There is a classic episode on the Seinfeld TV show that you may recall. In this particular episode, Jerry has made a car rental reservation and arrives to discover that the reservation did not actually reserve the car. Jerry points out the obvious: the rental car agent knows how to take the reservation, but was unable to hold the reservation. And after all, the whole point of taking the reservation is to actually hold the car so it is there when you come to pick up the rental car.
Why do I mention this? It’s an example of how we may misunderstand the scope or role of a familiar job occupation. We might think we know what a particular job is all about, only to find out that the job description may be far broader and/or more significant than we possibly could have imagined. This is especially relevant when we think about the role of the realtor, particularly the realtor who is working with a home buyer, often known as the “buyer’s agent“. If you are considering making a home purchase in the coming weeks or months, you will want to set aside a moment and settle into your favorite reading chair. This article is especially for you and it couldn’t be more timely as mortgage rates are dipping down!
The Rockstar Realtor Goes Well Beyond Opening Doors
With so much readily available information on the internet, you may be wondering what a realtor actually does. In fact, some of you may be thinking that the primary role of the buyer’s agent is simply to open lock boxes on front doors so you can see property listings in-person. And if properties are all listed on various internet sites, many of you might believe that you can find a home on your own. This is why the Jerry Seinfeld episode may seem eerily similar. You see, you might be able to find a house you like online. You might even want to make an offer on the property, but how are you going to actually win the house and make it your own? And for some properties, you might not even know whether multiple offers are expected. There are also homes for sale that are “unlisted” and never make it to the internet! With so many things to consider, are you a bit confused yet?
A home purchase is perhaps one of the largest financial investments you will ever make. So let me ask you: “Do you really want to risk going at it alone, or would you prefer the guidance of an experienced and skilled realtor?” Let’s do a deep dive on the role of the realtor. Are you ready?
The Multi-Faceted Role of the Exceptional Buyer’s Agent
Each real estate home purchase is inherently unique and embodies the intricate dynamics among various parties involved in the transaction, such as the buyer, seller, attorneys representing each party, listing and buyer agents, mortgage lenders, title companies, and more. From the initial house hunting phase to formulating a compelling offer, navigating the attorney review period, and addressing home inspection concerns, the overall real estate transaction is undeniably complex. Therefore, having a rockstar realtor by your side can be crucial in ensuring a seamless and successful process when buying a home. Here are 8 essential roles the top-notch buyer’s agent fulfills as needed throughout the real estate process.
1. Collaborative Liaison
The exceptional buyer’s agent actively cultivates relationships with other real estate professionals. This is especially important when it comes to finding homes that are not listed on the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Some properties may be “coming soon” and others might be “exclusive” to the real estate brokerage. Having strong and positive relationships among the realtor community helps the buyer’s agent to be acquainted with all of the inventory, not just what the public sees on the internet.
Then, after you find your dream home, your realtor serves as a “collaborative liaison”. The buyer’s agent works together with the listing agent and collaborates to get to the closing table. This requires effective communication between the buyer’s agent and listing agent throughout the home buying process. The buyer’s agent needs to be timely in providing responses to the many questions that come up during the transaction.
One of the things that most commonly hinders a transaction from moving forward is a “time lag”, i.e. amount of elapsed time among the parties to get information needed. Simply stated, “time kills deals”. And this goes both ways. Sometimes buyers become frustrated with the lack of timely responsiveness by the seller and decide to cancel the contract. It can happen.
And there may be other times when the seller and buyer attorneys simply don’t get along. However due to the positive relationship between the listing agent and buyer’s agent, their ability to collaborate can keep things on track. Let me give you an example. During the transaction process, my buyers were getting upset with the tone of the attorney review letters from the seller. The seller’s attorney was a family friend and a litigator, who also did some real estate, and things were not going harmoniously. To help smooth things over, I suggested to the listing agent that we have a conference call with both the buyers and sellers. Sometimes the best form of communication is simply picking up the phone! Being able to facilitate meaningful conversation and collaborate with several parties is important in ensuring a mutually beneficial transaction. My buyers were thrilled that everything worked out and they got the home they wanted.
2. “Insider Insights” Provider
There is an abundance of real estate data that can be obtained by the click of a button when browsing the internet. The buyer’s agent, however, is an “insider insights” provider and has access to not only all of the public information, but to “insider” details as well. This may include, for example, the property’s history, the number of offers on a property, why a house is now suddenly back on the market, the property’s condition, etc. And when you go beyond the numbers, these insights are gold!
Here’s another example of how the buyer’s agent can provide unique insights to their clients. The real estate data available to the consumer on the internet typically reflects properties that are Active on the market and those properties that have Sold. This can make it relatively easy to find out what a home is listed for (List Price) on the market and what a home has sold for (Sold Price) when it closes. But did you know that there is a “gap” in the real estate data that is publicly available? To fully understand what is happening in the housing market, you need to know about the properties that are Under Contract, sometimes known as “Pending”. Buyer agents have insights about this category of homes which includes the most up-to-date data. These insights are key to how the housing market is trending.
