Buyer's broker most useful on strange terrain


August 02, 1998

Dear Mr. Azrael:

We live in Baltimore County and are now thinking of buying a small farm in Pennsylvania.

After looking at several homes in the Littlestown, Pa., area, I've learned that I need to know a lot more than I do.

I know nothing about Pennsylvania [and] we are dealing with a local real estate agent. Personally, I don't think the agent we are dealing with knows all the facts about the properties we've been shown and seemed a little short when it comes to local laws as it pertains to the individual properties. I could be wrong -- I don't have any knowledge of what a good agent can and should do for us. I'm looking for guidance if only to mention a good book to read concerning out-of-state property it would be very helpful.

Walter Stone


Dear Mr. Stone:

A knowledgeable and diligent buyer's broker can provide valuable assistance in locating and purchasing property, especially in an area that is new or unfamiliar to the buyer.

A buyer's broker should be able to assist you in deciding how much to offer for a particular property. Value is set by the market and often can be gauged by the recent sales prices of comparable properties in the vicinity. A competent buyer's broker should have comparable sales information at his or her fingertips.

A buyer's broker also will advise you on how to obtain information about local laws that may limit or regulate your ability to board horses for others and will alert you to any nearby land uses that could impact adversely on your plans to reside and care for horses on the property.

Often conditions or legal restrictions affecting the property require investigation. A buyer's broker will include contingencies and inspection rights in your contract offer, so there will be ample time to verify the suitability of the property after the contract is signed.

If you are dealing with a real estate agent who seems to lack the knowledge and experience to answer your questions, get a different agent to help you. Ask for references from former customers and call them. Effective real estate agents have good reputations and loyal followings.

You also asked for a book to read about purchasing out-of-state property.

Les and Carol Scher have written a helpful book, now in its fourth edition, called "Finding & Buying Your Place in the Country." The Schers provide basic useful information on finding, checking out and evaluating country property. A more general, helpful book for homebuyers is "Tips and Traps When Buying a Home" by Robert Irwin. "Tips & Traps" affords an easy-to-read guide through the home-buying process.


The Sun invites you to send real estate questions to Mailbag. Questions will be answered by Jonathan A. Azrael of Azrael, Gann and Franz of Towson.Questions can be sent in the following ways:

Mailing address: Real Estate Mailbag, Fifth Floor, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278-0001. Fax: 410-783-2517. E-mail:

Our Sundial audio-response number: 410-783-1800. Enter code 6170 after the greeting.

Pub Date: 8/02/98

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