Buying Real Estate in Austin - FAQ

Before you begin searching through Austin property listings, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the process of buying a home. Just to get you started, here are some answers to common questions that homebuyers ask.

Where can I find Austin property listings?

You can find Austin property listings from newspapers, real estate agents, or real estate website. Real estate websites owned and operated by Austin real estate agents that offer access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) are valuable resources that home buyers can use to find properties. If you prefer to just work with a real estate agent directly, then you can contact an local agent and ask him/her  to show you listings from the MLS that match your needs.

What is a buyer's agent?

Not all Austin real estate agents are the same. For instance, a buyer's agent and a listing agent have very different roles and responsibilities.  A buyer's agent is one who has a fiduciary duty to the home buyer, whereas a listing agent is responsible to the home seller. They assist in scheduling showings with the home seller, walk the buyer through the process and answer any questions about the properties a buyer is interested in. Buyer's agents are not contracted to sell any individual property, but is responsible for helping you, the buyer, find a home that is right for you.  The listing agent, on the other hand, is working to sell the property, which can create a conflict of interests if that agent starts working with the buyer as well (these types of arrangements are unpopular, but they are offered by what are called dual-agencies).

Buyer's agents are quite skilled at negotiating a sales price because that is all they do. They do not have to spend their time marketing properties and hosting open houses. Those in the home buying process who do not have a property to sell can benefit greatly from working with a buyer's agent.

How do I find a buyer's agent in my neighborhood?

The easiest way to find a buyer's agent is to talk to the people in your neighborhood who have recently purchased a home. Referrals are an excellent source of information about the skills of an agent. If you cannot get a referral, a quick search on the internet for buyer's agents in your Austin neighborhood can help you come up with a short list. Avoid those agents who have a large number of listings, because these are likely seller's agents or dual agents, not agents focused primarily on the needs of buyers.

What are some additional costs of owning a home that I should know about before making a purchase?

The mortgage is just one of many expenses related to owning a home. In fact, some people use mortgage calculators and are surprised at how small their mortgages payments will be. However, it is important to keep in mind that most of the time,  these numbers are only a fraction of your total monthly costs of owning a home. In addition to the mortgage repayment amount, you also need to set money aside for property taxes and homeowner's insurance fees, which your lender will require before you can get a loan on the property. In addition, the cost of utilities in a house are typically higher than those in an apartment, so make sure that all your costs are accounted for before you make an offer. This is to make sure that you can afford all of the costs of the house.


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