Hello reader: Ben here again. This morning I received this email from our reader Gan Teik Pang (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Segambut, Malaysia:
Buying a Malaysian house can be one overwhelming experience. You see, I’ve been trying to get a unit at the popular Meritz in KLCC, and things have not been going smoothly. Apart from having to deal with all the hassles, pressures, confusion, not to mention costs of house hunting, there’s always the mortgage and other technical stuff to deal with too.
Any advice for me, Ben?
Here’s my answer:-
Hiring a buyer’s agent is almost always necessary, especially if you’re a buying a house for the first time or buying it in a new city/town. They know where the houses are, they know how to talk to seller’s agents, and their services are free – or at least, you don’t carry the burden of paying them.
But before you jump into the first buyer’s agent you find, Mr Gan, there are some important things you need to know about them.
Buyers Agent 101
Here’s a simple but accurate walk through about everything you need to know about real estate buyer’s agents:
- You don’t have to pay them. The burden of payment or the commission lies in the hands of the seller’s agent (or the seller if the house is sold on a For-Sale-By-Owner or FSBO basis).
- They almost always make you sign a contract before they start working for you. Ideally, the contract is nothing more than a mutual and signed agreement that you would stick to them until you find a Malaysian house. It also states what happens and what your responsibilities are should you ‘break up’ with them mid-contract. This is their way of making sure that they aren’t spending time, money and effort on something futile. Like any contract, read this thoroughly before inking; consult a real estate lawyer if the need arises.
- Yes, you can break up with an agent. But not without consequences. That is why it is important and essential for you to take the time to make a mutually agreeable contract on exclusivity, clauses on breaking up and guarantees. The contract should be ‘bilateral’ in that it takes to the welfare of both the buyer and the buyer’s agent should the ‘relationship’ fail to work.
- And yes, your agent can initiate a break up too. So you had better get yourself protected too!
- A non-exclusive contract allows you to look at and consider homes suggested by different agents.
- They help you find the right home for you by going over the listings. They take you to the houses for actual ocular inspections – yes, driving you to the houses themselves – and can even advise you for or against certain properties.
- They can also give you advice on how to better prepare for a home purchase, how to make an offer, as well as how to get a good Malaysian mortgage loan.
- They can give you advice on which mortgage lender, inspector, real estate attorney, etc to go to. However, you don’t have to follow their advice on these things; you can always go to whom you are most comfortable with.
- Take time to interview several agents before signing up with anyone. It is best to consider a ‘trial period’ with a potential agent to test the waters between the two of you.
Hope that helps!