Post from MilitaryByOwner
You've house hunted online, viewed homes in person, crossed all the "no way" houses off your list, and think you've found your dream home. You're ready to make an offer.
What happens next?
Let's talk about working with a buyer's agent, appealing to the home seller's motivation when making your offer, negotiations, and other tips for home buyers.
Hiring a Buyer's Agent
Why hire a buyer's agent? An experienced agent can help speed up your home buying process through familiarity with the market and area, as well as access lock boxes for homes you're viewing. A buyer's agent will work with you from several days to weeks or even months, making appointments, scheduling home showings, researching comparable homes, executing paperwork, taking you to view homes, and much more.
Where to Begin?
To find an experienced real estate agent, MilitaryByOwner’s Business Directory provides a list of agents who are experienced in dealing specifically with the unique home buying needs of military families, understand the tight schedules of a brief house hunting leave, as well as the challenges associated with beginning the home buying process while deployed.
Don't hesitate to bring up any concerns with your agent. Remember, you’re entrusting them with one of the biggest purchasing decisions of your life, so make sure they know the business well!
References: How Important Are They?
Before agreeing to work with an agent, ask for references and contact them. You may also find an agent through personal referrals. Monica Schaefer, MilitaryByOwner’s Social Media Manager and Realtor, adds:
“Choosing the right real estate agent can give you an edge when it comes to buying your dream home. Make sure you have a rapport with your agent and that they are communicative, competent, and working diligently on your behalf. It never hurts to ask the agent for references of past clients, and if they provide them, be sure to make the call!”
Tips for Finding a Buyer's Agent
Not every agent has the same area of expertise. Some serve primarily as listing agents, some as buyer’s agents. Some work in the luxury market; some work only with friends, family, and referrals. Some agents work with specific professions such as doctors, lawyers, or teachers, and there’s an increasing group that works specifically with the military market. Don’t hesitate to shop around for an agent who fits your needs!
You may want to consider looking for a Military Relocation Professional (MRP) who specializes in military family needs. An MRP is a Realtor who must be in good standing with the National Association of Realtors and has completed a certification course.
Worth noting: typically, the commission for the buyer’s agent is paid out of the seller’s closing costs, though there are exceptions such as new construction and For Sale By Owner.
Making an Offer
You've found your dream home--now what?
If you’re using a real estate agent, your agent will write up a formal purchase offer to present to either the seller or the seller’s agent. If you’re not using an agent, you’ll need to write a real estate purchase offer. A purchase letter to the sellers can also be beneficial in any case.
If the offer isn’t accepted the first time, there’s no need to worry as this can be a standard part of the real estate transaction process. In this case, the negotiations begin! As you negotiate, you’ll want to try to appeal to the motivation of the seller.
Some factors that may be motivating the home seller:
Profit: In this case, your offer needs to be clean and high. You may even have to go above the listing price. If there's a bidding war, you may get one counter offer, if that.
Just fishing? If a seller is only testing the waters of the market, make an offer based on comparable home prices and see what happens.
Quick turnover: Some sellers just want it over with quickly. Pre-approval with few contingencies may help you seal the deal.
Emotional attachment: If the seller is attached to their home, your likability may come into play. Writing a personal letter about why you love their home may help in this case.
Your agent may have a better understanding of what the seller is likely to accept and will discuss this with you, but it is ultimately your decision as to whether to continue negotiating. A good agent will guide you through this process!
Other points to note:
Price: If the seller counter offers and you choose to either increase your purchase price or reduce any concessions you requested, such as having the seller cover all closing costs, then your agent will present a new purchase offer to the seller. If the offer is accepted, then you will sign a contract and submit a good faith amount that the seller’s agent will hold in an account known as an escrow account.
Negotiating points: These can include price, date of closing, any contingencies, as well as “items that convey” (i.e. appliances or other inclusions.)
If you’re interested in becoming a homeowner, take a look at MilitaryByOwner’s list of partners to find a real estate agent experienced in working with military families as you navigate your home buying experience and be sure to check out MBO’s extensive resources for home buyers.