It’s important to note that while the Internet may make it relatively easy for consumers to access housing data for specific homes when they are listed and sold, the “aggregated market data” that is publicly reported often reflects a time lag. The aggregated data can be 30 to 60 days old. The data and information that the buyer’s agent has access to is all current! You can’t put a price tag on knowing the market activity in real time. And in such a fast-moving and hyper-competitive housing market, wouldn’t you want to know what is happening in the market right now with the house that caught your eye?
A skilled buyer’s agent has a comprehensive picture of the housing market and understands what the data means when gleaming valuable insights. And for the home buyer, these insights are a distinct competitive advantage during the house hunting process that you cannot afford to overlook.
3. Real Estate Market Analyst
When you’ve identified a home that you’d like to purchase, the buyer agent’s analytical ability should kick into high gear. At this pivotal moment, it’s essential to lean on your competent buyer agent as a “real estate market analyst”. This information is crucial for understanding the ultra-local market, making informed decisions, and determining your optimal offer strategy.
For instance, when working with my buyer clients, my initial market analysis focuses on the market activity on the same street where my client is looking to make a home purchase. This analysis includes reviewing when the neighboring properties have last traded and at what purchase price. This is meaningful input for assessing the potential price appreciation of the home that my clients plan to purchase.
In addition to analyzing the real estate activity on the street of interest, I conduct a broader comparable market analysis (CMA). This in-depth analysis of recent home sale prices in the neighborhood is then fine-tuned to reflect the unique features and differences of the house my client desires to purchase.
I overlay the ultra-local relevant market research with the broader housing trends to provide my clients with an excellent framework for making the right home buying decisions. And when the market is hyper-competitive, buyers want to know not only how much a home is worth, but how much a home is worth to them based on their particular goals.
4. Trusted Advisor
The role of a buyer’s agent as a “trusted advisor” is integral to the home buying journey, The advice and guidance that a buyer’s agent provides is fundamental to establishing the trajectory of the next chapter in your life. When you enter into homeownership, you are not just buying a house. You are putting down roots in a community and establishing a sense of belonging. You are making meaningful connections with people who make up the fabric of your town. These relationships have the potential to shape and enrich your life for many years to come.
Your rockstar realtor will have an initial consultation with you to discuss your timeline, needs and wants, expectations of the home buying process, as well as any concerns you may have. Buying a home is a signifiant financial investment and the process may seem overwhelming, especially if you are a first-time homebuyer. The initial consultation is also an exploratory time (similar to a “first date”) to determine if it is a good fit to work together.
The home buying process consists of a multitude of decisions that need to be addressed. One of the primary decisions is choosing the town where you want to live. You may have a town in mind and then discover your buyer agent is recommending a wider range of towns to consider. And these towns might be a better match for what you are looking for. You see, it is critical that the buyer’s agent works closely with you to identify and understand your specific needs (e.g. access to public transportation, proximity to schools), lifestyle preferences (e.g. number of bedrooms/baths, modern design features, fenced-in backyard, etc.), and financial considerations (price range, potential price appreciation, etc.). What you initially think you want in your next home, might evolve into a new set of home search criteria once you start looking at houses in-person.
By leaning into your rockstar realtor as a “trusted adviser”, you have the opportunity to gain an objective and balanced perspective when deciding on which home to make an offer on. Choosing the home you want to buy is your decision and in your control. You get to leverage your realtor’s expert advice and valuable insights to help you identify a home that best aligns with your interests, goals, and lifestyle.
Your trusted advisor will also guide you in formulating a winning offer strategy, both in terms of price and offer terms. If you are getting a mortgage, your realtor will discuss the mortgage appraisal contingency in the contract and the potential for the home under-appraising and what that may mean for you.
Open and clear communication is one of the hallmarks of an outstanding “trusted advisor”. I make it a priority to keep all my clients informed and support them every step of the way. This ensures that my buyer’s interests are always at the forefront. I consistently offer creative solutions and expert guidance to overcome any challenges that might arise. Peace of mind is of paramount importance in such a major life decision.
5. Strategic Negotiator
One of the significant roles of the buyer’s agent is as a “strategic negotiator”. Throughout your home buying journey, your realtor is an advocate for you and is continuously negotiating on your behalf.
This is most evident when you want to submit a written offer on a property. While the offer price is frequently the most important component of the offer, a well-crafted offer will include terms and contingencies that are favorable to both the seller and buyer. You can think of this as achieving a “meeting of the minds”. Knowing the nuances of the local real estate market matters. Without a skilled negotiator presenting your offer to the listing agent, your offer might fall short of getting accepted by the seller. Your buyer’s agent needs to be highly skilled at knowing how to successfully advance your offer when there are competing bids (multiple offers) as well as when you are the only buyer coming forward with an offer. There is an art to negotiation and it begins well before an offer is even submitted!
