Friday, January 23, 2009

What can your buyer's agent do for you!

I know that this market is unusual, confusing and frustrating. The good news, many "agent" who were really just order-takers have had to leave the industry. This should leave a group of experience, committed agents left to help you. This is a positive step for our market...more experience means better service and smoother escrows. But, if you haven't found the perfect agent yet, and are wondering what they can do for you, I'm hoping to give you an understanding of what to expect from your agent.

Obviously an agent will work with you to put together a list of possible homes to go see. Great Western Realty Group specializes in using the latest technology for Internet searches. Many buyers do a lot of the "leg work" on the Internet before they begin the physical search. Once you contact us with your specific criteria, your agent will create a personalized website for you to begin using at your leisure. This site will be linked to the Southern California MLS and you will receive all new and current listings directly on this site.

You will have the capability to sort home into favorites and possibilities. You can also make notes directly on the listings, email them to your agent for further questions and map them if you would like to drive by them yourself. We like to use this tool to develop a working list of homes you might like to see in person. It allows your agent to know in advance what interests you, we can offer suggestions and do back ground research prior to meeting with you. This system allows you to go at your own pace, with no pressure, often we will work with clients for over a year while they watch the market. Especially in this market, the ability to keep an eye on prices and inventory will lead to an educated purchase.

Once we have identified interesting homes, we will go see them. At this point you might write an offer on one, or more of the homes you see. The Southern California Market has seen drastic drops in price, but there has also been a flurry of offers, no reason not to explore all homes you have interest in. Remember that listing prices are simply the sellers' wish price, not the one they might actually take. The next step would be counter offers or acceptance of our offer. For the purposes of this article, let's assume you found a home at a good price and are ready to open escrow.

Escrow is the term for the closing process in California, other states use attorneys. An escrow officer and number will be assigned to you. The escrow officer acts as an impartial third party whose job it is to make sure that the terms we have all agreed to are carried out. They work with buyer and seller agents to get the full contract and deposit. They will order a title report and title insurance to make sure the seller has the legal right to sell the property. They will also check for liens on the property and make sure they are released. They talk to the current and future lenders, order payoffs and gather information necessary for the new loan documents. They also order Home Owner Association documents to verify that the association is not being sued nor incurring unforeseen expenses which might cause your dues to increase. All monies also go through escrow.

While escrow is handling all this, your agent will work with you to do all home inspections necessary for you to find out the quality of the home you are buying. This should always include a home inspection by a licensed home inspector. You might also need a mold inspection, if there is evidence of moisture problems. If the home is on a hill and/or if you notice cracking in the walls or concrete, you might be advised to get a geological survey. Other inspections could include termite, electrical or plumbing. The home inspection time is also an opportunity to get estimates for improvements or repairs.

The other important activity during this time is finding a loan. You have probably already begun this process by pre-qualifying with a loan officer, but now is the time to get final loan approval. Once you find loan program that fits your budget, your lender will order an appraisal. The lender will want to make sure that the home is worth what you are willing to pay for it. This is especially critical in our market. The last thing we want to do is over pay.

When all these items are done, and meet your approval, we will remove the contingencies and we "coast to the close." Your Great Western Realty agent will be available for you at all times during this process. I know you've heard stories about agents that disappear as soon as you sign an offer, but the great agents will always be there to help you through any hiccups that come along. We want you to find the home buying experience an easy, stress free one. And once you close escrow and have moved into your new home, we want that stress free feeling to every buyer who buys a home through a Great Western Realty Group Agent will have a complimentary home warranty on the home.

A home warranty will cover you for all your major systems in the house for one year....and you can renew it if you like. Electrical, Air Conditioning, Furnace, Plumbing, Pool/Spa Systems and many other major items. This is just one more way your agent makes sure you are a satisfied home owner.

Please visit the search page of our site to get started, search for active listings.....and if you like, register your criteria for your free website.

We look forward to working with you!


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