The Buying Process
It is not unusual that many prospective Buyers begin the buying process online at sites such as Realtor.com, Redfin.com, Zillow.com, and a myriad of lesser-known sites including those of various real estate companies. These companies all share common information known as “feeds” from the many MLSs (Multiple Listing Services). These sites allow visitors to search geographic areas such as counties and towns for homes with specific criteria such as size, number of bedrooms, number of baths, price, etc. The only problem with the larger sites is the sheer volume of information they must contend with and keep up with. This often renders the information out of date and filled with inaccuracies.
Nevertheless, these sites have their benefits and coupled with the services of a good real estate professional can give the Buyer the opportunity to do research into the communities that interest them.
Though not required, it is highly recommended that Buyers secure the services of a real estate salesperson, preferably a Realtor©. Realtors© ascribe to the defined Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the National Association of Realtors© (NAR) (click to see the NAR and FIABCI Codes of Ethics).
Brokerages that are not a member of NAR or FIABCI are not required to ascribe to these tenets that afford protections to the buying public.
There are many reasons a real estate salesperson or real estate Brokers can be of benefit to Buyers. Their knowledge of the transaction process, real estate in general, the local community and contacts within that community as well as negotiation techniques and other acquired knowledge beneficial to Buyers can prove a Buyer’s agent (see Buyer’s Agency) essential.
Designations and Certifications
The agent’s knowledge and experience, designations and certifications, and workload or volume of business all must be factored into the Buyer’s formula of needs; there is no perfect formula. Ultimately it comes down to a matter of trust between agent and customer. Most important is finding the proper fit. The Buying process can be involved and time consuming. The relationship between the agent and customer must be one of trust and understanding. Ultimately it is these two attributes that will determine the strength of the working relationship.
The Buyer Representation Agreement
At Advanced Global Realty we prefer to work under a Buyer Representation Agreement (View a sample Buyer Representation Agreement). This agreement outlines the duties and obligations of both the Buyers and Advanced Global Realty. The use of this type of agreement is a form of contract and minimizes the possibility of misunderstandings between the two entities.
Once the Buyer has selected an agent to work with, it becomes necessary for the Buyer to “get ready” to purchase. Unless the transaction will be strictly cash, a bank or lender will be involved. This will require that the Buyer become a mortgagor and the lender, the mortgagee. It is recommended the Buyer get up to three quotes from the lenders of their choice to compare offerings regarding rates and terms. (Click for a partial list of area lenders) The Buyer’s agent should be able to suggest financing institutions and explain the process further to the Buyer.
Until the financing process is underway and a pre-approval letter showing the dollar amount of the property the Buyer seeks to acquire is issued, it is premature to do serious house hunting. All too often the Buyer “jumps the gun” and finds a house to buy, the purchase of which can’t be consummated because the financing vehicle is not in place. This can be emotionally draining and Buyers are urged to have all their “ducks in a row” prior to actually beginning their home search. This will save much distress on the part of the Buyer.
Toward the end of 2015, the Truth in Lending and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) merged into a new combined version of the two, known as TRID (Click here for information on Truth in Lending, RESPA, and the new TRID information).
Assuming the financing hurdles have been addressed and a pre-approval letter is in hand, it is time to begin the home search in earnest. The Buyer’s research and agents knowledge must now merge and homes viewed. Your agent, at no expense to you, will be happy to establish a link on the MLS for you to be able to view properties of interest. There is a tendency for Buyers to want to see many houses on any given day. In truth, a maximum of three, possibly four houses should be seen on any given day. Seeing more houses generally creates problems with memory and it becomes difficult for Buyers to differentiate between all they’ve seen. In this case patience is a virtue. Further, seeing three of four home gives the Buyer time to contemplate what they’ve seen and discuss among themselves and their agent the pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses of each particular property. A property assessment guide has been developed for Buyer’s use (click here to view and print).
You should now be ready to commence your home search in earnest. The first thing you should be prepared to do is sign the state mandated agency disclosure form. This form is required to be presented to the Buyer before any discussion of a particular property takes place. It is appropriate for this to be one of the first things an agent does before discussing a particular property and many correctly, ask the potential Buyer to sign the disclosure before answering any property questions The disclosure form discusses the question of agency and discloses whom the agent is working for. Your agent will likely prepare you for this by explaining the various working relationships that can exist between the parties. (Click here to see a sample of the state mandated form you will be asked to sign).
