Tag Archives: buying property

35 Kingston Street #1/B: 4186 SqFt Blank Canvas of Mixed-Use Space in Downtown Crossing

New to the real estate sales market, 35 Kingston Street offers a creative buyer a rare opportunity to acquire a substantial amount of square feet in a premier location, Downtown Boston. Currently being used as two separate commercial spaces, this 4186 sq ft raw mixed-use space can be combined to create an incredible live/work area spread over two levels.

The location at 35 Kingston Street is convenient to public transportation such as the orange and red lines, commuter rail and AmTrack, and it is minutes to the main highways (I-90 Mass Pike and I-93) and an express lane to the airport. In addition, approximately $2.4 billion has been privately invested into the downtown area of Boston over the past 10 years creating a vibrant neighborhood filled with restaurants, college facilities and lecture halls, new residential high rise condos, theatre restorations, luxury hotels, shops, etc. With more projects from commercial to residential planned, valuing approximately $800 million, and a committed community of property owners (Downtown Boston Business Improvement District) dedicated to transforming the Downtown Crossing area of Boston area into a clean and lively neighborhood, $1million for 4186 sq ft at 35 Kingston Street is a well-priced investment with incredible potential.

35 Kingston Street #1:B exteriorThe lower level offers 2174 sq ft, if a buyer would want to keep this as commercial, this can be subdivided to maximize commercial potential. The first floor display level offers 2012 sq ft, 14ft ceilings, exposed brick, aged wood floors, and incredible possibilities for either a residential condo or large open commercial space. As it currently exists, 35 Kingston 1/B is not realizing its full potential, but for a creative buyer it offers endless options. Large spaces, such as 35 Kingston Street offers, have made incredible art galleries and studios, performance spaces, or a truly one of a kind home. The master deed has already been amended to allow converting the spaces from commercial to residential.

This project is not for the faint of heart, it will take a buyer with passion and creativity to see how this space can be maximized. But once completed, the new owner will have over 4000 sq ft in the most dynamic of Boston’s up and coming neighborhoods.

Exclusively listed by the Matthew and Alisa Group, contact us to schedule a private showing.

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The Right Lender Can Help Win in a Situation with Multiple Offers

This is the final part of a three part serious on how to win in a situation with multiple offers. 

Reasons why NOT to use a big box lender in a multiple offer situation

In situations with multiple offers, if one buyer is getting a mortgage and another buyer is paying all cash, the seller may not necessarily accept the all cash offer. The goal of the seller is to sell the property. The seller, with the help of the seller’s agent, will want to accept the best offer to get to the closing table. I have already discussed the terms of an offer can win against multiple offers and how a Realtor can provide an advantage against multiple offers. However, if a buyer uses the wrong mortgage lender, it could cost time, money, and the home.

With a Variety of Mortgage Lenders, Having the Right One against Multiple Offers is a MustWhen I write “the wrong mortgage lender,” I don’t mean one lender is bad and to stay away. In a competitive market, where inventory is low, having a reliable, easily accessible mortgage lender can mean getting to the closing table. The low rates offered by big box lenders can be very attractive but the underwriting guidelines are strict and unyielding. By big box lenders, I mean Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, etc. and other large banks who do not keep their loans in house. When a buyer gets a loan from one of these banks, the bank in turns sells the loan to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. In order to sell the loan, the loan has to follow certain guidelines. The process to follow these guidelines is painstakingly slow and, with larger mortgage lenders, buyers do not have one person handling every part of the mortgage process. Our buyers have used a variety of lenders but the smoothest transactions by far were when our buyers have used either Guaranteed Rate or First Republic. In fact, one deal was saved when Guaranteed Rate stepped in after Bank of America could not approve the loan.

Boutique Mortgage Lender Guaranteed Rate Can Help Win Against Multiple Offers

  • Underwriting

Due to the strict underwriting, big box lenders have had to delay a closing date for some buyers if the situation is unique in some way (not FHA approved, appraised lower than asking price, the buyer is self employed, or from out of the country, etc.). As I mentioned before, the seller’s goal is to sell the property and the seller’s agent will help sort through the offers to find the one to get to the closing table and offers the best terms. The seller’s agent and, in this age of information, the seller know big box lenders are more tedious to deal with. If another offer has an offer letter from a mortgage lender the seller’s agent and the seller know will get the job done, that offer will hold more weight.

