Q:  We read a lot about the fact that a REALTOR® can represent us as buyers.  What is buyer agency?
A:  You are correct.  A change swept the real estate industry in recent years in the form of legislation authorizing Buyer Agency; that is, legal authority for REALTORS® to act as fiduciaries for buyers. 

Q:  How does Buyer Agency benefit me?
A:  As a Buyer’s Agent, I would represent you exclusively as a buyer in the marketplace.  I will help you compare all available properties and help you decide what price you should pay for the property.  Because I am an expert in our market area, I can help you evaluate what “extras” you need to put in to that new home (without going overboard), or how much you can offer, without paying “too much.”

Q:  Isn’t it better to work with several different REALTORS® to make sure we are seeing every home available on the market?
A:  Successful REALTORS® work with buyers who are loyal and committed to work with one REALTOR® who understands their needs and is willing to work hard to achieve the result: find the right home at the right price.

Q:  What is the best way to find a Buyer’s Agent?
A:  Ask your friends, fellow workers and take a look at my website for some of my references and credentials.  You need to decide as a consumer who you feel is the most knowledgeable REALTOR® in the area you are looking and if you like working with that person, i.e., “are you a good match?”  You also need to assess the REALTOR’S® negotiating skills, since you will be empowering that agent to negotiate on your behalf with either the independent seller, or builder.  Furthermore, once you decide on the best agent for your needs, they will ask you to sign a Buyer Agency Agreement.

Q:  What is a Buyer Agency Agreement?
A:  It is an agreement, much like a listing agreement when you sell your home, that acknowledges your commitment to work with the REALTOR® for a certain period of time, within a specified market area.

Q:  Why is it to my advantage to sign a buyer agency agreement?
A:  By employing me to work for you, you are giving me the authority to research all properties and negotiate on your behalf.

Q:  What exactly does a Buyers Agent do?
A:  A Buyer’s Agent uses his/her time and expertise to search all available properties for sale, make appointments to show them to you, finds out all pertinent information regarding comparable sales to help you make an offer, negotiates the offer, completes all contracts and follow-ups, and tracks the file from inspections to appraisals, to lenders, from pending to closing, to moving day.

Q:  Who pays for the services of a Buyers Agent?
A:  It is typical in our market for the Buyers Agent fee to be taken from the transaction.  Typically, this will not add any additional cost to you.  There are exceptions, though; please discuss these with your Buyers Agent.

Q:  What if I am looking at new homes and I have already visited the model homes?  May I still bring my REALTOR® back to view the home and help me assess the “pros” and “cons” of selecting a certain property?
A:  In our marketplace, both custom and production builders welcome REALTORS® to accompany their client.  It is better to have me accompany you on the first visit, or at least take my card if they I am not present on your first viewing, and let the builder’s on-site agent know that you plan to work with that me as your Buyer’s Agent.

Q:  But isn’t it true, that when the on-site salesperson asks, “Are you working with a REALTOR®?”, it is to my benefit to answer “no” because I might be able to buy the home for less without a REALTOR® involved in the transaction?
A:  No.  The reason the on-site salesperson is asking if you have an agent, is that he/she wants to know all of the players involved in the transaction.  Most often, they are relieved to find that you have separate representation.  FACT: The on-site salesperson represents the specific builder’s products, and cannot advise you in comparing one builder with another.  Also FACT: Most builders acknowledge that at least 80% of their sales are made with the customer being represented by a REALTOR®.  Your cost from the builder will be the same, with or without a REALTOR® representing you.

Q:  Why is it helpful to have a REALTOR® represent me if I plan to buy new?
A:  Remember, the compensation for that agent’s fees are already “built-in” to the new home product.  If you REALTOR® is involved in the transaction, the money is allocated for a marketing fee.  The benefit to you in this:  in looking at the model home, it is very easy to want to include every option the builder offers.  If you do not have a budget in mind, it is very easy to “over-do” and select everything!  However, most f us do need to look to the future of resale, and your Buyers Agent can help advise you on what extras would meet the “like kind and quality” test for the neighborhood you are considering.

Q:  What are the other benefits the Buyers Agent can provide me?
A:  Inspectors, lenders, movers, residential contractors, pool builders, surveyors – all of these questions can be answered by your Buyers Agent, and can make your move go smoothly.

Q:  How long have you been in the real estate business?
A:  I have been licensed in the State of Kansas since 1986.

Q:  What are “professional designations?”
A:  Most professions have their designations.  They often show an advanced skill level or commitment to the profession.  The REALTOR® organizations have a number of professional designations.  Some of the more common are:
ABR    Accredited Buyer Representative
CRB    Certified Residential Brokerage Manager
CRS    Certified Residential Specialist
GRI     Graduate REALTOR® Institute
SRES  Seniors Real Estate Specialist
I hold all of these designations.  Here is a little more information about the value of those designations and why they are important.

Q:  Do you belong to the local association of REALTORS®?
A:  Yes, I am a member of the Topeka Area Association of REALTORS® and it’s Multiple Listing Service, Kansas Association of REALTORS®, and National Association of REALTORS®.  I have also been associated with the local associations and Multiple Listing Services in Lawrence and Kansas City, and points west, and would do so again if my business dictates that I need to serve clients in these areas.  I think it’s better that I concentrate on my area of expertise (Topeka and surrounding areas), and refer you to another professional whose expertise is another area.

Q:  Are you a member of any national relocation networks?
A:  Yes, several:  CRS, ABR, SRES, Howard Brinton’s Star Power Club and several others.  A huge portion of my business comes from personal referrals – from past clients, friends, other REALTORS® and those I do business with.  I am regularly referred buyer & seller clients by some specific major corporations.

