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10 Questions to Ask Your Realtor

by Valarie R. Brooks

1. Are you a full-time professional Realtor®?  How long have you worked full time in real estate? How long have you been representing buyers?  What professional designations do you have?

Knowing whether or not your Realtor® practices real estate on a full-time basis can give you a piece of the puzzle in foreseeing scheduling conflicts and, overall, his or her commitment to your transaction.  As with any profession, the number of years a person has been in the business does not necessarily reflect the level of service you can expect, but it is a good starting point for your discussion.  The same issue can apply to professional designations.

2. Do you have a personal assistant, team, or staff to handle different parts of the purchase transaction?  What are their names and how will each of them help me in my transaction?  How do I communicate with them?

It is not uncommon for high real estate sales producers to hire people to work for them or with them.  They typically work on a referral basis, and, as their businesses grow, they must be able to deliver the same or higher quality service to more clients.

You may want to be clear about who on the team will take part in your transaction, and what role each person will play.  You may even want to meet the other team members before you decide to work with the team overall. If you needed help with a certain part of your home purchase, who should you talk to and how would you communicate?  If you have a question about fees on your closing statement, who would handle that?  Who will show up to your closing?  These are just a few of the many important considerations in working with a team.

3. Do you and/or your company each have a website that will provide me with useful information for research, services, and how you work with buyers?  Can I have those Web addresses now? And who does the emails? Can I have the email address now?

Many homebuyers prefer to search online for homes and home buying information.  There are certain privacy and comfort levels that you might appreciate in starting a preliminary search this way, and often it is just a matter of convenience, having 24-hour access to information.  By searching the Realtors and the company's Web sites, you will get a clear picture of how much work you would be able to accomplish online, and whether or not that suits your preferences.  When I have a question, how quickly do you respond to emails?

4. Will you show me properties from other companies' listings?

Some real estate companies do offer their buyers' agents a higher commission if they are able to sell "in-house" listings.  In such circumstances, there can be added incentive to show you a more limited range of homes than you might consider.  If this is the case with your Realtor®, you should be very clear on how this will impact your home search, if at all.  You also should determine it this affects how much your buyer agents fee will be.

5. Will you represent me or will you represent the seller?  May I have that in writing?  How will you represent me, and what is the direct benefit of having you represent me?

The goal here is to ascertain to whom the Realtor® has legal fiduciary obligation, which may vary from state to state or even locale to locale.  In the past, Realtors® always worked for sellers.  Then the listing broker was responsible for paying the agent or sub-agent that brought a suitable buyer for the home. And even though the buyer worked "with" an agent, the agent still represented and owed their fiduciary duty to the seller.

An additional situation in some states is dual agency.  This is where the buyer decides to have the listing agent prepare the offer for him.  A knowledgeable buyer may elect this situation which should be fully disclosed to all parties.  In some states it also affects the broker's/agent's fiduciary responsibilities to the seller.

Although Realtors® today almost always have a sense of moral obligation to buyers, this original type of seller agency still exists in certain areas.  In other areas, a formal method of buyer representation called Buyer Agency exists to protect buyers.  Find out what is available in your area and make yourself comfortable with the extent to which you will be represented.

6. How will you get paid?  How are your fees structured?  May I have that in writing?

This is an issue that can also be related to agency.  In many areas, the seller still customarily pays all Realtor® commissions through the listing broker. Sometimes, Realtors® will have other small fees, such as administrative or special service fees, that are charged to clients, regardless of whether they are buying or selling.  Be aware of the big picture before you sign any agreements.  Ask for an estimate of buyer costs from any agent you contemplate employing.

7. What distinguishes you from other Realtors®? What is your negotiating style and how does it differ from those of other Realtors®? What geographic areas to you specialize in?

It should be important to know that your Realtor® has unique methods of overcoming obstacles and is an effective negotiator on your behalf, but most importantly that your Realtor® can advocate for you in the most effective ways.
 
