I participate in several online Q&A forums and there’s a question that comes up frequently from buyers and sellers.
The thought is that if a consumer can find a house on their own, using internet search tools, then why would they need or want a realtor.
Finding the perfect home can be difficult and a realtor can help make it easier, saving you a ton of time and effort and in my case, also being able to find you a property that you may not be able to access otherwise. That’s a different blog.
So the big question is “What does a realtor do after a buyer finds a house?” Here’s an rundown of a ‘normal’ transaction. Each transaction has the same basic process, but every transaction comes with a different set of players and of course it’s a different property, so every transaction is unique.
Finding the right house is the fun part…there’s still a ton of work that comes afterwards. Not everyone does it this way, but after we find a house here’s what I do:
- Analyze the comparables, features, location, create a rapport w/listing agent, dig to determine sellers motivations, a little cyber stalking if possible, etc. I’m a data analysis person, which is why a lot of my clients hire and refer me. 1.5 – 3hrs, depending on the property and available data.
- Go over all the paperwork w/the buyer (this is usually done before making an offer phase, but it takes time, especially for first timers, and worth reviewing even if we’ve talked about it before) 1 – 2 hrs
- Discuss and decide on an offer strategy – each property analysis comes with different opportunities and/or roadblocks, and every buyer has different goals and needs, so the strategy changes w/each offer. There are about 12 different decision making points that need to be discussed, understood and decided. 1-4hrs
- Coordinate w/lender on pre-approvals – depends on if I know the lender or not, this is when it’s important to establish a relationship/rapport w/the lender because we’re partners in helping the buyer 10mins – 1hr
- Negotiate contract – this can take hours or days
Assume we ratify the contract…
- Home Inspection – in my state a licensee must be present for the entire home inspection – 2-7 hrs depending on property
- Review home inspection w/buyer – 1-2 hrs – if estimates are required for any items, this can take several additional hours or days to coordinate contractors and go back to the property to be there while they do their work, again, a licensee must be present for anything involved w/the inspection.
- Discuss and Decide home inspection negotiations – 1-2 hrs
- Negotiate home inspection items – again, could be hours or days
- Simultaneously, working w/lender, other agent, and settlement agent to make sure all the paperwork is in the right place, AND all these steps require paperwork, getting signatures, etc etc. The small stuff adds up to several hours of work pretty quickly.
- Arrange for additional visits to property for measurements, contractor appointments, show mom n dad or show the kids your new place. 1-4 hrs
Now let’s say we’re all wrapped up on home inspection and everything is moving forward…
- Almost all buyers are anxious at this point, they’re primarily working with their lenders, but an engaged agent can get daily phone calls, questions, talking buyers off the ledge, or pushing them over if it’s the right thing. First time buyers get about 6 hrs of help during the ‘down’ time while the lender and settlement agency do their background work. More experienced buyers usually get maybe 2-3 hrs.
- Utilities conversations – this always comes up at some point, especially time consuming for people who have moved from apartments or rentals w/utils included. 30 mins – 2 hrs
- Getting it all across the finish line…monitor all contract deadlines, follow up with listing agent, lender and settlement agency, communicate all progress to clients – 2-3hrs if there are no issues, 8hrs to days if anything unusual happens.
- Final walkthrough – 1-3hrs depending on property
- Deal w/walkthrough issues – 0-6hrs depending on issues. some take days to work out.
- Final review of paperwork and documents – 1-2hrs, depending on how all the other parties have communicated. if anyone of the parties involved have been poor communicators (or worse, shady or liars), this can take much longer.
- Settlement – 1-2 hrs
- Post-settlement – 1-4 hrs, there always seems to be something, even if it’s just coordinating delivery of mail left behind or some other minor thing. still takes agent time and involvement.
An easy deal is about 30 hrs of work post ‘finding a house’.
A difficult one can be 80+ hrs. If it’s a FSBO, it always ends up being more, because the other side of the transaction doesn’t do it every day and isn’t a pro.
Let’s say I only show one house and did zero up front searching or talking w/the client (unlikely) and only showed up to write the contract. It’ll be 30 – 80 hrs of work. But the thing is, you never know until AFTER you write the contract which type of transaction it’ll be.
Some transactions are super easy slam dunks, but that’s the exception, not the norm.