Compile your list, decide what you think you want to visit first, hear what ideas your agent has and have your agent set up appointments to view your first properties. We’ll leave the search here as every agent has their own personality and ways of working with their customers. Remember, your agent is there for you, to help you, and to make your buying experience as enjoyable and trouble- free as possible. Happy Hunting!
Simultaneous to your house search is the need to think about who will legally represent you in this important transaction. In Massachusetts and Connecticut attorneys are used to close and convey properties. You may already have trusted legal counsel. If you do not, ask your agent or lender for suggestions. The closing attorney must be bank approved and your lender should supply a list of approved attorneys. Alternatively, referrals of friends and web site reviews of local attorneys may prove helpful. (Click to see a partial list of real estate attorneys)
Once you find a property, you will likely want to place an offer on the property. Your agent will advise you on possible strategies. Every house purchase is different and your offer must focus on those areas and issues important to you. Your agent should also conduct a competitive market analysis in order to advise you on a range of market value so you may place a realistic offer on the home. Part of an agent’s job includes negotiating techniques and valuation skills. You obviously don’t wish to pay too much, but you also don’t want to put in such a low offer that you alienate the Seller. Sometimes during the offer process or prior to the placing of the offer, legal questions arise. It is for this reason that it is important to have access to Buyer’s counsel. It is illegal and improper for real estate agents to give any legal advice. (Click here to see a sample offer with accompanying Title V addendum required for properties equipped with septic systems)
Once an offer has been tendered, negotiated, and accepted, a Purchase and Sale Agreement (P&S), is typically drafted by the Seller’s attorney. The document is reviewed by both party’s attorneys, any changes discussed and agreed upon, and then a final draft is presented to both Buyer and Seller to sign. At this point you will be told how much deposit you will need to submit to the Seller upon signing.
Simultaneous to the preparation of the Purchase and Sale Agreement and Title V addendum, if required, will be your right to have professionals inspect the property on your behalf and at your expense. These inspections include but are not limited to a structural and home inspection, termite and pest inspection, water potability tests (wells), presence of radon, and any other tests a Buyer deems necessary. Under the terms of your offer and P&S, your will have a defined period of time in which to conduct any desired tests. In many cases you will have a right to terminate the contract if you are not happy with the test or inspection results. You may also have an opportunity to negotiate with the Seller to correct any problems or issues. Note: seek appropriate legal advice as to your rights under any legally binding agreement. Houses with septic systems must have those systems checked by appropriate inspectors (known as a Title V inspection). The Seller typically pays for this inspection (please refer to the Title V addendum in the Offer to Purchase or the Purchase and Sale Agreement).
Once the P&S is signed, both Buyer and Seller attorneys conduct their respective duties to their clients. Assuming all goes well, the Buyer and Seller agents, attorneys, and lender work toward a closing on a specified date. Within the P&S are several important dates and requirements. One important date is for the inspection contingency, another, is for the financing contingency. Your agent, lender, or attorney can explain this to you.
Prior to closing, your attorney will inform you what you will need to bring to the closing. Also, the Buyer’s agent usually accompanied by the Buyers does a “walk through” inspection with the Seller’s agent to make sure the property is in the agreed condition it should be for conveyance. The Buyer’s agent is often given the keys to the property to give to the Buyers once the property conveyance has been recorded at the Registry of Deeds. The Buyer’s agent frequently accompanies the Buyers to the closing.
At closing your attorney will review a myriad of papers that you will be required to sign. A closing generally takes about one hour. Once completed, the attorney must record the documents at the Registry of Deeds before the sale is officially consummated. Once a suitable home is found, it usually takes about 60 days to complete a transaction.
While there may be many permutations of the closing process, this document represents a general outline of the Buying process. The purchase of a home is a complex process and not every nuance can be mentioned here. Please call an agent at Advanced Global Realty with any specific questions you may have that are not addressed here. We include one last piece of information for your consideration: (click here for 180 things your Realtor does for clients)
We thank you for taking the time to read through this to better understand the buying process. As you can see, it is a lengthy and involved process suggesting the importance of working with a qualified and knowledgeable agent. We hope you have found this to be helpful. We wish you the best of luck with your home search and years of happiness in your new home!
