Buyers — why you need an agent!

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I’d shown the young couple a handful of houses. They were renting and staring at the prospect of signing another 12-month lease, which didn’t interest them at all. Finances were tight, but they had gotten pre-approved and were ready to buy.

The mother called me one afternoon to say they had found a For Sale By Owner property and wanted to make an offer. In fact, they were scheduled to sign papers that evening. Mom was very nervous, and she felt the kids needed some guidance. I told them to get a copy of the contract so I could read it and not to sign anything they hadn’t read or didn’t understand.

They signed the contract (which wasn’t that long or complicated, apparently) and they were off and running. Disappointing, because I’d just lost the client, but I hoped it was the right house for them.

Less than two weeks later, they told me they’d backed out of the contract. Turns out the seller hadn’t disclosed that the property was in a flood plain, and that the buyer would need annual flood insurance. At more than $1,300 annually, you can imagine what that did to their monthly budget.

One of my responsibilities as a buyer’s agent is to catch details like that and to counsel the buyers accordingly. I’ll never claim to know every detail, but whether or not a property is in the flood plain is a significant piece of information (and I’ll admit that I once missed it. Never again.) Thankfully these buyers found out.

Buyers — find a good Realtor and stick with him or her. Their counsel is more valuable than you know, and it usually doesn’t cost you a thing (the buyer’s agentĀ is paid from the seller’s side of the transaction). The transaction will progress much more smoothly, and you’ll likely avoid unpleasant – and expensive – surprises!

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