Buyers Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take to find a home, and how many properties will I need to see before making a decision?

It depends. Even if you fall in love with the first home you see, you’ll want to view a few more for comparison. The more detailed and inflexible your “wish list,” the longer your search. The search can end in a day or extend a whole year – a year is an extreme. Think compromise.

Will I find my home simply by surfing the web?

It’s a great place to start, but it’s different from buying a book or sweater. Choosing a home is a very qualitative decision, and an emotional one as well. You’ll want to personally assess the neighborhood, the parking situation, the size and style of the house or condominium. Pictures are great, but you’ll want to talk and visit with an agent who is good at listening and good at converting your “wish list” into a reality.

When is the best time to look?

It depends on your situation. If you’re being relocated, your company will make that decision for you. If you’re a parent and prefer that your children not be uprooted during the school year, you’ll wait until March or April. If your New Year’s resolution is to own your own home – a popular one, by the way – you’ll begin to look January 2nd. If you’re looking for a property in the vicinity of your university, late spring or early summer is your timeline. If you don’t fit any of the above categories, you’ll look when the mood suits you.

If you’re asking when is the best financial time to buy, probably between November and February. There’ll be fewer buyers – but fewer properties to choose from, too. The majority of homes come on the market in the Spring. More competition, but a greater choice. Or, a greater choice, but more competition.

What financial preparations should I make to begin my search?

Meet with a loan officer to ascertain your price range and to get pre-approved (versus pre-qualified). Some suggest obtaining your own credit report prior to a meeting to assure that there are no surprising glitches. Carry your pre-approval letter and checkbook with you when touring homes.

Once I find what I want, what are the steps to the home-buying process? And how long will it take from my offer to the closing?

There are five major steps and, on average, it takes two months.
  1. Offer to Purchase
  2. Home Inspection
  3. Purchase and Sale (P&S) Agreement
  4. Bank Loan Application/Commitment
  5. Closing
After the paperwork is signed, you’ll receive the keys to your castle. When the bank’s attorney “records” the deed at the Registry of Deeds, you’re “on record” as the proud owner of your new home.

Perhaps you’re wondering what the real estate agents have been doing during this lengthy process. A lot. The detail work is incredible and fairly constant. The real estate agent is the glue in a transaction, especially when problems occur and the transaction is in jeopardy. We’re the smoothers of ruffled feathers – it is an emotional process.

What should I look for in a real estate agent?

Look for someone who is dependable, ethical, experienced and professional. You’ll want high proportions of each in the mix. Look for someone you feel you can trust: a person more interested in helping you find the right home instead of simply selling you one; a person who really listens so that your time won’t be wasted seeing ranches when you want a colonial. Be sure the agent’s brokerage employs the same high standards. Most of my business is with previous buyers and sellers and their friends and family they refer to me.

How many real estate agents should I work with at one time?

If you have the right one, only one. (If you’re working with a buyer’s broker, definitely one – at least for each city or town.) An agent is able to show you all of the properties on the market, including homes listed by other firms. The term is co-broking. By working with one person, you’ll avoid duplications in your search and it could save you precious time. Because you might be spending a lot of time together, the rapport you establish is important. If you’re unhappy with the person you’re working with, find another agent.

What is the difference between a buyer’s agent and a seller’s agent?

The fiduciary relationship. A seller’s agent represents the seller in the transaction.  A buyer’s agent represents the buyer. The brokerages in the Cambridge community recognize Buyer Brokerage and equally divide the commission so that there is no cost to the buyer for this special service.  The Seller pays the commission.

What should I look for in a real estate firm?

The easiest way for me to answer that is, “Look for a brokerage like the Cambridge Compass office.” We’re unique. We have an excellent support staff so that our time is spent helping you. Real estate information is at our fingertips. We have 29 full-time agents who are energetic and terrific at what they do. We’re fun, enthusiastic and a great team. We do Buyer Brokerage, which is good for you.

Can you assist me outside Cambridge?

Often, yes. I feel comfortable working in a number of communities. If I feel you would be better served by a local agent or you’re simply too far away, I would refer you to a very good broker in another office. If there is no Compass office in your area, I still can help by referring you to a particularly good agent via our independent relocation network.