Whether you’re buying or selling a home, finding a real estate agent you can trust might just be the most important decision you make. After all, they’ll be helping you manage a transaction that’s worth hundreds of thousands of dollars! It may be tempting to hire the first real estate agent you talk to, just to save time and effort. We get it. Life is busy, especially when you’re making a big transition. But a real estate agent can easily make or break your home-buying or home-selling experience. You don’t want to hire a rookie agent who might just be winging it. You want a seasoned agent who has what it takes to get the job done.
Tips to Find a Great Real Estate Agent
1. Use trusted resources to find agents near you.
2. Evaluate their real estate experience.
3. Make sure they know your local real estate market.
4. Check the real estate agent’s track record.
5. Learn about their customer service.
6. Interview at least three real estate agents.
7. Hire someone you actually like.
Use Trusted Resources to Find Agents Near You
Okay, there are many ways to find a real estate agent. But to find a great one near you, you need to look in the right places:
• Use a referral program you trust that vets for the best agents—like our Endorsed Local Providers (ELP) program.
• Do extensive research online for the best agents in your area or where you plan to move.
• Ask people who had a great experience buying or selling a home for the agent they used.
• Visit open houses so you can meet potential agents in person.
If you think you’d feel more comfortable working with someone you know on a personal level, just a heads up: Hiring a friend or relative as your real estate agent could create some uncomfortable problems.
Evaluate Their Real Estate Experience
Helping people buy or sell a home is a tough job that involves difficult negotiations and market fluctuations. So you’ll want to find an agent who has a ton of experience. How much experience is enough? Well, that answer depends on whether you’re buying or selling.
• Buyer’s agent: If you’re buying a home, look for a buyer’s agent who has at least two years of full-time real estate experience. Otherwise, you’re just a guinea pig.
• Seller’s agent: Selling, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated. You want an agent who’s been working full time for a minimum of four years. Believe it or not, the typical real estate agent has a median experience of eight years. And if an agent has 10 or more years under their belt, you can trust that they’ve sold in the best and worst of times.
Make Sure They Know Your Local Real Estate Market
General real estate experience is a big factor, but it’s equally important that your agent has helped people buy and sell lots of homes in your area.
Learn About Their Customer Service
If you’re entrusting a real estate agent with helping you buy or sell a home, you shouldn’t have to wait five days for them to return your phone call or respond to a text. These are the questions you need to ask to make sure they’re going to be by your side through every step of the process. Communication is key in any real estate transaction. If your agent isn’t responding to you in a reasonable amount of time and it’s costing you opportunities, you and your agent are missing out! You need a real estate agent who is both highly responsive and honest to a fault. Look for someone who can be blunt in the nicest way possible. The last thing you want is an agent who will give you false expectations about your home. Whether you like it or not, it’s in your best interest for them to call it like they see it.
Hire Someone You Actually Like
Expertise matters, but chemistry also matters with home sales. This is a person you’re going to spend a great deal of time with over the next couple months. Even if the real estate agent you’re considering checks all the right boxes of what an agent should do, you still need to ask yourself: Is this someone I like and trust?
• You don’t have to be best friends with your agent. In fact, it’s probably better if you’re not. But you do need to gel with them, so to speak.
• Do they make you feel even more stressed than you were before? Do they seem to be dodging your questions and running around like a chicken with their head cut off?
• The right agent will make sure you understand the process and carefully answer any questions you have without adding any stress to the mix.
All licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the National Association Of Realtors are properly called Realtors, and may proudly display the “Realtors” logo on business cards and other marketing materials. Realtors are committed to treat all parties in a transaction honestly and subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics. The Realtor Code of Ethics requires Realtors to maintain a higher level of knowledge and standards in the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reports that 84% of home buyers would use the same realtor again. Real estate transactions involve one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime. Transactions today usually exceed $200,000. Considering the small upside cost and the large downside risk, it would not be in your best interest to consider a deal in real estate without the professional assistance of a realtor.
• Your Realtor can help you determine your buying power – that is, your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. If you give a realtor some basic information about your current financial status (savings, debt etc.) he or she can refer you to a lender best qualified to help you. Most lenders, bankers and mortgage companies offer limited choices.
• Your realtor has many resources to assist you in your home search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available, but not actively advertised in the market or on the internet, requiring some investigation by your agent to find available properties.
• Your realtor can assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property. Agents who are realtors have access to a variety of informational resources. Realtors can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, disclosures and much more! There are two things you’ll want to know; First, will the property provide the environment I want for a home as an investment? And 2nd, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
• Your realtor can help negotiate. There are a myriad of negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment. The purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
• Your realtor provided due diligence during the evaluation of the property. Depending on the area and the property, this could include inspections for termites, dry rot, asbestos, faulty structure, roof condition, septic tank and well tests, just to name a few. Your realtor can assist you in finding qualified, responsible professionals to do these investigations and provide you with written reports. You will also want to see a preliminary report on the title of the property, which indicates ownership of the property. Ownership can be mired in the confusing status of past owners and rights of access. The title to most properties will have some limitations, for example – easements (access rights) for utilities.
