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Why Do I Need a Buyer-Broker Agreement?

Crofton Real Estate Q&A

Q.  I didn’t have a buyer-broker agreement when I bought my last home… Why do I need one now?

A.  At your first scheduled meeting with any real estate licensee in Maryland, you will receive a form titled Understanding Whom Real Estate Agents Represent (sometimes referred to as the “Agency Disclosure”) which you must sign.  No obligation on your part is implied when you sign this form; it simply acknowledges that you received a copy of this information from the agent.

The Agency Disclosure provides very clear and comprehensive explanations of the relationship between real estate licensees and consumers in Maryland.  In the meantime, here’s a much briefer explanation that will help answer your question.

Agents Who Represent the Seller –

    SettlementAgents Who Represent the Buyer –

    Dual Agents –


        No matter which type of agent you choose to work with, you have certain rights and responsibilities that are outlined on the Agency Disclosure, including this one:

        This written agreement is the Buyer-Broker Agreement which formally makes you a “client” rather than a “customer” of the agent.  Yvette Chisolm, a colleague at Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., addressed this topic in her post Client or Customer – Does It Really Matter?, and I encourage you to click through and read it.  Together with the brief descriptions of the different types of “agency” in Maryland you see here, I think Yvette’s post will help clarify why you need a Buyer-Broker Agreement in Maryland.

        Copyright Margaret Woda.

        Information contained in this post is deemed reliable on the date of publication,
        but it is not guaranteed and it is subject to change without notice.



        Focus On Crofton was created to attract relocating home buyers to the greater Crofton area and provide information to current residents about local real estate and community information.  Please feel free to contact me with question, news items, or photos.

        Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Why Do I Need a Buyer-Broker Agreement?

        Crofton Real Estate Q&A: Why Won’t You Answer My Questions?

        Q.  As a military transferee relocating to Maryland, I’m very frustrated about the way you beat around the bush when I inquire about different neighborhoods and schools in Crofton and throughout the D.C. area.  Why won’t you answer my questions?

        A.  Fair Housing Laws forbid real estate agents from providing information to consumers that could be interpreted as “steering” –  i.e., directing a client toward OR away from a particular property in a discriminatory manner.  In other words, my non-answer should not be interpreted as hiding negative information; the answer could be exactly what you want to hear.

        Ten years ago, I probably would have suggested that you visit local schools and talk to individuals who live in neighborhoods you’re considering.  Today, however, I can refer you to websites that provide statistical data that may provide you with the peace of mind you’re looking for.  This will be particularly helpful for you, coming from another part of the country.




        Before you buy a home in Crofton or anywhere, it’s important to be familiar and comfortable with the neighborhood and broader community, as well as any individual home.  So don’t hesitate to ask questions because I may be able to suggest additional helpful websites.

        Yet it’s still not a bad idea to do some research the old-fashioned way when you come for your house-hunting trip: make a personal visit to neighborhood schools, shopping, dining and recreation facilities BEFORE you buy a home.


        And please understand that I’m not trying to be coy when I don’t give you a straightforward answer to your questions. I’m trying to follow the law.


        Focus On Crofton was created to attract relocating home buyers to the greater Crofton area and provide information to current residents about local real estate and community information.  Please feel free to contact me with question, news items, or photos.

        Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Crofton Real Estate Q&A: Why Won’t You Answer My Questions?

        Crofton Real Estate Q&A: What Are Buyers Looking For?

        Q.  What are Crofton home buyers looking for in a house?  I’d like to start preparing now to sell my home this summer.

        A.  Crofton MD home buyers aren’t much different from buyers everywhere… they want it all! 

        Welcome MatToday’s home buyers are looking for…

        1. A Great Deal– Home buyers want the most bang for their buck.  You have to price your home aggressively and offer incentives such as closing help, a warranty, or even pre-paid HOA fees in this competitive buyer’s market.

        2.  Now – If they’re shopping for a home now, they probably want an answer to their offer now, and they want to move in now.  They don’t want to wait weeks or months for an answer from a 3rd party.  If you’re underwater, begin the HAP or short sale process now and don’t wait for an offer on your home.

        3.  Clean – No one wants to clean other people’s dirt.  You need to de-clutter and then clean and polish everything in sight.

        4.  No Repairs – The last thing home buyers want to do is move into their new home and start spending more money to fix a leak, patch a wall, or replace a roof.  If you’re not much of a do-it-yourselfer, hire a licensed home improvement contractor.

        5.  Beige – Most home buyers prefer a neutral palette so they can add their own decorating taste to their new home.  They’ll cringe at the sight of wallpaper, so start stripping.

        6.  Updates – From light fixtures in the bathroom to a high-efficiency furnace, they want 2011 features in that 1970’s house. Many updates are inexpensive and easy to do.

        7.  Upgrades – Granite, not laminate counters; stainless steel, not white kitchen appliances; hardwood flooring, not carpet; a deck or patio, not a concrete slab. 

        8.  A Garage –  NOT a storage locker and NOT a converted garage now used as a hobby room.  They want to park their car in the garage.  Rent a storage unit for your stuff so prospective buyers can imagine their car in the garage.

        9.  Safe – Why not order a radon test, well and septic tests (if applicable), and even a home inspection in advance, and make any recommended safety repairs to give your home a competitive edge.

