buyers agent

Buying Through the Listing Agent … Get a Better Deal?

Buying Through the Listing Agent … Get a Better Deal?

Do you really get a better deal if you’re buying from the listing agent?

As a Realtor I work with either sellers or buyers but almost never both in the same transaction.  One Real Estate “Urban Legend” that comes up fairly regularly is that it is better for you to buy a house directly from the listing agent. The belief is that you will either get a better deal on the price or actually get a reimbursement or kickback from the agent because they are getting “both sides” of the deal.

As a consumer, you have a right (and in my opinion a real need) to representation … here’s what happens when you work only with the listing agent. The Consumer Protection Act and the Licensing laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts require that an agent representing two clients in the same transaction must work as a disclosed dual agent.  According to 254 CMR 3.00, “a dual agent will not have the ability to satisfy fully the duties of loyalty, full disclosure, reasonable care and obedience to lawful instructions, but shall still owe the duty of confidentiality of material information and the duty to account for funds”.  There is a consent form that you both must sign and “the consent form must also state that a dual agent assists the seller and buyer in a transaction but shall be neutral with regard to any conflicting interest of the seller and buyer.”

So one party (the Seller who has a signed representation contract) gets an agent who is “providing less than full representation”, while the other (you) gets an agent who is “providing less than full  representation”. Why on earth would you want an agent working for you who can only  unlock a door and write an offer, they can’t advise you on what price or terms to offer, can’t provide you with “comps” to ensure you don’t overpay, can’t recommend inspectors or attorneys, can’t advise you about inspection issue negotiations, and aren’t able to tell you about any location issues or defects in the house? It just doesn’t make sense.

Here’s why buyers need representation, preferably by an Accredited Buyer Representative, ABR …  shameless plug for myself

1.    A listing agent works for the seller
2.    The listing agent’s biggest responsibility is to get the most money and best terms for the seller
3.    Despite rumors, I have NEVER heard of a verified situation where the buyer got a kickback from the listing agent
4.    If you think you’ll get “inside info”, i.e.  what the sellers want in price or conditions so that they’ll accept your offer over others’, you can ask, but they won’t tell you. The listing agent is only ALLOWED BY LAW to share their client’s confidential information with you it the seller gives them permission (I’d want to see it in writing) and can lose their license if he/she does without permission.
5.    During the inspection, how objective will your (oops, I mean the seller’s) agent be?
6.    The listing agent has a vested interest in your buying THIS house and will not encourage you to look at similar ones of better value, condition, or location.
7.   The Listing agent is not obligated to inform you of any traffic or environmental conditions or smell/noise/light pollution from nearby locations that might be part of the reason their sellers are moving.

A buyer agent (ABR) is the only person in your house search and offer process looking out only for YOU.  They are your advocate in a major and life-affecting purchase.  Using a Buyer Agent costs you no money, and may even help you save money in the initial negotiation and by using inspection issues to re-negotiate.

How about if I say it another way: Would you want to go to a court trial having the Prosecutor do double duty as your defense lawyer?

Absurd and ridiculous?

It’s like asking do you really get a better deal if you’re buying from the listing agent?

Pros and Cons of Living in Sudbury, Massachusetts

Pros and Cons of Living in Sudbury, Massachusetts

Sudbury is a gorgeous town with lovely homes and an excellent school system. It is best suited for people who like a little more rural feel but want their entertainment, shopping and services nearby. I’ve lived in town for 20 years and based on my experiences the people are very friendly. The community protects open space, has wonderful active/passive recreation opportunities and feels like a world away from Boston, yet is close to the Mass Pike and has multiple train stations nearby.

 

Pros:
1. Easy access to Mass Pike, Rt 128 and Rt 495.
2. Most people don’t want to take time out of their day to drive to the next town to grocery shop or to grab some lunch …
Restaurants in town: Foodies will love the many, varied fare and price points, some deliver, plenty of parking.
Shopping in town: Many small boutique, specialty stores in town but no big box stores. Those are nearby in Natick, Framingham and Marlborough. The shopping mecca of the Natick Collection/Shopper’s World is less than 15 minutes away.
Grocery Stores in town: Sudbury Farms and Shaws, Whole Foods and Stop & Shop in Wayland, Trader Joe’s nearby in Framingham.
3. Excellent police force, extremely low crime rate.
4. Lots of local concerts, sporting events, theaters & amenities
5. Excellent library facility includes on-line reservations & downloads of e-books
6. Commuter rail stations nearby: For South Station closest is Framingham.
For North Station closest is Acton. For Green Line closest is Riverside in Newton. Express bus to Logan airport in Framingham.
7. Although the school system is highly ranked (Boston Magazine ranks it high and the schools have earned recognition multiple times in U.S. News & World Report for college readiness), it doesn’t come across as the pressure-cooker that Lexington and Brookline are. Many parents I have talked with say it delivers “as advertised”.
10. Lots of great community organizations – both civic and social
11. A medium-density population with large lot sizes… ¾ to 1 acre minimum zoning, smaller lots grandfathered, up to 5 acre zoning in historic wayside inn district
12. Schools belong to the Metco program, exposing the kids to diversity.
13. Gleaming new/renovated schools built when State assistance was high.
14. Low town debt load and high bond rating.
15. Home to many fitness centers, yoga studios, hair and nail salons, and larger organized indoor/outdoor sporting facilities.
16. Summer farmer’s markets, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) with different levels of commitment, community gardens and the Sudbury Grange with it’s educational programs.
17. A wide choices of houses of worship nearby in almost any religion you practice
18. Oldest continuously-running Town Meeting
19. Robust senior center with many programs, activities and opportunities for active seniors.