Disclaimer: The Buying Process depicted herein is for illustration purposes only. Your actual transaction may include more or less details than stated herein as every real estate transaction is unique. Advanced Global Realty is not licensed to practice law and none of the information contained herein is meant to imply or be construed to be legal advice. Only a licensed legal professional should give legal advice and any party to a real estate transaction is urged to seek competent legal counsel from a licensed legal professional.
The Selling Process
You’ve decided to sell your home. Perhaps it is your primary residence, a vacation home, or even an investment property. As real estate is one of the largest monetary commitments most people make, it is important that you feel comfortable with your sales agent. More, you are entrusting this agent with one of your largest assets. Your agent needs to be a blend of ambassador, salesperson, marketing genius, and business professional. The truth is, few agents have all those attributes and only a modest percentage pursue further real estate education, designations, or have even attended college.
At Advanced Global Realty we value education and experience. Why is this important? Every Seller has different motivations and goals. Relocation, diversification, liquidation, downsizing, and upsizing are just a few of the reasons people sell. We’ve already acknowledged your decision to sell but the sale of each of the types of properties mentioned, require a different set of skills. Residential sales are different from vacation property, and investors buy for different reasons and goals. Your agent must be fluent in these different areas in order to fulfill your needs. There is more to it than simply placing a sign on the front lawn. Your choice of agent is the key to a successful transaction, getting the most revenue for your property, and establishing a fair value that will attract interested and qualified buyers.
The Listing Agreement
At the first meeting to discuss selling your home, the agent will ask you to sign the Massachusetts Mandatory Licensee-Consumer Relationship Disclosure (click here to review the disclosure agreement). This is not a contract but does describe the relationship you will have with your agent, and who the agent will be working for. This form is required by the state to be presented to the potential customer at your first personal meting to discuss a particular property.
Once you have selected the agent that best suits your needs, it is important to understand the mechanics of the selling process. Your agent will require that you sign a listing agreement. Doing so establishes you as a client and provides you the full bundle of fiduciary rights to which you’re entitled: confidentiality, obedience to lawful command, disclosure, reasonable care, loyalty, and accountability. There are many types of listing agreements including open listing, exclusive agency, co-brokerage, and exclusive right to sell. The exclusive right to sell agreement is the most common and likely the one you will agree upon with your agent (click here for sample listing agreement). This type of listing agreement is preferred by brokerage firms because it commits the Seller and a singular Brokerage firm, guaranteeing the firm an agreed upon commission if the property sells within a prescribed time period, and justifies the marketing expense outlaid and necessary to effectively market the property.
Carefully read the agreement and make sure you understand all the clauses prior to signing. If you don’t, seek competent legal advice. It is never too early to engage your attorney as part of your sales team. You will need an attorney at specific times during the transaction but frequently questions arise that should be answered by an attorney. Remember: real estate agents are forbidden to render legal advice so it is important that you, the Seller, have competent counsel you trust and value.
Important considerations on an exclusive tight to sell agreement include but are not limited to the asking price, duration of the agreement, the commission to be paid to the brokerage firm and the amount offered to any cooperating broker (the agency representing the Buyer). Combined, this represents the total commission or fee to be paid by the Seller. Please note there is no standard commission.
Advanced Global Realty determines the commission it charges based on a variety of factors including value of the property and anticipated marketing expense. It is important that your sales agent convey a clear marketing program to you outlining the steps that will be taken to market your property. Because Advanced Global Realty operates through global networks, we have access to and use marketing tools unknown to many real estate companies. While this cannot guarantee a faster sale, it will place your property before the eyes of potential buyers that would otherwise not be aware of your property.
In preparation of listing your property, it is often helpful to create a notebook that those visiting the property can view. This can include special accents you wish to point out, pictures of the house and property at varying times of year, gardens, significant improvements that have been made, and anything else that would cause your property to be viewed in a positive light that would differentiate it from other houses competing at your price point or desirable features.
Next, you will need to prepare your house for sale. For some, elaborate staging may be indicated while with others, simply some fresh paint and removing clutter may be all that is needed. Your sales agent can advise you on these matters and explain any costs you may incur should you use a professional staging company.
It is recommended that any items not intended to remain with the property be removed prior to showing the property. This minimizes the possibility of misunderstandings. If you will continue to live in the house while it is on the market and will continue to use certain items, for example, a chandelier, it is possible to list these items on the listing agreement as exclusions from the sale. Additionally some items may be specifically included in the sale while other items may be purchased separately. Your attorney can advise you as to the best way to transfer the chattel.
Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP) Property Transfer Lead Paint Notification
If your home was built prior to 1978 it is possible that lead paint or products that contained lead were contained in the materials used to finish your home. Generally this is construed to be lead containing paint but other finishes used on wood also contained lead. You are required by law to fill out the state and federally mandated form and present it to the buyer prior to the signing of the Purchase and Sale Agreement (Click here to view the Property Transfer Lead Paint Notification). Both buyer and seller are urged to understand the ramifications of this form.
Preparing Your Home for Sale
Once listed, you and your agent might wish to conduct open houses to market your house. Many agents no longer rely on open houses to effectively market a house. Further, many agents have shortened the duration of open houses to create a greater sense of urgency by hopefully bringing multiple interested parties to the property simultaneously. The agent may start with a broker’s open house to introduce the listing to the local agents or immediately conduct an open house for the public to attend. Your agent will give you tips on how to best prepare your home for an open house.
There are certain caveats that are important and bear mention here. Do not leave valuables, jewelry, prescription drugs, firearms, alcohol, precious breakables, or other cherished items where they could be accessed by children or others touring your home. Your agent will endeavor to keep a watchful eye on your property, but it is not the responsibility of the agent to safeguard your personal effects. It is better that the valuables be stored off premises in a safe location while the home is listed for sale or during showings and open houses. Again, discuss your expectations with your agent; the overarching needs are public safety and the security of your property and personal items.
Many homeowners are starting to use video recording devices to observe showing activities. Understandably this technology can be useful for keeping a watchful eye on sleeping babies or monitoring the home when away on vacation, but owners should be aware of the legal ramifications of such use by first discussing their intention to use such technology with their attorney prior to employing such surveillance. The various states and federal government have regulations regarding the use of audio and video surveillance.
The Mechanics of the Sale
Each state has different ways of conducting the sales process. Some states require the use of attorneys in the transaction process. Others allow real estate brokers or title companies to consummate the real estate sale. Massachusetts and Connecticut require the use of attorneys. Home Buyers and Sellers are encouraged to employ the use of an attorney early in the sale or purchase process to better understand how the attorney integrates into the sale process, what duties the attorney typically performs, and what the expectations are in the attorney-client relationship.
The Offer to Purchase
Massachusetts real estate transactions typically begin with the tendering of an offer to purchase (Click to see a sample offer). There are many types of offers in use in Massachusetts depending on geographic area though the information contained in them is similar. Your attorney can advise you on the type of offer to use.
The offer contains important information including but not limited to the contracting parties, description of the property, purchase price, amount and dates of deposit, closing date, type of financing (if any), inspections, and a date and time the offer becomes void. Contingencies to the sale are also listed, as is the Title V (septic system) addendum, where applicable.
The Purchase and Sale Agreement
Once the terms are negotiated and agreed upon, and the offer signed by all parties to the transaction, a Purchase and Sale Agreement is drafted and agreed upon by the buyer and seller attorneys. Please note that in some states offers are not used and the parties go directly to the Purchase and Sale Agreement. The Purchase and Sale Agreement is a more formal, expanded, and comprehensive document laying out the responsibilities of all parties to the transaction (Click to see a sample P&S Agreement). The reader is urged to contact their attorney or agent for more detailed explanations of both the Offer to Purchase and Purchase & Sale Agreement.
Upon the signing of the Purchase and Sale Agreement, a myriad of things begin to happen as the two teams work toward a harmonious conveyance. Resolution of inspection issues, Title V inspections (if not done already), property appraisal, satisfaction of financing contingencies, and more are addressed. Often it is necessary to file extensions for performance of some of these. Your attorney and agent should bring any of thee issues to your attention in a timely manner. As each real estate transaction is unique, it is important to realize this illustration is not all-inclusive but should give the Seller a reasonable idea of what the selling process entails. Advanced Global Realty offer you the best of luck in the sale of your property and encourages you to contact us with any concerns or questions you may have at any time.
Disclaimer: The Selling Process depicted herein is for illustration purposes only. Your actual transaction may include more or less details than stated herein as every real estate transaction is unique. Advanced Global Realty is not licensed to practice law and none of the information contained herein is meant to imply or be construed to be legal advice. Only a licensed legal professional should give legal advice and any party to a real estate transaction is urged to seek competent legal counsel from a licensed legal professional.