Finding real estate agents is usually no problem for someone. They are everywhere! Any person who has ever bought or sold real estate has used used the services of one. But the question remains: How can you differentiate the really good ones from the rest of the bunch?
For me, a top real estate agent is hardworking and has truly in-depth knowledge of the local area. More importantly the agent knows how to apply his wisdom and experience to a particular set of circumstances surrounding the purchase / sale of a house to really deliver what the client wants. This is the winning formula used by every top-performing real estate agents in the industry.
When most people start renting homes in their youth after moving to a new city they usually use the local real estate agents as simple door openers to see houses. They will follow the agent in their car rather than ride with them just to keep a distance. To say the truth by not getting close to the agent most people miss a lot because even a professional’s small talk while driving can be a big help to a person on a mission to rent or buy a home. While there are the bad apples, majority of real estate agents who have been in business for years are dedicated and reliable.
Here is another important point – “Your” real estate agent may actually be working hard to finalise a transaction that may be acceptable first and foremost to the seller than to you. Why is that? Let us say you found a property on a property portal that appeals to you. You call up the agent. The agent who has listed the property on the portal is the “Listing Agent” appointed by the seller to sell the property. And since his or her loyalties lie first and foremost to the seller to help the seller get a good price on the property, the agent may not help you get the price of the property down as much as you would like.
If you want an agent who works exclusively for you when you are buying property then you want a so-called “Buyer’s Agent”. As the name suggests, a “Buyer’s Agent” represents only your interests. In these type of arrangements you can contractually bound the agent through a contract to work only in your best interests. As it usually happens in such cases, the Buyer’s Agent appointed by you will receive their commissions only from you and not from the seller who is represented by his own agent. As long as you know what you want and communicate that clearly to your real estate agent the more readily your real estate agent can find you your ideal property. Just like when you visit any professional wither it be a lawyer or a doctor the more you know beforehand the more you can benefit from the professional’s advice and consultation.
What a Real Estate Agent Can Do For You
So you have made up your mind that you are going to buy property and you know what kind of property you want. You also know the neighbourhood you want to buy in. You have a clear picture of your finances and you have found a real estate agent who comes across as honest, knowledgeable and hardworking. Now is the time you must let the agent show you how to gain from his / her professional expertise. A good real estate agent will point you towards your goal by asking some relevant questions first:
1. What Can you Afford?
Do you have a full time or part time job? Is your spouse / partner employed and involved in the transaction? How much do you earn and how much do you owe? How much can you comfortably pay as monthly EMI on a housing loan? Agents who ask you these questions are not being nosey or intruding on your privacy. They will need this information from you in order to be able to select properties at a price point that you fits your budget. They know the maximum amount housing lenders will be willing to extend to someone in your financial position. Good real estate agents can give you a realistic view of what kinds of clean title-clear properties you can get a mortgage for.
2. Whats the Market like?
Real estate prices in every area are affected by mortgage rates. However prices are also affected by the number of homes on the market, whether sales is happening fast or slow, if new home constructions are starting and other factors which every good agent is familiar with. Good agents also know the strengths and weaknesses of different neighbourhoods and can give you compelling reasons why you should or should not consider particular areas. Finally competent real estate agents know what the local property rates are, how long properties remain on the market before being sold and how many properties are selling every week.
3. Doing a Property Search
In a traditional property search a real estate agent drives you from house to house until you find the house that is right for you and your family. Online listings that contain good quality photos and videos have negated the need for driving and legwork. You can get a good idea of the property rates in an area by simply browsing through portals. Of course nothing beats the actual visiting of properties in an area which helps you understand the feel of the house and also the surrounding neighbourhood. But in the initial stages you can shortlist some buildings and areas that you like on property portals and then consult the agent. Agents can tell you clearly how much you can expect to pay for such properties and whether the properties that are listed on property portals are real or fake! Yes its true – many unscrupulous agents post fake listings on portals like 99 acres, Magicbricks etc. with fake pictures, fake prices (usually lower than actual value) in order to attract inquiries and leads. A good real estate agent on your side can give you a clear idea of the rates and also how many good properties are actually available in the market.
When you find a property to buy and it is time for negotiations you must rely on your own as well as your agent’s negotiation skills. Agents know what concessions to ask for from the builder or the seller. Price is the obvious thing that most people want to negotiate but oftentimes less experienced buyers overlook more easily obtainable and more valuable concessions that they can get from a builder’s sales team or from the seller if it’s a resale property. Apart from the final price you should also consider negotiating financing terms, date of possession, repair or replacement of faulty / damaged items and inclusion of furniture, appliances, soft goods, draperies or other costly items.
5. Due Diligence
Before you finalize a purchase, you need to ensure that all is well with the property by making some efforts on your own. This is known as due diligence. Your investigation at this stage must be focused on two fronts – the property title and the physical condition of the apartment or building.
To assess the structure and civil components, hire a home inspection agency to give you a home inspection report. Find the best home inspection agencies in India here – https://www.guptasen.com/top-10-home-inspection-services-india/. A routine home inspection costs Rs. 10,000/- upwards depending on the size of your house. You must never assume that any house (even a brand new one!) is sound until it has been thoroughly inspected. Most sellers will readily agree to repair minor items according to the home inspection report.
You also want to ensure that the deeds to the house and land are “clean” which calls for a title search. Your real estate agent should be able to refer you to a title search specialist or if you prefer a lawyer who specializes in real estate. Find the best real estate lawyers in Mumbai here – https://www.guptasen.com/top-ten-real-estate-law-firms-mumbai/. They will search the public records for claims, tax liens or any other issues or disputes regarding the property you want to buy.
In any case if you are approved for a bank loan, the bank will conduct the due diligence on their own and negates the need for you to do any legal searches on the property you are buying. You do need to pay the home inspection agency for a home inspection report though.
Hope this article becomes a useful resource for home buyers and our many readers to know how to approach the home buying process along with their trusted real estate consultant!