You will probably think that something with the title “how do I add value to the Los Angeles home buyer process“ is going to be a self-promotion extravaganza. That would be wrong. The goal of this post is simple to educate Los Angeles home buyers on the value of using a good real estate agent to guide them through the difficulties of the whole process.
I pride myself that I am a good Los Angeles real estate agent, and am drawing from my own experience of what it takes to conduct a real estate purchase from start to finish:
We need to listen and hear. Communication is important throughout the home buying process, but especially at this stage. Expectations need to be set. What a buyer wants, and what they need and can afford may be different. And when it comes to what they can afford the buyer must have that established up front by talking to a reputable lender. An agent who allows the process to start without affordability in place is doing their buyer a huge disservice.
Explain the buying process to the buyer. They don’t always understand what is involved and this can avoid surprises along the way.
Define the search to something that is doable. It will save a lot of time an aggravation. Help the buyer to narrow down their search to a short-list of areas. Help the buyer to decide if they can loosen their list of “must haves” to widen their choice of homes. Work together to ensure that they buyer is ready to view homes as they come on the market, especially now that inventory is low and competition great. Arranging showings means a lot of flexibility in our market, especially as the listing agent is most often involved.
Our market right now is one of multiple offers, and he who hesitates is lost. At this stage we need to make sure that the buyer understands the urgency of making an offer quickly. We also need to have prepared the comps (comparable property sales) and help them make a good first offer. Sometimes you have to go with your gut. If we know that other offers are going to come in, and if our client really loves the house, then we need to make them comfortable about making a full price offer, or one that is close enough to encourage a counter offer. Allowing our buyers to decide what they should offer (low ball offers) is not helping them. We can also help determine the terms of the Purchase Contract to make it more favorable.
Sometimes our buyers don’t feel comfortable with our suggestion and will submit a low offer. That is O.K. If they lose that house and learn from their mistake, we can move on to the next one.*
This part of the Los Angeles home buying process is one of the most difficult, especially if it reaches the counter-offer stage. We need to know the most that our buyer is willing to pay for a home and help them keep their emotions out of the negotiations. None of these negotiations are personal. The seller wants the most they can get for the property and the buyer wants to pay as little as they can. The buyer’s agent needs to be a calming influence and keep the negotiations going as long as possible with the buyers in fully cooperation mode, hopefully to a successful conclusion. As long as negotiations are continuing then there is hope.
The escrow process
California is an escrow state and the process differs in Northern and Southern California. Here in Southern California, and particularly in Los Angeles, escrow is a third party entity that ensures that terms of the Purchase Contract are strictly adhered to. The real estate agent has a big job during this process. We need to make sure that escrow interprets the terms correctly and ensures that everyone meets their timelines.
The inspection period can be another stressful part of the home buying process. The real estate agent needs to ensure that inspections are carried out in a timely manner, and another area where we need to be the voice of reason if negotiations for repairs are involved. Again, this is not personal and we can help our buyers determine what is important and what is not in terms of asking the seller to make or pay for repairs.
The large load of paperwork needs to be monitored and completed within timelines. We need to keep our buyers on top of all this paperwork and also ensure that they understand what they are signing. We need to ensure there are no problems with any of the information received: title needs to be clean; there is nothing untoward in the Natural Hazards report; seller’s disclosures don’t bring up any red flags; the termite work, if requested, is handled by the seller before close of escrow;
This is the major part of the buying process. Without the loan, nothing is going to happen. Here the buyer’s agent needs to be on top of everything. We need to make sure that the appraisal is ordered quickly as that can take time. We need to make sure that things are moving forward in a timely fashion, and that the lender gets what he or she needs to move the application into underwriting. The real estate agent, lender and buyer need to be in constant communication.
Moving a buyer towards closing isn’t the end of the real estate agent’s job. We need to make sure that everything is ready when the keys are handed over on the day of closing. Utilities need to be put into the new owner’s name. Locks need to be changed, on the day of closing as far as I am concerned. And staying in regular touch with a new home owner after closing is extremely important. We can help them find the contractors they need, contact the sellers to answer questions they may have and numerous little things that may come up.
A good real estate agent is almost part of the family during the Los Angeles home buying process. And this is often evident when after everything is done we remain close to the buyers. A satisfying job well done.
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