Top Questions for Buyers and Sellers

Question: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6

1. Why not call the name on the real estate sign?

When you call the number on the for sale sign in front of a house, someone representing the seller will answer.

Buying or selling, you need an agent who can competently protect your interests. Every listed home already has an agent working for the seller. When you call the number on the sign, you get information presented with the seller's best interest in mind, not yours!

Suppose I listed your home for $110,000 and I've explained that your price is quite high, citing the highest previous "sold" on your street only brought $103,000. When I get a call from a prospective buyer wanting to know the offering price, as your agent, I'll answer, "$110,000". I will not suggest that you would accept a lower price, nor will I suggest that the price is too high, nor will I volunteer that the highest "sold" comparable brought $7,000 less, EVEN THOUGH I KNOW THESE FACTS TO BE TRUE. Because I am working for you (the seller) in this example, my legal obligation is to protect the seller's interests. I'll keep the caller focused on the positive elements of the listing, the ones that enhance its value.

Now suppose you're a buyer instead of a seller, and you see a house you're interested in. This time you call me, rather than the agent whose name is on the sign. Since I do not have the listing, and am not legally obligated to the seller, I am in a position to work with you as a Buyer's Agent. AS YOUR BUYER'S AGENT, IT WOULD BE UNETHICAL FOR ME TO FAIL TO MENTION THE FACT THAT THE HOME IS OVER-PRICED IF I KNOW IT TO BE TRUE. See the difference? See why you want me on your side?

Buying or selling, you need an agent who understands the legal and ethical issues surrounding the home sales process. I have the experience you need, and the professionalism you want. Save yourself time and trouble-- call me before you start!

"Dave listened..." - Brian and Somer Larson, Columbia, MO

2. What does pre-qualified really mean?

"Pre-qualified" means a buyer has determined that he or she can afford to buy in a certain price range. This can be done by a REALTOR®, a banker, or by the buyer.

Usually no documentation is required for a pre-qualification as it is simply a first, small step in the loan process. Pre-approval means a bank has determined that a buyer may buy within a certain price range, and has documented credit, income, tax, employment, and other variables as required by their underwriter, and has approved the borrower for a loan.

Thorough pre-approval gives buyers an edge with sellers and with other buyers. If you were a seller and two offers were made on your home at the same time, one from a buyer with a pre-approval letter from a bank, and the other from a buyer who hadn't been to the bank yet, which buyer would you consider more "serious"? Even if the pre-approved buyer's offer is slightly lower, as a seller's agent I almost always recommend negotiating the pre-approved buyer's offer first because he or she is more likely to be able to go through with the deal and close, whereas the other buyer might hit a "snag" just trying to secure financing.

When you put together a jig-saw puzzle, how do you do it? Do you start by flipping all the pieces pattern-side-up then finding the edge pieces? Most people do; however, it is possible to complete a puzzle without starting in this manner. The same is true with the home-buying process. It is best to start by making sure you can buy, and finding out for certain how much you can buy. Pre-approval does this for you, and much more.

Being pre-approved saves you time and stress during the contract process. Being pre-approved saves you time by eliminating showings in the wrong price range. Being pre-approved is courteous to the seller because it saves him or her time off the market with a buyer that doesn't know if he or she can buy. Being pre-approved shows the seller you're a prepared and thorough buyer.

There are no short-cuts to being pre-approved. If the bank hasn't seen any documentation supporting your claims of income and expenditures, and hasn't pulled your credit report, you're pre-qualified at best. Pre-qualification will not have the same positive impact on a seller that pre-approval has. Some banks will prepare a "letter of pre-approval" without seeing any documentation. These letters often state such and can actually hurt a buyer's negotiating power.

One of the reasons you hire a REALTOR® is to get professional help with negotiations. I have the experience you want, from the buying side to make sure you are adequately prepared to negotiate, and from the selling side to determine if a prospective buyer is really able to buy. Call me before you make an expensive, time-consuming mistake.

"... he made the difficult task of finding and buying a home pleasant... He took the worries away." - Jeannette Payne, Columbia, MO

3. What is the process for buying a home in mid-Missouri?

Start by calling a professional, full-time, experienced REALTOR® like YOUR agent, Dave Gaffney.

Begin Financing Process
View Appropriate Properties
Offer (negotiation)
Inspection(s) (re-negotiate if necessary)
Title inspection
Final Walk Through

I earn my commission every time by saving you time in the buying process and money in the purchase price. Even if you don't call me, sign on with a competent agent before you get serious about a house. There are too many ways a good REALTOR can save you money to list here.

Secondly, get pre-approved-- and keep your buyer's agent involved in the process. Remember: Your lender has no legal obligation to you at all, while your buyer's agent has a legal and ethical obligation to look out for your best interest.

Once you've gotten pre-approved, you're ready to start looking at homes. There will only be a few homes in your price range with the qualifications you are looking for. Let YOUR agent help you narrow the choices before you begin. When you find the right house, you'll want to make an offer. It is in everyone's interest to write all offers and counter-offers. When all parties agree to the terms, and everyone signs, then you'll have a house under contract. This doesn't always happen quickly.

Next, you will have an opportunity to inspect the home you wish to purchase. I almost always recommend a "whole house" inspection. They cost around $300. Their true value is in getting a pair of eyes not emotionally attached to the deal involved. The inspector's job is to find everything that could possibly be wrong with your future home. Sometimes the report makes your dream house look like a nightmare, but that's what you paid them for. YOUR agent has experience negotiating surprises the inspection might reveals.

