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Why do I need a real estate agent?

Home hunt: A real estate professional can help you to find a property quickly and navigate the negotiations

Dear Heather,

I am just starting out and this real estate thing seems pretty easy. Be honest, why do I need a real estate agent?

Just Beginning

Dear Just Beginning,

Getting a purchase closed in today’s market is complex.

The real estate market has changed greatly from only a few years ago. Buyers and sellers face many more hurdles including stricter financing, metric boundary surveys, structural surveys, the risk of a house not selling if it is part of a chain, complex ownership structures and many other unknown factors.

To negotiate today’s challenges, it is advisable to have a real estate sales professional to help you to close the deal.

A good real estate professional understands market conditions. He or she has house-by-house neighbourhood experience and can help you buy a home at a price you can afford on sensible terms.

Your agent can help you to find a home quickly. Not only do real estate agents have access to the properties in their database, they share knowledge of homes coming on to the market with colleagues.

Your real estate professional will tell others about your requirements for a home so they can also be on the lookout for you.

If you want to be the buyer positioned to make the first and best offers on the most desirable homes, make certain your agent knows you are committed. How do you show you are serious?

There are several ways but here are three key indications:

• Get pre-qualified with a lender. Share your financial parameters so they know how much home you can buy. Your agent will not go over your limit because it would be a waste of time to show you homes you cannot afford.

• Do not shop for homes without your agent. If you want to look at open houses or builder homes, invite your agent to go along. If your agent cannot attend, make sure you register your agent’s name with the sellers’ agents.

• Be loyal. Real estate professionals work only on commission. If the deal of the century is about to come on the market, who do you think your agent will tell first, the buyer with five other agents or the buyer who is loyal?

If you are playing agents against each other thinking you will get people to work for free and that you will have your pick of homes to choose, you are wrong. Agents talk, and they will find out they are working for the same buyer. If you want great service, show appreciation, confidence and commitment.

Once you find the house you want, the work really begins. You will have to navigate negotiations, loan approval, sellers’ disclosures, inspections, structural reports and so on.

From helping you to make a reasonable offer to providing for the discovery and disclosure of material facts, your agent can be a huge asset on your property team.

Buyers and sellers are natural adversaries. Agents must be skilled negotiators and problem solvers, as well as anticipate problems before they happen. Pride, naïveté or stubbornness can get in the way of a fair deal for both sides, so it is imperative to bring a neutral party to the table.

Your agent will share your risk, and will make sure you go into any home negotiation with your eyes wide open. Take advantage of the greatest home-buying resource available: your own real estate agent. Their knowledgeable advice will pay off.

• Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty’s leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for 25 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at hchilvers@brcl.bm or 332-1793. All questions will be treated in confidence.