Buyer’s Real Estate Agent Essentials & Tips for Beginners

Dated: January 29 2024

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Buyer’s Real Estate Agent Essentials & the Home Buying Process

Real estate in general can be a bit murky for beginners or those not familiar with the space. Some think real estate agents are optional for buying or selling a property and technically, they are. But we are here to tell you why it would be wise to use a real estate agent and avoid headaches when buying your next home or property.

By Dan & Jeremy Haeck, The Dan Haeck Team

💡 The Dan Haeck Team is a team of real estate agents that care about buyers and sellers. Dan Haeck started as a lone agent in 2007, and has grown his business into a hardworking team of realtors.

It’s important to lay out some basic real estate concepts like what a real estate agent does when assisting buyers in the market for a house or property. We’re about to see just a small portion of the responsibilities of a buyer’s agent, and a look into the home-buying process.

First of all, who is the Buyer? What does a buyer do?

A buyer is a person, family, or business in the market to purchase a property. A buyer is, of course, looking to buy property.  Agents are there to help the buyer along the process, hence the name Buyer’s Agent. A buyer’s agent can also be called a purchasing agent.

Buyer’s Agency: How Realtors Assist a Buyer

In the beginning, a buyer’s agent is sought out by a potential buyer. The buyer’s agent will schedule an initial meeting called a buyer consultation to discuss the buyer’s home criteria, time frame for buying a home, and the home-buying process. Realtors like us, The Dan Haeck Team, answer any questions a buyer may have about budget, stressful deadlines, and other factors involved in buying a home.

A buyer’s agent is different than a seller’s agent in that the buyer’s agent works in the best interests of the buyer and assists the buyer of a property.  A seller’s or listing agent works in the best interests of the seller and assists the seller of the property.  Seller’s or listing agents measure, list, and properly market the home for a seller.

Can You Be Your Own Realtor When Buying?

Technically, no. You can buy properties without a realtor but you would likely need to acquire an attorney to draw up legal documents, agreements, coordinate, facilitate, and negotiate inspections, and other required actions.

In Pennsylvania, it’s a law to provide a seller’s disclosure which is a document that answers specific details about the property and its condition prior to the sale.  A seller can be open to legal liability for not disclosing certain details and known defects of a property.  It is always recommended that a home buyer get a home inspection done prior to closing on a property. Leveraging inspection findings & negotiating price adjustments can best be done with an experienced realtor.

After determining that a buyer is ready to move forward with finding a home or property, realtors can recommend them to a trustworthy and notable lender/bank to obtain a pre-approval for a loan. Unless you’re ready to pay the full amount in cash, you’ll need to take out a loan if you want to buy a property.  As part of the loan process, the lender will schedule an appraisal to make sure the property value is at least the amount of the agreed upon sale price.

A Little Word of Agent Advice:

As buyer specialists, we have worked with plenty of lenders/banks over the years who have provided our clients with great lender experiences. A realtor’s connections to great lenders is so important because this is the start of one of the biggest transactions of a buyer’s life.

A lender can make or break the entire deal for you so you want a reputable lender to help secure a successful closing. The Dan Haeck Team knows plenty of great and experienced lenders in Pittsburgh who have proven themselves and can be trusted.

What is a buyer’s agency agreement?

As part of our buyer consultation, we will ask the buyer to sign a buyer agency agreement. This agreement explains our objectives and responsibilities as your buyer’s agent. It basically makes the working relationship between client and agent official.  The length of the term of this agreement is negotiable and can be done for just one home or for a time period. 

This document also outlines our buyer’s agency fee which may require the buyer to pay a portion of the buyer side broker commission at closing if the seller does not agree to pay any or all of the buyer side commission.  Refusing to sign a buyer agency agreement can dissolve your relationship with your agent and leave you back at square one.

What is a buyer’s agency fee?

Buyer agency fee is the compensation for the work put in by the broker and buyer’s agent on the buyer side of a transaction. Many times the seller will agree to pay this buyer’s agency fee if negotiated into the agreement of sale. If the seller does not pay this buyer’s agency fee, then the buyer agrees to pay this fee as outlined in the buyer’s agency agreement.

 

What are termination fees?

Termination fees are fees that some (not us) realtors make you pay if you decide you no longer want to work with them. For example, if you signed a buyer-agency agreement with a realtor that included they get a percentage during closing, and then went and bought a house with another agent, the first agent could require you be released from the agreement, or could be owed a fee from the second agent.

The Home Search Process

This is when the fun part begins. To begin the home search process, your buyer’s agent will set up a listings search of homes available for sale. The buyer will be able to receive and browse listings meeting their specific criteria in real time as they become available. When the buyer sees a home of particular interest, the buyer’s agent will set up private showings at the homes at available times. Here, we begin to nail down what the client really wants, and do our best to recommend the best homes.

We will learn more and more about what the buyer likes and dislikes as we see more homes. This helps us determine which homes will be more likely to be the best fit. Items such as number of bedrooms and bathrooms, price ranges, and specific locations are the center of attention. Other items include must-haves and deal breakers: new construction, garage types and amounts, heating & A/C, and backyard sizes to name just a few.

How to tell a realtor you're not interested

We urge clients to be completely honest at showings about what they like and dislike about the homes because it truly helps us find the best ones for them in the long run.

