In every industry, professionals should offer a minimum standard of expertise and customer service. Whether you are hiring a lawyer, electrician, investment counsellor, or wedding planner – you expect them to know their stuff. Part of their job is to protect you, the client, from any unknowns.
Realtors work with buyers by showing available properties. More importantly, though, they research them and prepare offers that offer a measure of protection against financial losses.
In a market like the current Hamilton real estate market, which strongly favours sellers, many serious buyers find it frustrating to try to find a property that they can afford. An experienced buyer’s agent is a valuable ally when working to navigate the aggressive, fast-moving offer process.
Here are 10 things you, as a buyer, can expect from your Hamilton real estate agent:
1. Help setting up financing:
Your Hamilton real estate agent should have an understanding of the steps involved in getting a mortgage. He or she knows the difference between a pre-qualification and a pre-approval. With industry connections to lenders and mortgage brokers, your agent should be a reliable source of referrals to other pros who can help you get the financing you need.
2. An automated search of properties that you want to see.
Realtors belong to real estate boards that maintain the MLS system. Although you may also use realtor.ca (an excellent site!) to sort through current listings, your agent can provide more detail through a personalized search. For example, many of the listings that show up on realtor.ca have accepted conditional offers, and will not be available for viewing. Until the conditions are removed, though, they show as actively “For Sale,” which can be frustrating for buyers. A simple daily email with listings filtered by your personalized criteria can help you find what you are looking for more efficiently.
3. Help to analyze the market.
With prices rising quickly, it is important to understand how to decide how much a house or property is worth. Your real estate agent will be able to show you how to compare other properties that are currently for sale or recently sold to any one that you are interested in. They can also provide x information, historical data, and other details that factor into current value.
4. Updates on market activity in your chosen area(s).
When you are watching a neighbourhood where you would like to buy, you likely want to know about every firm sale that happens there. Your agent can keep you informed of the sale prices of properties in the area.
5. Insight on neighbourhoods.
The benefit of choosing an agent who knows the local area cannot be overstated. This is especially true if you are relocating to an unfamiliar part of town. Your agent should be able to help you identify neighbourhood influences that will affect your daily life so that you can choose the right location for your lifestyle.
6. Strategies to win a bidding war.
Now that multiple offers (bidding wars) are, once again, the norm for most well-priced properties, most buyers need some guidance if they are to get an accepted offer. An experienced buyer’s agent sees the process from the inside every day and can help you understand how to compete in a way that gives you the best chance of winning the (much-despised) bidding war.
7. Expert negotiation skills.
In a seller’s market, you may not be able to have conditions in your offer – even previously normal ones, like financing and inspection. However, that doesn’t mean that your agent cannot structure an offer to protect your interests. There are questions that they can ask, and clauses they can insert into an offer that create accountability on the part of the seller.
8. Referrals to inspectors and contractors.
You may be able to have a pre-offer inspection, if you like a house enough to spend a little money on it before getting an accepted offer. Or, like some buyers, you may decide that you want to have a thorough inspection after taking possession. Your agent should have a network of reliable inspectors and contractors, or access to good-quality, reliable referrals for you to tap into.
9. A close working relationship with your lender and your lawyer.
Once you have an offer in place, and after it has been accepted, your lender and your lawyer will require regular updates and a steady flow of paperwork. Your agent should be able to facilitate this communication so that you can focus on packing and moving.
10. Stay on top of the process until closing and beyond.
There will be milestones between a firm sale and closing day. You’ll need to deliver a deposit before the deadline, you will have walk-throughs as described in your Agreement of Purchase and Sale, there is a Title Search date built into your contract, and there may be other communications with different parties in the days leading up to closing. Your agent will be there to help make sure everyone has all the information they need, and to work with your lawyer in the rare case that something doesn’t go as planned.
As realtors who treasure our relationships with our clients, our hope is that you will think of us when you have a question even after closing. We strive to be trusted resource that is available to you long after your name is on the deed to the house!