Every real estate brokerage is pretty much the same, right?
Even though this seems like a common opinion among buyers, the truth is that the real estate brokerage where your agent hangs their shingle can have a pretty big influence on your home-buying experience. Some brokerages excel at holding buyers’ hands while others really leave you to your own devices. Depending on which style you prefer, you can find a brokerage that caters specifically to what you need.
Here are a few things that an average buyer should expect from their real estate brokerage.
Provide Financial Resources
Buying a house can feel daunting especially for first time buyers who haven’t jumped through all the financial hoops and might not know how they’ll ever be able to afford the mortgage. If that sounds like you, then seek out some financial preparation and education classes through your local real estate brokerage. These are sometimes hosted at the brokerage offices or in libraries or other community spaces and you can learn about government grants and loans, the different types of mortgages available, the average price of homes in your area, the costs associated with buying a home that you might not have considered, and much more.
Connect You with a Mortgage Broker
Real estate brokerages have likely had contact with most (if not all) of the mortgage brokers in your area and they are intimately familiar with which brokers are best qualified to work on which mortgages, which ones are the most responsive (and least responsive), and which ones will go above and beyond to close a deal. The best brokers will make sure a buyer gets a fighting chance at putting an offer on a home and getting everything arranged for the closing table. When you reach the point in your home purchase process where you’re ready to talk to a mortgage broker, your real estate brokerage should be able to point you towards the very best person for the job.
Provide Information about Neighborhoods, Schools, and More
Many buyers have a general idea of where they would like to live, but they have some flexibility around the precise neighborhood, block, and street. There are probably some suitable places for your future home that you’ve never seen or encountered and real estate brokerages excel at providing information about the neighborhoods where you might want to live. Many brokerages offer detailed data on the community amenities, homeowners association (HOA) restrictions and even guides for schools, and more. They can help guide you toward the one neighborhood among many that will suit you and your household lifestyle to a tee.
Access Listings Early
A lot of preparation goes into putting a house on the market, from deep cleaning and staging to photographs and writing the listing description, all before the house is ever listed for sale. Brokerages are keenly aware of all those homes because their agents are looking at the listings, and some brokerages offer a “pocket listing” service that can connect buyers with homes before those homes are even listed for sale. In an exceptionally hot market, this can be a huge resource for a buyer because you might not have to compete with as many other people to get a house under contract.
Though there are plenty of seasoned agents who prefer to work exclusively with buyers, they tend to be the exception; many agents who only work with buyers are likely to be in the early stages of their real estate careers. How do you know that your agent knows everything they need to know? The real estate brokerage where your agent works is responsible for making sure that the agent understands the implications of any legislative changes or market shifts, and this can make a huge difference to the buyers who are working with those agents. When you’re interviewing agents, it’s not a bad idea to ask them what kind of continuing education their brokerage offers and whether they have ever taken advantage of those offerings.
Streamline the Transaction Process
There are a ton of details involved in buying a house and those multiple tiny tasks can feel overwhelming for buyers, especially first-time home buyers. Some brokerages leave it up to individual agents to manage the transaction process, in which case your experience as a buyer will be very much contingent on that single agent’s level of skill and organization. Others have standards and procedures that they expect agents to follow throughout the transaction, including keeping you updated as to the current status and what’s next. There is even administrative staff at some brokerages that solely manage the transaction portion of the real estate business, providing a continuous point person for you who will always know exactly what’s going on and what you still need to do.
It’s usually the buyer’s responsibility to handle the inspection. You might not know where to start when it comes to hiring an inspector, but your real estate agent will definitely know some qualified professionals through the brokerage. Just like mortgage brokers, most real estate brokerages have had contact with the majority of inspectors in your area, so they have a good idea of what to expect and can help prepare you accordingly, too.
Hook You Up with Contractors
It’s not always easy to find a contractor under the best of circumstances, and of course emergencies happen when you might not have time to research and vet the electrician or plumber you’ve summoned to your house. Ask your real estate brokerage for a list of trusted professionals they refer to clients so that you at least have a jumping off point if something happens in your new home and you have no idea what to do about it. And real estate brokerages can also be good resources for other projects like adding a room to your house or building a deck in the back.
Is every real estate brokerage the same?
Not remotely, they all prioritize different facets of the business and provide different services for buyers and sellers. It’s not a bad idea to ask your real estate agent why they chose their brokerage and whether there are any buyer resources you should know about as you’re interviewing real estate agents, both to learn more about your agent and to know what benefits are available to you from the brokerage.