There is nothing more confusing when buying a house than understanding your “legal” relationship with your real estate agent. Yes, your state laws define how an agent can legally work for you or with you.
Here in Massachusetts you can buy a home through a Buyer’s Agent, Selling Agent, Dual Agent, Facilitator, Designated Agent and a Non Designated Agent. Be honest do you know the difference between each and every different agency?
As a home buyer it will behoove you to make damn sure you
know what this all means. The “legal”
relationship defines how an agent will work for you and where their allegiance
It’s so confusing. Most
buyers just gloss over when they start hearing about agency. If you are a buyer and want the highest level
of service you should buy
a home with a Buyer’s Agent to represent your best interest.
And as a word of caution, avoid dual agency like the plague, its just bad news. Don’t let an agent talk you into thinking it is a good thing. A dual agent supposedly "represents" both parties in a transaction. But really who can serve two masters? There role becomes more of a transactional agent.
If you decide working with a buyer’s agent is in your best
interest, realize a buyer’s agent does way more than unlock doors.
Unfortunately, buyers, in their excitement to buy, just want
to view houses and will work with the agent that will get them in the
quickest. Most buyers who are unsatisfied
with their agent, have not taken the time to learn what agency means in their
state and are under the misconception that the agent they are using is working
Yes, as a Buyer’s Agent I unlock doors but that is not where
my value lies.
Legal Obligations Of A Buyer's Agent
Remember a buyer’s agent works for you and their fiduciary
responsibility is to you and no one else in the transaction. They need to do what is best for you. A buyer’s agents basic duties by law are:
Obedience- A buyer’s agent must carry out all of your lawful instructions
Loyalty- A buyer’s agent owes you undivided loyalty.
Disclosure- All information that can impact a clients position must be disclosed by a buyer’s agent.
Confidentiality- Your information is held in confidence by your buyer’s agent. No information about you that can impact the sale can be passed on to additional parties.
Accounting- Your agent must account for all funds and not comingle your funds with personal or business accounts.
Reasonable Care- A buyer’s agent must use all their skills and abilities for the benefit of you.
19 Tasks A Buyer's Agent Can Perform For You
Below are just 19 tasks your buyer’s agent can perform for
you that go above and beyond opening doors and their basic legal obligations. While I have listed 19 tasks there are
certainly many other things a buyer’s agent can help you with.
Help assess your situation. A buyer’s agent will help determine if it is the right time to buy? Or is buying a home the wrong decision for you at this time?
Line up financing and make sure you understand the costs involved. A buyer’s agent will have a good understanding of financing and can help you line up a lender from there arsenal of preferred vendors that is perfect for your situation.
Determine where you can achieve success for what you want and need in a home. A buyer’s agent is familiar with different communities and what each community offers as well as price points for those communities.
Manage and explain the home buying process. There are many pieces to the home buying process. While it is your buyer’s agent job to manage the process, they will explain each step so you fully understand what is going on and can make the proper decisions.
Provide valuable insight. An experienced, full time buyer's agent work 50-60 hours a week, immersed in the business of real estate and have hundreds of closings behind them. They understand how buyers think, they understand how sellers think. They know communities and what houses are worth. A buyer's agent can use that experience to your benefit.
Help identify homes. Your buyer’s agent has tools that will help you identify homes for sale. But, they will also use their skills, experience and abilities to help you look more holistically at what is available. Often my buyers will buy homes that are not on their radar screen that I suggest.
Organize and schedule viewings. Managing and scheduling showings takes time. It is certainly a times saving tasks to turn over to your buyer’s agent.
Help assess home you are viewing. Part of being a buyer’s agent is to help assess the pro’s and con’s of each home based on your specific needs.
Objectivity. Often home buyers can lose their sense of objectivity when emotions run high. Sometimes your buyer’s agent will need to keep you on track with your initial goals.
Help you reassess your goals. It is not unusual for a home buyer to start the process with unrealistic expectations. Your goals may need to be adjusted more than once during the process.
Structure an offer. A buyer’s agent will provide guidance on how to best structure an offer for a specific property and your situation.
Negotiate an offer on your behalf. As an agent we spend much of our day negotiating….. offers, home inspection repairs, commissions, etc… It is what we do. There are many considerations when negotiating an offer and your buyer’s agent will help negotiate on your behalf.
Help do your due diligence on the home you put under agreement. There is much to look into, permits, sex offenders in the neighborhood, what abuts the property etc… Your buyer’s agent will know what to look for and help you get the info you need.
Arrange professionals. Lenders, attorneys, home inspectors all need to be utilized. A buyer’s agent will have a network of preferred vendors that they can recommend and help arrange.
Attend the home inspection and help negotiate repairs if necessary. Your last line of defense is your home inspection. Your agent will help negotiate any repairs or concessions that reasonably need to be considered during your purchase.
Manage the paperwork. There is a slew of paperwork that needs to be managed, reviewed and signed. Your agent will manage the paperwork as well as explain what you are signing, as well as track critical dates that have dire consequences if not met.
Track the closing process. From the time you have an offer accepted to closing and moving into your new home there are many steps to be taken. Loans processing needs to stay on track, movers need to be hired, repairs may need to be done, utilities need to be turned on, attorneys need to be coordinated, etc…. Again, an experienced buyer’s agent can walk you though the process in their sleep. They do it every day.
Get you to the closing to buy your new home. Last minute issues arise and your buyer’s agent will work to resolve those issues so you close on time.
Make sure you are settled in your new home. Your buyer’s agent will follow up and make sure there are no issues that need to be taken care of after the fact.
State laws vary greatly on agency. Before delving into purchasing a home
understand the different legal relationship you can have with your real estate
A buyer’s agent is the only agent that works strictly for you and has your best interest at heart. They certainly do more than unlock doors for you to view properties. By understanding your legal relationship and what a buyer's agent can do for you, you will tap into their knowledge and experience to make your home purchase a successful one.
At the end of the day, a good buyer’s agent will save you time, money and/or aggravation during the home buying process. And the good part is their fee is paid by the seller! Take the time and find a good agent to help you buy your next home. They can do much of the heavy lifting involved in buying a home for you!
About Kevin: Kevin has been a full time agent for almost 18 years.Kevin works the Tewksbury MA Real Estate market as well as Essexand Northern Middlesex Counties in Massachusetts.Kevin is a regular blogger who enjoys educating consumers about how to make the most of their next home purchase or sale.Kevin can be reached at 978-360-0422.