Does the buyer pay a commission?

In Greenwich, it is customary for the seller to pay the agents commissions, which is typically split between the listing broker and selling broker.  The commissions are paid out of the proceeds of the sale at closing.  The buyer’s agent owes the same level of service, confidentiality and loyalty to the buyer as the listing agent owes the seller.

Why do I need an agent?

It is critical to understand agency so you know who works for you and who does not. The listing agent represents the seller.  The selling agent represents the buyer. A written agency agreement establishes the relationship.  Without an agency agreement, no one is working for you or with your best interests in mind.  Fiduciary Duties to Buyer

An agent at an Open House works for the seller.  Anything you say during an Open House may (and will likely) be reported back to the seller and used against you in any future negotiations.

With an agent you have:

  • A relationship and thus access to insight that would not otherwise be shared
  • Someone dedicated to you with your best interests in mind
  • Wise advice from someone who is experienced in the field
  • Access to private showings
  • Market color and analysis
  • Opportunities for advance notice for listings and showings
  • A heads up on potential issues you may not know about otherwise
  • Access to a team of experts and recommendations for professional services
  • Ability to gain insight through agent negotiations
  • Perceived as a “real” purchaser (not just a “looker”)

Why can’t I see a house right away?  

Sellers are typically living in the home that is for sale.  It is customary for a Seller to require 24 hours advance notice prior to a showing, assuming an acceptable time can be arranged.  Sometimes there are young children, elderly, pets or others who need extra time to clear the home so a prospective purchaser can view it with their agent.  For the protection of the property and clients, all showings must be accompanied by an agent.

Why do I need to meet with the agent at her office before going to see houses? 

For safety reasons, a customer should always meet the agent at his or her office first.  At their initial meeting they will make introductions, verify each others identity, walk through the buying process and develop a target and plan.  Being organized first puts you in the best position to get an accepted offer when you find a home you love.  Too often buyers are disappointed if they skip the first step and try to back peddle.  Agents also need to qualify buyers to ensure that they are legitimate prospective purchasers.

Why do I need to be pre-approved?

Buyers seek pre-approval for many reasons, including:

  • Shows you are a serious prospective purchaser, credit worthy and prepared.
  • Indicates you can obtain financing and afford the price range you are targeting.
  • Reassures sellers that your offer is backed by financial strength
  • Enables you to seek a quicker closing
  • Reduces stress at the most critical time between contract signing and closing

A bank or mortgage broker can verify financial information and assess your ability to obtain a mortgage.  They can often provide a pre-approval within 3-5 days from the day they receive all required information, which typically includes at least:

  • W-2 forms and federal tax returns for the prior two years, and supporting pay stub
  • Financial statements for bank and credit accounts for the prior 60 days
  • Credit report (talk to your mortgage broker prior to making any changes)

You will receive a letter specifying the approved amount that you will then provide to your agent.  The letter will show you are serious about buying, the price range that you will be looking in and reassure sellers that you are qualified and will be able to close.  Agents can provide recommendations for mortgage brokers and cannot receive any compensation for such a referral.

Talk to your mortgage provider about the process.  If it’s your first purchase, then you will learn about down payments, qualifying income, credit reports and required documents.  If you haven’t purchased in a while, then you may be surprised how much documentation is required for a current mortgage.  By doing the advance work you will diminish last minute pressures or unpleasant surprises.  Reach out in advance to see what you should or should not do well before seeking mortgage financing.

Pre-qualification is not the same as a pre-approval or commitment.   Ask your agent or financial advisor about it.

Why should I use a local real estate attorney?

Neighboring towns and states have differing rules, laws and customs.  Make sure your team knows the field and players.   State and other government regulations may set forth certain minimum standards, but many taxes, fees, zoning rules and building regulations are set and administered by local municipalities.  Unlike other towns in Fairfield County, it is the custom in Greenwich for the seller’s attorney to prepare a contract that is negotiated by both sides.  While it may be tempting to use a friend who is not a real estate attorney or not local, they may miss something or drive up costs, stress and time as they learn the process on the go.  Doctors and attorneys specialize.  Use the right one for the job.