If necessary negotiation goes well during the inspection phase, your bank will then order an appraisal. DO NOT let your bank order an appraisal until you are satisfied with all inspections. An appraisal can cost $350 or more. You don't want to be stuck with that fee if you aren't going to go through with the sale!

There can be many, many additional steps in this process, depending on the deal, and they can be very challenging. Finding your dream home is often easier than keeping the deal together once you've put it under contract! That's where I come in. I'm an expert in helping people successfully close on the home they want. From finding creative ways to make the financing work to dealing tactfully with complicated, emotionally-charged negotiations, I have the experience you need!

"Dave was great! From the first time we spoke he was on the ball about every aspect of our deal. I felt I was in secure, knowledgeable hands." - Stacy and Joseph Pendergrass, Columbia, MO

4. What is the process for selling my home in mid-Missouri?

While the contract process is the same for both buyers and sellers, the procedure for selling your home is as individual as you are. Your needs should determine how your agent designs the marketing plan. Be skeptical of an agent who shows up with an agenda, a canned marketing process. One size does not fit all.

One of the unique services I provide for sellers who are just beginning to contemplate a move is the "office exclusive" listing, otherwise known as the "M.L.S. waiver" agreement. This limits the listing to my office until you are ready to sell, at which point it goes into the Multiple Listing System. There are many advantages to this kind of a listing. For one thing, it gives me time to prepare your marketing (flyers, plat maps, neighborhood information, signatures, measuring, advertising, et cetera). It also gives you time to do the minor repairs required to maximize your sales price.

I had a client who knew he was going to move, but wasn't sure when or where. He listed with me on the "MLS waiver" so he could make repairs to his condominium while I set up his marketing. A few months later, he called and said he was ready to look at houses. I showed him three, and he immediately put one under contract. Since he had already done the paperwork to sell his condominium with me, and since my marketing was prepared, we were able to locate a buyer and close on his condo less than 60 days after putting the marketing into effect.

There are many other advantages to this kind of marketing plan, which I would be happy to explain to you in detail. However, this plan will not work for everyone. My job as your listing agent is to develop a marketing plan that works to meet your needs, not mine as an agent.

"... Our family's first choice in realtors again and again." - Javonna Greene, Columbia, MO

5. When I first meet an agent who do they work for?

It depends! Some of the time, Missouri agents are "Transaction Brokers" until another agency agreement has been signed. This means agents work in the interest of keeping the deal together rather than for the buyer or seller. At some companies, however, all agents work for the seller until another agreement is signed.

Any competent agent will explain who they work for when they first meet you. They are required by statute to provide a pamphlet explaining agency choices to you at the "first opportunity". If they don't, start the buying/ selling process properly, how will they perform later? Do NOT use that agent.

A "listing" is an agency agreement wherein the real estate agent agrees to represent the seller. Once a listing agreement is signed, an agent is referred to as a "seller's agent", and they are required by law to work in the best interest of the seller. A "Buyer's Agency Agreement" allows a real estate agent to work in the interest of a particular buyer. Once such an agreement is signed, the agent is referred to as a "Buyer's Agent".

For example, if you are a prospective buyer who calls me at PLAZA about a property you'd like to see, I will represent you as a transaction broker (unless it's my listing, in which case I'll represent the seller). As a transaction broker, I will neither tell you that the house you are viewing is over-priced (this would be working for the buyer), nor will I suggest that the seller wouldn't consider offers for less than full asking price (working for the seller). I might suggest that if you had interest in the house, I could help you write an offer (working in the best interest of the deal). I might attempt to determine your ability to buy (knowing that you are pre-approved would make the deal more likely to close). I might explain the buying process to you (to prepare you to close a deal). I might define "agency" to you for the same reason. All the things I might ask would seem very helpful, and they are. Just because I am helpful does not mean I work for you. Make no mistake, until a buyer's agency agreement is signed, I cannot legally represent your interests as a buyer.

Once I determine your ability to buy and you determine if you like me, I might suggest that a buyer's agency would be beneficial to you. Once the agreement is signed, not only would I be obligated to tell you that the house is over-priced, but also to advise you on the best way to proceed with negotiations.

You want an agent that works for you. An agent with the experience to navigate the home sales process the law has over-convoluted. I am a multi-million dollar producer who understands Columbia's Market. Buying or selling, I can help. Call me before you make an expensive mistake!

"...I really appreciate your energy, enthusiasm, and attention to detail. It was a pleasure working with you." - Jerry Hupp, Anchorage AK

6. Why should I call Dave Gaffney first?

A home purchase is most often the single highest dollar transaction in a person's life. Should you trust decisions of that magnitude to some hot shot sales person's assistant?? You deserve the full attention of a multi-million dollar producing agent with years of experience in this mid-Missouri market.

When I say I don't want to be everyone's agent, just YOURS, I mean serious commitment to a limited number of clients at a time. I don't close a deal every few days like some agents you've heard of. I focus on each client, giving them the attention they deserve.

My focus is not on production or even profits. I've learned if I watch out for my clients, they take care of my production and profits. See how my experience and personal attention can work for you. Call or e-mail me today.

" I wanted to take the time to say thank you for your quality service and patience in assisting my mother with buying her first home... I could never place a monetary value on the genuine commitment you exhibited in protecting her best interests." - Javona Green, Columbia, MO

                           - CONTACT DAVE -                             icons CRS
Dave Gaffney - Licensed in Missouri - CoMo Realty
(573)443-6736 - Fax: 443-8188 - Email:
Contents© 2010 David Gaffney
Gaffney & Associates