Negotiation doesn’t end when the seller accepts your offer. In states where home inspection is conducted following offer acceptance, the buyer’s agent may provide insights regarding home inspection concerns and help negotiate a resolution that is mutually acceptable. Home inspection negotiation can extend over several weeks in some instances. In the unlikely event the buyer and seller do not find common ground, the contract might get canceled. This is why there is frequently great emphasis placed on the “offer terms” in the contract to help minimize potential areas of disagreement between buyer and seller during home inspection.
6. Home Inspection Consultant
As mentioned above, home inspection is an area of the home buying process that can make or break a transaction. Depending on what comes up during home inspection, buyer and seller may dig in their heels over specific concerns, resulting in a bit of a bumpy ride to the closing table.
To help ensure the home inspection process runs smoothly while providing a thorough review of the condition of the house, your buyer’s agent often takes on the role of “home inspection consultant”. A well-seasoned realtor will recommend not only the names of licensed home inspectors, but second-level contracting experts as well, such as a roofer, HVAC, plumber, etc. In the event the home inspector identifies an area of concern, the buyer’s agent will follow up and arrange for additional inspections by the appropriate licensed contractors. It is helpful to have these experts come in and provide an estimate of what the cost of repair is. The buyer’s agent will attend the home inspection with you, which generally lasts between 2 to 3 hours. While at the inspection, a strong buyer’s agent is proactive, taking notes, photos, and asking questions of the home inspector to be sure the nature of any concern is clearly understood.
Following the home inspection, the inspector typically will provide a written inspection report which can be as many as 30 to 50 pages. A buyer’s agent will review the report in detail, and together with an attorney (if you are in an attorney state), will highlight the major concerns to be addressed by the seller. Then, an action plan for next steps can be formulated.
7. Transaction Facilitator
There are a myriad of details involved in the purchase process. Your rockstar realtor functions as a “transaction facilitator” and will ensure you are kept informed of contingency dates in the contract, e.g. when deposit funds are due, mortgage commitment date, change in utilities etc. In addition to the paperwork required, there are numerous service providers to coordinate, such as the mortgage appraisal, property survey, etc.
When the closing date is approaching, a buyer’s agent will also arrange for the final walk-through of the home and make sure the home is in the same condition as during the home inspection. And if home repairs were agreed to by the seller, these repairs would be checked during the walk-through.
8. Neighborhood Specialist
Going beyond the market data, a buyer’s agent is also a “neighborhood specialist”, sharing insights about local communities. Whether it is information about the local dog parks or unique town events, specialty restaurants, school programs, pre-schools, an experienced buyer’s agent is familiar with the neighborhood. This knowledge will help you choose a town that resonates with you. When I work with my buyer clients, I like to provide a neighborhood tour so they can see some of the distinctive features of the town and determine if the town feels right for them.
Being a neighborhood specialist is helpful during the home buying journey as well as post-closing. There is always something new in town and a rockstar realtor is sure to share the news! Most likely, whatever service provider you may need, such as a painter, interior designer, electrician, etc., a buyer’s agent will have a list of trusted resources to recommend.
The “Rockstar” Realtor – All Roles Matter
The role of the buyer’s agent is indeed multi-faceted, requiring a unique combination of skills and talent throughout the home buying journey. Let’s face it, buying a home can be incredibly stressful and overwhelming, which is why having an experienced realtor by your side is absolutely priceless. The right realtor does so much more than just show you homes! For my clients, I am truly a supportive partner every step of the way!
A “rockstar” realtor is your rock, offering reassurance during uncertain moments and providing expert guidance and education about the ever-changing real estate market. Ultimately, having a skilled and experienced realtor alongside you can transform what might seem like a daunting and exhausting process into an exciting journey. Frankly, you deserve a positive, exhilarating, and enjoyable experience on the path to owning your dream home, right?
Want to Get “Ultra-Local” and have the Market Work for You?
As a courtesy, I am offering a complimentary 20 minute “home strategy session” for buyers and sellers. This is available for a limited time.
Discover the valuable insights that can make all the difference and increase the grace and ease in your buying or selling transaction. To reserve your individual session, simply click on the link to register:
Did you miss my previous article? Simply click on the hyperlink: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/hows-2023-housing-market-fall-real-estate-moves-still-suzy-minken-rhthe/
Got questions? Reach out to me at 908-239-9261 or via email: [email protected]. I’ve got you covered from coast to coast, working alongside my CØMPASS colleagues, as needed, in over 300 offices around the country. My mission is to help everyone find their place in the world.
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Above and Beyond Opening Doors: The Multi-Faceted Role of The “Rockstar” Realtor For Home Buyers