Profile picture for chau084

preparing to look for a realtor?

I'm thinking of buying a house, not exactly sure when to buy. But I have a few questions to ask about real estate agents. When a buyer should start looking for a real estate agent? and what's the process like?
As a real estate agent who represents a buyer, what do you expect from a buyer in order to start a good business relationship? What do you recommend a buyer do before contacting a real estate agent? learn about the housing market, the process of buying, get pre-approval, have a house in mind??? 
In my case, I've gone to a few housing workshops and a counseling section. I have a good idea what I can afford and probably fair information about how much i can get approved.
Should I get a pre-aprroval before shopping for a house OR browse the listings to see if there's a house that fits me before applying for a pre-approval? My concern is that if I have a pre-approval and can't find a house within 30 days, then I'll have to reapply for a pre-approval again. My credit score might be dinged... Also, what if I cannot pick a house that fits me, how does a buyer's agent get paid?
I don't have big bucks for a house, so, I don't have a big selection in SF, and I don't want to waste anyone's time, but I don't want to rush to buy a house that I don't like. Any advice?
  • March 08 2011 - San Francisco
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Answers (15)


In this market t is a good idea to get pre-approved before you begin shopping for your new home. 



In addition, the real estate agents will be willing to spend more time assisting you in your home search if they know you are pre-approved for a mortgage loan. Sellers will also be more motivated to work with you if they know you are able to afford their asking price. Sellers will also take any offer you make more seriously if they know you are pre-approved for a mortgage. Pre-approval is a big help to the seller and the realtor, as well as the potential home buyer. 





 

Thierry 



Thierry Abel 


Senior Loan Consultant 


All California Mortgage

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  • March 08 2011
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Buyer's agents get paid by the Listing agent's broker.  When you sign a contract with a buyer's agent, you don't have to pay him anything unless you agree that the buyer will pay the agent in the event that you purchase a house that offers a very low commission for the buyer's agent.  You have to agree to any payment for the buyer's agent that would come out of your pocket.

On a different note, I think you might be over-thinking this and psyching yourself out!  Relax, ask around, find a good agent, and then let his/her expertise in this area go to work for you.  You don't have to know everything about the Real Estate industry-that's why you allow a Realtor to represent you and guide you through the process.
  • March 08 2011
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
From a non-real estate professional's perspective.

It is a rare agent who will show you houses without pre-approval, because if you can't afford the houses you are looking at you are wasting their time.

Not all agents are created equal.   (In fact. there are a lot of agents out there that are strong believers in everything NAR, without thinking)  You need to interview at least three rigorously (phone is okay for starters) before going out with an agent.   Some can listen well to what you are looking for (many are very poor).  Some preview properties and can save you time.   Some have massive connections in the area, others don't.  Can they pay attention to details (e.g. not post contact info in posts on Zillow - in violation of Zillow good neighbor policy)?

You do not have to sign a buyer's agent agreement.  I have a very dim view of this request.  If they perform, they'll get payment.  If they don't perform, I wish to be able to switch to an agent who will perform without penalty.  (My experience is that only a small percentage of agents require a buyer's agent contract; and they cover a broad spectrum of skill levels.)
  • March 08 2011
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I think you should get pre-approved 1st to find out how much you can afford so you don't waste time looking for homes beyond your price range.  Once you get pre-approved, you should ask friends and family for referrals.  Who did they use to buy a house and what did they like or not like about that agent?  Once you find an agent that you feel comfortable with, he/she should educate you on the process.

If the agent you chose cannot find you a home that meets your wants/needs, either that home doesn't exist or you may need to find another agent to help you.  If the home doesn't exist, the agent should let you know that in advance so everyone's time is not wasted.  Then you can decide to wait to buy (when you have enough $) or modify your wants/needs.  The agent usually gets paid by the Seller.
  • March 08 2011
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Profile picture for Mills Realty
You definitely need to get pre-approved, so you are not wasting your time looking for homes you cannot afford.  There are many homes on the market currently and as long as you have a somewhat open mind you will be able to find something that you can call home.
  • March 08 2011
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You should contact the local real estate firms in your area and ask for an agent who specializes in your neighborhood.  I would interview at least 3 different agents.  When you choose an agent, make sure to ask them to put you in touch with a lender so you can get pre-approved right away so there are no hang-ups when you find the place that you want to call home.