Q:  Do you primarily work with buyers or sellers?
A:  I provide professional representation to both buyers and sellers of real estate

Q:  Is your experience with new homes or with re-sale homes?
A:  Both

Q:  Are you full-time REALTORS®?
A:  Absolutely.  Real estate is not a job, it is a way of life, and to do it properly, you cannot be part-time – you must be available when necessary.

Q:  Do you have home warranties available?
A:  Yes, I am proud to offer American Home Shield Warranty programs that can be purchased by both buyers and sellers.

Q:  What else do you offer?
A:  What would you like to see?  I am constantly striving to improve miy service to you, and value your suggestions.  I have state-of-the-art systems in place for follow-up and marketing, and am committed to not only being “high tech” but “high touch” as well. 

Q:  Is it possible for one part to a real estate sale or purchase, to designate someone as their Power-of-Attorney?
A:  Definitely; however the power-of-attorney must contain some very specific language if the property you are selling is your homestead.  Even the best attorneys often do not include this language.  If you are thinking of using a power-of-attorney, please allow me to have the title company review it at the earliest possible point in the transaction.

Q:  Are there things we can do to get our home sold faster?
A:  Absolutely, and counseling you on this is a part of the complete services I provide.

Q:  Couldn’t I just sell my home myself?
A:  You might be able to; however, there is much more to selling your home than a “for sale” sign in the yard.  A recent study by the National Association of REALTORS® revealed that 82% of properties are sold through agents’ professional and personal contacts.  I advertise in real estate trade publications, magazines, newspapers, computerized multiple listing services, direct mail, in-house publications, and on a multitude of internet web sites.  I know how your home compares to others like it in the marketplace, and can determine fair market value.  I can determine the most likely type of financing for the buyer of your property, and know the difference between pre-qualified and pre-approved (also the quality of the lender), and know the red flags to look for in a loan “pre-approval” such as “conditional” or “subject to.”  I know about the laws pertaining to the sale of your property, required lead, radon, sexual predator, old & mildew, and other disclosures.  There is so much that I do – and don’t forget this one – if a buyer comes to your home when you are acting as an unrepresented owner, there is a good chance they are a bargain hunter, and that commission you thought you were going to save, they of course think it should be theirs.  If you decide you are absolutely up to the task, I will be happy to advise you – and in return, if you are not successful for any reason, I hope you will consider me.

Q:  Does it make any difference what lender I use?
A:  I think it does.  Local lenders typically have competitive rates, with no hidden closing costs, and won’t have hidden costs suddenly “appear out of nowhere” at the last minute.  They will most always be more able to customize a loan to suit your individual needs, and they understand & respect the local real estate contracts, customs & title requirements.  They will respect your closing date & have fewer last minute obstacles, as they would like repeat business from you and from me.  A local lender’s representation absolutely increases the likelihood of your offer being accepted, which gives you an advantage when competing against another buyer who is not using a local lender.  The final loan approval is made by people who understand our local real estate market, and you have a loan officer (and their supervisors) in a bricks & mortar office that you can visit face-to-face if necessary.  Finally, as a respected real estate broker since 1986 in the Topeka market, if there is a problem that you cannot resolve (oftentimes at the very last minute when your plans can no longer be changed), there is a much greater likelihood that I can resolve it for you in time for a successful (and timely) closing.  Please, let me recommend a lender for you.  I do not receive, nor ask anything from the lenders I recommend except great service to my clients, and a pre-approval & loan that are as good as gold.

Q:  But I already made contact with an on-line lender.
A:  Often, mortgages that originate online close late, and wreak havoc with a home purchase transaction.  Some online loans never do close.  One reason is the lack of accountability; there is often no one to complain to when things go wrong.  When we do reach someone, the lender (located who-knows where) doesn’t really care about you and I, or what we might say about them in the local community – we have no pull with them.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that the world of online lending has improved; I really do not agree with that except possibly in the case of a well-qualified buyer with a large cash down payment and perfect credit.  Even then, I’m not convinced.  Read more.

Q:  I already know what I need to get for my home.
A:  Unfortunately, needs and value are often different.  Just as you want top dollar for your home, buyers want to buy your home for as little as possible.  Through detailed comparisons between your home and recently sold homes, and other properties currently in our market area, together we can determine what your home is really work in the current market.  In the industry, this is called a Comparative Market Analysis or CMA.  I will do this for you, for free.  Please don’t confuse this with the AVM (Automated Valuation Method) that is provided on some websites.  A website cannot possibly evaluate a market like a human being can, who is trained and familiar with your market.

Q:  What is a pre-listing inspection, and do you recommend them?
A:  I recommend a pre-listing inspection in almost all instances.  Any good Buyer’s Agent will recommend that the buyer have, at minimum, a whole house inspection as part of the contract to purchase your property – and most buyers will take that advice.  Before actually putting your house on the market, have a pre-listing inspection done.  You’re going to find out what the inspector will say anyway – so find out ahead of time!  It gives you a heads up as to what you can expect, gives you time to make any recommended repairs/replacements (some of which could affect the pricing of your home), and gives you time to get estimates on those repairs/replacements (as opposed to running around at the last minute, having to pay whatever it takes to get the work completed).  Your home can be marketed as a pre-inspected home, and there is much lesser chance that you will negotiate the price twice: once at time of contract, and another when the home inspection comes in.  You should definitely be present for the inspection, if at all possible.

Now you can help me – this list of “Frequently Asked Questions” is meant to help you answer those questions you may have before you actually speak to me or any agent….are there other questions I should be answering here that would be helpful to you?  Please let me know.

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