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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q. How are you different from other agents?

A. When we look at houses together with our buyer-clients, we look at them with a critical eye. We point out reasons for NOT buying a house, and we also point out maintenance issues, as well as possible safety concerns. We can do this because it isn't our listing; we have no listings and no allegiance to sellers. Our allegiance is with our client, the buyer. And most traditional agents only use the standard contracts, but we'll also use many other clauses to further protect you during your purchase.

Q.  With Internet access to so many properties, why do I need you?

A.  To simplify the process and get a private showing of properties of interest.  Some websites can waste hours of your time because they are out of date. You could spend hours following up on unavailable homes and miss the dream home that just came on the market.   On the other hand, we can give you 24 hour access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) where all listings must be kept up to date or agents are fined.  We can send you daily updates too.  But while finding the right property is important, our real work comes into play after you’ve found the home you want to purchase.

Q.  How will you get me the best possible price for the property?

A.  By proper preparation and presentation.  We’ll do a price study of the property in comparison to similar properties in the area.  We take into consideration current market conditions and circumstances.  You study the data with us and together we determine our negotiating strategy.  We then present the offer to the seller and/or Listing Broker explaining why we offered what we did.  We have training and experience in the art of negotiation and will use these skills to your advantage.  We work with you to present you in the best possible light to the seller, and take the time to discover what the seller’s want and needs are so we can know how to best negotiate on your behalf. 

 

Q.   Are "low-ball" offers advisable?

 

A.   It depends upon market conditions. If it's an unrealistic offer compared to the market value of the home, you stand a chance that the seller will not even bother to negotiate because you're so far apart.  That’s why we take to time to evaluate the pricing and together determine a good offering price.

Q. How much does it cost for an Exclusive Buyer Agent to help me find, negotiate, and buy the home I want?

A. You pay no additional cost for our services. We are normally paid through the proceeds of the transaction. That means we are paid a portion of the commission that the seller and the listing company have agreed in advance to pay any agent who brings a homebuyer to the transaction. At the closing, our company receives a check from the closing attorney. But unlike traditional agents, we will always represent your best interests, never the seller's.

Q.  If you work on commission, why would you try to get me a lower price? 

A.  We typically don’t work for a commission since that implies sales and we are consultants, not salespeople.  We use numerous compensation methods several of which provide cash back to our buyers from money we collect from the transaction.  But if we should get paid a percentage of the purchase price for example, if we help you save $10,000 we would only lose about $250 in “commission”. Saving buyers money has helped earn us our reputation and generate many of our word-of-mouth referrals that feed our business.   Besides, we are responsible to represent your best interest which of course means getting the best possible price.

Q.  How can you save me money?

A.  It is our legal and ethical duty to negotiate the lowest price for our clients and reveal any information we know about how low the seller is willing to go.  We provide all facts about the seller’s urgency to dispose of the property and any other favorable information to the buyer. This is information the listing agent is obligated to cover up.  We also help you shop for the best loan program and put you in touch with good service providers who will work to protect you and save you money as well.

Q.  Will you guarantee to save me money?

A.  While we can't guarantee that you will save money on the purchase of your new home, we will guarantee to try to provide all the necessary information you'll need to make an informed offer and we will actively work and negotiate on your behalf.  It’s been our experience that our buyers save money but we cannot control the whims of the seller.  However, we will help make you an informed buyer. And we'll also assist you in finding the best lender, home inspectors and other service providers for your needs.

Q.  Can you represent me if I buy a property For Sale By Owner?

A.  Yes, we actively go after FSBO properties for our buyers and negotiate terms that require the seller to pay the buyer broker fee on the buyer’s behalf.  We are generally well received by sellers because we do not list properties.  Many For Sale By Owners contact us to see if we have any buyers that might be interested in their home.

Q.  What if I want to purchase new construction?

A.  Most often, new construction homes are listed with a real estate broker.   If not, they are treated as any For Sale By Owner.  So it is no problem for us to negotiate the purchase of new construction as we have done many times.  For a number of reasons it is important that we accompany you to the site.  If you stumble onto the site on your own, don’t sign a reservation form or write a check until you have checked with us.

Q.  What if I want to work with other agents as well at you?

A.  Typically we work for buyers in an exclusive relationship which would cement our mutual and undivided loyalty to each other.  It is possible to make other arrangements as long as we come to a mutual agreement as to how it would be handled and compensated.

Q.  Do I have to sign a Buyer Agency agreement with you?

A.  The same way a seller signs a listing agreement with an agent, you establish a contractual agreement with us by signing a buyer's agency agreement.  Together we lay out our expectations of each other.  This agreement insures we that are accountable to you and your needs and captures those promises in writing.  We have an Easy Exit clause that lets you out anytime for any reason.

