This is probably the first person you meet. An agent will help you find the property you want to buy. They can advise you about the market, the price of comparable homes, neighborhoods, schools, and amenities, and they often know a lot about things lide roofs, plumbing, wiring, etc.
They can be an enormous help, but you should be aware that a real estate sales agent maybe working for the seller - they have either listed the home or they are helping the lising agent sell it and will share the commission. Sellers’ agents are not required, nor expected, to keep in confidence anything you tell them about your finances or your willingness to pay a higher price. There are also neutral transaction brokers, who represent neither party, and buyer’s agents, who are engaged to represent you, the buyer. Be sure to establish the terms of the relationship up-front before discussing the terms of the transaction.
All agents are tested and licensed by the state to bring buyers and sellers together for a commission. Brokers have taken an additions test, and are authorized to operate a private real estate firm. Finally, a Realtor is a licensed professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors, a trade organization that imposes its own educational standards and ethics in addition to those required by the state.
Obviously, if you’re going to buy, someone must be selling. The seller may be represented in negotiations by the real estate agent who listed the house (the listing agent) or an attorney.
This is a representative of the lending institution who will handle the mortgage loan on the property. The loan officer will look into the buyer’s credit, check references, etc., to assure the lending institution that the buyer is a good credit risk and is financially able to handle the payments on the loan. The loan officer is the one who qualifies the buyer and negotiates the financial arrangements for the lender.
Typically, the buyer and the seller agree on whose attorney will serve as the settlement, or closing, agent. The settlement agent usually handles funds in escrow, disburses funds, and provides the title insurance.
An appraiser is a certified or licensed expert who states his or her opinion of the fair market value and the quality of the property, following a personal visit and examination. Appraisers are assumed to be unbiased, no matter who is paying their fee. Nevertheless, if you question the appraisal, you may want to engage your own appraiser for a second opinion.
A surveyor will typically be engaged to locate and measure the exact lot lines, to make sure they correspond to the description on the deed. Surveying is always wise, so that both buyer and seller know and agree on what is being transferred, and that the lot lines are unobstructed.
No property should be bought or sold without a termite inspection report, attesting to the fact that the property is not currently infested with termites.
This should cover all the participants you will encounter in the process of buying property. If you have any further questions, ask your real estate attorney - he or she is your best source of knowledgeable, unbiased answers to real estate questions.
Related Download: Real Estate Cast of Characters.doc
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