Saturday, February 10, 2007

Are You a BUBBA?

Most people, whether in the real estate industry or not,have heard of a FSBO, For Sale By Owner, seller. The acronym has been used for quite awhile as there has always been a segment of the market that chose to sell their home directly to a new buyer. But, there's a new acronym being used by Realtors these days--BUBBA or Buyers Unrepresented By a Buyer's Agent. It is making it's way into the real estate agent vocabulary because this market segment is growing.

In 2006, according to the National Association of Realtors 2006 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, nearly a quarter of all sales (23%) were BUBBAs. Although many of these home buyers did work directly with a builder or at a sheriff's foreclosure sale, 9% purchased directly from the home seller.

The internet is probably the most contributing factor to the growth of this buying segment. Buyers are certainly more educated--shopping on-line for as many as 6 months prior to making their house purchase. The homes are listed on the web. There are guides as to how to purchase a home. The whole process is less mysterious and seemingly simple that many self-educated buyers are foregoing working with a Realtor.

Are You Considering BUBBA? Before you move forward unrepresented, here are a few things to consider.
BUBBA can cost more. Buyer's representation does not cost anything. But can save thousands. When you sign a contract for buyer representation, your agent owes specific fiduciary duties to you to work in YOUR best interest. They are required to keep your information confidential. A Realtor does this as a profession, not once every 10 years like most buyers. They are experienced in negotiating a deal on a home that is in your best interest.

So how does a buyer's agent get paid? Every home listed in the MLS states a commission agreed upon by the seller with his agent to be paid to the buyer's agent of the particular home. Yes, the seller pays the fee for you to your agent.

But this does raise the question, "If I buy directly from the seller and he doesn't pay a commission, won't I get a better price?"

Probably not. Think about it this way, the seller set the price in the first place. If he is not working with an agent, how can you be certain that you received a good price on the home? And why would a seller, who doesn't know you, give you the savings he intended to pocket by not hiring an agent.

In this buyer's market, with so many different homes to choose from, it is easy to be overwhelmed in the purchasing process. What if the seller is has a charasmatic personality who uses a three year old refinancing appraisal to set his price? Is it a good deal?--Probably not.

Buying a home is not as simple as walking into a discount store for a new computer...And that can be overwhelming. There are details to a purchase that many home buyers just don't anticipate. How old is the roof? When can we take possession after closing? Is the septic system in compliance or does it need to be replaced? Are there encroachments, like a neighboring fence or driveway sharing issues? Are there assessments pending and who will pay for them?

All of these are situations an experienced Realtor will try to anticipate and resolve in writing as the transaction moves toward the closing.
Some people are accidental BUBBAS. They start out in a "learning" stage...That time period of six months to years where they are "dreaming" of a new home but don't want to commit or be pressured into a contract. They wander into an open house and it IS their dream home. Since they didn’t have an agent when they first came in, they feel uncomfortable informing the seller that they want representation and just move forward without one.

As a Realtor, I try to coach potential clients into developing a relationship with an agent early in the process. If you want to see a home, contact that agent and sign a contract for a specific house. That way your interests would be represented, if the house is perfect for your family. But you would not be locked into a 6 month contract, if you are not ready to make a decision.

Before becoming part of this growing trend in home purchasing, do research and carefully consider your options. You may be giving up more than you think to when making the one of the most important financial decisions of your life.