A Mini Seminar For Buyers
A Must Read for All Home Buyers & Anyone Seriously Considering Buying a Home Alone
(Including New Construction) - Without A Buyers Broker!
"Home Buyers And Sellers Don't Know What They Don't Know." NAR 2006
"It's what Buyers don't know that can harm them." Robert Whitfield
The following topics will make you more informed than 90% of the buyers out there - we hope you find the material informative.
One Caveat When Reading This Material: Whenever we make reference to your using a Buyer Agent, Realtor, or Professional Buyer Broker, we are NOT suggesting you hire any agent who has a license! You must do some Comparative Research - just like when finding a Doctor. It Is not wise to simply hire a buyer agent because your sister or someone at church referred them to you - most people don't really know enough to know if an agent actually did a good job for them or not! You Can Save Yourself A Lot of Trouble And Possibly Thousands Of Dollars By Comparing At Least 3 Of the Very Best Agents You Can Find. Our Market Is Flooded With Very "Nice" But Very Incompetent And Often Desperate Agents Who Would Love To "Help" You! Many Agents Got Into The Business Because It Seemed Like An Easy Path To Big Bucks And An Easy Way To Be Self Employed. Surprise, Its Not Easy - Over 30 % Left The Business Altogether In 2007- 2008 Or Only "Do Real Estate On The Side"!
Buying A Home Is One Of Life's Largest Transactions - Too Important To Trust To An Agent Who Is Desperate or Only Average!
So, What Defines A Top Level Pro - The Best Agent To Look For? First look for one with the most qualifications you can find. Next, find out if they are ethical, confident, and smart - ask them if they will help you without signing a Buyer Brokerage Agreement. If they say no problem, run - they don't know the importance of protecting you as a client with a written Buyer Brokerage Agreement - and you have found a very weak agent so desperate for a client they are willing to compromise your position!
7 Tests To Quickly Rule Out Over 95% Of Ordinary So-So Agents Out There - Again Its About Qualifications & Integrity:
1 An Agent Who Is A Realtor© Member - Wrong! This is actually not that important - most agents are realtors, and most are also helpless.
2 A FULL TIME Agent (Can timely respond to clients and deal with negations at any time) - Its egregious for persons with a 9-5 job to try and practice real estate on the side like so many do - many deals have been blown that way.
3 An Agent With At Least 10 CONSECUTIVE FULL TIME Years In The Business - Experience With Most Kinds of Transactions.
4 An Agent Who Has Attained A Higher Professional Level - such as an Associate Broker, or has become a Broker/Owner.
5 An Agent With Added Qualifications/Skills That Compliment Real Estate - For Example, One Who Is Also An Appraiser, Certified Inspection Expert, or Attorney.
6 An Agent Who Can Prove They Place Your Interests First - Who Is Not Afraid Of Straight Talk - Will Give You The PRO's AND The CON's.
7 An Ethical Agent - One Who Will Insist On Protecting Your Interests From Day One And Will Refuse To Work With You In The Absence of a Written *Buyer Brokerage Agreement.
*Note, this problem of leaving clients exposed only exists with buyers - listing agent's always represent the seller by signed Agreement!
The Above Criteria Are Far More Important Than Who An Agent Works For, And Very Few Agents Can Meet All 6 Qualifications
Shameless Plug: Robert Whitfield Meets & Exceeds All 7 Of These Criteria!
Three Significant Points Every Buyer Should Understand
Recent Changes In Georgia Laws Make It More Important Than Ever For Buyers To Obtain Professional Representation...
Buyers Now Bear New Responsibilities...
As a buyer it is important to know how changes in Georgia laws can affect you:
Georgia Laws effective 7-1-2000, place much of the primary burden and obligation on Buyers (not the Seller, Broker, Listing Agent, or Builder) to do their own discovery and diligent research about all aspects affecting a property, both onsite and off! Previously, the agent and broker were liable for much of this discovery and disclosure. Further, state law O.C.G.A. 10-6A-1 et. Seq. states that if you as a Buyer do not enter into a written Buyer Brokerage Agreement with an agent, you are not represented as a client, and are therefore only a customer to any agent you may be working with during the purchase of a home. "Customers" must be treated honestly and fairly, but have no representation of their best interests by any agent they might be working with, are to be given no important guidance or advice, receive only the minimal disclosures required by law, and the agent is not beholding to their "buyer customer" for their mistakes, actions, or failures to act.
This makes it more important than ever for Buyers to obtain top quality Client representation by partnering with a highly experienced and qualified Buyer Broker!
Questions or Comments? E Mail Us Now!
A Quick Overview Of Agency Relationships...What You Don't Know Can Cost You!
CONSUMER ALERT...Going Out On Your Own To See Homes Can Cost You Thousands!
