Thursday, January 17, 2013

Why Use a Buyer's Agent When Buying Vermont Real Estate in 2013?

To answer this question, let me begin by asking a question. When you are in a legal proceeding, would you have the lawyer representing the person sitting across the table from you represent you as well? The answer is so simple. Of course not.

Why then when buying a house or property which for many people represents one of the largest financial decisions of their lives would you utilize the Realtor who represents the Seller(s) to safeguard your best interests as the Buyer(s)?

In Vermont, we do not have “dual agency.” Some states do allow this (where one Realtor represents both sides of the transaction while maintaining “neutrality”) but for the life of me I do not understand why. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. There are simply too many places for conflicts of interest to rear their head.
In Vermont, Realtors must represent only one side of the transaction - either the Buyer(s) or the Seller(s). Often, Buyers aren’t clear on this point. They see a sign in front of a house for sale or a listing online. Call that Realtor and utilize that Realtor to facilitate the negotiations of price, terms and conditions when that Realtor represents the Seller(s). Do you see where this is completely problematic? Be sure to ask if the Realtor you are speaking to is the Listing Agent. If so, thank the Agent and tell them you want representaion, hang up and find another Realtor who can represent you and your interests. Keep in mind, good listing agents are experts in finding out information from prospective buyers without you even being aware of it. They can ask questions that ultimately compromise your negotiating position. Thank them politely. Hang up and find a Realtor to be your Buyer’s Agent.

When Sellers agree to list their property they agree to a commission which is paid to both the Realtor who lists the Seller’s property and the Realtor who brings the Buyers to the table. A typical Realtor commission these days is either 5 or 6%. Thus, this commission is split in half (i.e. with either 3 or 2.5% going to the buy side Realtor). Buyers should not think because I am represented by a Buyer’s Agent I am incurring an additional expense to pay their commisssion. The commission is already taken into account by the Seller(s) in their Listing Agreement with their Listing Agent. All Sellers are willing to split the commission between the Realtor representing them and the Buyers Agent representing the Buyer(s). Sellers do this to facilitate the transaction and in this market they are happy as can be to have buyers brought to them.

Let me further clarify. If there is no Buyer’s Realtor involved, the Listing Agent consumes the entire commission of 6 or 5% with no split whatsoever. Now do you see why listing agents so love it when buyers call them directly? On a house that costs say $300,000 with a 6% commission, the Listing Agent would receive an $18,000 commission. If there is a Realtor representing the buyer(s), the listing agent would have to split their commissions.

There are many other reasons why you would want to utilize a Buyer’s Agent when buying real estate in Vermont. Here they are:
  • Full Access To Our Now Unified, Statewide MLS - Until you have made it clear to your Realtor you want to be represented by a Buyer’s Agent and entered into that Agreement in writing the realtor you are communicating with is ALWAYS representing the Seller(s). They cannot give you information that otherwise comprimises the Sellers ability to get the most money for the sale of their home or property. This could include the number of days on the market as a great example. These days this is a critical number to know. Further, listing agents have this game they play when the “re-list” thier listings it sets the odometer back to zero for “days on the market” accuracy. Only a Buyer’s Agent representing your interest will research the history of the property you are interested in buying to let you know exactly how many days that property has been on the market and with whom.
  • Negotiating Power - As your Buyer’s Agent, I will run a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to determine a prospective home’s Fair Market Value (FMV). In simpler terms, as your Realtor I will look at similar homes in the same neighborhood that have sold recently. This way, you will know whether or not the seller has their home priced fairly. If the home is priced over Fair Market Value, your Buyer’s Agent can present your “under asking price” offer with plenty of firepower – and a greater chance that the offer will be accepted. In addition, the terms and conditions of your offer are important as well.
  • Representation - As your Buyer’s Agent, I am there to make sure YOUR best interests are accounted for. With your Buyer’s Agent in your corner, you can rest assured that you’re on, at least, even ground with the home seller. Similarly, Listing Agents enter into a legally binding agreement that require them to ALWAYS act in the best interest of their seller(s). They are the seller’s “coach” and will make sure that their clients’ best interests are looked after.
  • Industry Contacts - It takes a lot of people to close a real estate transaction – Buyer’s Agent, Listing Agent, Loan Officer, Home Inspector, Property Appraiser, Insurance Agent, General and Sub-Contractors, and sometimes more! A good agent will come with a strong, professional closing team that has performed in the past, and will continue to perform. A transaction is only as strong as its weakest link – with your Buyer’s Agent & their closing team, you can rest assured that you will have plenty of support to make the buying process as smooth as possible.
  • Maximize Your Time - While driving neighborhoods is an excellent idea to help you decide which locations you prefer, it’s not a very efficient way to find your new home. Gas is expensive, and your time is valuable. Your Buyer’s Agent will listen to your needs, make fantastic suggestions based on your likes & dislikes, and provide you with a list of homes and communities that ALL match your wants & needs. Your Buyer’s Agent has helped MANY new homebuyers through MANY purchases, and will help you better organize your search & decision making process – saving you valuable time.
If you are considering buying a home or condominium in or near Burlington Vermont, please visit my website, give me a call on my direct line at 802.238.5256 or email me to discuss representing you, our current market conditions and your needs/wants in a new home and community. I would be delighted to assist you.
Armed with solid numbers, buyers and sellers alike can manage their expectations and the current realities of our local market.

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