The process for buying Real Estate in the United States of America is very different from the way it works in many European countries.
» Buyer’s Representation
First of all, the Agents/Realtors in USA are all required to be licensed by the state in which they practice. They must complete a course of study as well as pass a state exam before becoming licensed to work for the public. Real Estate Agents here represent their clients (either Seller’s or Buyer’s) interests and have certain obligations to you through their duties of agency. Here is a link to the State of South Carolina Agency Relationships brochure that will explain it to you.
You are not required to select a Realtor or Real Estate Agent to buy a house in the USA; however, it is in your best interest to have one representing you.
» Finding a Home
Majority of Seller’s Realtors offer a commission to Realtors from other companies if they bring a Buyer to purchase their listing. There is a service in most areas called the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) where Agents put the information about their listings for other Agents to access. You can find out just about everything that is listed from one Realtor instead of having to go to several companies to find out what listings they are offering. Buyer’s Agent is able to find real estate in accordance with the Buyer’s needs, specifications, price etc., and to show selected properties available for sale (not just his or her listings).
» When You Find a Home
Buyers Agents here in USA negotiates price and terms on behalf of the Buyer and write a Contract for you when you find the property you want to purchase. You do not have to wait several weeks and then go to a lawyer to prepare the contract for you.
When you are sure that you found a property that you wish to purchase, then your Realtor can get the history of the house and do a Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) to give you information on what to offer. Your Realtor can advise you on offer price and offer strategies but the final decision is yours.
Once you have made an Offer in writing you must wait to see if the Offer is accepted or a Counter-offer is made. If the Offer is accepted then the contract is Executed and moves on to the next stage. If the Offer is Counter-offered then the your original Offer is now Void and the Counter-offer is now the Offer being negotiated. This process can continue until agreement is reached. If the Counter-offer is acceptable then it can be executed. If it is not acceptable you can either Counter-offer again or walk away from the deal.
When the Contract is executed the Buyer usually pays a deposit called Earnest Money. This is put in a Trust account until the Closing. It is credited back to the Buyer at the Closing.
» Before Closing
Home Inspection – this is the Buyer's opportunity to perform any and all inspections that are important to the Buyer. At a minimum, the Buyer will order and have performed a general Home Inspection. This is usually paid for by the Buyer. Any repairs needed are then negotiated between Buyer and Seller.
Wood Infestation (Termite) Inspection - is needed for the mortgage company if you use a loan. On the other hand it is a good idea to know there are no problems with wood infestation and termites even if you buy home for cash.
Appraisal – is needed for the mortgage company to make sure that the property is worth the amount of money that you are borrowing against it (if you use a loan).
» Closing the Deal
This is the process that transfers ownership of the Property, Title and the Funds from the sale to the relevant parties. Real Estate attorneys handle closings in the state of South Carolina. Realtor will advise the exact method and parties involved.
The bottom line is that you need to find out what kind of Real Estate you are interested in and then find an Agent who represents your interests. The best part of using Buyer’s Agent is Realtor’s service doesn’t cost anything for the Buyer. Agent gets paid from the Seller’s Agent (not Seller).
If you are thinking about vacation getaway, primary residence or rental property in Hilton Head Island (SC) area, please give me a call. It is my hope that you will be so pleased with my service that you will turn to me for advice on your future Real Estate needs and refer me to your friends.