8. Will you give me names of past clients who will give references for you?

Interviewing a Realtor® to help you buy a home can be very similar to interviewing someone to work in your office.  Contacting a Realtor®'s references can be a reliable way for you to understand how he or she works, and whether or not this style is compatible with your own.

9. Do you have a performance guarantee?  If I am not satisfied with your performance, can I terminate our Buyer Agency Agreement?

Understand that, especially in the heavily regulated world of real estate, it can be increasingly difficult for a Realtor® to offer a performance guarantee.  Sometimes you may find a Realtor® who is willing to guarantee that if you are dissatisfied in any way with their service they will terminate your Buyer Agency Agreement.  If your Realtor® does not have a performance guarantee available in writing, it is not an indication that he or she is not committed to perform, but rather that he or she is willing to verbally promise some kind of performance standard.  In fact, Realtors® at Love Charlotte Homes understand the importance of win-win business relationships, and that the Realtor® does not benefit if the client does not also benefit.

10. How will you keep in contact with me during the buying process, and how often?

It's a good idea for you to set your expectations reasonably in accordance with how your Realtor® conducts business.  You may be looking for an agent to call, fax, or email you every evening to tell you about properties that meet your criteria which are new on the market.  On the other hand, your Realtor® may have access to systems that will notify clients of new properties as they come on the market (which could happen several times a day or several times a week).  Asking this extra question can help you to reconcile your needs with your Realtor®'s systems, which makes for a far more satisfying relationship.

Call me today for any of your real estate needs!


 

 

 

 

 

Should I use a Real Estate Broker? How do I find one?

by Valarie R. Brooks
Well besides the obvious, (which would be to call me), read on...
 
  • Answer: Using a real estate broker is a very good idea. All the details involved in home buying, particularly the financial ones, can be mind-boggling. A good real estate professional can guide you through the entire process and make the experience much easier. A good real estate broker will be well-acquainted with all the important things you'll want to know about a neighborhood you may be considering...When it is time to make an offer on a home, the broker can point out ways to structure your deal to save you money. He or she will explain the advantages and disadvantages of different types of mortgages, guide you through the paperwork, and be there to hold your hand and answer last-minute questions when you sign the final papers at closing. And you don't have to pay the broker anything! The payment comes from the home seller - not from the buyer.

By the way, if you want to buy a HUD home, you will be required to use a real estate broker to submit your bid. Call me.....I can help!

The Urge to Overprice

by Valarie Brooks

This is one of the most valuable pieces of information that your realtor will give you!  This article gives you an in depth explanation as to why!

Written by on Thursday, 16 October 2014 12:12 pm 

There's one piece of advice that every real estate agent on earth will tell you - "If you overprice your home, it will take longer to sell and sell for less money."

Yet, sellers ignore them, and overprice their homes anyway, hoping their home will be the one to defy market physics. Why do they do it? Lots of reasons:

They feel entitled to make a profit

They don't want to bring money to closing

They feel their home is superior to other similar homes

They want a return on improvements and repairs

They want to buy a bigger, more expensive home

They want to pay off credit card and student loan debts

They want to pay for college, retirement or some other financial goal

They think buyers want to negotiate

They think real estate agents can get it sold for more if they just work harder

Did you notice that not a single one of those reasons has anything to do with the current market value of the home?

According to an older study from real estate community Zillow.com, sellers often base their asking prices on their original purchase price. In other words, they want to live in the home for a number of years, and then sell it for more than they paid for it so they can meet personal financial goals, such as buying a bigger home or putting more toward retirement.

That's understandable, considering that typically, homes beat inflation by one or two points, but the market doesn't always cooperate. Buyers may not like the improvements you made to your home. Your home may have been in a trendy neighborhood when you purchased it, but now buyers are flocking somewhere else.

If you overprice, your home is going to stagnate on the market. The right buyer for your home might not know your home exists if they use price perimeters to search for a home. That means a typical search between $175,000 and $200,000 won't include your home priced at $205,000.

