Q: I am a first-time buyer, not in any rush, looking for a Northeast house, but my real estate agent seems to be in a rush to find me something. He is very nice and knows the area, but I feel like he maybe just wants to make the sale. Do you think I should just find a new agent?
A: If you’ve signed a Business Relationship Agreement with him, then you need to ask him to let you out of the agreement. If not you can just go find another agent if you want. My question to you is why aren’t you in any rush? There are very real time sensitive, monitary-related reasons for homebuyers to want to purchase sooner rather than later:
1. The $8,000 First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit and $6,500 Homeowner/buyer Tax Credit will be discontinued on April 30. This is a tax refund, not a write-off, also known as “cash in your pocket.” This extra money could just about reimburse a homebuyer for closing costs in Philadelphia.
2. Economists are projecting a mortgage rate increase of 1 percent more than current rates by spring due to the Federal Reserve discontinuing its purchase of mortgage-backed securities at the end of March. Any increase in mortgage rates could mean hundreds to your monthly payment or affect how much house you are able to buy.
3. The Federal Housing Administration is planning on reducing the amount of seller’s assistance a buyer can get for closing costs this summer from 6 percent to 3 percent. So if you are approved for an FHA loan and need more for closing costs than 3 percent seller assist, you may have to save up more money in order to buy.
4. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development produces what is called an “Affordability Index,” There are three components to the Affordability Index: median income, interest rates and home prices. It shows homes are more affordable today than they have ever been since 1970.
There is a difference between being pushy and having a sense of urgency. It is your agent’s job to work toward your best interest, so if he seems in a rush could it just be because he is looking out for you?
A real estate agent’s job is not just about finding a house. Besides knowledge of the area, it takes knowledge of the home-buying process, the legalities surrounding the transfer of real estate and real estate market conditions. Feelings are important, but it’s the facts that count. Make sure you are working with an agent who possesses all of these expertises when searching for a home.
Stacey McCarthy is a real estate agent with the McCarthy Group of Keller Williams. Her Real NEastate column appears every Wednesday on NEastPhilly.com. See others here. Read other NEast Philly columns here.