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.

Which is the right way? Buy AND THEN sell? OR Sell AND THEN buy?

Which is the right decision for you? Here is a great article to help you decide.

Real Estate News-Diedre Woollard

How to Sell Your Home and Buy Another at the Same Time

Being a move-up buyer can be tough in today’s market. Although deals are closing rapidly, there’s no guarantee that your new dream home will close at the same time as your old dream home. Selling and buying at the same time is a delicate dance, but it is doable. There are a few ways to pursue this plan:

1. Sell first, then buy. This is perhaps the safest plan, but it calls for multiple moves. In this scenario, you list your home and complete the transaction before purchasing another home. When you sell your home, you put the bulk of your belongings in storage and live in a temporary rental or, if possible, enter into a rent-back deal with your home’s new owner. The advantage of this method is that you know exactly how much you can spend on a new home, and you don’t have to worry about temporary financing. Also, without another home waiting in the wings, you’ll be less tempted to drop the price or to take the first offer that is below the asking price. The disadvantage is that it is a disruptive experience, and you could be displaced for a while if you are home-shopping for a long time.

2. Buy first, then sell. This strategy minimizes disruption. You can move into your new place at your leisure and then take time to prepare your home for sale. The major disadvantage is that, depending on how fast your old home sells, you could be shouldering the burden of two mortgages for some time. You are also responsible for maintenance and security on the vacant home. This scenario works best if your first home is already paid off.

A variation of this plan is to buy a new home with the plan to rent out the old one for a year. This buys you some time with money coming in, but being a landlord comes with its own stresses and responsibilities. You may also need to repair or renovate the home after it has served as a rental.

3. Buy and sell simultaneously. To execute this plan, you need to prepare for all contingencies and to know that if your timing is off, you will face one of the two scenarios listed above. The trickiest bit can be timing the financial burden. One option is bridge financing. This enables you to own two homes for a short amount of time. To do this, you need to either borrow money from family or obtain a short-term loan from a bank or other lending institution to span the time period between when you close on your new home and sell your old one. In essence, you are getting a short-term home-equity loan, also known as a HELOC, a Home Equity Line of Credit, on your present house and using it as a down payment on your new house. You then repay the loan when you sell your first home. It is not easy to qualify for a conventional bridge loan, since you have to demonstrate that you have enough money to pay for both mortgages for an indefinite period of time.

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.”

Sellers market tips

This is a sellers market! That being said, here is a great article for the home seller or those wanting to put their home on the market.  By-Diedre Woollard for Real Estate News.

Deciding to move isn’t a step anyone takes lightly. Your house is more than just an investment, it is your home. As you begin the process of distancing yourself from the place where you made so many lasting memories you will begin to think about what your home will be worth to someone else.

When you are ready to meet with a Realtor you may already have an idea of what your home is worth. You may have seen what other homes in your neighborhood have sold for or kept an eye on local listings. Your agent will prepare for you a comparative market analysis (CMA) that is an in-depth version of any research you may have done on your own.

The CMA is used to help evaluate how your home will fare against the competition. It takes a look at both homes that are currently listed and those recently sold. The purpose is to find the highest price that will still make the home competitive on the open market.

A Portrait Of Your Home And Its Surroundings

The CMA includes a fact-based portrait of the home including information such as number of bedrooms and baths, approximate square footage, size of major rooms, age of the home, property taxes, and desirable amenities such as fireplaces and pools.

Depending on the market the CMA will go back in time as long ago as a year or a month or week ago.  The range can also vary. Some will just cover a few streets around your home, CMAs can cover areas as narrow as one or two streets surrounding your home, or as broad as an entire subdivision.

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder (Or Potential Buyer)

Selling a home isn’t just about the facts. There are many pieces to the puzzle and it’s often the indefinables that impact a potential buyer’s perception of the home. A home purchase remains fundamentally personal. Speaking at the Luxury Roundtable: State of Luxury 2013 conference, Camilla Papale, the chief marketing officer of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, defined real estate, especially at the high end, as being primarily emotional.  She said that 90 percent of Douglas Elliman’s transactions are influenced by the buyer’s emotions versus rationalization. Perception can alter reality and so this is an important consideration when looking at a CMA. People make decisions based on curb appeal, light, design choices and many other factors.

At the end of each home’s information on the CMA report there will be a brief statement provided by the listing agent that will address some of these subjective  factors such as recent remodels, historic features, or things that might be of interest to the buyers. The agent will be marketing the home and is already thinking about how it will be presented as a product to tempt the public.

The Changing Face of the CMA

The CMA today is different than it was before the internet era partly because the potential seller does so much of their homework ahead of time.  Jeff Rightmyer, a sales agent with Building Bridges Partners Keller Williams explains how technology has changed the CMA: “If anything, it has increased the amount of avenues now available to display more accurate and precise information ranging from short sales, standards, all the way up to luxury. It also has allowed little room for error as clients can accurately research the information for themselves.”

There are still resources that agents have access to that most sellers do not. Also agents have the experience of listing, marketing, and selling many homes on their side. A local expert will know what buyers in the area look for and be able to easily assess how your home measures up. Together you and your agent can find a price that brings you what you need and will be attractive enough to attract your home’s new owner.