Buyers tend to search in increments depending on scale - $10,000 increments for $100,000 homes and $100,000 increments for million-dollar homes. Pricing just over a logical range end point like at $255,000 or $505,000 will exclude that home from some search results, say experts.

Setting a high price with wiggle room to reduce the price later is not a successful strategy. You might get some showings, but you won't get offers. Your home could sit without an offer for a month or two before you take action to reduce the price. Once you reduce the price, buyers tend to think there's something wrong with the house, sending potential offers even lower.

Instead, price your home just under break points. $249,000 instead of $255,000. Since you're already expecting to negotiate, a lower price point might get you a full-price offer from a buyer who recognizes that your home is a good buy.

Credit Scoring Information

by Valarie Brooks

In order to advise you on the matter, I am sharing with you what, Neekia McCoy, vice president for consumer lending at REALTORS® Federal Credit Union, a division of Northwest Federal Credit Union, shared concerning CREDIT SCORING!

One helpful tip is about how you can strengthen your credit score. If you have a revolving line of credit, you should make sure the unpaid balance isn't more than 50 percent of their credit limit.  If it is, getting that balance below 50 percent is a way they can see improvement in their score quickly, McCoy says.

Another tip: If you are carrying a balance on a closed line of credit, that balance is hurting their credit rating, so you should try to get that balance paid off quickly and responsibly as they can.

McCoy says the average credit score is 680. Borrowers with that score have a history of paying off their debts on time, as agreed. The range is 300 to 850, with 850 being a perfect score.

Given the importance credit scores play in borrowers’ financial plans, it makes sense for them to check the credit report available from each of the three credit reporting organizations—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—once a year to make sure they’re accurate. McCoy recommends checking each of the reports at least once a year and taking steps to get them corrected if an inaccuracy is found. You can suggest your customers go to annualcreditreport.com for a free check. REALTORS® Federal Credit Union has a link to the site on its website, realtorsfcu.org.  Fortunately, it’s free to check each of your credit reports once a year by law.

 

 

Pending Home Sales Drop in August

by Valarie R. Brooks

Pending home sales dropped in August.  Why?????  Investors have retreated from the housing market.

The National Association of Realtors' Pending Home Sales Index, which is based on contract signings, fell 1 percent last month to 104.7.  That number still represents an above-average level of contract activity.

But traditional home buyers who rely on mortgages will have to carry the housing market going forward - investors who pay cash aren't buying as many homes as they were.  WHY?????

Because there are fewer distressed homes at bargain prices and recognizing that we're entering a rising interest rate environment.  These things likely caused hesitation among investors last month.  I am seeing a huge drop in foreclosures and short sales resulting in a more traditional inventory.  At this market time there are more Buyers than Sellers.

But that does not mean that the Buyers are going to buy listings that are not priced properly and staged properly.  It is vital that Sellers price well and stage properly to gain better returns on their investment and to sell quickly!

Should I Buy a Home Now?

by Valarie R. Brooks

I'm often asked if this is a good time to buy a home. Some clients are concerned that home prices may fall down the road, while others are convinced that home prices will go up.

Home prices are one factor in determining your cost of ownership, but so are interest rates and financing availability. Even though interest rates have fluctuated, they are still near historic lows. Since your monthly mortgage payment is a combination of paying down your principal and paying the interest owed, a one point rise in interest rates could cost tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage!

While a home is a major investment, it is also the center of your personal life. It's important to live in a home that reflects your taste and values, yet is within your financial "comfort zone." To that end, it may be more important to lock in today's relatively low interest rates while they are still available.

Please give me a call if I can be of any assistance in determining how much home you can afford in today's market.

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Valarie R. Brooks
Valarie R Brooks Real Estate
2125 Southend Drive, Suite 352
Charlotte NC 28203
Office: (704)488-2420
Mobile: (704)488-5458
Fax: (866)888-2622