• Your realtor can help you in understanding different financial options and in identifying qualified lenders.
• Your realtor can guide you through the closing process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.
• When selling your home, your realtor can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms and conditions of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.
• Your realtor markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. Often, your realtor can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that can significantly enhance the salability of your property. Your realtor markets your property to other real estate agents through marketing meetings, the Multiple Listing Service, and open houses, as well as through the internet to other agents and to the public, acting as the marketing coordinator. In many markets across the country, over 50% of real estate sales are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer. The realtor Code of Ethics requires realtors to utilize these cooperative relationships to benefit their clients.
• Your realtor will know when, where and how to advertise your property. There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate. The National Association Of Realtors studies show that 82% of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts. When a property is marketed with the help of your realtor, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your realtor will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
• Your realtor can help you objectively evaluate every Buyer’s proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing. Your realtor can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.
• Your realtor can help close the sale of your home. Between the initial sales agreement and closing (or settlement), questions may arise. For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud in the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your realtor is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to its close.
The Process Of Buying A House Without A Real Estate Agent
Buying a home without a real estate agent can save you money on commissions and allow you to shop on your own timeline. Here’s the process you’ll go through to buy a home without an agent.
Step 1: Apply For A Mortgage
When you buy a home without a real estate agent, the first thing you’ll need to do is get preapproved. A preapproval is a way to find out what you can afford so you don’t shop for homes outside your budget. It’s also a way to show sellers you’re serious when you’re making an offer; preapproval shows that your financing won’t fall through.
Step 2: Research The Neighborhood
Research the neighborhood you’re considering. Learn about the average selling price in the area and think about what you value in a neighborhood. Do you need easy access to public transportation? Would you prefer to buy in an area with highly rated public schools? Narrow your search by neighborhood and then start looking at homes for sale.
Step 3: Find A Property
Once you’ve settled on a neighborhood, it’s time to start looking for homes on the market. Look for homes in your budget and keep a running list of properties that might be right for you. Once you find a home you like online, you can visit it in person. Online listings typically include either the owner’s or the agent’s phone number, or a list of upcoming open houses. If there are no open houses scheduled, contact the agent to request a tour. As you look around the home, take note of the property’s condition. Find out exactly what’s included in the sale. You’ll want this information when you’re considering how much to offer.
Step 4: Ask For Seller Disclosures
A seller disclosure is a list of known issues with the home. Seller disclosures may also let buyers know about remodeling work the seller did on the home.
Here are some things you might see on the seller’s disclosure statement:
• Structural issues
• Plumbing, heating or electrical system problems
• Any use of lead paint, radon or asbestos
• History of damage from termites or other wood-boring insects
• Toxins in the soil
• Mold and water damage
Sellers are only responsible for telling you about issues they know about. They might also avoid disclosing issues if their state doesn’t legally require them to do so. The only disclosure that’s required nationally is the lead-based paint disclosure. Sellers in every state who own a home built before 1978 need to tell buyers about any lead paint used in the house. Some states have their own rules about seller disclosures. Before you make an offer on a home, research your state’s disclosure laws. States without disclosure laws take an approach called “caveat emptor,” which means “let the buyer beware.”
Step 5: Make An Offer
Once you find a home and are satisfied with its condition, it’s time to make an offer. Deciding how much to offer for a home can be tricky. Consider prices of other homes in the area, how long the home has been on the market and the home’s condition. Generally, you’ll want to offer lower than the amount of money you’re preapproved for. This will give you room to negotiate. After deciding how much to offer, you can write an official offer letter. Here’s what the letter should include:
• The full address of the home
• Your full legal name and the names of anyone else buying the home with you
• The amount you’re offering for the home
• Any contingencies you’re requesting (i.e., conditions that need to be completed before the sale goes through)
• Any seller concessions you’re requesting, such as discount points or cash toward closing
• A copy of your mortgage preapproval letter
• Items you want to be included in the sale, such as appliances or window dressings
• The date you expect to close
• The date you want to move into the home
• A deadline to respond to your offer
• Submit the offer to the seller’s listing agent. If the home is for sale by owner, you can submit the offer directly to the seller. The seller may then accept your offer, deny it or return with a counteroffer.
Step 6: Hire A Lawyer And Home Inspector
Inspections aren’t usually required by your mortgage lender, but they can reveal hidden issues that the seller might not know about. A typical inspection covers surface-level elements of the home, including its plumbing, structure, heating system and more. Some states require you to get a real estate attorney to finalize your home sale and transfer your title. Even in states where real estate attorneys aren’t required, a lawyer can help you deal with the paperwork and any legal gray areas.
When you need someone to buy your house now, please call Wasatch House Partners right away to Sell Your House Now.