Q. Won't I get a better deal if I buy directly from the listing agent?

A: No, but this is a common misunderstanding.  As a fiduciary, the listing agent owes his or her loyalty to the seller and cannot legally help you get a better deal. Although some buyers believe that the listing agent should be willing to take a lower commission because he or she does not have to share with another agent, they fail to consider that the listing agent has twice the amount of work if there is not another agent available to help, so the listing agent may still not be willing to give up the commission.  

Q.  What's a "fiduciary relationship"?

A. This is a special relationship of trust established by law, similar to the relationship one maintains with an attorney or accountant. When an agent acts in a fiduciary capacity, the agent is legally obligated to maintain a bond of confidentiality, loyalty, obedience, due diligence, and to provide their client with full and complete disclosure of any known facts. In a fiduciary relationship, the agent is obligated by law to work in their "clients" best interest at all times.

Q. Where do I start?

A. The best starting point is our Buyer Consultation Session.  We will sit down with you for a preliminary home buying counseling session. We will listen to your needs and wants, your time frame, and discuss with you the best plan of action to accomplish your goals.  During this session you will learn about market conditions, financing, available properties, and neighborhood options. We go over the home buying process in a thorough and comprehensive manner.  We can meet in our office or wherever your choose.

Q.  What’s the process of searching for properties with you?

A. We begin with understanding what it is you want in a home.  We give you Internet access to all the MLS listings, and if you like, we e-mail you new properties as soon as they come onto the market.  When you or we find something of interest we set up an appointment to view the property together.  We also alert you to Open Houses you may visit on your own or with us if you like.  We have a unique search program for properties for sale by owner and share those possibilities with you as well.

Q.  How will we communicate with each other?

A.  Whatever is most convenient for you.  We are readily available by e-mail. phone, pager, and fax through our access lines.  It is imperative that you are able to reach us quickly and that’s why we give you back up numbers and people to call.  We all help each other to meet our client’s needs.  Our buyers have commented on how quickly we respond and we understand the importance of being available.

Q:  How do I arrange to see a property?

A. Contact us and we will set up an Open House visit or a private viewing of the property.  It’s best to give 24 hour notice so all the proper arrangements can be made.  Sometimes the Listing Agent accompanies us and other times we have private access through our electronic lock-box key.

 

Q.  I don’t have time to spend looking at properties which do not meet my criteria?


A.  Criteria Matching is important to us as well.  Since we have nothing to sell, there is no reason for us to push properties on you.  Arrangements can also be made to save you valuable time, by pre-inspecting available properties and matching your criteria against them.  We will look at your needs, such as local Schools, local activities, proximity to local transit, and all necessary conveniences for you and your family. We will also review features of a property that may affect its value and future resale. 

 

Q.  What happens if another one of your buyers wants the property I want to buy?

A.  Ouch, that’s not good.  Most companies would love it because it can bid up the purchase price considerably.  We don’t like it.  Here’s what we do.  If you decide to place an offer on a property with us, we ask any subsequent buyers to stand back and wait.  If you decide not to buy, we retain the right to use all the information we had gleaned about the seller and property and pass it on to the next buyer.  If the second buyer insists on making an offer, we let them do it with someone else.

 Q. What if there is something wrong with the property I have decided to make an offer on?

 
A. We will ask for a Property Disclosure which may alert us to any problems in advance.  Then we recommend appropriate Inspections and Home Inspectors.  We will review with you any available inspection reports, written seller’s disclosure, and any other available documentation, pertaining to the property, and to the best of our knowledge answer all questions regarding the property.   A positive home inspection should increase your confidence that you are making a solid investment.

 

Q.  Do I have other opportunities to view the property prior to closing?

 
A.  Certainly the Home Inspection will give you several hours to take measurements, and evaluate what you want to do.  Estimates by contractors and additional visits can usually be arranged, but anytime you want to get back into the property you need the owner’s permission.  The last opportunity to see the property before closing is the Final Walk-through.  We will accompany you on a thorough walk-through of the property before closing, and will assist you in dealing with any problems discovered during the walk-through.

Q.  How can you show me other company’s listings?

A.  The real estate industry is a cooperative industry in that to get the greatest possible exposure for the seller the listing company uses the MLS which alerts every agent in every office as to the availability and details of their listing.  They are also required to offer compensation to brokers who bring a buyer to the transaction.  This cooperating system has worked well for decades. 

Q.  How will I know about the latest Hot Properties?

A.  We have an e-mail alert system that tells you when a new listing has come on the market.  The MLS requires that a property be listed in the MLS within 24 hours or a penalty must be paid by the listing broker.  In a fast moving market brokers may try to sell it in-house during the initial time frame but in a slow market they want to get it exposed to other real estate brokers as soon as possible.

