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In the current inventory-starved market, some real estate consumers are under the impression they can get a better price and terms by having the seller’s agent (the listing agent) show the listing and prepare the contract for the sale of the home (agreement of sale). This scenario leaves the buyer without any representation and at a great disadvantage because the listing agent is contractually obligated to be an advocate for the seller.

To avoid the above situation, buyers are well advised to use a legally bound fiduciary when purchasing a home. In most cases, a buyer is introduced to a real estate agent by scheduling a showing appointment for a listing, or an open house or is referred to an agent. These introductions do not make the agent a buyer's agent. Until the agent presents the Buyer Agency Contract, and the buyer and agents sign it there is no buyer agency. Upon the signing of the Buyer Agency Contract, the real estate agent is legally bound to be a fiduciary for the buyer and manage the transaction for the benefit of the buyer as a Buyer’s Agent. The Buyer’s Agent can now help the buyer gather their financial information for interviews with potential mortgage lenders and search for homes through Multiple Listing Services (MLS).

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Since most listings receive multiple offers, a Buyer’s Agent can provide invaluable help by crafting a compelling offer to a seller. The Buyer’s Agent will assist the buyer with an offering price by preparing a Competitive Market Analysis (CMA) which will show recent sales comparable to the home being purchased. It is imperative to have a pre-approval letter from the lender of the buyer’s choice along with a financial statement demonstrating the buyer’s ability to purchase the property. The agreement of sale will be prepared by the Buyer’s Agent documenting the price, deposit funds, mortgage amount (if applicable), closing date, and additional addenda.

Depending on the buyer’s motivation to purchase a specific property there are specific addenda and terms to have a buyer’s agreement shine above other offers. The buyer can make their agreement more attractive to a seller by paying all the State transfer taxes, which automatically increases the seller's bottom line. Most agreements have the buyer and seller equally sharing this 2% state tax. Putting as much money down as possible demonstrates to the seller that the buyer is serious about purchasing the seller’s home. Offering at the list price or higher also demonstrates interest in purchasing their home.

In the past few years, two distinct addenda have been widely used by buyer’s agents: the Price Escalation Addendum to Agreement of Sale (PEA) and the Appraisal Contingency Addendum to Agreement of Sale (ACA). The Price Escalation Addendum states that the buyer’s offer will be increased to a specific amount higher than any competing offer. This addendum also sets a maximum price the buyer is willing to escalate to. The escalation of price obviously changes the loan-to-value ratio and can alter the mortgage amount in the Agreement of Sale. The Price Escalation Addendum addresses this. The buyer has options of either increasing the mortgage amount to reflect the new price while keeping the loan-to-value ratio the same as in the agreement of sale. with the remainder paid in cash at closing. The other option is to pay the difference between the original price and the escalation price in cash at settlement. The Appraisal Contingency Addendum can also be used with the Price Escalation Addendum. If the property isn’t appraised at the minimum value, the buyer can terminate the agreement or renegotiate the offer with the seller. If the appraisal does meet the minimum value, the buyer exercises the same options as in the Price Escalation Addendum. The Appraisal Contingency Addendum can be used in an offer without the Price Escalation Contingency.

Purchasing a home in the current market conditions takes a motivated buyer with emotional resilience. The pace will be frantic as homes must be seen as soon as they become available. There will be many showings, offers that don’t get accepted, and disappointments. For this to be a successful endeavor, trust a Buyer’s Agent.