  • Inflexible Processing Time

A buyer who submits an offer with flexible terms will be attractive to the seller. But in order for a buyer to have flexible terms, the buyer needs to know what options the lender can offer. With a lender such as Bank of America, a buyer would not be able to offer a closing date less than 6 weeks from acceptance.

  • No Waiving Mortgage Contingency Option

If the buyer wanted to use a larger lender, waiving the mortgage contingency would be an incredibly risky move on the buyer’s part. The property would not likely be able to be pre-approved by a larger lender prior to submitting an offer, so the buyer would have to hope the property is approved afterward which could take weeks and leave the buyer’s deposit vulnerable. Smaller mortgage lenders are more involved with the local community and know the real estate market specific to their area. This benefits the buyer because the lender will be able to anticipate any problems which could affect the loan or the lender will able to pre-approve a property in as fast as four days.

Situations with multiple offers may not continue to happen as consistently as is now the case, but rare and unique properties will always have more than one interested party. When a buyer has to have a certain property, who the buyer uses and what terms the buyer offers can make the property home.

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3 Ways A Realtor Can Help You Win in a Situation with Multiple Offers

This is part two of a three part series on how to win in a situation with multiple offers. 

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know…. and what they know.

Many of the strategies I wrote about in the previous blog on how offer terms can help win a situation with multiple offers are only possible when the buyer has a good Realtor working on their behalf. A strong Realtor has a large vetted network of vendors in all aspects of a real estate purchase. From lenders and attorneys to painters and carpenters, a good Realtor has many qualified contacts able to put a buyer in the best position to buy a home. More importantly a strong Realtor has developed good relationships with other Realtors in the broker community.

  • Quiet Listings 

The Realtors behind Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate Blog

Most sellers would prefer to have their property on the general market but few unique properties are shopped around quietly among brokers for reasons as simple as getting the right price, the sellers do no want the general public in their home, or the sellers does not want their neighbors to know they are moving. No matter the reason, the result is the same, a buyer needs to be in the know when a property becomes available. A good Realtor spends their time knowing the market conditions, the properties on the market, and the other agents working in the real estate sales market in the area and surrounding neighborhoods. So when a new listing is not going on the general market right away, selling agents will contact other trusted agents they know and have worked with to bring a buyer. Agents working for brokerages with deep connections in the community and many active agents will have further access to these quiet listings beyond their own personal network.

In extreme cases where a buyer must waive a mortgage contingency and/or an inspection contingency, advance knowledge or early access to a property can also allow the buyer the ability to have an inspection prior to submitting an offer or get the property approved by a lender before submitting an offer. Our team of Realtors does not believe a buyer should waive these contingencies unless protected. By getting our clients early access to properties we are able to offer them a competitive advantage while protecting their deposits.

  • Home Inspectors

As mentioned in the previous blog, expedited contingency dates and a short due diligence period can mean an accepted offer. Having a Realtor with a network of trusted inspectors means a buyer can offer an inspection date within two days of acceptance. With a list of multiple qualified inspectors to call, a buyer can almost always find an inspector available within two days.

  • Mortgage Lenders

When an offer has a mortgage contingency, a pre-approval letter must accompany the offer. In a multiple-offer situation, the decision can come down to what lender two particular buyers are using. When a buyer is using a big box lender, such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, etc., their offer can be viewed less favorably because the arduous and inflexible underwriting can stall, delay, and even kill a deal after keeping the home off the market for two or more months. A seasoned listing agent will advise their client on the risks associated with taking an offer accompanied by a pre-approval letter from one of these lenders. Similar to the network of trusted home inspectors, Realtors have extensive networks of trusted mortgage lenders. Many Realtors have had to step in and advise a buyer to switch from a big box lender promising slightly lower rates to a mortgage lender known for getting to the closing table.

Working with a Realtor a buyer trusts is a key factor in any real estate transaction. However, a seller’s agent will not only look for the best terms for their client, but also the team the buyer has decided to use. Agents want to work with other proven agents because it assures their client the best chance of success. Using an agent unfamiliar with the area and the local customs of a transaction or an aunt who has her real estate license but has not sold a home in four years will not make an offer appear any stronger in a situation with multiple offers.

