Recommended Procedures for Buyers
Select an Agent to Represent You
As you may be aware, Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands, Inc. is a member of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service; therefore one of our real estate experts can assist you with any of the properties listed with Coldwell Banker or other brokerage firms. One of the first steps in purchasing real estate on San Juan is to select an agent to represent you. Ideally you should select ONE agent that you feel will provide you with the level of customer service that you require. A Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands agent is your best choice.
It is important for you to understand the Law of Real Estate Agency. Several years back, Congress interviewed hundreds of buyers to determine if they thought their agent represented them. In most cases, the buyer believed that the agent did represent them; however, the law at the time required all agents to be subagents of the seller, thereby technically representing the seller. It was for this reason that Congress revised the agency laws to the current ones, which allow for three types of agency representation:
- Buyers representation is when the agent is representing the buyer and intends to obtain property at the lowest possible sales price.
- Sellers representation is when the agent has a listing with the seller and is attempting to obtain the highest possible sales price.
- Dual agency is when the agent shows a buyer one of their own listings and the buyer decides to purchase it. In the case of dual agency, the agent represents the seller as well as the buyer.
You can obtain a copy of the Law of Agency Disclosure here
Determine Your Source of Funds
- Cash at Closing
- Institutional Financing
- Seller Financing
- 1031 Tax Exchange
If you intend to finance your purchase, it is prudent to meet with your lender and determine the maximum loan amount you are qualified for. This amount coupled with the cash you have allocated will determine the maximum sales price. We have numerous lenders that are interested in providing financing in the islands.
Determine the Type of Property You Desire to Purchase
One of the best ways to do this is to develop a list of your desired property features, and a list that details how you intend to use the property. Then prioritize those lists. For example, when an agent is working with a waterfront purchaser, they obtain the following information:
- Is beach access required or is high bank OK?
- Do you have a boat? Do you plan to buy a boat?
- Bay protection or west side open current?
- Bay view or expansive wide open?
- Do you want to be near crabbing and clamming?
- Do you want to see the whales, boat traffic and/or sunsets?
- Amount of trees, direction of sun exposure, amount of privacy?
The responses received may direct the agent to property in different locations on the island. However, it may be that until a buyer has an opportunity to view the various different types of properties, they may not be able to narrow down or develop their priorities.
Once determined, this information should be communicated to your agent in order for them to focus on the type of property that meets your needs, thus saving you time and confusion.
Educate yourself on the Market and Inventory
You need to educate yourself on the market and inventory level in the categories that hold your interest. Even if your purchase plans are sometime in the future, it is beneficial to take the time to view property with your agent because it will save you time in the long run. This process allows you to get acquainted, relate your preferences and develop your knowledge of the market. This will also help your agent to customize all future information sent to you. Buying property is a process of elimination. You will view many properties which you will determine are not suitable, then you will buy the one that is.
One way to monitor our market is to subscribe the local newspaper. This publication offers numerous real estate related articles plus property ads placed by the various brokerage firms. One of our agents will arrange a 60-day complimentary subscription for you upon your request. Please complete the relocation form attached to the Information Package Request Section
Monitor the Inventory
You need to stay in touch with the inventory and market trends until the right time or right property becomes available. You can request email updates regarding new listings from our website. If you have viewed property with your agent, the updates the agent will send will be more focused on your property type. Purchasing property in the Islands can be a one day or five year process - which is totally subject to your time frame. Coldwell Banker agents provide this level of commitment and service to our clients.
Purchase and Sale Transaction
Once you have located the property you desire to purchase, your agent will structure an offer to purchase containing the terms and conditions you have specified. The seller will either accept your offer as submitted or submit, through their agent, a counteroffer containing terms that are acceptable to them.
Important elements that should be included in the Purchase Agreement under the feasibility study provision are listed below:
Water source Private well or Community System.
Private and shared wells should be tested for quantity, bacteria and inorganic. Class A and B systems are community systems in which the quality and quantity are monitored on a regular basis as required by the County. These need not be tested, but their current standing should be confirmed through the County.
For more information regarding wells and water systems, you can contact one of the two commonly used well service providers: Denny Martel 360-378-2842 or Al Mauldin 360-378-6975. San Juan County Health Department can be reached at 360-378-4474.
Do you know what you are buying? Corner stakes can be located or re-staked by local surveyors. Full surveys may be required due to lack of original plat stakes. We have numerous surveying firms available; refer to our Real Estate Related Service Provider Directory.
For existing systems, it is prudent to obtain a copy of the "as built" filed with the County. This will indicate the number of bedrooms the system was installed for and its approximate location, which is helpful for future improvements or repairs. If you are purchasing an unimproved parcel, you should obtain a perc test, design and permit approved by the County. The two most commonly used designers are Jack Cory (www.jwcory.com) and Rick Petro (email@example.com).
Was the home constructed under a permit and does it have a final? You should obtain copies of the permits from the County Permit Center.
If you are contemplating new construction or a remodel, the current building codes and comprehensive plan can be accessed through the San Juan County web page at (www.co.san-juan.wa.us)
You can request a permit package or review the County's building requirements through their website which is located at (www.co.sanjuan.wa.us/permitcenter/default.asp.)
Structural, Pest and Dry Rot Inspections.
It is highly recommended that all buyers obtain an inspection of the home prior to closing. The inspector physically examines all of the major components of the improvements and reports on their condition and recommends any repairs. For additional information regarding inspections and their benefits, you can contact one of our inspectors. The two most commonly used are First Inspect - Jack Cory (www.jwcory.com) and Home Inspections - Darrol Scheffer 360-378-4969.
Transaction Closing Process.
Due to the number of remote purchasers, the majority of our closings are handled through the express mail systems. We have three local escrow firms and two title insurers. We regularly cooperate with off island escrow firms, lenders and 1031 facilitators.
For contact information, refer to our directory for Real Estate Related Service Providers.