The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has an extensive amount of information and materials available regarding your fair housing rights and the above links are to just a few of the informational web pages that they offer. If you have any questions or are having trouble finding the information that you need, feel free to contact us and we will be glad to help you get the information that you need.
Before we answer that question, let me first say that the agents at Katz Realty, Inc. and "most" other offices are paid on commissions earned only. If you haven't read the above paragraph, it will enlighten you as to how brokers actually get paid. So, let me run you through a couple of scenarios that we have seen a lot....
A broker is contacted by a client stating that they are looking for a home in the broker's service area. The broker then spends his or her time researching properties, making appointments to show, previewing properties, showing properties to the prospective Buyer, and in some cases even assisting them in locating financing, home inspectors, etc. In one case the agent spent 5 months finding the right property, helping them with their financing and getting it to the "making an offer stage". At that point the Buyer had a "friend" write the offer. The agent who spent all that time received no compensation for his services.
Another scenerio: A broker from out of our service area was contacted by a client who was looking for a property in our service area. The broker did not want to take the time to show properties away from his service area, so he instructed the client to use us, then come back to him after they found a property. In this case, our agent spent over two weeks with client until they found "the right" property. The client then went back to the other broker to have him write the offer. Again, our agent received no compensation for services.
There are many other scenarios I have seen, but I think you get the idea. We are a service industry, and we are here to help people, but we must also receive compensation for our services in order to fund giving our services.
So, what exactly is a Buyers Agency Agreement? A Buyers Agency Agreement is an agreement between the broker/agent and the client that, in its simplest terms, states that if the broker/agent brings a property to a clients attention and that client purchases that property, then a commission is due to broker/agent. Typically, that commission is paid by the Seller. It is basically a "trust" policy between broker/agent and client that says "I will help you if you allow me the compensation that I earn". Again, this is in its most simplest of terms. There are many factors and many variables to go over, so when any broker asks you to sign a Buyers Agency Agreement, make sure they explain how that particular agreement works and make sure you understand it before you sign it. Also, they are required to supply you with a copy of the Law of Real Estate Agency Pamphlet which explains the duties of agency and how they pertain to different situations.
Getting a pre-approval before looking for a home is probably one of the smartest things you can do. It can be done as simply as making a phone call, visiting a bank, or filling out information online. A pre-approval will show you what price range you can actually afford, and what price range you may be willing to afford. It will save you, your broker and the seller's a lot of time and heartache. I have met countless clients who thought they could afford to be in a certain price range, only to find out by doing a pre-approval that they were considerably below what they thought. When you do find a home you like, having the pre-approval will show the Seller that you are not only a serious Buyer, but you can actually afford the home you are putting an offer on. We have recently seen a new trend occurring where the Sellers are now requesting a pre-approval before you can even look at their home.
A Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a suite of services that (1) enables brokers to establish contractual offers of compensation (among brokers); (2) facilitates cooperation with other broker participants; (3) accumulates and disseminates information to enable appraisals; (4) is a facility for the orderly correlation and dissemination of listing information to better serve broker's clients, customers and the public. A multiple listing service's database and software is used by real estate brokers representing sellers under a listing contract to widely share information about properties with real estate brokers who may represent potential buyers or wish to cooperate with a seller's broker in finding a buyer for the property. The listing data stored in a multiple listing service's database is the proprietary information of the broker who has obtained a listing agreement with a property's seller.
The additional benefit of the MLS system is that an MLS subscriber may search the MLS system and retrieve information about all homes for sale by all participating brokers. MLS systems contain hundreds of fields of information about the features of a property. These fields are determined by real estate professionals who are knowledgeable and experienced in that local marketplace. Whereas public real estate websites contain only a small subset of property data.
In Washington State, a licensed real estate salesperson can list and sell properties anywhere in Washington State. There are, however, many different MLS's throughout Washington State, so at this time, most brokers or salespersons only have access to the MLS or MLS's that they have joined. It is hoped by some that one day there will be one MLS to cover the whole state. It is believed this would best suit the clients needs while searching multiple areas. In belief of this, Katz Realty, Inc. has joined the largest MLS in Washington State, The Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Although most people think we make an hourly wage or monthly salary, that is definitely not the case. At Katz Realty, Inc. (and "most" other companies) the earnings are commission based only. In other words, if a broker represents the Seller, Buyer or Both and the sale actually closes, only then does that broker get paid. To go further, the total commission of a sale is paid to the broker (office), then the broker(s) involved gets a percentage of that total amount. The percentage the broker gets is whatever is agreed upon by the broker and that broker. If there are two separate offices involved in a sale, one listing office and one selling office, then the commission is split between the two offices. As you can see, this reduces (usually by 50% or more) the amount of funds the actual broker(s) receives. A broker may spend countless hours of their time and hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars of their own money before they will receive any funds. Most brokers have to pay for licensing, insurance, MLS fees, Realty dues, specialty designations, desk fees, advertising, signage, auto fees, higher auto insurance and a host of other items. Often times a broker may work for months before receiving a check and possibly most of the year before they will see any profit.
The purchase of a home is probably one of the single largest investments you will ever make. You should be as informed and educated as you possibly can when considering a home purchase and a home inspection can provide that education. Also, the FHA and the VA, as well as many other mortgage lenders, recommend that a home inspection be performed.
A home inspection lets you know the condition of the property as well as identifies the need for any repairs before you buy, so that you can make an informed purchasing decision. A home inspection also informs the buyer of the positive aspects of the home, as well as any maintenance that may be recommended to keep the house in good shape and to keep all major systems operating smoothly. After the inspection, you will have a much better understanding of the property you intend to purchase.