  • March 08 2011
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@wetdawgs, ty for pointing out my posting faux pas.  I tried editing my response but it looks like my time is up.  I'll keep in mind for future posts.
  • March 08 2011
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Hello Chau084,

I would recommend the following steps:

1. Get pre-approved so that you know exactly what you can qualify for and determine what types of monthly payments you are comfortable with. I know you have a good idea, but having that letter provides you with a lot more clout and having a letter a little more than 1 month old will not necessarily diminish your offer.

2. Do some initial internet research to determine what price points are available in areas that are of interest. You might find that although you can afford San Francisco, perhaps the neighborhoods in that price range are not of interest to you. There might be some other nearby cities that might make a better alternative.

3. Start interviewing agents in that specialize in the areas that you are interested in as soon as you have the above completed.

When you have completed all these steps and laid the initial groundwork, agents would love the opportunity to work with you to find the home that best fits your needs. As an agent, the key thing that we want to see is that a client has a focus and a good idea of what they are looking for and is committed to working with one person. In return, you will get someone who will actively listen to your needs, walk you through the process and represent your best interests.


Regards,
Peter Brunton
  • March 08 2011
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Dear Chau084

I recommend seeking a realtor first.  There are many questions that a realtor can sit with you and answer thoroughly.  Explaining how the entire buying process works, putting you in touch with trusted lending professionals, pointing out pitfalls and listening to you and understanding your needs and requirements to help get you started on the best possible path.  

It's never too early to start a relationship with your realtor.  It usually takes first-time buyers 6-12 months from the very beginning of the process to closing escrow on their first home.  

When representing buyers, my most important requirement from them is communication.  To best represent my clients, I need to be aware of any changes in their needs or requirements.  Client questions and concerns should be answered promptly.  You should never get the feeling that you are bothering your realtor.  

I hope I've answered some of your questions.


Oggi Kashi
Broker Associate
Paragon Real Estate Group CA DRE01844627





  • March 08 2011
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Profile picture for klarek the realist
Since the commission for your buyer's agent is paid from seller proceeds (there is no out of pocket expense for you)

Only one person is bringing a big check to the table, and that's the buyer.  It's a common fallacy/lie that nAR likes to make people believe, that the seller actually pays for your agent.  After all, isn't that a conflict of interest?
  • March 09 2011
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The absolute first step is to get preapproved. No buyers agent worth their salt will show you homes without one. Another reason is you do not want to get emotionally attached to homes in a price range that you cannot afford and get frustrated with the process. Your credit approval is good for 60 days so that should give you time to shop for the home. After you get preapproved then you can find the right agent for you. Your loan officer may also have a referral for you. Hope that helps!

  • March 09 2011
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Good Morning!

Here are a few tips on:

[links removed by moderator]

I recommend to start by getting pre-approved before you start looking at homes so that you know what your budget is.

Since the commission for your buyer's agent is paid from seller proceeds (there is no out of pocket expense for you), it's in your best interests to hire your own agent in the early stages of your search. 
  • March 09 2011
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Your agent will help you get up to speed on market conditions, the purchase process, offer strategy, as well as make appropriate recommendations to service professionals for inspections.

I'm happy to set up a time to meet to talk in more detail about the purchase process & how I help make the process easy, no pressure & low stress for my clients.

I hope this is helpful information.

Best wishes,

Cheryl Bower, Realtor,CRS, GRI, ABR, ePro


Certified Residential Specialist, Graduate Realtor Institute, Accredited Buyer's Rep


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DRE #: 01505551
  • March 09 2011
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Before you get pre-approved, create a personal financial plan.  If you need to, meet with a professional financial planner to look at the impact of home ownership on your total financial picture.  As a broker, I prefer that first time buyers have a personal financial plan and a pre-qualification from at least 2 lenders before we start looking at homes, 3 lenders would be even better.
  • March 26 2011
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find a trusted agent who knows SF (not me) to guide you. my vote goes to Cheryl Bower.
  • March 27 2011
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