In the next post in this series, I will discuss how important the lender can be in a home purchase. Unless all buyers start buying property with cash, the lender a buyer uses can make or break a deal.

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How to Win in a Situation with Multiple Offers: Terms

This is part one in a three part series on how to win in a situation with multiple offers.

It’s not all about the money.

In this real estate sales market, with very little inventory available, well-priced properties are getting multiple offers. This is true nation wide and can be intimidating to all types of buyers. From first time home buyers to seasoned home owners and investors, this market is fiercely competitive. Buyers who have been on the losing end of multiple offers, can make an aggressive over-priced offer which can create more burned buyers who feel they need to pay more to get the home they want.

If a buyer are working within a budget has found a home priced comfortably in the selected price range, how can an offer look attractive to a seller without significantly over bidding? An offer includes more than the price. The terms of the offer are incredibly important to a seller.

Before submitting an offer, a buyer should consider the following:

  • Flexible closing date

A flexible closing date shows the sellers the buyer wants to work with them to make their transition as smooth as possible. Some sellers have their next home already lined up and need to sell their first property before they can close on their next. So a quick close would be preferred. However, other sellers may have renovations planned and would prefer to have a later closing, allowing them to perform renovations prior to moving into the new property. If the buyer has the flexibility, make it know to the seller by putting it in the offer.

  • Quick contingency dates and due diligence period

How to Win Against Multiple OffersWhile the closing date may not need to be rushed, speeding up the dates for inspection and mortgage contingency will look positive to the seller. If a deal falls through, it will most likely be at the inspection stage. Because most failed deals fall through at this stage, it benefits both buyer and seller to shorten the due diligence period. If any problems do arise and the deal falls through, both parties are find out early in the process are are then free to move onto other options (the next buyer or the next home for sale).

  • Larger down payment or pay with all cash

A larger down payment or an all-cash offer means one thing to the seller, low risk. An all-cash offer means there will be no problems due to financing because the offer contains no mortgage contingency. A larger down payment looks better to a seller for the same reason as a bank, less risk. If a buyer puts in more of their own money, the less the bank has to lend. With a smaller loan amount the easier it should be to obtain a mortgage.

  • Escalating Clause

An escalating clause should only be used in a circumstance when the buyer must have a particular home and can afford to have an aggressive strategy. Adding an escalating clause means the buyer will offer  a certain amount ($1000 or $5000) over the highest offer the seller receives. The buyer can always cap the escalating clause at a certain amount to to minimize risk should another bidder be overly aggressive and offer far more than the home is worth. Keep in mind the escalating clause is a risky and aggressive strategy only to be used with much consideration.

Other ways buyers are attempting to set their offer apart include waiving the contingencies all together. We do not recommend waving contingencies to our buyers, however if a buyer is properly prepared it is possible to waive both the mortgage and inspection contingencies while still protecting a buyers interest.

  • Waiving the inspection contingency

If the buyer can have early access to a property,  the access can be used for more than a superficial look. A buyer may be able to schedule an inspection prior to submitting an offer. If the buyer is able to preform an inspection and is satisfied with the report, the buyer can submit an offer waiving the inspection contingency with confidence and no risk to the good-faith deposit.

  • Waiving the mortgage contingency

Waiving a mortgage contingency should only be done when the buyer has complete confidence in their financial means and in the lender. We would not recommend waiving the mortgage contingency unless the lender has pre-qualified the subject property. We work with lenders who can qualify a property within 4 days, however in most cases the buyer would need early access for this strategy to work.

Not all of these options are for everyone. If the property you are looking at is a highly desired property, one or more of these options could help you offer stand out among the multiple offers. Some of these strategies also require a buyer to have early access to the property before it is made available to the general public. In the next post in this series, I will discuss how a buyers choice of agent can position them to win a situation with multiple offers.

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Luxury Building Condos Go No Smoking: Smokers Need Not Apply

Smoking is becoming more and more out of fashion. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of smokers in the country has dropped from 20.9% of adults in 2005 to 19.3% of adults in 2010.

