Whether you are going from renting to owning or deciding it’s time to buy a new house, buyers rely on a team of professionals to help them find the path to their new home. Just like sellers, the team of experts play different roles and step into the process at different times. Here is an overview of who you should have with you and what their role is in the buying process.
Real Estate Agent
The most important person on your buying team will be your buyer’s agent. Your agent is a trained and licensed professional who will negotiate and carry out the sale of property on your behalf. They are an expert in the local real estate scene, often with special knowledge of a particular region or neighborhood. They monitor the market for trends in pricing, inventory, and location, and can answer any questions you might have about equity and appreciation, the best to buy in the area, and what to watch out for, too.
What they specifically do for you, the buyer, is help you find homes that fit in your price range and meet your priorities, schedule showings, notify you of new listings, and suggest sources of financing. When you find a home you like, your agent will draft a purchase offer, negotiate with the seller and their agent, write the purchase-and-sale agreement, set up and attend appraisals and inspections, and review disclosure statements. They will also help you deal with contingencies, work with your mortgage officer, real estate attorney and escrow officer, as well as schedule and attend the closing.
It’s a big job, so it’s important to make sure your buyer’s agent is someone you feel comfortable working with and that you trust. Get recommendations from friends, family, and colleagues, and talk to a few prospective agents before choosing one.
Your mortgage provider loans you the money you need to purchase the home. You may work with a mortgage broker, someone who in effect matches home buyers with lenders, and works as an intermediary between you and the lender. They will analyze your financial information, find appropriate loans for you and your situation, and guide you through the loan process from the initial application to the closing.
You may also work with a mortgage lender. A mortgage lender, on the other hand, is the bank or other financial institution lending you the money. One advantage of working directly with a local lender is that they often have intimate knowledge of the area and economy. If you choose to work with a lender, most likely your point of contact will be a loan officer. Just like a mortgage broker, the loan officer will analyze your financial information and match that with appropriate loans from their institution. They will then guide you through the process from application to closing.
Real Estate Attorney
Unlike some states, Ohio does not require buyers or sellers to use the services of a real estate attorney. However, their services are sometimes worth considering. There is no shortage of forms, contracts and agreements to sign when purchasing a home, and while your real estate agent and lender will be able to answer your questions, they are not lawyers. It is also a good idea to have an attorney on hand to scrutinize the details. The attorney will review purchase agreements, title searches and all other legal documents related to the purchase. They can also coordinate documents among other members of your team to ensure that everything is ready for the closing. Bringing them on early is also a good idea so that if something comes up, the attorney already knows your situation and will be ready to lend a hand.
A home inspector is the professional set of eyes every buyer needs before closing on a home. A home inspector scrutinizes a home in order to find problems and to verify that a home is in good shape. While a buyer may be distracted by a new paint job, a home inspector takes a close look at the foundation that painted wall rests on to determine the overall durability of a structure. From plumbing to electrical, the roof to the basement crawl space, an inspector reviews it all and then offers up a report summarizing their findings. You and your agent will review the report and perhaps adjust your offer accordingly or make a few requests of the seller. Your real estate agent should be able to recommend inspectors, but it is also a good idea to ask for recommendations and talk to a few before making a final choice. Again, it is a good idea to start hunting for an inspector earlier rather than later to avoid a last-minute scramble.
If you are planning on purchasing an existing home that is a fixer-upper, a contractor is a good person to have on your team. They can help estimate what repairs or renovations might cost, and that information can be used to adjust your purchase offer. A contractor can also help you connect with the other professionals – plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc. – that you will need when work gets underway.
It may seem a bit over the top to have so many people helping with the purchase of a home, but these experts will make the process of purchasing a home easier in the long run.
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