Video Five
Questions from First Time Homebuyers

In this video, we sit down with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty’s President, Jim Saxon, to answer some of the most frequently asked questions from first time homebuyers.


KRISTIE: Hey everyone, I’m Kristie Forsman with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty and you are watching our final episode of our video series all about buying your first home. So, we’ve gotten some great feedback from you guys and a lot of you

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In this video, we sit down with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty’s President, Jim Saxon, to answer some of the most frequently asked questions from first time homebuyers.


KRISTIE: Hey everyone, I’m Kristie Forsman with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty and you are watching our final episode of our video series all about buying your first home. So, we’ve gotten some great feedback from you guys and a lot of you have actually sent us in questions. So today we’re going to take the time to provide some answers to those questions and here to help me do so is President of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty, Mr. Jim Saxon.

JIM: Hi, Kristie.

KRISTIE: Hi Jim, welcome to the show.

JIM: Thank you, it’s great to be here.

KRISTIE: Great. So, we have a lot of questions to get through. So let’s get started.

JIM: Wonderful.

KRISTIE: The first question is from Emma in Mount Lebanon and Emma asks, “Is there a website or an app that’ll show me all the homes for sale in my area?”

JIM: Absolutely. That’s a great question. Our website at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is called and on our website we have every listing that is for sale in our market place right on our website.

KRISTIE: Wonderful, so you don’t have to go to everybody, every broker’s website in order to get that information?

JIM: That is correct. We do what’s called a data exchange and we have an agreement that every broker allows everyone else’s listings on their website, so you can come right to and see every home for sale.

KRISTIE: That’s wonderful. Moving on, we have a question from Dane in Allison Park. Dane wants to know, “How much does it cost to use a real estate agent to purchase a home?”

JIM: To purchase a home there is no cost. The commission on a real estate transaction is paid by the seller, so as a purchaser, there is no cost to buy a home.

KRISTIE: That’s awesome. So you’re going to get the expertise, the negotiation skills, and everything else that comes with using a real estate agent at no cost at all.

JIM: That is correct.

KRISTIE: Wow. All right, up next we have Lauren in Ligonier. And Lauren asks, “If my agent is a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices agents, but the house I want to go see is an ABC Realty listing, do I need to contact and ABC Realty agent to go see the property?”

JIM: No, not at all. Our agents are able to sell any home in our marketplace. They are a licensed Realtor in the state of Pennsylvania, therefore their license allows them to sell any home in Pennsylvania. And therefore, in our marketplace. So no, there is no need to call any other broker. They can just work with their Realtor on any real estate transaction in Pennsylvania.

KRISTIE: That’s great. I mean, I’m sure a lot of people are comfortable with their realtor so they don’t want to move around to other ones.

JIM: Absolutely.

KRISTIE: That’s great to know. Okay, we’re going to do a vocab lesson here with Vic in Butler because he wants to know what it means when a house is categorized as ‘Contingent’ or ‘Under Contract.’

JIM: Another great question. It sometimes gets very confusing. You’ll hear the word ‘Contingent,’ you’ll hear the word ‘Under Agreement,’ you’ll hear the word ‘Pending.’ They pretty much all mean the same. Basically what it is telling the consumer is: there is an agreement between a buyer and seller on that property. But the interim between that house going to closing, there are a lot of steps that take place.


JIM: There’s a home inspection, there’s a pest inspection, there could be a radon inspection and also, the purchaser is probably going to have a mortgage on that home... so they put a mortgage contingency until they make sure that they can get the financing to purchase the home. So all these steps need to take place before that house will go to closing, so that’s why they call it contingent.

KRISTIE: Alright. So can you go see a house that’s listed as ‘contingent?’

JIM: You can, but you have to have the understanding that there is already an agreement on that home. So as long as those issues that, the reasons why it’s under… the reason why it’s contingent clear up or go through, then that house will probably close. So it might be somewhat of a waste of your time but…

KRISTIE: But if you love it, it’s okay.

JIM: If you love it, it’s okay.

KRISTIE: Take a chance.

JIM: That’s right. Take a chance.

