SAN FRANCISCO – When you’re buying a home, would you know what to do if your financing fell through the day before closing, your home inspection found a termite infestation, or your future neighbors had just built a wall on your property?
The homebuying process can be simultaneously intimidating and exhilarating. From the first steps of qualifying for a mortgage and deciding what’s important in a home, to making a strong offer, coordinating appraisals and inspections, and getting to the settlement table, every transaction is as unique as the people and properties involved. Buyers’ agents specialize in representing the particular interests of homebuyers.
“The homebuying process is not only complex but also riddled with potential pitfalls,” said Adorna Carroll, a 2005 National Association of Realtors® (NAR) vice president and Accredited Buyer Representative with the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC).
“Having the right buyer’s agent can make all the difference. Homebuyers today are empowered to interview and select a Realtor® to represent them so that they can receive the advice and guidance they deserve. A buyer’s agent provides options and alternatives to homebuyers so that they can make educated and informed decisions regarding one of the most important investments of their lives,” Carroll said.
Many homebuyers already realize the benefits of working with a buyer’s agent. Last year, according to NAR research, 64 percent of consumers worked with a buyer’s agent when they purchase a home. In addition, 95 percent of homebuyers say they highly value real estate agent knowledge, and 84 percent of homebuyers who used an agent would “definitely” or “probably” use that agent again.
REBAC, an NAR affiliate since 1996, was founded in 1988 to promote superior buyer representation skills and services. REBAC awards the ABR designation to Realtors who have demonstrated a commitment to serving homebuyers, both through education and experience.
To earn the ABR designation, Realtors® must successfully complete a two-day designation course that covers agency, service delivery, marketing and promotion, and negotiation and risk management; take an approved elective course, such as buyer representation in new homes, second homes, or relocation; and have completed five transactions in which he or she acted solely as a buyer representative. Today, 38,000 Realtors® hold the ABR designation, and 12,000 more are working toward it.
“Buyer agency is a sometimes misunderstood but vital relationship in today’s increasingly complex real estate transactions,” said Janet Branton, NAR vice president of business specialties and spokeswoman for REBAC. “You’re not just buying a home, you’re investing in your future. It’s important for homebuyers to work with a Realtor who has the expertise and know-how to represent the buyers’ best interests.”
In addition to understanding buyers’ needs in finding a home that’s right for their clients, a buyer’s representative might negotiate with a seller for a smaller deposit, amount of closing costs to be paid by the seller, and for other contract terms more favorable to the buyer. Because agents who understand the fine points of contracts give their buyer clients an advantage in negotiations and buying options, some conference participants are taking an in-depth look at the complexity of these contracts.
“Homebuyers who do not have a buyer’s agent working on their behalf are not taking advantage of a valuable resource,” said Carroll. “Realtors® who have earned the ABR designation have demonstrated a commitment to and experience with the particular needs of homebuyers. These professionals know how to work with their clients to find the right home for each individual homebuyer while protecting the buyer’s interests, as well.”
Homebuyers who have used a buyer’s agent agree. “Few projects are more daunting than buying a home,” said John Sullivan, a recent first-time homebuyer in the Washington, D.C., area. “From scoping out locations and properties to recommending a trustworthy lender, our Realtor® buyer’s agent was a reliable and honest source of information. She was a source of encouragement for us and did everything necessary to help us seal the deal on our first home.”
The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
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