With high-end homeowners and renters expecting luxury and top of the line accommodations, the odor left behind by smokers tend to deflate the high standard many buildings aim for. Following the trend of the times, luxury building condos are now becoming smoke-free environments.

Many buildings already do not allow smoking in the common areas both in and out of doors, but would not place any smoking restrictions within the owner’s unit. This is changing as buildings become smoke free, meaning no smoking on the premises, including in individual condos. One reason for banning smoking within someone’s property is the effects of second-hand smoke. Even if smoking is restricted to one condo, the vents are common throughout the building and the smoke from one unit will travel through the vent and into other units. This will affect the air quality in everyone’s condo.

Another reason is not every smoker keeps their cigarette butts in an ashtray or trashcan. Some (but not all) smokers have a habit of flicking their finished cigarette outside. Entering a luxury building littered with cigarette butts along the street does not make the impression these buildings (or condo owners) want.

Luxury Buildings becoming smoke freeIt seems strange to put restrictions on what an owner can or cannot do within the unit they own. However, the condos are part of a community and share ventilation systems, common areas, and amenities. With the majority of the population being smoke free, more luxury building condos will continue to become smoke free. This will be positive when considering the value when it comes time to sell the property and also if you are considering buying a condo in a luxury building as an investment property. Smoking does cause damage to a property and will turn off potential tenants.

Although people will try to get around the rules and continue to smoke in condos in many creative ways, such as Lucille Bluth in Arrested Development, it will ultimately not work.

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Fair Housing Act: Why Realtors Are Not Allowed to Discuss Schools, Safety, and Religion

Buying a home is one of the biggest and most important purchase of their life for many people. People want to have a home where they can start and raise a family. It is common for buyers to want to know about the safety and schools. Unfortunately, Realtors cannot discuss those factors and/or religious institutions with buyers.

Realtors cannot discuss safety for two reasons, one of which is liability. If a Realtor says this neighborhood is safe and something happens after you move in, the real estate broker could be in trouble. The second reason is it violates the Fair Housing Act.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of race, religion, color, familial status, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability.

Fair Housing - Buy Property You Want Where you WantFor many buyers, safety is an important factor along with being in a good school district or being close to a religious institution. Saying a particular neighborhood is safe, how great the schools are, or a wonderful church is nearby could be considered steering. Steering can be done in one of two ways. One is only showing a homebuyer houses in a particular area based on race, religion, color, sex, disability, familial status, or sexual orientation. The other is refusing or failing to show homes fitting the buyer’s criteria on the basis of their race, religion, color, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or familial status.

Everyone has the right to buy property in any area they chose to live. Being able to afford the property they want in said area is a different story but affordability and availability should be the only factors that keep anyone from renting a property or buying a property where the buyer wants to live. However, a few types of housing are exempt from the Fair Housing Laws. For example, owner occupied homes with no more than 4 units and single family homes sold or rented without the use of a Realtor. Also, housing operated by and used exclusively for organizations that limit occupancy to members only.

As Realtors, we do not want to hide any information, and we are happy to give the facts when we can. We cannot speak about safety, schools, crime, or religious institutions, but we can direct you to those who can such as Picket Report or an officer at the nearest police station.

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What Sellers Wish Buyers Knew Before Submitting an Offer

With property selling at lightening speed, sellers are in the position where they can review multiple offers. However, not all offers are created equal and some are down right off. Here are 4 things sellers hope buyers know when submitting an offer.

1- Nitpicking and nickel-and-diming will not get you a discount.

Pointing out every little stain and out-dated design will not have the seller agree to a discounted price. Sellers and seller’s agents know the difference between cosmetic issues and major concerns, and they (should) price the home accordingly. If you want to offer a certain price based on what you are going to have to do to the home, fine, but if it’s significantly less than asking and what you need to do is cosmetic, it will not be considered a serious offer by the seller. Even if you come back with a more reasonable offer, (and the property is still available) the seller may have taken your original offer personally and may decide not to work with you.

2- Giving a sad story with a sloppy offer will not impress or move a seller.

I have suggested to my buyers to write a brief letter about themselves and why they want to buy this particular property. This is a good idea when the sellers have multiple offers and the property was the seller’s home rather than a new construction from a developer. The letter gives the seller a chance to identify with you and in the best case scenario allows the seller to see you are in the same position they were in when they bought this home.

