need an inspection on a new home?
Yes. The ‘new’ part of a new home implies many warranties, both on equipment and workmanship, but it doesn’t guarantee that everything was built, connected or installed perfectly. And as builders continue to fight to keep costs down, the labor from which they draw is increasingly less skilled.
Most home inspectors will offer a bit of a modified version of a home inspection for new homes that is more akin to a punch list walk through on steroids where they spend less time inspections the mechanical condition, and focus more on the installation and aesthetics. It is a valuable exercise that we highly recommend.
How many homes should I look at before buying?
There is not one answer, but here are some things to keep in mind.
When you get started, take a day and look at different type of homes. Look at some that are old and some that are newer — construction styles, layout preferences and materials change quickly and deciding on the era of construction you prefer is important.
It is also important to decide on how much land you want and in what environment. Urban neighborhoods tend to have the smallest lots, but are closer to amenities. The suburbs give you a little bit of land and newer schools, but tend to be more car dependent. Rural areas give you the most space, but are furthest from the shopping and work centers.
So how many homes you need to see before buying can vary based on what type of housing you want and how long it takes you to decide.