“Nailing it Down”
By Dave Murnen
and Pat Beaty
If you’re interested in buying a house in Grays Harbor, now’s a great time to begin your hunt.
With interest rates still reasonable and a flood of houses on the market, a potential buyer should feel like a kid in a candy store -- during a sale!
Before you start combing the classified ads or touring neighborhoods, consider getting pre-qualified by your lender for a specific loan range.
This will give you a definite edge over other potential buyers who are not pre-qualified. In addition, knowing how much you can afford will prevent you from wasting your time looking at homes way above or way below your price range.
The benefits of pre-qualifying
Besides, if a bank or other lending institution has already said you are eligible to borrow a certain amount of money to buy a home, it signals to sellers that you are serious about buying.
When you pre-qualify for a loan, the lender will give you a document stating the amount of the loan. This says that you are financially capable of buying a home in a given price range. It also is a sign to the real estate agent that you are someone worth spending some time with – not just someone who is entertaining themselves on weekends by touring new homes and dreaming.
Having been pre-qualified for a loan can also help speed things up when you’re ready to make an offer on a house. Sellers love it because it means the loan process goes faster and brings the sale to a quicker close.
It’s not just the lenders who can assist you during your hunt for a new home, a sharp real estate agent can be a valuable help, too.
The real estate agent’s role
These days, a real estate agent is allowed by law to wear many ‘hats’. They can represent the seller, the buyer, both parties at once, or neither. The law also states that they must sign a document declaring whom they represent.
An agent is typically paid when the house is sold. The fee, usually a negotiated percentage of the sale price, is normally paid by the seller, but may be paid by the buyer, a third party or shared.
The seller’s agent
The seller’s agent represents the seller. They are obligated to you, as a buyer, to be honest and to disclose “material facts” known by the agent. (Defined as any information that substantially adversely affects the value of the property, or your reason for buying, or the price you would pay for a property.)
Examples of things a real estate agent must tell you include any severe structural defects, location in a flood-prone area, environmental hazards and changes in property zoning or new developments that may alter property values.
The buyer’s agent
An agent representing the buyer is known as the buyer’s agent. Some buyer’s choose to pay the agent themselves. If so, this must be in writing and signed by both buyer and seller.
You have a choice of several types of buyer agents’ contracts.
If you sign up for exclusive representation, the agent may be more likely to pay special attention to you, but remember, you are then obligated to work exclusively with that agent until the agreement expires.
Other contracts are less binding and place fewer obligations on both the buyer and the agent.
If you work with a buyer’s agent, you should expect the agent to do the following:
• Be loyal to you and your interests.
• Develop a list of homes that meet your specifications and price range.
• Provide detailed printouts of information about those homes.
• Act as an additional pair of eyes and ears in visiting homes, calling your attention to pros and cons that may not have occurred to you.
• Perform a comparative market analysis.
• Help you evaluate financing options.
• Negotiate on your behalf to obtain the best possible deal.
• Recommend other trustworthy professionals such as lenders, mortgage brokers, escrow companies and property inspectors.
Next week we’ll talk some more about what to look for in choosing a real estate agent.
In the meantime, if you’re serious about buying a house, but afraid that you might not be able to get a loan, give us a call at Aberdeen Neighborhood Housing Services (533-7828). You may be surprised to learn that you qualify for special loans. Home ownership could be around the corner for you.
Dave Murnen is the construction department manager and Pat Beaty is a construction specialist at Aberdeen Neighborhood Housing Services, a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing for all residents of Grays Harbor County. Do you have questions about home repair, remodeling or becoming a homeowner or a member of our contractor pool? Call 533-7828 or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.