Buyers FAQ

What is a buyer’s representative and why do I need one?
Defined most simply, a buyer’s representative (also buyer’s rep, or buyer’s agent) is an advocate for the buyer—not the seller—in a real estate transaction. Real estate laws and regulations vary from state to state, but buyer’s representatives usually owe full fiduciary (legal) duties, including loyalty and confidentiality, to their buyer-clients and work in their clients’ best interests throughout the entire transaction.

A buyer’s agent can offer professional advice on selecting a property and negotiate to get the property for the buyer at the best price and terms. And, best of all, since sellers generally pay the brokers’ commissions, these services are typically free to the buyer.

What services does Properties Plus provide buyers?
We are your advocate through the entire process, common services include:

  • Helping you clarify your priorities.
  • Selecting and arranging property showings.
  • Suggesting sources of financing and other service professionals, such as inspectors and exterminators.
  • Providing sources of accurate and lawful information on neighborhoods, schools, and communities.
  • Evaluating particular properties.
  • Explaining forms and agreements.
  • Suggesting contract contingencies to protect you, rather than the seller.
  • Assisting in the negotiations for a favorable price and terms.
  • Keeping all information confidential that could weaken your bargaining position.
  • Monitoring the entire purchase process, assisting with issues that arise through closing.

What is the standard compensation structure for real estate professionals?
For the most part, real estate professionals are compensated by commission, based on a home’s selling price. Commission rates are typically 6% to 7% of selling price, but may vary, as does how the sales commission will be divided between the agents on the selling and buying side of the transaction. There is consistency, however, in how commissions are paid. When a seller signs a listing agreement, their contract is with a brokerage firm. All fees must pass through that brokerage firm. Typically, the seller’s representative—and your buyer’s rep—will be paid by the listing broker after the transaction closes.

What services can I expect to receive?
This depends on what level of service you have established as a home buyer with the Agent. If you have not established a formal relationship, you are probably considered a customer, rather than a client, and you will likely receive a lower level of service. So you should clarify, preferably in writing, the services you are entitled to receive before you start viewing properties.

Will I pay more to be represented as a buyer?
In the vast majority of cases, the answer is no. When a house is listed for sale, the seller’s contract spells out the commission rate that will be awarded to a buyer’s representative. This is known up front and typically covers all, or at least most, of your representative’s compensation.

If it doesn’t, the choice is yours. You can scratch this house off your list, or decide to view it, knowing that any remaining compensation will need to be addressed. But even if the seller’s listing contract doesn’t entirely cover your buyer’s representative’s compensation, and you must pay the difference, it’s quite possible that these relatively small differences will be more than offset by other purchasing terms negotiated with the seller.

What is the best way to search for homes online?
Properties Plus has a direct full service MLS feed on our site. Visit the Buyers section, you can search for homes, save searches and keep track of properties.

How much house can I afford?
When evaluating how much you can afford for your home and mortgage, lenders usually use two rules of thumb:

  1. Your maximum monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 28 percent of your gross (pre-tax) income.
  2. Your maximum debt load, including your mortgage payment, should not exceed 30 percent of your gross income.

These ratios are typical of those required to secure a conventional mortgage. Lenders will be able to supply details about other types of mortgages, such as FHA or VA loans, which offer more flexible qualification standards. There are many types of mortgages and financial tools available that provide flexibility in interest rates, terms, and down payment requirements. Our team of Agents can also help guide you in this area.

What’s the difference between being pre-qualified and pre-approved for a mortgage?
Typically you will first pre-qualify for a mortgage, then get pre-approved before you have found the specific home you wish to purchase. What is the difference?

Pre-qualification: An informal determination by a lender or mortgage broker stating how much mortgage you can afford.

Pre-approval: A guarantee in writing by a lender to grant you a loan up to a specified amount.

What are the advantages of being pre-approved?
There are two advantages of being pre-approved for a loan as early as possible in your home-buying process:

  1.  Sellers will find any offer you make more attractive if you are pre-approved for a mortgage.
  2. The length of time before closing can be shorter if you’ve completed the steps to securing mortgage approval prior to signing a contract on a property.

What is earnest money?
Earnest money shows good faith and that you are serious about buying the property. Typically, sellers ask for one percent of the sales price, and it is credited toward the purchase, unless there is 100% financing. The contract will spell out the conditions for when earnest money is refundable and when it is not.

How much do I need to put down?
The greater the down payment, the less the monthly mortgage payment will be and the more immediate equity you will have in your home. The lenders we work with offer programs that feature down payments as low as 0% to qualified individuals.

In most cases a down payment ranges between 0% and 20%. This amount will vary depending on the cash you have available and what payments are affordable for you.

How much will my Closing Costs be?
In addition to the down payment, the amount of closing costs will depend on several factors, such as the selling price of the home and the type of mortgage. As a rule of thumb you will have closing costs of approximately 2 to 3 percent of the sales price. Contact us and we can give you more specific information on the items typically paid by buyers.

How much are Property Taxes in the Tulsa area?
Taxes vary by location, visit the Tulsa County Tax Assessor to research particular areas. Taxes are typically included in your mortgage payment along with insurance. Contact Us for areas outside of Tulsa County.

Should I get an inspection on the home I’m thinking about purchasing?
Definitely! You need to know exactly what you are buying. It could be very disappointing to find out after you have purchased your new home that you are going to have to spend lots of money for unexpected repairs. The cost of a professional home inspection could be the best money you ever spend on your house. Not only does the home inspector look for any defects from the roof to the foundation, but the inspector will often give you tips on maintaining and repairing your house. Home inspections are also recommended for newly constructed homes.

When should I begin searching for a home?
If you have a specific date that you must be in your next home, you should begin your search at least two months prior to that date. Two months will allow enough time to find the perfect home and enough time for inspections, loan approval and processing. If you have a home to sell, you should list your home for sale before starting your search.

How long does it usually take from the time I find a house until I can move in?
It depends on the situation! A home can close in less then 10 days if the buyers have met all of their lender’s requirements. Generally, you should allow between 3 to 6 weeks; maybe longer, depending on how soon the seller can vacate the house and how quickly you can close on the home.

What is an appraisal? Will I need one?
An appraisal is a detailed analysis by a licensed appraiser of the market value of the home you want to purchase. Lenders will require an appraisal as part of the loan approval process.

What is a Short Sale?
A short sale is when the mortgage holder agrees to accept a payoff that is less than the amount owed. Mortgage holders are more and more leaning towards short sales, rather than foreclosing. Foreclosure is usually the last thing anyone involved wants to do. The mortgage holder may 1099 the borrower for the difference between the actual payoff and the short sale amount. If this happens there will be tax implications. This is still usually a better situation for the borrower then a possible judgment filed against them for any short fall in a Foreclosure Sale.

Can you help me buy a new home from a builder?
You Bet! Anyone considering the purchase of a new construction home should work with a Buyer’s Agent that can represent you in negotiations with the home builder. Remember, the sales agents in the model homes work for the builder and represent his interests. We work in your best interests. There’s no cost to you for this service (the builder pays our commission fees). For more info on assistance with new homes and new home builders, including incentives that are available, please contact us.

Can you help me with homes for sale by owner?
Yes! Home owners selling their own homes are usually very happy when a real estate agent brings them a buyer. In addition, we can provide you with invaluable assistance in negotiating the price and terms of the sale and helping you through a process that can sometimes be confusing. It’s always best to have a buyer’s agent looking out for your interests. Just contact us with the address and phone number of the owner and we’ll take it from there!