Who I am and How I can Help
Once you are working with me, it is important to know exactly our relationship. Ask me as many questions as you wish. The questions here are a good place to start.
·What is "Agency" and why is it important?
·What forms does the Commonwealth of Massachusetts require me to sign?
·Why are the benefits of having you represent me as my agent?
·How do you differ from other buyer's agents?
·Do you keep personal and financial information about me confidential?
·What are my responsibilities as your buyer client?
The first thing we will do when you are preparing to purchase a home is meet for a consultation. Ideally, this should be done face-to-face, but it can be handled by e-mail and phone if necessary (especially if you are relocating from another area). It is best if you are pre-approved with a lender before we sit down so that we can realistically discuss your needs and desires. If you don't have a lender, let me know and will gladly refer you to one. There are several things we will talk about when we meet for a consultation. They are:
Before we start looking at properties, we need to be sure you are serious about wanting to buy a home. If you aren't sure or have questions you need answered first, this is the perfect time to bring those up.
2. Time Frame
It is important for me to know how quickly you need or want to move. If you want to find a home immediately, we will begin looking right away. If you prefer to wait a little while before actually buying, we will want to wait on actively looking at homes as those available now may not be so in the future, but still have the freedom to act on a property should the perfect one happen to come along.
Once I know exactly what you want in a home, in full detail, I can set up times for you to see the properties that meet your needs. By screening these homes before setting appointments to view them, we save valuable time by making sure they fit your criteria.
4. Price Range
We will review your mortgage pre-approval and plan out our best strategy for finding a home that fits your budget as well as your lifestyle.
What you can Keep in Mind as my Client
· You are encouraged to be candid and confide in me as your agent. I can't give you the best representation if you don't tell me what you're thinking.
· You should contact me immediately about properties found through the Multipla Listing Service, real estate venues such as Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, or one you’ve drive by.
· Open Houses: Let me know if you see an Open House you are interested in viewing. If you should happen to randomly stop by an open house when I am not present, be sure to register yourself as having retained a buyer agent. If you can leave my name that’s cool too.
· Be careful what you say to agents for the seller, as any information they have about you can be used to increase the seller’s bargaining position should you wish to offer. This even includes openly expressing how much you like a property.
Five Steps of Helping You
1. Let’s start by scheduling an in-office consultation. We need to discuss our agency relationship in a proper business environment. This will set the stage for how we will communicate with each other. We will either meet in my office or conference room where we will not be bothered with distractions such as phone calls that will allow me to focus on best serving you. And certainly we will be going out to look at homes at this time or at the earliest possible moment.
2. I need to know how I can help you. And you must understand what you are getting by having me help you. You need to know what steps I will take to help find you the best home for your money. You need to know what services I provide. At our initial meeting we will discuss the rules of engagement, scheduling, and what you can expect in terms of communication and response. I will be giving you literature that will explain the “Home Buying Process.”
3. Know what you can expect from me. What I’ve found in my years of helping customers is that they want education – about communities, schools, home values – and the benefit of my knowledge and advice. And please know that your needs will be given my undivided attention. In fact, if you go to my web page www.jimlumley.com you will find extensive information on schools, finding the right home, making an offer, negotiating, mortgage financing, home inspections, and, of course, details on available homes!
4. Understand what “Agency” means. Very simply, you will encounter agents who work for sellers, and agents who work for buyers. The agent who advertises a home through a sign, a flyer, or gives an Open House works for the seller. You as a buyer do not want to purchase from an agent for the seller as that agent is legally obligated to work on the seller’s behalf, i.e., he or she is prohibited from helping you. That seller’s agent must tell the seller any information about you, even personal details which you might have liked to keep confidential. Your negotiating power destroyed, you are likely to pay more for the property than you need to. And, NOT have important information about the property that you need to know disclosed to you. Consequently, it’s foremost that you have an agent representing you. In fact, some states do not allow buyers to buy direct from a seller’s agent; you are required to be represented by your own agent. The Massachusetts law that began in July of 2005 establishing buyer agency went a long way to close that loophole, but not so far to prohibit you from buying from a seller’s agent and get skunked. Attorneys tell me that the courts are filling up with buyer’s suits of faulty disclosure and charges of malfeasance. It estimated that within a few years it is projected the Massachusetts legislature will update it’s 2005 law to fully exclude buying from a seller’s agent as have Vermont and Connecticut.
5. Disclosure is my principle. Going beyond local, state, and federal disclosures I have always taken the position that you should know all appropriate matters regarding a property in order to make an informed buying decision.
Why Buyers Choose Me
Buying a Home Requires Many Difficult Decisions. Make Sure Your Realtor is a Top Local Expert.
Your home is probably the biggest purchase your family will ever make, and it involves many decisions that go beyond simply choosing one you like.
As a top Amherst and Upper Pioneer Valley Realtor – winner of the top “gold” award -- here is how I will guide you through the entire process, from viewing homes and financing, to making sure the final contract is in your best interests:
· You will have full access to ALL homes available in the communities in which you are interested, even listings not yet on the MLS, through my professional real estate affiliations.