Q.  Can you tell me about the area and help me decide where to buy?

A. Yes, our website has a lot of good information already, but we will work with you personally to uncover statistics and information that will be helpful in your decision making process.  That includes school reports, crime reports, public transit, demographics, comparative values, neighborhood issues, and more all within the guidelines of the Fair Housing Laws.

Q.  Why are there so many confusing approaches to real estate in Massachusetts?

A.  Originally the only agency in our state was Seller Agency.  Buyer Agency began after the FTC survey which alerted the public to that fact that only buyers were represented.  Then companies started to represent both sellers and buyers but didn’t like the limiting requirements of dual agency.  Some companies stopped offering compensation to subagents to avoid liability and that meant a broker who didn’t represent buyers had no way to get paid.  So the facilitator approach was added along with Designated Agency in July of 2005.  We make it very simple.  Use a listing agent to sell your house and use an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent like us to help you buy your next home.

Q. Some agents say they can represent both me and the seller. How can this be?

A: You be the judge. If you were selling a home, would you want to list it with an agent   who represents the buyer? Of course you wouldn't, not any more than you would want to be put in a position of having to divulge your personal finances to the agent representing the seller. What buyers usually don't understand is that when an agent shows a buyer any home listed with that agent's firm, that agent, or his or her firm, is obligated to protect the interest of the seller. You also must be careful never to fall into a dual agency situation!

Q.  Will you help me with the lending process?

A.  Yes and you will be very happy with the results.  We are not lenders and do not have any financial arrangement with any lender.  However, we do have contact with proven lenders who charge reasonable and fair rates.  We have one lender who specializes in working with Exclusive Buyer Agents and promises the lowest rate with no junk fees.  We are happy to use whatever lender you choose or have already chosen.

Q.  How can I be sure that the home I purchase is in good condition?

 

A.  One of the standard contingencies that should be put into an offer is an inspection contingency, which allows you to have professionals inspect the property to your satisfaction. Typically scheduled within a certain five-to-eight day window after the contract is signed, a home inspection is a thorough examination of the physical
structure of a home - including, but not limited to, foundation, attic, basement, windows and doors, heating and cooling systems, electrical wiring and plumbing.

Q.  How will you help me after the purchase?

A.  We will keep in touch via e-mail and periodic phone calls.  If anything goes wrong once you are in the home feel free to call us so we can help put you in touch with the right people   The Home Inspectors we use have the same attitude and will be available if some expert advice is needed.

Q: When should I call you or one of your Exclusive Buyer's Agents?

A.  Before you begin looking for a home! Remember, home advertisements are placed by real estate companies that represent the Seller, so the agent showing you property will represent the seller or be some type of dual agent. Before you start your search for a property you should interview a Buyer’s Agent. You want to know that agent is well qualified and knowledgeable to represent you and work in your behalf.  In most cases once an agent has shown you a property, even if they are representing the Seller, this may bind you to that agent because of how commissions are structured. That agent may not represent you, but will be due the commission designated for the agent having the Buyer. When it comes to what is probably the largest financial purchase of a lifetime, you owe it to yourself to be prepared; look into your options and become an informed consumer.

Q.  Why not choose just a regular Buyers Agent?

A.  An agent that works for a company that lists homes for sale will not be unable to offer you "full 100% representation". You will likely be asked to sign a contract explaining their dual agency role when you want to buy one of their company listings.  An office cannot list properties and work for buyers without conflict.   An exclusive buyers agent like us will never ask you to sign any document limiting your representation as all our efforts are focused on giving you the fullest and best possible service.

Q.  Where do I find professionals to assist me during and after the purchase of my home?

A.  We can provide Resources for the Buyer who is soon to become a home owner. We  can place all necessary information and services at your finger tips by supplying a resource list including the best in community.  During and after the process we like the Team Approach to a home purchasse.

Q.  What is the “Team Approach” you talk about?

 

A.  It amounts to coordination among all the professionals who are involved in your home purchase.  The team is quarterbacked by your Buyer’s Agent.  Other players in addition to you include the lender, attorney, home inspector, insurance agent, and closing officer.  When we all work as a team it makes the process easier and more enjoyable.  That’s why we like to recommend the other team players.  You of course may choose your own but it won’t be as effective if they are people we’ve not worked with before.

 

Q.  Who calls the shots?

 

A.  You do.  We simply provide the information and give you the information and resources that enable an educated process.  We see many real estate people claiming they are number one.  In our book, you are number one and we’re here to serve.

 

Q.  Where can I get more answers to home buying questions?

 

A.  We are happy to respond to any questions you may have.  Simply phone or e-mail us.  There is a list of 100 Questions and Answers on the HUD site that is helpful to buyers.