Real Estate Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

  • How do I find an agent to work with?
  • What can one agent offer that another may not?
  • What does “multiple listing” mean?
  • What is a buyer’s agent?
  • When should I find a bank or mortgage company?
  • What is the “secondary market”?
  • Is it important to have a home inspected?
  • What is the difference between an inspection and an appraisal?
  • How do I make an offer after I find the right property?
  • After I find a home to buy, how long does it take?

How do I find an agent to work with?
First of all, you need to find someone with whom you are comfortable, someone you can trust to assist you through the process of buying or selling. You may wish to interview several agents prior to reaching a decision. We have always felt that honesty, integrity, experience, and knowledge are critical to the process.

What can one agent offer that another may not?
Everyone has individual experiences that transfer into their daily interactions. Real Estate brokers do, too. There are specialties that are available to agents in terms of education and designations, and areas of specific interest that can develop into expertise. If you are looking for representation in a specific type of property, you may wish to assess the agent’s experiences in that direction.

What is a buyer’s agent?
A real estate agent who is working on his/her buyer’s behalf, representing that buyer-client and advocating for that client’s interest.

What is the “secondary market”?
The “secondary market” refers to international investors who purchase large blocks of loans. In other words, a block of loans from New England may be sold to a group of investors in California. There are regulations which are established to provide consistency in requirements for these loans. These regulations apply to both the requirements for the purchaser and requirements for the property.

Is it important to have a home inspected?
We always recommend home inspections. Each home has characteristics of its own, some may be considered to be problems to one buyer and not to another. Sellers are required to provide property disclosures for the buyer of their home, but there may be issues developing that they know nothing about. Inspections usually take about 2-3 hours of time, and are valuable not only from the aspect of diagnosing defects but also from the educational value you gain from learning about the home you wish to buy. It is also good to learn what maintenance needs to be done to keep problems from developing in the home. Inspections which are most frequently done include (but are certainly not limited to): general building inspection (covers structure, electrical, plumbing, and basic heating systems), septic systems, wells, radon (both air quality and water levels), pest, lead, water quality. A developing area of concern pertains to mold. There are inspections available for this, and you should consult your home inspector with questions and concern about mold.

What is the difference between an inspection and an appraisal?
A home inspection is usually not required by the financing institution, but an appraisal is. The home inspections are to discover/learn everything that you can about the home you wish to buy. The appraisal is done by a licensed appraiser, chosen by the lender, to verify the property value.

How do I make an offer after I find the right property?
The agent you select to represent you will complete the Maine Association of Realtors Purchase and Sale Agreement with you. This standard industry form contains contingencies for inspections, financing, title search, and allows for additional concerns/items that pertain to your purchase. The Property Disclosure which has been provided to you by the seller of the property needs to be initialed and signed by you, attached to the Purchase and Sale Agreement. In addition, the Lead Paint Disclosure needs to be completed, acknowledged, and signed by the seller(s), the real estate agent(s) involved in the transaction, and the purchaser(s). After the offer is presented to the seller(s) by their listing agent (or representative of that agent), the seller response will be communicated to you in a timely fashion. The negotiation process may be quick and easy, or may be more tedious and require more time. Your agent will work with you every step of the way to the point where you have a signed agreement on the property, or decide to turn away from this property.

After I find a home to buy, how long does it take?
Once you reach an agreement to purchase the home, typical financing takes between 30 and 60 days to “close” the transaction. During that time, the lender will be receiving documentation verifying information which you provide to them at the time of loan application. They will be gathering information pertaining to the property as well, such as the appraisal of value and the title documentation from the title attorney who does the title search. There may also be a “plot plan,” which is completed by a surveyor for the purpose of verifying that there are no encumbrances on the property lines. (It is important to know that a plot plan is not a boundary survey, which is quite a bit more expensive.)