Buyer Resources

Buying a home can be a very stressful situation. It doesn’t need to be. Going in armed with information and using a good agent to represent you makes life so much easier. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about buying a home.* Keep in mind that the process varies widely by area, and this information pertains to real estate in Georgia.

Q: Why do I need a real estate agent?
A: Quite simply, you don’t. You, as a consumer, can buy and sell real estate all day long without a real estate agent. With that being said, the question becomes, “Why do I WANT to be represented by a real estate agent?” Having more than a decade of experience, I’ve undergone countless hours of training on finding and evaluating the right home, writing contracts, negotiating deals, managing expectations and timelines, anticipating potential problem areas, reading surveys, preparing clients for the mortgage process, etc., and I am constantly learning new things. Real estate is such a dynamic industry that it pays to have someone working full-time to protect your interests instead of taking on a part-time job where what you don’t know can cost you thousands of dollars – and where you don’t know what you don’t know. A sampling of the things a good real estate agent will do include:
  • Explaining the process to you and patiently answer your questions
  • Conduct a thorough evaluation of what you’re looking for in a home
  • Put you in contact with a good lender (more on the importance of this later)
  • Search for homes that meet most of your criteria and determine if they might be a match for you
  • Verify the information in the listing for accuracy
  • Schedule a showing with the real estate agent (keeping you from having a dozen agents hounding you because you called the number on the yard sign)
  • Show you the home, evaluating it for issues you might not otherwise notice
  • Compile a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) to determine the value of homes that interest you so you can make an educated offer
  • Assemble a winning offer for you using professional contracts, agreements, exhibits, and addenda that protect you
  • Negotiate the offer and inspections on your behalf
  • Assist you in finding a qualified home inspector
  • Be available to answer your questions all the way through closing and beyond
  • And much, much more that you may never realize
Q: Why is my agent trying to get me to sign a “Buyer Brokerage Agreement” right off the bat?
A: It’s required by law if the agent is going to represent you as their client. There are basically two ways an agent can represent you:
  1. As a Customer, where you get their hands and feet, showing you homes and filling in contracts for you, but no opinions on value or other information that is not public record. A real estate agent is not even supposed to answer the questions “Do you think this home is a good deal?” or “What do you think I should offer?” for someone who is a customer.
  2. As a Client, where you get the agent’s hands, feet, and brain. This is where the agent gives you the information that you want and need. Under Georgia law, this can only be done if you have a signed written agreement that you have an agent:client relationship.
(Just something to think about: Why would you trust the purchase of your most expensive asset to someone who starts off your relationship in violation of the law?)

Q: Aside from the actual cost of the property, how much does it cost to buy a home?
A: There are several fixed and variable costs associated with buying a home. Here is a rough guide to them:
  • If you will be obtaining a mortgage, you may be required to pay an application fee. This varies widely depending on the mortgage company, from $0 to $250 or more.
  • Once you have a home under contract, you’ll need to have it inspected. A basic home inspection will start around $400 and is worth every penny. If the home is very large, has a crawl space, is in foreclosure, etc., additional fees may apply. Your agent can recommend home inspectors who are thorough and will patiently explain what they find. Trust your agent, as there are some home inspectors who explicitly state that their goal is to “kill the deal,” and they will scare you into doing so by exaggerating the costs and hazards associated with what they find.
  • You will also need to pay for a home appraisal if you’re obtaining a mortgage. The appraisal company will be chosen by your lender and the fee starts around $400-$450 for most properties.
  • Some agents charge buyers a retainer fee to represent them. This covers the time & expense involved in finding you a home. I do not charge a retainer fee.
  • Some agents require the buyer to make up any difference in what the seller offers and what is the “usual & customary” commission in the area. I do not do this. If we find your perfect home and the seller is not willing to pay my full commission, I believe you will be so thrilled with the service I provide you that you will send me referrals that more than make up for the difference. I operate by the words of Zig Ziglar: “You can have everything you want in life if you are willing to help enough other people get what they want.”
Q: My agent is trying to get me to use a particular lender. What kind of kickback are they getting?
A: None. It’s illegal. The reason agents try to get their clients to go with certain loan officers is because we have relationships to leverage for your benefit. Sure, our preferred lenders may give us small promotional items as a “Christmas present” (items which advertise their business and are valued at less than $25), but there’s no way we’re going to risk our license or our clients for an insulated water bottle. The relationships we have with our “preferred lenders” are built on communication and give us the ability to pick up the phone and ask questions or provide needed information quickly to the right person. If a client chooses to go with a lender we’ve never worked with – or worse, an online lender – they have zero accountability to us because they have little to no desire to earn our future business through great service. It doesn’t really matter to the person in the call center out in Kansas if we get our closing documents on time, and the threat of “I’ll never send you another loan” is absolutely meaningless to them. Throughout my career, virtually every time the client insisted on going with their own lender, the closing was delayed and/or put in jeopardy, and the client was put under an incredible amount of stress dealing with their mortgage.

…more to come…

* Please note: I am a real estate professional with 12+ years of experience. I am NOT an attorney. Nothing on this page should be construed as legal advice. If you have any questions about the information here, please reach out to me or to a professional in the field most closely related to your concerns.