However, if your offer is incomplete (missing pre-approval letter, offer not signed, no deposit check, etc.) and you have a letter saying how you would rather be homeless than live in any other home than theirs, it could raise a red flag to the sellers and they may not want to deal with you.

Tips for Buyers from Sellers3- Making everything easy for the seller will make everything easy for the buyer.

First, have all your the paperwork signed, complete, and organized. Not every agent types the offer to purchase paperwork, which is fine as long as the offer is written clean and legible. Second, know what your timeline is but also be flexible to what the seller’s timeline is. Many sellers want to sell as soon as possible, so consider having your offer with accelerated closing dates. This will also give sellers more confidence your offer will make it to closing. Of course, paying cash will bring the most comfort, but if the buyer can have an inspection in two days, sign purchase and sale within a week, and close in 30 days, the seller may find those terms more comforting than a cash offer at a lower price.

4- Mind your manners.

Asking for a seller to fix something or give credit toward fixing something is not uncommon. Little issues are almost always found during an inspection. But do not demand to have the something done that doesn’t need to be fixed. If there is an issue, politeness and rationality goes a long way. Even beginning a request by stating, “I understand that I may asking this too late but…” or “Thank you for considering” will help your cause. As always “Please” and “Thank You” goes a long way.

5-Choose your agent wisely.

From beginning your search to closing your transaction, your agent is there with you at every step acting in your best interest. Whether you are selling a home or buying a home, your agent should be acting professionally, responsibility, and constantly communicating with you. If you are putting in an offer to purchase, your agent should make sure you have all the paperwork to sign, have the dates clear, and go over everything to make sure you know what you are offering. I have written this many times, but it bears repeating, buying property and selling property is emotional. Anything that involves egos, memory, and money will be emotional, real estate transactions involve all of these with multiple parties. As your Realtor, it is our job to represent your best interests and keep emotions calm. Many of the tips I’ve written above can and should be explained by your Realtor, so it is very important to work with a Realtor you trust and who will represent you in the best possible light.

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Buying a House? Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage First

Get Pre-Approved Before BuyingI’ve written before about the home buying process and the steps buyers need to take to become home owners. Yet I still see and speak with many buyers that do not have their pre-approval letter or have not spoken with a lender. In a buyer’s market (more listings for sale than buyers) or a “normal” market where not every listing goes under-agreement after the first open house, I could understand moving at a slower pace. Now is not that market. Now you are running with the bulls. If you do not want to get trampled, first – don’t wear red, and second – speak with a lender and get pre-approved.

This is not just in my corner of the real estate world. This is true all over the nation (with few exceptions). Last year sales of occupied homes were the highest they have been in five years, however the inventory is at a 13 year low. Which is prompting a need for construction of new homes and condo buildings. August saw the lowest supply of new construction homes on the market since 1963 at 143,000 units. Last month it rose to 150,000. At this rate, it would take a little over four months to exhaust all the supply of new construction off the market.

The lenders we work with are professional, responsive, and in some cases, superheros. It takes little to no time at all to get a pre-approval letter. In this market, if you want a chance to buy a home you want, have a pre-approval letter before you see it. If you find a home first and then try to get everything in order, you can lose out. If you plan to get a mortgage and do not submit a pre-approval letter, sellers will consider your application incomplete. And if multiple offers are submitted, your offer will end up at the bottom of the pile, behind those with a pre-approval letter and buyers paying cash.

We want to help you put the strongest offer forward, so you can secure the property. If you need the recommendation of lenders to speak with, we would be happy to provide the names of those lenders we feel are the best in the business.

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How Buying Power Affects Buying and Selling Property

Buying power in real estate is directly related to interest rates for a mortgage. Before a buyer should start searching for property to buy, the buyer will want to get pre-approved by a lender. The mortgage lender will determine what a buyer can afford in terms of purchase price based on what the buyer can afford in monthly payments after looking at income, other debt, etc.