Cons:
1. No commuter rail station/public transportation to speak of in town.
2. Housing tends toward larger size homes and prices are high.
3. There definitely is a lack of walk-ability here.
4. High taxes
5. No town curbside trash pickup. You can pay for pick up or use the transfer/recycling station.
6. There is a lack of socioeconomic diversity.
7. There are restrictions on livestock ownership.

Our mosquito situation is no better or worse than any town outside of Boston. In the interest of conservation we don’t always spray for mosquitoes, but when conditions are extreme in all of eastern Massachusetts we have sprayed for them. That being said, you don’t want to buy a house with a swamp or a pond in your back yard.

Thinking About Buying Your First Home?

Thinking About Buying Your First Home?

Several factors should be considered when purchasing a home

Your Financial Health … your credit & home affordability

Is now the right time financially for you to buy a home? Would you rate your financial picture as healthy? Is your credit good? While you can always find a lender to lend you money, solid lenders are more skeptical if your credit history is not good.

Generally, a couple of blemishes on a credit report will make you a good credit risk and could qualify you for the lowest interest rates. If you have more than a couple of blemishes on your report, lenders like e-Loans may still provide you with a loan, but you may just have to pay a higher interest rate and fees. Some say that you should refrain from borrowing as much as you qualify for because it is wiser not to stretch your financial boundaries. The other school of thought says you should stretch to buy as much home as you can afford, because with regular pay raises and increased earning potential, the big payment today will seem like less of a payment tomorrow.

This is a decision only you can make. Are you in a position where you expect to make more money soon? Would you rather be conservative and fairly certain that you can make your payment without stretching financially? Make sure that whatever you do, it’s within your comfort zone. To determine how much home you can afford, talk to a lender or go online and use a “home affordability” calculator. Good calculators will give you a range of what you may qualify for. Then call a lender. While some may say that the “28/36” rule applies, in today’s home mortgage market, lenders are making loans customized to a particular person’s situation. The “28/36” rule means that your monthly housing costs can’t exceed 28 percent of your income and your total debt load can’t exceed 36 percent of your total monthly income. Depending on your assets, credit history, job potential and other factors, lenders can push the ratios up to 40-60% or higher. While I’m not advocating you purchase a home utilizing the higher ratios, its important for you to know your options.

How long you plan to live in the home

If you purchase a home and get a job transfer or decide to move after only a short time, you may end up paying money in order to sell it. The value of your home may not have appreciated enough to cover the costs that you paid to buy the home and the costs that it would take you to sell your home. The length of time that it will take to cover those costs depends on various economic factors in the area of the home. Most parts of the country have an average of 5% appreciation per year. In this case, you should plan to stay in your home at least 3-4 years to cover buying and selling costs. If the area you buy your home in experiences an economic up turn, the length of the time to cover these costs could be shortened, and the opposite is also true.

How long the home will meet your needs

What features do you require in a home to satisfy your lifestyle now? Five years from now? Depending on how long you plan to stay in your home, you’ll need to ensure that the home has the amenities that you’ll need. For example, a two-bedroom dwelling may be perfect for a young couple with no children. However, if they start a family, they could quickly outgrow the space. Therefore, they should consider a home with room to grow. Could the basement be turned into a den and extra bedrooms? Could the attic be turned into a master suite? Having an idea of what you’ll need will help you find a home that will satisfy you for years to come.

Where the money for the transaction will come from

Typically homebuyers will need some money for a down payment and closing costs. However, with today’s broad range of loan options, having a lot of money saved for a down payment is not always necessary – if you can prove that you are a good financial risk to a lender. If your credit isn’t stellar but you have managed to save 10-20% for a down payment, you will still appear to be a very good financial risk to a lender.

The ongoing costs of home ownership

Maintenance, improvements, taxes and insurance are all costs that are added to a monthly house payment. If you buy a condominium, townhouse or in certain communities, a monthly homeowner’s association fee might be required. If these additional costs are a concern, you can make choices to lower or avoid these fees. Be sure to make your realtor and your lender aware of your desire to limit these costs. If you are still unsure if you should buy a home after making these considerations, you may want to consult with an accountant or financial planner to help you assess how a home purchase fits into your overall financial goals.

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