How to pick a real estate agent that suits your needs.

 

Many factors contribute to the experience and success of buying and selling homes, but even in the digital age of a more transparent real estate market, working with a good real estate agent continues to be one of biggest impacts on either side of the transaction.
But how do you pick the right person to represent you or your home?
Before you just start asking your friends or digging through the fliers in your mailbox or hunting online, here are a few dos and don’ts you should seriously consider when selecting an agent.

 

Do:

 

  • Ask people you trust for agent recommendations, but take what they say with a grain of salt. Did they recently buy a home in your same price range?  Have they had a      successful time selling their home? Just because this agent worked out well for them does not guarantee the same experience for you.
  • Research. Most real estate websites, including Zillow, have online agent reviews. This can be a good starting place.
  •  Find an agent that specializes in what you’re trying to do. Don’t select an agent who sells $2 million homes to help you find a $200,000 home. Check out current home      listings. Do you like the photos, the description? Try contacting the agent to see if they’re available for you.
  • Interview the agent. What is their specific marketing plan for your home? How will they negotiate so that you can be the winning bidder on your dream home? Why are they the best option for you? Can you call some of their past clients?
  • Set up expectations. What do you want from them? Outline your needs from the get-go so there won’t be any surprises down the road.
  • Make sure you get along with the agent. You don’t need to be best friends, but ultimately there should be some sort of rapport that allows for a successful business      relationship.

 

Don’t:

 

  • Pick friends or family. You don’t want to jeopardize a friendship if the buying or selling process gets difficult. Also, be wary of hiring even a friend of a friend, or someone recommended. If you’re serious about real estate, find someone that you can be honest and professional with. Unfortunately, that may not include your cousin or your best friend’s spouse.
  • Pick someone who dually represents the buyer and the seller of the property you’re looking at. They may not be able to be fully transparent with you.
  • Be afraid to break up with your agent. Be honest and simply tell the agent it’s not working out. List your reasons and be respectful.
  • If you’re not quite ready to be tied down to a particular agent, it’s better not to engage one until you’ve made a formal decision. You can communicate with an agent and ask    for advice, but be clear upfront where you stand.

article by Erika Riggs/Zillow

Great tips for the home buyers out there!

Here is a great article on getting to closing day without a hitch.

by-Deidre Wollard, Real Estate News

Three Tips For Avoiding Closing Day Glitches

Closing day is the most exciting day in the home buying process. The long journey is finally over and you will sign your papers and get your keys. Once you have been told that your home mortgage has a closing date you may want to move in immediately but while most home sale transactions are smooth, some may hit a few speed bumps on the road to homeownership bliss.

The most important part of the transaction is to get all of the necessary parties and necessary documents together on the right day at the right time. Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately as many an experienced agent reports, it can be a bit like herding cats. Although your Realtor will be your guide through this process it’s still a good idea for you to be aware of all of the dates, steps, and procedures as you lead up to the big day.

Many issues surrounding a problem at closing can actually be tackled earlier in the process. It’s important to keep on top of your mortgage approval process, home inspection and repairs, and the title discovery process as these are the areas where things can often go wrong. For more information on this check out our post on why pending sales can fall through. Below are three last-minute things that can delay a closing.

1) Be certain the home is ready for you to take occupancy. If you notice something on your final walkthrough, bring it up immediately. It’s your responsibility to make sure that the home is being delivered in the agreed-upon condition. If something is wrong and the home is not cleaned out or agreed-upon repairs aren’t completed, it’s time to spring into action. Your agent can work with the seller’s agent to solve any potential problems. From there you can determine what is necessary and what it will cost. It may be possible to do some last minute negotiations, either changing things so that the seller pays more of the closing costs or putting proceeds in escrow until repairs are completed.

 2) Make sure the paperwork is in order. Review all documents ahead of time if you can. Misspellings, missing information, incorrect addresses or loan amounts can hold up a closing and if they can’t be easily corrected your closing could be delayed by hours or even days. When you review your loan documents make sure that the payment amounts and interest rates are as you expected them to be. If you are using a real estate attorney you will want to have an appointment to review the real estate contract, settlement, truth-in-lending statement and the mortgage. Your attorney should verify that the seller has made all repairs that were agreed upon and that he will bring the deed to the real estate closing.