Not Yet Ready To Buy - Don't Want To "Bother" An Agent Yet...Just Want To Go Look At Some Homes On Your Own...Sounds Harmless Enough...but DON'T DO IT, not until you talk to us first!
We can help those of you who are still doing research on which neighborhood you might want to live in and assist you with valuable information that will guide you and show you how to find out about the area the right way. Call us to find out how to protect yourself from Listing Agent & Builder Agent listing clauses and an obscure legal concept that can strip you of your rights if you go looking at homes "on your own!" All "Seller/Builder Agent Representatives" are Legally Required and Duty Bound to get the Most Money for their seller/builder and do what is in the Best Interests of their Seller/Builder - Not You! Unfortunately most of the public simply does not understand this dynamic, and unknowingly acts as if Seller Agents were merely helpful sales associates as if they were shopping in Best Buy for a big screen TV! In Real Estate It doesn't work that way! In reality, if you're a buyer, Seller Agents should be viewed as and treated as opposing counsel - because that is exactly what they are and how they function on behalf of the seller/builder in any real estate transaction! Seller Representatives aren't evil or devious, its just their job. However, in doing their job, Sellers listing agents can and will take actions that are not in your favor as the Buyer - actions that could cost you thousands should you later return and want to buy the property you previewed with their assistance - and all because you innocently called a listing agent to let you into a home, or stopped into a model home sales center to get info and see the builders homes without a Buyer Broker of your own! What's way more important than seeing homes - knowing how to Protect Your Rights as the Purchaser. While we have experience in remedying the problem even after a buyer has already made this error, its always better to avoid problems in the first place, rather than cure them later! Tip - if you drop by a new home community and are "just looking" never fill out the form they give you in the sales model - as us why!
Who represents whom? In any real estate transaction you will either be a Client, or a Customer.
The best position by far for any home purchaser is that of being a Client because clients have representation of their interests. Customers on the other hand must fend for themselves and are at a decided disadvantage when trying to negotiate against even a semi skilled agent. The ONLY way to become a client is to enter into a written Buyer Brokerage Agreement with your agent! All real estate professionals owe their Clients important duties, including: exercising reasonable care, accountability, protection of the Clients best interests at all times, loyalty, fairness, and honesty. Customers have no representation, they are just what the term implies - a customer. Customers are only owed fairness and honesty. Agents are not allowed to provide a Customers with advice, guidance, or anything that even hints at helping to aid, represent, or protect a customers best interests or make a customer better informed - that would be practicing Undisclosed Dual Agency which is an illegal act for which an agent can be sued by all parties, and probably would loose their license as well!
Listing Agents work under Seller Agency and legally must fully represent their best interests of their client, the Seller. Listing agents are charged with attempting to do all in their power to get the best terms and price possible for the Seller. If a Buyer who is not represented by a Buyers Agent wishes to make an offer on this agents listing, they are at a disadvantage. Why? In addition to a contract and addendums that will be riddled with esoteric legal clauses drafted highly in favor of the Seller, buyer's simply are no match for a professional agent when it comes to protecting their own interests during the many steps of a purchase transaction. Buyers are also at a great disadvantage compared to a professional agent on issues such as land and agency laws, accurate comparable home pricing, real estate contract laws and how to legally comply with and follow correct contract procedures and time limit requirements! Making a mistake on one of life's largest purchases can result in a costly lawsuit, voided contract, even lost earnest money.
Site Agents usually work in a model home converted into a "sales center" at new home subdivisions, and work under Seller Agency to represent builders. Just like the Listing Agent above, site agents must fully represent their client, the Builder/Developer, not the home buyer. If a new home buyer is "self represented" the Site Agent is allowed to assist them in filling out the contract form, but can give them no professional guidance - for instance: advise the buyer of some nasty contract clauses in favor of the builder and that there may be a way to minimize their impact. An unrepresented "new home" buyer can be at a real disadvantage when things don't go according to plans because some builders use new home contracts that are some of the most one sided contracts in the industry in favor of the seller/builder. I have encountered new home contracts so adverse to buyers that my client wisely choose to look elsewhere when the builder would not accept changes that merely leveled the playing field! Site agents will be happy to sell an unrepresented buyer their Builders house, but they will not be looking out for the buyers welfare at all! And rightly so, because remember, unrepresented buyers are only customers - not clients.
Buyers Agents as the name implies, are agents who have agreed to work under a written Buyer Agency Agreement to represent and assist a buyer as their Buyers Agent. Under a Buyer Agency Agreement the Buyers Agent is legally charged with treating the buyer as a Client and representing that which is in the best interests of the buyer at all times - as long as it is legal. This is far better than transacting to purchase a home on your own, or having dealings with any agent with whom you do not have a written Buyer Agency Agreement to protect your interests.
