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FAQs For Buyers

What Buyers Need To Know

Williamson Group Sotheby’s International Realty has helped thousands of buyers find a home, land, or commercial space that is just right for them.

We hope you find our answers to Frequently Asked Questions a good starting point on your road to property ownership in Vermont.

How should I go about selecting a real estate broker?

You will want to go about choosing a real estate broker the same way you choose any professional. You might want to start by getting referrals from friends and acquaintances who already live in the area you are considering. Then you will want to interview two or three brokers to find one who is right for you. During this interview process you will want to know how the agent assists potential buyers as well as get a feel for the agent’s background and experience level. You may also want to ask the brokers you are considering for a list of references. Don’t forget about personality. It is important that you like and feel comfortable with any broker you choose, since you will likely spend a lot of time with this person.

What is the difference between a Seller’s agent and a Buyer’s agent?

Agents always represent either the Seller or the Buyer. In Vermont, agents can only represent one party in a real estate transaction. As a Buyer, you will need to specifically engage a Buyer Agent if you want professional representation. Any agency showing you one of their listings can only represent the Seller.

What services will you provide me should I decide to choose you as my broker?

As your broker, we would work with you to determine what type of home, business, or property you are looking for. We would then discuss your budget and the amount you would feel comfortable spending on your new property. The next step is to marry your dream property with your budget to determine that your goal is realistic. Once we have a good understanding of what you are looking for and what you want to spend, we can then begin the process of actually looking for a property. As a professional real estate agency, we have access to nearly every property listed in our area and can begin the process of pre-screening properties for you. We would then set up appointments for initial showings of the homes, as well as second and even third showings if you wish, until you find the right property for you and you are ready to make an offer. Finally, we would work with you to decide how much to actually offer, oversee the inspection and any other ‘due diligence’ and the closing process.

How do I know how much home I can afford?

The easiest way to find out how much you can afford is to get prequalified. Getting prequalified may sound like a complicated step, but in reality it is simple process. A lender will ask you a few questions about your debts and assets and then apply a debt-to-income ratio to come up with a figure. This process should be free and you are under no obligation to get a loan from that lender. We would be happy to refer you to several lenders in our area who offer competitive interest rates.

What is the difference between a real estate broker and a realtor?

Brokers and salespersons are sometimes referred to as REALTORS. However, not every broker or salesperson is a REALTOR. In order for a broker or salesperson to be a REALTOR, he or she must meet the standards and criteria established by the National Association of REALTORS and be a member of the VT & NH Association of REALTORS, Inc. and the Board of REALTORS in the community in which they practice. These voluntary associations have been formed for the purpose of educating and training their members to resolve the often complex issues that come up during the sale or purchase of real estate.

How will I be able to remember the properties I see once I begin looking?

There a several ways to keep track of the properties you see. First, avoid looking at too many properties in one day. Five or six properties is probably the maximum you will want to look at in one day. You should also plan to keep a written log of the properties you view or ask for the properties’ “listing sheet” so that you can write down the features that stand out in your mind. Pictures are another good idea. If you have a digital camera, bring it!

Okay, I’ve found a house I really like and would like to live in. How do I know how much to offer for it?

It goes without saying that a seller wants the most money possible for his or her house. As a buyer, you want to pay the least amount possible. How do you know what the right dollar amount is? One of the best ways to do this is to review a list of comparables (comps) in the area you are considering. Comps are a list of recently sold homes similar to the one you are considering. They allow you to see how much other buyers have paid. If you still can not decide, you might want to ask your broker how much he or she would pay for the house. Once you decide how much the house is worth, and the highest dollar amount you would feel comfortable paying, you can determine the price you want to offer.

How much time should I spend looking for a new house?

There really is not a magic amount of time you should spend looking. Some people find their perfect home in a matter of days while others may take longer. If you are moving to the Woodstock area from another state, it is important for you to visit our area during all four seasons. If you are a planning to only live here part-time, for example as a summer resident, then you would want to look for your new home during the summer.