Buying a home, especially if it is your first home, can be exciting - but it can also be a little scary because you haven't done it before and there are lots of things to think about. As a Realtor who works with first time homebuyers in Richmond Virginia, I completely understand these emotions. So this is why, each week, I put together a short video to offer a helpful tip that will help you maneuver the homebuying process!
So, last week, I suggested that you should get a good Buyer Agent to help you find your first home! Once you find the Buyer Agent you think you want to work with, the next step would be to sit down and hold a conversation with them. You want to find out how comfortable you are with them. After all, this is the person you are trusting to help you with your biggest financial investment - purchasing your first home!
But once you do find that Buyer Agent, just what do you ask them? Here are the questions I recommend you ask (and they are in no particular order)!
1. How long have you been a Realtor? There is nothing wrong with being a new agent - in fact, there are plenty of good Realtors who have only just started in the real estate business! But an experienced Realtor has probably come across some of the speed bumps that may occur as your transaction progresses!
Me - I have been licensed since January 1996!
2. What is your strategy to help me buy my first home? Most first time homebuyers do end up making it to the finish line, which is closing on your first home! How you get there may vary from agent to agent. So ask your Realtor just how they are going to help you with your first home!
Me - When I meet with my Buyers for the first time, I like to sit down and listen to what their needs & wants are in a home - I want to allow as much time as they need to answer questions about me, my qualifications, my knowledge of the area, my knowledge of the home buying process. Based on what they tell me, I will set them up with a link into MLS for homes that meet their criteria and will make myself available when they want to see the home.
3. What are the top 3 things that separate you from your competition? There are a lot of Realtors in the Richmond area, and every one of us may work a little bit differently from each other. So knowing the things that an agent does well may prove to be a very interesting answer.
Me - As a Realtor who works with many first time homebuyers, I think that the 3 things that separates me from others is: my patience (this is a new process for many going from renting to purchasing), my knowledge (I make it my business to be knowledgeable about any new loan programs, grant programs, neighborhoods, etc) and my ability to educate my buyers (I believe that an educated home buyer is the best home buyer).
4. Can I review documents ahead of time? When you purchase a home, there will be lots of things to sign. And these are all legal documents. You should understand what it is you are signing and feel comfortable with what you are signing. So, yes, you should be able to review many of the documents before you write up any offer!
Me - When I meet with my buyers for the first time, I give them a folder that will have all the paperwork they will ultimately sign when they find that house they want to buy. This way they can review the documents before hand and even write down any questions they have before they actually write up an offer!
5. Do you have trustworthy professionals you can recommend? Most of us have developed lists of people we can recommend. As a buyer, you will be interacting with many different people - inspectors, lender, attorney, contractors! The people your Buyer Agent recommends should be trustworthy and you need to feel confident in what they tell you!
Me - All of the people I recommend are people I have worked with for many many years, and who my clients have been very satisfied with. If my clients have been unhappy with the service provided, I do not recommend them in the future.
6. Are you full time or part time? There are a lot of good part time agents; however, not everyone works Monday through Friday from 9 to 5! If you want to see a new listing that came on the market in a very hot area of town at a great price and you want to see it at 2:30 on Wednesday afternoon, will that agent be available to show it to you? If not, do they have someone they have partnered with that could show it to you?
Me - I am a full time Realtor!
7. Where can I see reviews of you? Most everyone has online reviews of them somewhere, so a good Buyer Agent should be able to direct you to a place where you can see the reviews from their past clients!
Me - I am a Partner Agent with Redfin and Redfin will survey all my past clients (whether they came through Redfin or not). These reviews are then published on their website. I have no control over what these buyers & sellers say and I have no control over what is published on my profile on their website!
8. How do you determine which homes may match my needs & wants? One of my previous videos suggested that you make a needs & wants list for your first home! When you meet with your Buyer Agent to talk about how you will be working together, you should be able to discuss your needs & wants list with them to come up with a criteria that can be put into MLS of homes that may work for you!
Me - At our buyer meeting I will ask you to let me know just what it is that you are looking for in a home and using that I will set you up with a link into MLS. It will use only the criteria that you give to me. However, over time, you may find yourself revising the criteria.
9. Why should I pick you? This will be an interesting answer from the Realtor.
Me - I am a Realtor who specializes in first time home buyers in Richmond. Not all Realtors specialize in the first time home buyer market.
10. Have you ever had any unhappy clients? If you have been selling real estate for some time, you are bound to have some unhappy clients! To me what is important to take away from this is why that client was unhappy with the agent's service, how the situation was resolved and what lesson did the agent learn from it.
Me - yes, over my career, I have had some unhappy clients, I have forgotten some things or made mistakes and have had to purchase home warranties or new washer and dryer. We all make mistakes, but I think that how you handle them and do you ever repeat these mistakes is key.
11. Have you ever had a complaint filed against you with the Board of Realtors? Hopefully, the agent says no!
Me - NO!
12. Once I start working with you, how long am I obligated to stay with you? In Virginia, you will need to sign a Buyer Agency Agreement (it is the law). However, the duration of that agreement is between you and your agent!
Me - I do not have my Buyer Agency Agreements go for any longer than a 90 day period. I have done Buyer Agency Agreements that lasted for only 1 day, or have lasted for only the 2 or 3 houses that I am showing on a particular day. And if there is a Buyer Agency Agreement in place and the buyer decides they no longer wish to work with me, and we have not been able to resolve any differences, I have released them from the Buyer Agency Agreement.
13. Do you represent buyers AND sellers on the same house? This is known as Dual Agency and is allowed in the state of Virginia. But if you are purchasing a house and the listing agent will also be representing you on the buying side, you need to ask who that agent will be representing if a problem in the transaction comes up - will it be you, the buyer, or will it be the seller!
Me - I do not represent both sides of the same transaction. If I have a listing that a potential buyer is interested in, I will show the house & explain that I represent the seller and offer to have them referred to another agent who can represent them and their interests.
Buying your first home is exciting but a bit scary at the same time. Having a trusted Buyer Agent to help you is key. Knowing the answers to these questions and being comfortable with the answers from the agent you plan to work with will go a long way to making the home buying experience a less stressful experience.
Want to get started? Have a question? Feel free to email or call me and I am happy to help!