3) Make sure you have your funds ready. Closing costs will be due and a personal check is not permitted.  Be sure to either bring the down payment to the closing yourself as a certified check or arrange for the transfer of funds a bit in advance so that any potential delays during transfer won’t hold up your closing. Closing costs can amount to a small fortune. All of these costs were outlined to you during the mortgage application process. Loan origination, mortgage loan, mortgage points and credit report fees are all closing costs to be paid at the closing. In addition, you may need to pre-pay interest for a partial month depending on the date you closed and when the first payment is due to lender. Title insurance is one of the more expensive fees and is required by all lenders to insure there are no liens against the deed. Finally, the last charge to pay to the lender is the fee for recording of the deed, which may include a real estate transfer tax.

Great tips for Home sellers!

Here are some great tips that I found from an article about selling your home quickly! Please let me know if you need a list of trusted contractors for those home repairs, I will gladly provide with it.

 5 tips to help your home sell quickly-By Karen Aho of MSN Real Estate

To many buyers, a house that’s been on the market a long time must have hidden problems. And that could lead to unnecessary and endless price reductions. Luckily, even in a distressed market, there are ways to prevent roots from sprouting under the ‘for sale’ sign.

 

Leave it to the pros

Welcome to the wacky world of home sales, where a little stubborn behavior can be costly. But there’s a tried-and-true solution that can be summed up with two basic points:

  • Find a seller’s agent whom you like and trust. 
  • “Make sure you interview three great agents that focus on your area,” says Alan Mark, president of the Mark Co., a real-estate marketing and consulting company in San Francisco. “Then realize that you’re hiring a professional who knows how to do this.”
  • Listen to that agent. More on that below, but the key is to separate the emotional qualities of your home from the basic functional qualities of the house.

“To start with, your house is unique — and so is everybody else’s,” Mark says. “Everybody thinks their house is unique. Get over it.”

It’s never easy to relinquish control, particularly when it’s your home and your money. But if the goal is to sell, and to sell fast, then you’re better off trusting the expert, even if his advice appears trivial — like the paint on a couple of walls — or counterintuitive, such as undercutting the price.

To get a sense of what we mean, see the five tips below, all from experienced agents who say these are areas where home sellers often need some persuading.

 

1. Price it right; price it low

Some may find Katya Dennis a bit offbeat — or at least bold — in her pricing strategy, which at first blush appears to be undervaluing the property. But Dennis, an agent in Northern California with David Lyng Real Estate, swears by her method.

“I always tell my sellers, you can never price a house too low, because the market will take care of it,” she explains.

Dennis recently listed a home for $535,000, even though it had been appraised at $560,000. The house sold within weeks — for $575,000. The reasoning is simple, she says. The low price drew quick and competing bids.

Had she listed the home for $560,000, she’s certain the sale would have dragged and brought in even less than the valuation.

“If you start high and start lowering it, you will never get to the number that you will get to by starting low and going up,” Dennis says. “Because when you start lowering the price, people will start wondering what’s wrong with the house. … And if it’s been sitting awhile, people will try and lowball.”

 

2. Try a fresh sales approach

Even on the phone, it’s clear that Leis can be tough. But her success stories may provide peace of mind to sellers who find themselves initially put off by agents’ edgy tactics.

 

3. Don’t try too hard to fight the market

Sometimes a seller has to accept that there’s only so much an unfriendly marketplace can offer.

 

4. Remember, renovations aren’t a magic bullet

Be flexible with price. “Price is still what’s moving.” And if you want the house to move, find an agent willing to be brutally honest.

 

5. Don’t, repeat don’t, skip the online sales push

One last tip from agents: A home that relies on its good personality alone won’t cut it in today’s market.

“The days when a buyer shows up at my office and says ‘Where are we going today?’ those days are long over,” Romano says. “They show up with a list of homes they’ve seen online. Some of them, you look at and say, ‘Why would you want to look at that?’ and you see it looks really good online.”

A year earlier, he took a home that had been on and off the market for two years and sold it in 11 days after telling the sellers to follow his rules, which included staging the home and lowering the price.

“The market had continued to decline,” Romano says. “Even if a buyer were interested at that (higher) price point, the buyer won’t get a mortgage because it won’t appraise out for that. It doesn’t do anyone any good to list at above the appraised value.”

Northern Virginia Weather

Today, April 09, 2009 is a gorgeous day in Northern Virginia and the Washington DC Metropolitan area.  In the last a few days we have had cold days but today is much better since it is sunny and warmer.  Hopefully, it is going to stay like this during the last a few day of the the spring break since kids are out of school and Easter Sunday is very close.

My family and I are planing on having a Birthday Party/Easter Egg Hunt for our kids, neighbors, and close friends.  We are hoping for the weather to be good.  There are a lot of things to do in the Metropolitan area.  Hope that you also enjoy this beautiful spring weather.

Claudia webb RE/MAX Allegiance
Northern Virginia Real Estate