So, you decided to relocate…now…finding that perfect home! Where to start? Hibernian Financial Planning has put together an overview of how to start the search for your perfect new home!

Before You Leave
Before you leave for your new city in the US, do some research online. Going online and orienting yourself with different neighborhoods and housing options can be a helpful way to begin your search.

The National Association is Realtors (NAS) is the largest trade organization in the United States with over million members from various parts of the real estate industry. They can be a good source of information: www.realtor.com

Hibernian Financial Planning does not recommend any particular company. This list of websites could be helpful in your research.

Century21 – www.century21.com
Coldwell Bankers – www.coldwellbanker.com
Keller Williams – www.kw.com
RE/MAX – www.remax.com
Weichert – www.weichert.com

Types of Agents
In the United States, there are different titles for professionals in the real estate industry which can lead to confusion, especially since they often are used interchangeable and incorrectly used. The most common titles are; real estate agent, broker, and realtor. Also, there are the terms Buyer’s Agent and Seller’s Agent. Understanding the differences will aid in your selection process.

  • Real estate agents legally represent those looking to sell their home or those who are looking to purchase a home. Getting a license requires instruction, a test, a background check, and insurance. Real estate agents are not allowed to work on their own and must be hired by a broker.
  • Brokers are real estate agents with advanced experience and the ability to work on their own. After working in the industry for a few years, a real estate agent can pursue a Broker’s license. This requires further course work and passing the Broker’s exam. Brokers can work independently or open their own office and hire agents.
  • Realtors are agents and brokers who belong to the National Association of Realtors. The main difference in those who belong to the NAR is their obligation to uphold their association’s Code of Ethics.
  • A Buyer’s Agent is an agent or broker who represents, and acts in the best interest of, the person buying a house. The buyer’s confidential conversations cannot be used against them in a negotiation. (i.e. what they can afford, how quickly they must close etc.).
  • A Seller’s Agent represents the seller of the house and is obligated to act in the seller’s best interest.

Finding an Agent
To find the agent right for you, view profiles online. Most real estate broker’s websites have a section with their agents’ biographies. Look for agents who have expertise in relocations.

When you contact a potential agent, ask them some specific questions. For instance:

  • How long have you been agent?
  • How long have you worked in this area?
  • How long does it typically take to find a home?
  • How many buyers are you working with currently?
  • Are you full-time or part-time? What’s your availability?
  • Do you have referrals? 

Fees and Contracts
If you are buying a house, you should not pay an agent for their help. Both the Buyer’s Agent and the Seller’s Agent are paid a commission on the sale of the house. This commission is usually around 6% and is divided equally between the two agents (sometimes a broker will get more). The seller of the house is responsible for the paying of the commissions.

You may have to sign a contract with an agent giving them exclusivity in representing you, usually for a specified time. If you do, make sure it has a clause allowing you to cancel at any time with a written cancellation form. Don’t sign a contact prior to meeting the buying agent, make sure you like them first!

There is a lot to organize, do and think about when you buy a new home. The best way to start is by being informed and finding the agent that is right for you!

Financial Planning for Americans in the UK book cover

Financial Planning for Americans in the United Kingdom

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