Questions a Good Realtor Should be Asking You

1. What is your financial status? Have you talked to a lender and got a preapproval?

2. Do you have any cash for a downpayment & closing costs?

There are varying percentages buyers must pay as a downpayment depending on the loan program and situation. For example, down payments can be as little as 0% for veterans & up to 20% for most conventional loans.  There are many home loan programs which change often.  A good lender will assist the buyer in finding the best loan program.

3. Do you have established credit?

4. What are your home-buying criteria?

5. Do you like or prefer any specific areas or school districts?

Submitting an Offer

This home search process can take days, months, or over a year. It really depends on the buyers’ motivation, timeframe, and also the market. Once a buyer finds the home they love, it’s time to submit an offer.  After discussing all of the offer details, your buyer’s agent will draft the offer and have you sign it.

The offer will then be submitted to the seller’s agent (listing agent) for presentation to the seller for review, acceptance, or counter offering.  A process of negotiating may take place with several back and forth counter offers from both parties until all parties agree to accept the negotiated terms or to end negotiations.

Once an offer is accepted, it’s important for your buyer’s agent to stay on pace with time frames outlined in the agreement regarding inspections and contingencies. A genuine and caring buyer’s agent will keep deadlines and all necessary documents on-hand and front of mind for the buyer. This is one of many areas where the agent can alleviate a stressful experience by being trustworthy and persistent with their work. Deadlines can be stressful without the right team.

Submitting and Negotiating Offers

If the buyer has elected a home inspection, it should be scheduled soon after their offer is accepted, and the agreement of sale is signed. On average, the buyer has roughly 10 days to schedule and complete their home inspection. It is important for the buyer and/or their agent to attend the home inspection to fully understand everything that is noted by the inspector.

After the inspections, both the buyer and their agent should thoroughly review the reports from the home inspector. If there are any issues that the buyer would like addressed, your agent will submit a buyer’s reply to the seller’s agent. This is the second larger negotiation period of the process. Repairs, credits, or price reductions are a way of weaving through this.

Next, an appraisal is ordered by the buyer’s lender. Once the appraisal is completed, we wait to hear from the lender as the appraiser will contact them. Hopefully, the home’s value has met what the agreement’s value states and there are no repairs needed or conditions outstanding. If the value has not been met, there is a third negotiation period to get through. You can quickly see how complicated this process might be without seasoned real estate professionals to guide it along.

If an appraisal comes in short of the needed value or with conditions/safety requirements, there is more negotiating to be done by the agents. To make up for the difference in lack of appraised value, the buyer, if capable, could provide the extra funds needed to close. Or the seller could honor the appraised value and accept a lower sale price. Alternatively, the two parties assisted by their respective agents can negotiate a compromise acceptable to all. If an agreement can’t be reached, this is one way the transaction can end unexpectedly.

You Made it to Closing Day

Once all negotiations are finalized, it is time to wait to hear from the lender and/or closing/title/settlement company and be cleared for closing. At this time, the buyer and their agent can schedule the ‘final walkthrough’ of the home. This is completed typically a day before or on the day of closing. Its purpose is to quickly walk through the home and make sure there are no changes or damages from when it was seen the first time. This period also allows the buyer to see any repairs that were made as part of any negotiations along the way.

If all is well, it is time to close on your new home! If not, closing may be delayed until everything is corrected as it should be. The buyers, sellers, and agents are typically always at closing with the closing/title/settlement company. Sometimes either party may have signed ahead of time and may not be present. The rest is handled by the closing/title/settlement company. Once everything has been signed and finalized by all parties, the keys are handed over to your new home!

Written by Dan & Jeremy Haeck on January 29th, 2024. We’re the key to your next door.

Some Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a buyer’s agent and a broker’s agent?

  • A broker’s agent is a practicing real estate agent. For example, Remax©, Coldwell Banker©, etc., are the brokers. An agent is someone who gets a real estate license. Agents are not permitted to sell houses unless they work through a brokerage.

What is the difference between a real estate agent and a buyer’s agent?

  • A buyer’s agent is a real estate agent. Real estate agents can be agents for either the buying or selling party. In Pennsylvania, a real estate agent can also represent both sides if all parties agree to what is called Dual Agency.  An example of this would be if a listing agent also brings a buyer and the seller of the property agrees to allow dual agency.

What does broker protected mean?

  • Broker protected means you are working through an agent that is working through the protection of a brokerage. If you’re working through a professional agent that is associated with a brokerage, it ensures everything is being done legally with inspections, appraisals, legal forms, negotiation, and much more.

What if I can’t afford closing costs?

  • Sometimes, if a buyer doesn’t have enough cash on hand to afford closing costs, you may be able to have your buyer’s agent attempt to negotiate your closing costs to be partially or even fully paid by the seller. Closing costs can include a bunch of things: prorated portions of taxes, insurance, transfer tax, realtor fees, document preparation, title fees, and title insurance. A buyer could offer the seller a higher sale price than typically would be offered, allowing the seller to credit the difference back to the buyer at closing to assist with the closing costs. This is known in the industry as seller’s assistance. The caution is that this drives up the percentage based fees such as transfer tax, and commission. It also raises the risk of inflating the sale price to a point where it may not appraise at the needed value.
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Dan & Michelle Haeck

After beginning my real estate career in 2007, I started The Dan Haeck Team in 2010 which is a group of Realtors helping our clients with residential and commercial real estate. We work with Buyers an....

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