KRISTIE: Got it. Next up we’ve got Aaron in Mount Washington and Aaron asks, “What does a rent-to-own mean?”

JIM: Rent-to-own is very similar to leasing a car.


JIM: So if you’ve leased a car before, basically you take out a lease, you make your lease payments… at the end of your lease term you decide whether you want to purchase the car or not. Very similar with renting-to-own. You rent, take a lease out on the house, you rent it normally for a year, part of your rental payments go toward the purchase price of that home, and at the end of the rental term you decide whether or not you want to go through and purchase the home.

KRISTIE: Alright, that makes sense. Okay, we’re moving over to Aspinwall with Lindsay and she asks, “How come my real estate agent refuses to tell me which school districts are the best or which neighborhoods are the safest?”

JIM: That’s a very difficult position for our realtors to be in. It’s basically due to what is called the Fair Housing Act, and inside the Fair House Act there are laws that prohibit from discrimination and what’s called ‘Steering.’ So, as a Realtor they can tell you as much as they need to tell you about the home but as far as the neighborhood it’s really important for the consumer to go to other areas to find out more about the neighborhood.

KRISTIE: Yeah, Lindsay, and you know what, your real estate agent is not being rude. She’s just following real estate law.

JIM: That is correct.

KRISTIE: Okay, we’re going to Westmoreland County with Courtney in Greensburg and she says, “Will I save money by buying a ‘For Sale by Owner?’

JIM: No. I would not say you would save money by buying a ‘For Sale by Owner.’ Buying a ‘For Sale by Owner’ could actually cost her more money.

KRISTIE: How so?

JIM: Walking into a home without a Realtor, you’re really walking in blind and you really don’t have that expertise behind you to try to guide you through the process. So, without having that understanding and expertise of a realtor working with you, you may not know which questions to ask, you might not know what to look for, you might not know that there are certain situations that have occurred with that particular house because your just not aware it’s something you should look out for. You might not know that you have the rights to have inspections. There’s so many things that you may not know by having representation of a realtor that it may cost you more money in the end.

KRISTIE: Wow, and like you said before you’re not going to pay to use a real estate agent to buy a home, so there’s, you know, there’s no reason not to.

JIM: That’s correct.

KRISTIE: Our last question for the day comes from Doug in Robinson Township. Doug wants to know, “Do I need to be preapproved before I start looking at houses?”

JIM: Preapprovals are very important. They’re important for the Realtor, they’re important for the seller, and they’re really important for the purchaser themselves. As a realtor, a realtor knows that if somebody comes in with a preapproval, they know that they are serious and qualified to purchase a home. But as the consumer, it’s important to get a preapproval also because you might not know if you have any blemishes on your credit report. You may really not know how much home you can afford. So you really want to go through that step first so you know what you can afford. You want to make sure that there aren’t any blemishes on your credit report, the agent knows that you’re serious about the transaction, and the seller knows that you have the financial ability to purchase that home. So really, all three parties it’s important that you have a pre-qualification before you walk into a transaction.

KRISTIE: Gotcha. And,, Jennifer Burnett from PA Preferred Mortgage was here a couple weeks ago and she actually told us about an app they have where you can just download the app and you can apply for the preapproval right from your phone. Alright, let’s wrap up the show like we always do by having Jim give us a piece of advice for first time homebuyers.

JIM: The best piece of advice for a first time homebuyer is really get yourself associated with a strong realtor. Again, like I said, there are a lot of questions. There’s a lot of confusion. There are a lot of issues there not going to have and understanding or experience in. So working with an expert and a professional is very important. So, my bit of advice is, before you start the process make sure you find yourself a good realtor.

KRISTIE: Great advice. Thank you so much for coming on the show today.

JIM: You’re welcome. It’s great being here.

KRISTIE: Yes, and thank you to everyone who was watching. Now, if you had a question that we did not answer in today’s show, feel free to rate it in the comment section below, or you can ask it on any one of our social media networks and we’ll be sure to get back to you as soon as we can. And thanks for watching this video series! We hope you learned a lot and we wish you the very best in buying your first home.    



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