· My expert local knowledge of the communities in Hampshire and Franklin counties should be invaluable to you, not just in terms of real estate, but also schools, neighborhoods, the local economy, and more.
· Every local real estate market absolutely has its own trends and opportunities. This can vary greatly, even one neighborhood to the next. Our area is no different! It's my job to steer you into opportunities and out of traps.
· What is the true market value of the home you are interested in? Is it priced too high? Is it a bargain that you should jump on? I help home buyers make decisions like this every day, and I'll make sure that YOU get the best value for your money, too.
· Negotiating with sellers can be stressful. I will help you negotiate, so that the final contract includes your best possible terms and conditions.
· You should know absolutely everything about the property you are buying! You and I will view every home that you are interested in, together. And prior to closing I will make you fully aware of any and all inspections available to you.
· Have confidence when signing legal documents. Contracts are full of clauses that safeguard you in the purchase of your new home. I will give you the full benefit of my real estate knowledge and experience in explaining any details.
Let me represent your best interests in your search for a new home. While you can see a million homes on the web, actually buying your home is another matter entirely. Call or email me for help, or to have your questions answered. And please know that there are no dumb questions! I look forward to talking to you.
Duty, Loyalty, Diligence: Working with Jim Lumley as your Buyer's Agent
As your Buyer's Agent I owe you the following duties:
· Confidentiality - Any personal information, details about your financial position, or anything else you tell me that can affect your bargaining position is kept confidential and not disclosed to the seller or seller's agent.
· Full Disclosure - I will find out as much information as possible about the property and the seller's situation in order to help you make informed decisions about your purchase.
· Loyalty - My job is to find the property that is right for you, not to try to get you buy something that doesn't fit your needs.
· Negotiating - I will give you advice and suggestions based upon my experience and will fight to get the best price and terms for you.
· Reasonable Care - I will protect you from any foreseeable risks of harm; ensure the transaction of business to your best advantage and recommend expert advice or assistance when your needs are outside the scope of my expertise.
These responsibilities are defined by Massachusetts State law and the Realtor Code of Ethics.
Note that if you work with an agent who is not your Buyer’s Agent, he or she is NOT allowed to remain loyal to you, NOT allowed to keep your private information confidential, does NOT need to obey your lawful directions regarding the progress of a sale, and does NOT need to disclose numerous matters regarding a property to you. In short, if you do not specifically engage an agent as your Buyer’s Agent, that agent remains by default working for the seller and bound by legal restraints that benefit the seller.
That's the legal definition, but what do I, as your buyer's agent, actually do for you? Like other agents, I will show you available homes, point out the property's features, provide financing information and submit the offer.
But that's not all: As your representative, I will share valuable and essential information with you such as:
· Whether the seller would accept a lower price, if known.
· The seller's reason for selling and timetable, if known.
· How long the home has been on the market.
· What the average price is for homes sold in neighborhood.
· Strengths and weaknesses of the property.
· Provide you with the largest choice of appropriate properties. Basically all available properties are listed on MLS. This includes all other companies' listings, and often most For Sale By Owner listings.
· Search for confidential information to reveal weakness in seller's position.
· Determine dimensions of the lot and current zoning uses, neighborhood trends and appreciation rates of properties.
· Inform you of statistical data on the schools, such as MCAS scores and graduation rates.
· Prepare a Market Analysis for you before an offer is made.
· Recommend a professional home inspector.
· Provide a strong negotiating position.
· Discuss protective contingencies for you that may be included in the contract.
· Recommend your use of an attorney.
· Assist you in obtaining financing.
Note that many of the above inquiries can not be disclosed by an agent other than your buyer’s agent.
And most important, you can ask for my advice and assistance in setting your offering price. With me as your Buyer’s Agent, you'll have peace of mind knowing that an experienced advocate is bargaining on your behalf to help you buy at the lowest possible price and best possible terms.
Worried about cost? In most sales the fee is not paid by you. The fee paid to buyer’s agents is set at the time of listing and noted on the MLS listing paperwork.
Why have Me as your Buyer’s Agent?
When you hire me as your agent, you hire someone who represents you and you alone.
I’m an accredited (ABR) buyer’s agent who owes you fiduciary responsibilities. They will include:
· Locate and show you property
· Provide Market Value information
· Structure your purchase offer to the seller
· Negotiate with the seller
· Handle all the details up to and at closing.
The average person buys real estate a few times in their lives. I can tell you the latest market conditions, issues to look for with different types of properties or neighborhoods and things you will never think about. I will guide you through the process.
How Do I get Paid?
This issue is relatively automatic; in practically all cases the buyer’s agent’s fee is prefigured into the commission that is offered from the listing agent in MLS. In fact, this fee is printed on the MLS property listing. If you have any questions, please ask. I won’t shy away from answering any of your questions about our business relationship.