FAQs for Buyers

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED  QUESTIONS

For

BUYERS

by Amy Harbeck

 

What is a Buyer’s Agent?

In  2004, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts created new legal guidelines for real estate agents and how they are to serve consumers—sellers and buyers.  In the old days, all agents represented the seller, even though they might work closely with buyers and be privy to their personal information and motivations.  Now an agent can represent buyers and work in their best interest through the purchase process.  I offer both buyer and seller representation.  As set forth in the Realtor Code of Ethics, all agreements are to be clear and stated in writing.  At Kinlin Grover, we have a Buyer Agreement form that spells out the expectations of the Buyer(s) and the Buyer’s Agent.  Please ask and I can send you a copy.

What is the advantage of having a Buyer Agreement with a Buyer’s Agent?

Just as sellers are best served by working exclusively with one agent, buyers are also best served by selecting one agent to represent them.  A Buyer Agreement with me is a commitment of loyalty—you to me and me to you.  When we agree to work together as a team, the process is more efficient and successful.   

What are my Buyer Agent’s obligations to me?

When you commit to working with me, you receive a higher level of service.  As your Buyer Representative, I will:

  • Listen to you and get to know you and your preferences.  
  • Keep confidential all of your personal and financial information, as well as your motivation.
  • Remain loyal to you as the buyer, working in your best interest.  
  • Offer priority availability for scheduling showings.   
  • Gather as much information as possible about the properties and areas that interest you most.  
  • Provide sources of information where you can obtain details directly such as Town Departments or local experts.
  • Point out the advantages and pitfalls of a property that may impact your enjoyment of the home, the cost of maintenance, and future re-sale value.
  • Study the comparable properties recently sold to guide you with regard to price, terms, and protective contingencies, once you are ready to make an offer.
  • Negotiate the lowest possible price and most favorable terms on your behalf.
  • Guide you through inspections.
  • Monitor the status and satisfaction of contract contingencies.  
  • Act as a liaison between you and the seller’s agent, as well as the sellers’ and buyers’ attorneys.
  • Attend the closing.
  • Follow up after the closing on any outstanding issues and check in to see how everything worked out after closing; and
  • Always be a resource for you even after the closing, whether you need the name of a local carpenter or a good restaurant!

What are my obligations to my Buyer Agent?

Your obligation is simply to work exclusively with me.  To follow standard protocols you would:

  • Provide a pre-qualification letter from a lender, if you plan to finance a purchase.
  • Share information with me that will be useful to me as I help you find the right property.
  • Contact me (only) when you would like more information or to view properties.  
  • If contacted by, or in chance conversations with, other agents, simply inform them of your relationship with me.
  • If you have friends and relatives who wish to help with the process, inform them about your Buyer Agreement and explain these protocols to them.
  • Keep me updated as your plans, timing, or criteria change.
  • Work through me when you are ready to make an offer, negotiate a deal, and continue the process to closing; and
  • Complete the anonymous satisfaction survey that will be mailed to you after the transaction to provide feedback about the process.

How does my Buyer Agent get paid?

Real estate agents are not on salary.  They are paid a fee for their services only after a sale closes.  In Massachusetts, the fee is normally paid by the property seller to their listing agent’s company. The fee is usually a percentage of the total sale price. The listing company then shares the fee with the buyer’s agency.  Each company then pays its agents a pre-determined percentage of the total fee.  

In rare cases where the fee split to the buyer agency is less than 2.5%, Kinlin Grover asks the buyers to pay the difference at closing.  You will be informed of any cases where the fee offered to the buyer’s agency is less than 2.5%.  In such cases, buyers can also request in an offer to purchase that the seller pay a higher fee to Kinlin Grover as the buyer agency so that the responsibility for the fee stays with the seller.   

If the Buyer Agent’s fee is based on the sale price, what is her incentive to negotiate the lowest possible price for me?

Working in the best interest of my clients is just the right thing to do.  Plus, I enjoy the challenge of helping buyers find the most suitable property at the best possible price.  I am so passionate about real estate and helping people that it is a great pleasure for me every time I help clients realize their dreams at the best possible price.  What is good for my clients is good for me.  When my clients are satisfied with my services, they continue to call me for their real estate needs and recommend my services to their friends and family.

Can I visit open houses on my own?

