Category Archives: choosing a real estate agent

Home Buyers: 10 KEY Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Agent

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real estate agent with small house on hand ready to help buy a homeReal estate agents can seem like a dime a dozen; you might even know one.  But when it comes right down to it, buying or selling a home is a big financial move.  Blind trust in a friend-of-a-friend or a cousin may seem like a wise decision, but can cost you big when you’re navigating your way through a major financial transaction like buying or selling.

If you want to choose the right real estate agent from the sea of agents, do your due diligence.  Contact the top real estate agents in your area and ask them some key questions that’ll help you weed out the right real estate expert for your home purchase.

How much experience do you have selling homes? Do you buy and sell full-time or part-time? How many homes have you bought? How many have you sold?

These are questions that give you important insight: the amount of time the real estate agent has spent buying and selling homes, what area (purchases or home sales) they have more experience in, and the number of clients they have assisted over the years.  Hiring a full-time agent can also be helpful when time is the only obstacle between landing your dream home or accepting a great offer.

Do you have any references?

Don’t be afraid to do a bit of research on your own, so you can find out what their past clients say.  Check out any their agency social media pages for reviews, and ask around to see if their past clients are satisfied.

Do you know our area?

What’s the difference between two real estate agents in towns just a short distance apart? Often, it’s their knowledge of the town.  A real estate agent that knows the area can give you key information about commute times, school district, and the values of homes in neighborhoods within your town.  The latter pieces of knowledge can be invaluable for home buyers and sellers both, so they are making smart financial moves based on the values around the neighborhood they are interested in.

How much does it cost to list or buy with you?

The difference between a percentage point may not seem like much, but it can mean a big difference in dollars when you are dealing with a huge real estate transaction.  On the other hand, you want to make sure you get the quality advice you pay for and hire the best agent with experience that can help you through the process.

Who else will I be working with?

Purchasing and selling a home is a team effort, so don’t be shy about asking for the other names of your team members.  Having a huge team of agents at your fingertips can also be a huge asset; if your real estate agent is not available, it pays to have another agent to show you a home or a friendly receptionist you can leave an urgent message with.

How are you going to contact me?  When will you contact me?

One of the top frustrations for home buyers and sellers is a real estate agent who stops…everything.  You meet with the agent, then never hear from them again.  To avoid this scenario, ask your agent how they will contact you—and be sure to hire an agent that communicates with you in the manner you are most comfortable.  Some people like phone calls, others are more comfortable with emails or text messages.  Ask them when they are going to contact you again so you know what to expect and don’t feel like your real estate agent isn’t doing their job.

3 Real Estate Professionals That Can Make or Break Your Home Sale

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home saleWhether you’re buying or selling your home, it can be the little things that make the sale: an open floor plan, size of the yard, the garage…the list can go on and on. Just as much as those little things can make you want to buy or sell your home, it’s the big things—the professionals involved—that can make the sale go smoothly or fall apart. That’s why it’s so important to select the real estate professionals you want to be part of your home sale carefully.

Mortgage Lender

The first step in any home sale is to contact a mortgage lender to set the budget for your new home, and, if you are a seller, to discuss your financials after you sell your home. We cannot possibly stress enough the importance of a good mortgage lender in your home sale. A good mortgage lender gives you not only a loan, but an education and a smooth home sale process. There are a lot of options for mortgage lenders, so start sifting through your home lending options by asking yourself these questions:

  1. How much do you know about mortgages? Are you a first-time home buyer or a seasoned real estate (or financial) professional? Or a household that has bought and sold many homes?
  2. Do you need someone to educate you about your loan options (i.e. the pros and cons of fixed rate vs. adjustable mortgages)?
  3. Are you more comfortable meeting with someone face-to-face or comfortable with phone and online interactions?
  4. Who do I know—and trust—to refer their mortgage lender to me? Or who can I talk to about a lender they would not recommend?
  5. Which lender offers the best customer service? What are their response times?

Once you know your preferred mode of communication (face-to-face vs. virtual), and the amount of assistance you need navigating through the home buying process, make a list of possible mortgage lender possibilities and screen them by asking these questions.

  1. What are your current mortgage rates (be aware that mortgage rates, even fixed rates, do change over a period of time and that buyers get different rates based on their credit)?
  2. Can you get me a complete (COMPLETET) list of fees?
  3. What kind of loan is the best option for me? (If you are interested in a loan specifically for veterans or think that a HUD loan is the best option, be aware that not all lenders can assist you.)
  4. What kind of documents do you need to approve my loan (if I decide to proceed with you)?
  5. How long does the home sale process take? What can I do to expedite the process?

Let’s make one thing clear: though you do need to apply to get the exact mortgage rate, you do not need to apply to get possible mortgage rates and a list of fees. If you want more information on local mortgage lenders, ask your real estate agent about their experiences.

Real Estate Agent

A good realtor is worth their weight in knowledge and savings. From defining terms like foreclosure and short sale, to identifying home repairs that can sell your home, to assistance with pricing and negotiating, to finding a solution that fits your needs after a bad home inspection report, a real estate agent’s first priority is to assist you through the home selling and buying process. Real estate agents offer local connections to professionals you need during the home sale process, and the objectivity to help navigate a fair deal. So how do you find the best of the best real estate agent?

Testimonials

What do a real estate agents’ past clients say? Were they satisfied with the services they received? Did the real estate agent make their home sale smooth? Ask the real estate agent for references and look on social media to see what kind of rating they have received from their clients.

