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Buying FAQ

Frequently asked questions

Why an agent with TREF?


Our Realtors focus on a few key elements when representing a Buyer. First, getting you the best house and for the best price we possibly can. We go into every negotiation with the mindset of spending your money like it were our own and advise you exactly like we would do it ourselves. We are concerned with relationships because we want to work with you, not just on this purchase, but on the next one and the next one and then be the go-to Realtor for your kids and family and co-workers and friends as well. We know to be the Realtor you refer everyone to means working for every client like they were the only one and putting in long hours and giving every transaction 110%. So, why TREF, because we always aim to be the best real estate professional in every transaction every time. And, your family deserves the BEST.




What questions will the TREF Realtor ask me immediately?


The first question will always be “are you currently working with an agent?” It is company policy that we discover if you already have an agent working FOR you before we begin gathering information. Once we have determined you do not have an agent working for you, we will want to know the fun stuff, like when do you want to purchase the property, have you been pre-approved, how many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want, what area of town do you want to be in, etc., so we can begin learning what will be the best property for you.




What will the TREF Realtor have me sign at the first meeting?


At the first meeting, the TREF Realtor will present you with a S.C. Agency Disclosure. This document will explain to you the differences between the types of representation available to you as you purchase your home. If you choose to be represented by TREF, the Realtor will sign a client relationship form called the Exclusive Right to Buy Buyer Agency. The Realtor will explain all of the duties and responsibilities at that time.




What is the difference between an agent and a Realtor? What are the independent contractors at TREF?


At TREF, all of our independent contractors are Realtors or are in the process of becoming Realtors if they are newly licensed. The difference is hugely important to you and your transaction. A Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors, the S.C. Association of Realtors and the local Charleston Trident Association of Realtors. This means as a Realtor we must adhere to strict rules and regulations regarding the treatment of Customers and Clients and a Realtor is required to take many additional hours of educational training to retain their status as a Realtor member.




Do I want to be a customer or a client?


A client representation means you have a TREF Realtor working FOR you to find you a home, disclose everything they know about a particular property, advise you on the price and negotiations and so much more. A customer is someone a TREF Realtor works WITH to find a property and is not required to provide much more than getting you to the closing table. In either case, a TREF Realtor makes the same amount of money so we encourage you to let us provide you Client Level Service.




What should I expect from my agent?


At TREF, our Realtors are trained to represent you from first call through closing, and then any other times you need us after closing. Our job is relieving stress from you and to handle the bumps in the road along the way. There will always be bumps in a transaction. How well your agent handles those for you means everything in a transaction and keeps the process running smoothly so you can think about the important things like your family, your job, and how you are going to cover up that awful wallpaper in the new house.




I am buying a new construction home. so why do I need an agent?


New construction is a lengthy and sometimes tedious process and it is important to remember that an on-site agent works for the builder. You should always have your own representation. Your home will NOT cost more because you have an agent with you because commission are already factored in and in many cases, new home builders prefer you have an agent to represent you. Most new builders will not negotiate prices, but if you have your own representation, they will be able to review the contracts for items that may cost you unnecessarily and will be able to find out about possible incentives that may not be discovered if you are on your own and not sure of the right questions to ask. Your agent will also assist you in the designing of the home if you wish and will help in determining the best lot for your money based on resales history and future development of the community. One of the most important uses of your own representation in a new build is during the construction phase to do walkthroughs and negotiate corrections needing to be made to the home prior to closing.




I am buying a property from an acquaintance, should I have an agent?


Yes. These transactions are sometimes the most difficult because the parties know one another and it is good to have representation to facilitate the process and ensure the proper contracts are executed to protect your investment.




Do I pay a Realtor when I buy a house?


In most cases, a buyer’s agent will be paid out of the transaction, however there are times such as a FSBO or property not on the market when you may be responsible for your agent’s fee. If such a situation should occur, your agent will be sure to let you know and will try and negotiate their fee into the purchase price.




When do I get a pre-approval?


When you are purchasing a home, your agent should require a pre-approval before you start searching for property. A pre-approval is a short simple process where you will contact a lender and provide some information regarding your income and debt and the lender will provide a letter stating based on the information received, if accurate, a loan could be issued for a certain amount. During this time, the lender will take a close look at your credit report. This is important because some Sellers will require a copy of the letter prior to entering the property and some will require the letter before submitting an offer, and if you are hoping to buy a home that will likely sell quickly, you do not want to lose time having to rush to get the letter.




I am concerned about my credit. How do I know if I am ready to purchase a property?


A TREF Realtor will put you in touch with several lenders to find one you like. The lender will make the determination if you are ready. Please, do not assume you are not ready. Homeownership may be closer to you than you think. It is ALWAYS worth speaking with a lender.




What is included in my mortgage payment?


We call it PITI-your payment, interest, taxes and insurance.




How are my taxes and insurance paid each year?


Generally, if you have a mortgage, your estimated monthly taxes and insurance will be included in your payment and your mortgage company will pay the total yearly bill for insurance and taxes when it is due.




Can I pay the taxes and insurance outside of my mortgage payment?


On FHA and VA loans, you will not be allowed to take out the escrowed taxes and insurance, but on some loans you can, especially in cases when you have a mortgage less than 80% of the purchase price.




What will closing costs include and who is responsible for paying that and when?


Your closing costs will include, in most cases, one-year of taxes and insurance, loan costs such as loan origination fees, attorney’s fees, pro-rated taxes for the remainder of the year from the date of purchase and pro-rated HOA fees through the remainder of the year if applicable. These fees will be collected at closing, but in some cases you may finance these costs into the purchase price and will receive a credit at closing to cover the majority of the fees.




What happens to my one-year escrowed taxes and insurance if the mortgage company never has to use it and I sell my home?


The money will be refunded to you by the mortgage company after closing.




When will I pay my first mortgage payment?


Generally, 30 days after closing.




What could cause problems with my loan closing?


Before closing, do not purchase any large items without verifying the purchase through our lender, such as boats and cars. Do NOT pay off any debts before talking with your lender. Do not make any late payments. If you change jobs or receive a promotion let your lender know immediately. If you make overtime pay, make sure to let your lender know what is salaried pay and what is overtime.




What other documents will I need for the loan?


Your lender will also require verification of income, such as a paystub or recent tax returns. Bank Statements and details on long-term debt, such as auto loans, child support, etc. Self-employed Buyers should be prepared to produce financial statements as well. Other documentation may include: Past 2-years W-2’s Last 4 pay stubs Last 2-month bank statements Borrower and Co-Borrower Information including full name, social security numbers, date of birth, etc.




Who will setup the inspections, closing attorney, Cl-100, and ensure the closing attorney and lender stay on track for closing?


Your TREF Realtor, in addition to negotiating and formulating your contracts and addendums, including repair requests, will also perform these duties on your behalf and will let you know when and what they need from you during different times during the transaction process.





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