Yes, buyers are free to visit any open houses.  Please mention to the host that you are “…working with Amy Harbeck of Kinlin Grover.”  The agent hosting the open house will then know not to attempt to write an offer on your behalf or contact you after the open house. As always, try not to show your excitement for a house or share your personal information with the listing agent.  Remember that the listing agent has no relationship with you and is not bound to confidentiality.  He or she will share everything they know about you with the seller, which can work against you in the negotiations if you decide to submit an offer on the property.

Can’t I get a better deal if I go directly to the listing agent?

The listing agent has signed an agreement with the seller, to work in his/her best interest and negotiate the highest possible price.  If the listing agent also represents you, he/she becomes a Dual Agent.  By law, a Dual Agent cannot advise either party–seller or buyer.  A Dual Agent is obligated to keep each party’s information confidential and can only facilitate communication between buyer and seller.  As your buyer agent, I can advise you and negotiate the best possible price and terms, all while looking out for your best interests.  

Who do I call if I just want to know a price or get more information about a property?

Always call me directly anytime with your questions about any property or area or to request a showing.  I will give you all the information I have and/or gather the information you need from the listing agent and/or other reliable sources.  The listing agent is required to share all material defects about a house, but is not obligated to share the “full story” which may include the history, advantages or disadvantages of the location or features of the house.

What if the sign on the property says “Exclusive Listing?”

Although it seems to imply a buyer can only work directly with the listing agent, this is not true.  All listing agreements between Selling Agents and Sellers are “exclusive,” meaning simply that only the listing agent with whom the seller is contracted is authorized to represent that seller. Buyer Agents must simply contact the agent and not the seller, as with any listing. Like always, call me for more information or showing appointments.

What if I want to buy a house that my Buyer Agent has listed as a Seller Agent?  

There are a couple ways this can work. If you feel confident negotiating on your own behalf, I can act as a Dual Agent and simply facilitate the communication between you and the seller.  I can still provide you with any information you request such as data on recent sales of comparable properties.  I am still bound to keep each party’s information confidential.  If you prefer to have more guidance, I can have another agent in my office advise you and negotiate the deal and any home inspection issues on your behalf.  I can continue to handle the other details of the transaction through closing.  If dual agency occurs, we can discuss your options thoroughly before you decide how you would like to proceed.

Can I seek and buy a property “for-sale-by-owner?”

Yes, I will even inform you of any I may be aware of that meet your criteria.  Often the owner/seller is happy to have an agent bring a buyer and will even agree to pay a fee to the buyer’s agency if a deal is made.  In this kind of transaction where the seller may be inexperienced in real estate transactions, it is important to have an agent represent you and protect your interests.  Otherwise, pricing analysis, negotiations, inspections, financing, the legal process, and all of the unforeseen glitches in the process can be daunting on your own.  If you would like information on or to see a “for-sale-by-owner,” just let me know and I will call for you.

Can I buy a property at a foreclosure auction?

Yes, I can explain the risks and advantages and inform you of any you may be interested in.  Auction companies will sometimes offer a fee to the buyer’s agent.  If not, we can work out a commission that you can pay to Kinlin Grover at closing to compensate me for my services throughout the transaction.

Which Cape towns does Amy cover?

My expertise spans from Cotuit to Provincetown.  If you identify properties or areas where I am less familiar, I will tell you so and will call on the expertise of other Kinlin Grover agents based in those areas.  

What if I need an agent in another county, state, or country?

Please let me know and I will find a good agent through my extensive network of real estate agents.

What if I am not satisfied with my agent’s service?

It is important to communicate any unmet expectations right away either to me or my Kinlin Grover Manager, Annie Blatz.  If for some reason, the issue cannot be resolved, the parties can agree to release each other from the agreement.  

Will I have an opportunity to evaluate my agent’s service after the transaction?

Yes, as part of Kinlin Grover’s Premier Service Program, an anonymous satisfaction survey will be sent to you via email or regular mail within about two weeks of your closing.  The results of these surveys are used to generate satisfaction ratings for each agent.  My customer satisfaction rating has remained 100% since I joined the program.  Thanks to this rating and my high numbers of transactions, I am a repeat recipient of the Kinlin Grover Diamond Premier Service Award.

 

If you still have questions or would like to discuss your property search, please contact me anytime.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Amy Harbeck

 

(508) 364- 5845   *   aharbeck@kinlingrover.com