What is the Job of a Real Estate Agent, and
What it is Not.
By: Cheryl MIller, Broker, Baja Realty and investment
What their job is: The job of your real estate agent here in Baja includes the myriad of tasks you are familiar with from the United States and Canada that your local home-grown agent performs. But, here in Mexico, the job description widens and becomes deeper and more labor intensive. Closings here in Mexico, for foreigners require a fideicomiso, with added document requirements and steps. Unlike real estate agents in your home country, where the agent’s job pretty much is completed at the submission to Escrow, your agents here or their firms, have responsibilities and work all the way up to the day of closing and beyond. In addition to these tasks, closings in the United States are commonly completed within a 30 day period, after which all of the parties, including the real estate agent, are paid fairly quickly. Here in Mexico, especially with fideicomisos, the closing period can be anywhere from 3 months to 6 months based on the bank used for the trust, or if an extinction of a trust is involved.
Your real estate agent on the listing side will gather all of the appropriate documents such as your title document, proof of property tax payment, HOA payments, gather all the personal information regarding the Seller, inspect and photograph the property and gather details about the property . They will perform market analyses to price your property appropriately. They will advise you about capital gains. In case of any problems or outstanding required processes like manifesting the construction, the real estate agent may assist the buyer to resolve the issues. Depending on the nature of the problem, consultants may be hired or resolved by the agent themselves for a fee. Some of the problems presented to real estate agents can be simple issues, or they can be very complicated and time consuming requiring a specialist in that field to resolve the issue. But remember, as it is the responsibility of the Seller to have their property “ready” to sell, it is a mark of a good agent when they can assist the Seller to resolve any issue.
After listing, a good real estate agent will market your property. Each agent and agency has their own “formula” for success that may include print ads, open houses and/or internet ads, but all of our MLS agents pay for and use our Statewide MLS system to alert other agents about your property. Your agent will show the property when interested persons wish to see the property. They will receive all offers and advise you regarding any negotiations, counter offers or acceptance.
If you are a buyer, your real estate agent will interview you to assess your needs, and then “match” you up with options that will best serve your needs and budget. They will most probably pick you up at your hotel or place where you are staying in order to perform a tour of properties. They may, choose to familiarize you with differing neighborhoods and areas, as well. At times, a real estate agent may offer to pick you up at the airport to facilitate your tour.
When you do make an offer, the real estate agent will gather all of the required information from you, write the offer and submit it to the appropriate party, agent or owner. They will write counter offers and assist with negotiations.
After an accepted offer is executed and during the closing period time, your real estate agent or their firm, will be gathering and submitting all the documents for the property, the Buyer and Seller, coordinating any Powers of Attorneys or apostilled documents. They may also coordinate and submit inventory lists for homes and condos, they may hire a home inspector, a surveyor, a Title Search consultant and coordinate any Title Insurance you may desire. Yes, of course, your closing agent has much of this on their shoulders, but a good real estate agent is in the mix and is checking to see that the progress is advancing with as few of problems as possible. Closing agents here often have hundreds of files on their desk. Mistakes and delays can happen, so an agent involved in the closing only helps to grease the wheels. It is important for agents here to check often on the progress of your transaction.
Your agent will also be in contact with you throughout the months it takes to close.
Just before closing, your agent will either do your final walk through for you, or accompany you to the walk through and submit any final list of outstanding items to the Seller’s agent for resolution.
At closing, proof of utility payments should be reviewed by your agent. Transfer letters received from the Seller in the Buyers name in order to transfer existing utility contracts. The disbursement amounts should be reviewed by your agent for accuracy. And a review by your agent or your lawyer of the final draft of your title document should occur.
After closing, your agent may assist you in changing the utilities in your name, if you do not have a property manager in place, which your agent may also make referrals for such services. They can give you referrals for such services as locksmiths, plumbers, electricians, contractors, etc. In short, a “welcome home” package of resources at your fingertips.
Your Baja California Sur agent or agency truly does do a full service job here in Baja.
In many cases, the intense work and time period that is required, forms a special bond between you and your Baja real estate agents, and many times your agent becomes your advocate and your friend.
What your real estate agent is NOT: Because Baja California Sur is a touristic area with many people purchasing property here for part-time occupancy, many buyers or prospective buyers, call upon their real estate agent for services way above and beyond the call of duty, and that is definitely not part of our job description. Requests and requirements you would NEVER consider asking your home-grown real estate agent. Requests that require time, money and gasoline to perform. And sometimes calls for their expertise in other fields that under all other circumstances would carry a fee to perform, yet are asked for as a “for free” favor.
Requests like paying your utilities for them, picking you up at the airport, paying your property taxes, paying your gardener, arranging for contractors, painting your house, etc …months or even years after the purchase! And the list goes on. I have even had requests for me to measure their homes and draw an architectural plan for them – for free! Some of the requests can be very daunting and time consuming, like changing your beneficiaries, or manifesting an addition. Whereas, some agents will accommodate your requests, it is not part of their jobs and they should be compensated for their “EXTRA” work.
There are many companies that have property management services who can pay your bills, arrange for maintenance, and pay your property taxes. If you prefer to pay your utilities and taxes yourself, and save some money, there are online services for just about every utility. Check out http://www.mlsinbajasur.com/pay-your-bills-remotely.html for a recent article that outlines where and how you can make these payments yourself.
Airport runs? When you book a flight, hire the shuttle service. It is cheaper online than when you arrive. If you want a more exclusive service, there are limousines and taxis to be considered. And if you want a very comfortable, affordable, air-conditioned ride, “Ruta Desierto” buses go all the way from the airport to Cabo (and everywhere in between) for about 75 pesos. Of course, should your tour require it, your agent will probably pick you up there.
We are here to help you with your real estate needs, but please remember that a whole profession exists, property management, that can pay your taxes, hire construction services, etc. Your agent is also not an attorney, an accountant, or a cab driver. They will be happy to refer you to experts and services, or handle it for you for a fee. In short, a great “team” can be assembled for you, but no one works for free.
Happy property hunting!
By Cheryl T. Miller, NAR; CIPS; AAIA, Broker and Architect, Baja Realty and Investment, serving Baja California Sur real estate needs for 13 years. Contact her at 011-521-624-122-2690 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Homes, condos, land or commercial.