Knows your area

If you’re looking to buy a home, a real estate agent familiar with the area you are buying the home in can give you information about the area: commute times, school district, local neighborhood info. On the flip side, if you are a home seller, a local real estate agent knows what prices sell and don’t sell—one of the most important factors that sell (or don’t sell) your home.

Has experience

Choose an agent that has a large amount of experience to assist you through your home sale. You can find this information by asking the real estate agent, or by requesting this information from the state license board.

Good (and prompt) communication

One of the top frustrations from home buyers and sellers is a real estate agent who drops off the planet. You sign the papers to put your home on the market, or enlist their services to find your next dream home and then….nothing. Or they don’t return your calls with questions. Either way, one of the questions you should ask your potential real estate agents is, “How will you communicate with me? Can I email you? Or call you?”

A good real estate agent can also connect you with other professionals you need in the home sale process, such as a home inspector, contractor, or landscaper.

Home Inspector

A home inspector is invaluable to both a home buyer and seller. A good home inspector can spot potential issues that need repair, and can also educate home buyers on home maintenance. We’ve seen home inspectors that have saved home buyers and sellers thousands of dollars, so be selective about the home inspector you choose. A good home inspector has past experience in construction, can provide samples of their home inspector report, is a member of a professional association, and can provide testimonials from past clients.

For a seller, a pre-listing home inspection can be the difference between a quick sale and a dragged out process. A pre-listing home inspection can locate potential red flags before the home hits the market, putting the seller in control of choosing who makes the repairs and the cost. If you’ve located and made all the repairs found during the pre-listing home inspection, you don’t need to worry about delays during the sale process or any renegotiations on price because of issues found during a potential buyer’s home inspection.

Many a buyer has been tempted to waive the home inspection in their offer, either because they think they’ve found the perfect home or because there is strong competition for the property. Fight the temptation. A good inspection is invaluable for buyers for several sound business reasons:

Avoiding a money pit

Some of the most expensive repairs can be hidden, such as structural and electrical issues. Buying a home is a sound investment, and should remain as such. You don’t want to sick more money into the property than you have, or than it’s worth.

Outside verification of the previous homeowner’s work

Did you know the wall that the previous owner removed caused structural damage? Or that the person who flipped the home did not have any experience installing plumbing? A home inspector can tell you if work done by the previous owner—even if you can’t tell the work was even done—was done correctly, or can recommend professionals that can inspect the structure or foundation.

Still have time to ask for a seller to make repairs

If you do find issues, don’t panic. Until you close on the home, you have time to renegotiate with the owners (visit our previous post to find out what your options are). You can go back to the owners and ask for funds to fix the house, or ask them to fix the damage. If your offer is contingent on the home inspection, you can also back out of the sale.

The opportunity to look ahead

Home inspectors can not only give you insight into the quality of past repairs, but can also give you a list of repairs that need to be made and a timeline. If the house needs a new roof, for example, he can give you his opinion on the damage and when it needs to be repaired or replaced. The most important item that any home inspector can give you is peace of mind and an education about your future investment.

Want more information on your home sale process? Contact a local real estate agent who has years of experience assisting other home buyers and sellers through buying and selling their home.

What should I look for in a real estate agent?

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what should I look for in a real estate agentChoosing a real estate agent is not a decision that should be made lightly. Buying or selling a home is one of the most expensive decisions of your life, so why you should you take choosing the real estate agent at the heart of the sale flippantly? Look at it this way: your real estate agent could be literally worth thousands of dollars in profit or savings in your wallet. This decision is important. So what should you look for when choosing the right real estate agent for your home sale?

Past clients

What do a real estate agents’ past clients say? Were they satisfied with the services they received? Did the real estate agent make their home sale smooth? Ask the real estate agent for references and look on social media to see what kind of rating they have received from their clients.

Knows your area

If you’re looking to buy a home, a real estate agent familiar with the area you are buying the home in can give you information about the area: commute times, school district, local neighborhood info. On the flip side, if you are a home seller, a local real estate agent knows what prices sell and don’t sell—one of the most important factors that sell (or don’t sell) your home.

Has experience

The magic number for real estate experience is five years (plus). Choose an agent that has a large amount of experience to assist you through your home sale. You can find this information by asking the real estate agent, or by requesting this information from the state license board.

Good (and prompt) communication

One of the top frustrations from home buyers and sellers is a real estate agent who drops off the planet. You sign the papers to put your house on the market, or enlist their services to find your next dream home and then….nothing. Or they don’t return your calls with questions. Either way, one of the questions you should ask your potential real estate agents is, “How will you communicate with me? Can I email you? Or call you?”

What factors shouldn’t you use when choosing a real estate agent? We wouldn’t recommend contacting a real estate agent because:

They’ll list your house for the price you want to sell

A fair price (and a price that sells) is not related to how much you owe or how much you want to make from your sale. Determine how to price your house by reading our recent blog post.

They are a smooth talker

This is a process where it’s important to look beyond the real estate agent’s presentation. Sure they’re a smooth talker, but do they have the experience you need when you hit a bump in your home sale? Do they have the follow up to contact you regularly and promptly?

They’ll hold a million open houses

Open houses are a tool for selling a home, but there is a limit to its effectiveness. Choose a real estate agent that can effectively market your home, not just stand at the door every week at another empty open house.

You saw their name on a sign

Choosing a real estate agent is too important of a decision to randomly contact an agent just because you saw their name. You’re real estate sale is more important than that. Be smart. Contact a real estate agent with the references, experience, local knowledge and follow-up skills to guide you through your important purchase. Remember, your real estate agent works for you—make sure you choose someone that does it, and you know can do it.