        10. Easy – Like you, home buyers want a smooth and pleasant real estate transaction with minimal hassles. That’s the primary reason most home buyers prefer to work with a buyer’s agent rather than purchase “by owner.”

        Some home sellers are limited by time and/or financial resources and can’t offer all of these “wants” to potential home buyers.  That’s okay… very few homes can. (Any that do will probably sell more quickly and for more money.)

        Just do what you can and understand that #1 is the most important item on the list.  Buyers will forgive the absence of items #2–10 if you adjust your price accordingly.

        Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Crofton Real Estate Q&A: What Are Buyers Looking For?

        Can I use HAP to sell my Crofton rental property?

        HAP QuestionsQ.  When I got PCS orders to another part of the country, I rented my Crofton townhome.  Can I use the Department of Defense Home Owner’s Assistance Program (HAP) to sell the property, even though it’s no longer my personal residence?

        A.  Yes, you can use HAP if the property is rented, provided it was your primary residence at the time of your PCS orders.  


        There are some additional requirements, as well:

        1. Your permanent reassignment to a new duty station or home port must be outside a 50-mile radius of your former duty station or home port.  
        2. Your reassignment must have been ordered between 1 February 2006 and 30 September 2010.
        3. Your property must have been purchased before 1 July 2006.
        4. You must have a decline of at least a 10% home value from the date of purchase to date of sale.
        5. You must not have previously received these benefit payments.

        In addition to active duty military personnel with PCS orders, HAP is also available to some civilian government employees, surviving spouses of military personnel, and wounded military personnel.

        The best way for you to confirm your HAP eligibility is to download the application packet and complete the application.  Be sure to carefully read all instructions, complete your application, and then mail it to the HAP Field Office in Savannah, Georgia, the district responsible for Maryland.  It’s not necessary to wait until you have an offer on your home… in fact, it’s a good idea to get started right away even if your home isn’t on the market for sale yet.

        You will need to know the current market value of your property, and that’s where I come in…  researching that information for you is a service I’m happy to provide without any cost or obligation.  Contact me by phone (301-346-2923) or email ([email protected]) if you believe you may be eligible to sell your Maryland home with HAP.

        Posted originally by Margaret Woda
        Maryland Real Estate Blog, 2/15/11


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        Homes in Crofton MarylandHome Values in Crofton MarylandRelocating to Maryland

        Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Can I use HAP to sell my Crofton rental property?

        Crofton Real Estate Q&A: Buy After a Foreclosure?

        Q.  I’m probably going to lose my Crofton MD home to foreclosure in 2011.  Will I ever be able to buy another home?

        A.  You’ll be happy to know the short answer to this is “YES.”  My friend from Cary, N.C., lender Eleanor Thorne, will tell you about the timing under different mortgage programs, and what you should do to qualify for a mortgage in the future – information you need to know, as you negotiate a lease and start making long-term plans.

        If you are one of the millions of families that lost their home in the last couple of years to Foreclosure… you might think…

        Roller Coaster Real Estate MarketBeen There – Done That

        You might not want to own a home again! 

        But if you’re one of those folks who truly does want to purchase again, here’s some potentially good news.

        USDA says that they will allow you to purchase a new home to owner occupy, after foreclosure if you’ve done the following things:

        • Wait 3 years from the date of the Foreclosure.
        • Re-establish Credit
        • Have Credit Scores that meet the guidelines (as of the date I am writing this, that means you need a 620 score.)

        Here’s the other part… you need to DOCUMENT what happened, and why you ended up in a Foreclosure. 

        “FHA insured mortgages are generally not available to borrowers whose property was foreclosed on or given a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure within the previous three years. However, if the foreclosure of the borrower’s main residence was the result of extenuating circumstances, an exception may be granted if they have since established good credit…

        This does not include the inability to sell a home when transferring from one area to another.”  So you MIGHT be able to buy after two years. 

        My “real life” answer to this question is… in today’s credit environment, it’s going to be HARD to get a Bank to loan you money for a home if you had your home foreclosed upon less than 3 years ago.  I know what the guidelines say, but Bank’s do not have to follow guidelines set by FHA. 

        FHA does not say you have to have a 620 credit score, but there are VERY few lenders who will allow you to purchase a home without at least a 620 score!  There are some Banks that will not allow you to purchase with FHA if you have ANY lates on ANY accounts in the last 12 months!  That’s not an FHA guideline, that’s a BANK rule, so again – I’d say – you might still be forced to wait 3 years, and have all of your documentation in order!

        These guidelines are different from the Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac Conventional Guidelines… And these foreclosure guidelines are changing OFTEN… so I would not rely solely on information you get from an online site. 

        Call a loan officer.

        Re-published with permission of the author.

        I echo Eleanor’s recommendation that you check with a lender as the time draws closer to find out if the rules change between now and then, rather than rely on information online which could be outdated.  Whether you’re in North Carolina or Maryland or Anywhere USA, you couldn’t go wrong checking with Eleanor Thorne.  She’ll update you on the answer to this question and refer you to a lender in your own neck of the woods.

        You can reach her at First Financial Services, Inc (919-649-5057).

        Watch for real estate questions and answers
        every Friday at Focus On Crofton.

        Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Crofton Real Estate Q&A: Buy After a Foreclosure?

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