The higher the interest rate for a loan, the less the buyer can afford to buy in terms of the purchase price. For example, a 1% increase in interest rates is equal to 10% of the purchase price of a property. As illustrated in the chart below, if a buyer could afford the monthly payments for a $400,000 home at 3.5% interest, at 4.5% interest a buyer would only be able to afford a $360,000 home. Depending on the real estate sales market you are looking in, this will change your buying options drastically.

Interest Rate vs Loan Payment

 

Freddie Mac History

With interest rates where they are, buyers have more money to spend on property. However, many potential sellers have asked me if they should hold on to their property and wait until prices go up to put their listing on the market. No one can predict what will happen next year or even a few months from now, but the current circumstances make now a great time to sell property. Low inventory means low competition. Historic low mortgage rates means strong buying power. No time in recent history has seen these two factors in play together. Even Warren Buffet has said we will not see buying power at this level for another lifetime.

 

Interest Rates from 2012-2013Even though the interests rates are ticking back up, it may be a couple years before they are back up to 5% or 7%. But I can guarantee if one seller I spoke with is thinking about holding on to their property to sell next year, there are a lot more thinking the same thing. Simply put, it is supply and demand. Right now, it is a seller’s market which is getting sellers multiple offers over asking price after a week on the market. The limited supply of available properties on the real estate sales market and an excess of buyers is pushing up the prices. Next year, if everyone decides to sell, it could become a buyers market with sellers hoping to get close to their asking price. When the supply increases buyers will take their time to look around and even under-bid.

Contact us to assess your individual situation and what the best strategy is in the current market.

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Should You Work With a Realtor to Buy Property?

There was a time when the only way a person could find a home for sale was searching for signs on lawns, scanning the paper, or going to a real estate office and having an agent flip through a binder of homes. Today, buyers can find what’s available while in their pajama’s at 3am. The internet makes it possible to learn just about everything regarding buying property. There is only one thing that the internet will not prepare you for, the emotions involved. The home you can see yourself raising a family and growing old in or rejuvenating your spirit of whimsy may have been the home the seller never thought they would ever leave and may still have a hard time parting with. The dream home may have another offer that you have to compete with. The perfect condo may be a short sale and you will have to wait months before you know if it is yours. Thousands of possible scenarios could come up and make you feel unprepared.

Buyers, the main reason you should work with a Realtor is unless you have bought many times before, you don’t know what you are doing. I am not saying this to be mean or to undermine anyone, I work with many seasoned Realtors that have been doing nothing but representing buyers and sellers for decades and even they say they learn something new at every deal. The real estate market is a volatile emotional animal and just when you think you have the reins, something changes.

Use a Realtor to Buy PropertyYou may be thinking that if you are not working with a Realtor, maybe you can pass the savings on to the seller and get a better deal. Nice idea, but wrong. If the seller already has a Realtor, the seller has already signed an agreement to pay the Realtor their commission. If you are not working with a Realtor, the seller’s agent keeps the full commission, without working to protect your interests. And without representation you are on uneven footing. The seller has a knowledgable professional working on their behalf with their interests in mind to get the the best possible deal. However, there is the opportunity for dual agency. Once the paperwork is signed, the agent becomes a neutral party. Even in this scenario, you will not get a better deal, the agent only passes information between you and the seller without analysis, while still receiving the commission agreed upon when the listing contract was signed.

If you are in a situation where you are not working with a Realtor and found a home that is for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) then you can potentially save the seller money and maybe get a lower price for the property. According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors of the latest trends of Buyers and Sellers, only 9% of homes on the market nationwide were FSBO properties. The majority of homes that are sold by owner were sold to a buyer that the seller knew beforehand. And with most FSBO sellers willing to work with a buyer’s agent and pay the agent’s commission, wouldn’t you prefer someone who does this every day preparing the paperwork and orchestrating the transaction to close?

Always remember Caveat Emptor or “let the buyer beware”. If you already know what the buying process entails and what to look for in a property, then you may not need an agent. But it is always better to have a professional with your best interests in mind when making a purchase in real estate and who is able to remove emotion from the process. Another agent once told me “the internet can give you information, but it can’t give you knowledge.” Even if you think you know what to expect, something can always come up that you never considered.

If you are interested in learning more about the home buying process and what we do to find you a home and protect your interests, contact the Realtors of the Matthew and Alisa Group.

Schedule a consultation with a Realtor

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