Beware - all Buyers Agents are NOT the same! Buyers would be wise to shop around for their buyers agent and carefully compare the type of experience and qualifications, as well as look for any specialized abilities that may distinguish their prospective buyers agent and set them apart from the crowd. Why? Anyone, even an agent who has primarily been a listing agent can execute the written Buyer Agency Agreement which requires them to "act" as your buyers agent, and act on your behalf. However, because the agent you choose can only act to the capacity of their acquired skills, it would be far wiser to choose an experienced buyer specialist instead of a generalist when entrusting someone to assist with your largest financial transaction. Look for someone who has worked with buyers the greater part of their career, and who has been active in real estate a minimum of 3-5 years.
Can you put your trust in a brokerage firm just because of their size or name recognition?
Absolutely not! Real Estate is a person to person business. Contrary to popular belief, the name recognition or size of an agents brokerage firm has very little to do with the quality of service or real results you will receive, or how competently your transaction will ultimately be handled. Large national franchises don't want it widely known, but they continually seek out and hire brand new totally inexperienced agents with few skills, and after only a few weeks of classroom training these newbie agents with zero track record are free to market themselves with the firms often impressive advertising materials and offer to "serve your best interests"...with your largest financial transaction!
Large franchise firms often fund big advertising campaigns to promote themselves as having some kind of industry edge - the reality is any small independent brokerage firm has access to the same technologies, national networking and relocation affiliations, MLS home databases, and can provide every client service equally well! In fact, some local independent brokerage firms are highly specialized or have peerless knowledge of a certain market segment and can actually provide clients far superior services to any national franchise firm - Advantage Home Buyer Representatives, Inc. is an excellent example, and there are other local specialist firms as well.
Bottom line real estate is truly a person to person business - every firm is comprised of agents who are all independent contractors and you deal solely with them as individuals - it is they, not their corporation that will be directly representing and assisting you. This is why it is important to choose your agent based on their individual qualifications - irrespective of how well known their firm may be. You will likely never meet the broker/owner of a large firm unless something has gone very wrong and he/she is required to step in and help your agent - or take over the transaction! So always select your real estate professional based on their individual abilities and qualifications!
In summary, the ONLY way to even have a chance that your interests as the Buyer are looked after, and that the agent will be accountable to you if they have dropped the ball or lead you wrong, is to have representation as a Client via a written Buyer Agency Agreement.
Questions or Comments? E Mail Us Now!
A Common Misunderstanding
Many Buyers Have About Home Prices
And Real Estate Commissions!
Many buyers mistakenly assume they might get a "better deal" if they elect not to use a buyers agent, because they think that any commission their buyers agent would have received will be deducted from the price of their home - as if listing fees were a negotiating point available to buyers! Believing this, and with very limited knowledge of the market and true comparable sales, and worse, little to no knowledge about Real Estate Contract Law, Laws Of Agency, or Georgia Real Property Laws and their impact on real estate transactions, these misinformed buyers then go about trying to handle their own purchase as if buying a home were no more complicated than buying a car. The result...thousands of dollars of their own money is wasted because no listing fees are deducted from their homes price, and worse, they are unnecessarily exposed to a host of unknown risks, and often end up paying too much for a home by not having the support and representation of a skilled buyers agent!
The FACTS About Real Estate Commissions:
Full real estate listing commission fees of typically 6% to7% are built into the purchase price of every home listed by a real estate firm (over 85% of all homes for sale) and including all new homes. Everyone who buys one of these homes pays these fees as one of the components of the homes total purchase price. These listing fees are not negotiable by the purchaser at all. Barring a specific written stipulation for a partial commission reduction in the private listing contract between the seller and listing agent, and executed at the time the home was listed, no part of the listing fees are ever deducted from the price of the home...even if the buyer doesn't have a buyers agent to represent them! And few listing agents will agree to partial commission reductions, because unrepresented buyers usually require a lot of handholding and extra follow-up - making their job twice as hard as when a buyer comes to the table with assistance from a knowledgeable and experienced buyers agent!
When a buyer has no agent, and is "self represented", the listing broker who is representing the seller/builder simply receives the entire 6% to 7% listing commission fee factored into the price of the home. In essence, the Buyer has paid for representation, but did not take advantage of it! When a buyer does have their own agent or broker, the 6% to 7% commission fee built into the purchase price of their home is split, usually 50/50, between the listing and selling brokers. (Buyers Agents and Buyers Brokers are known as the selling broker and receive a selling side commission) in order to pay for the buyer to have their own buyers agent! This takes place under a "cooperative commission split agreement" which is actually mandated for all member brokers by the local Multiple Listing Services for every new and existing home listed in either the GMLS or FMLS coverage area - the full 20 county metro Atlanta area.
Questions or Comments? E Mail Us Now!
Robert Whitfield...Atlanta's Most Qualified Home Buying Expert!
Advantage Realtors / Advantage Home Buyer Representatives, Inc. Local: 678-585-9691
Specialists in Prime In Town and Greater North Atlanta Properties
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