Why do I need a Real Estate Agent?

A real estate agent is your personal/professional guide that will help you navigate through the process of buying or selling your home. Yes, you can buy or sell a home yourself. However, hiring an agent makes the process a lot easier. If you’re a buyer, your agent will help you find the right home by utilizing resources such as the Multiple Listing Service. A customized search of the current inventory will be tailored to fit what type of home you’re looking for. Your agent will provide you with a list of homes matching your criteria, and you’ll be able to select which home you want to view. Next, your agent will schedule an appointment with the seller so you can view the home together. Once you’ve decided on the home and you’re ready to purchase, your agent will evaluate the property by analyzing data from other properties that have sold and are currently on the market so you can determine what a reasonable offer is. Once you’re ready to make an offer, your agent will draft, submit and negotiate your offer and help you close the deal. In some special circumstances, you may be able to purchase a remodeled home from an Investor that your agent represented in previous transactions.

If you’re a seller, your agent will evaluate your home using current market data in order to determine the appropriate sales price for your home. Next, you will review and sign a listing agreement which outlines the obligations and scope of work your agent will perform to successfully sell your home. Your agent will then go over several options for preparing your home to market and present to potential buyers. Marketing your home is an important step in the process and your agent will determine what you need to do to prepare. Typically, your home may need minor cosmetic repairs, touch-up paint, and/or simply reorganizing your personal belongings. In some cases, your home may need to be “staged”. Once your home is ready to market and sell, your agent will utilize several tools, resources and a network of contacts to successfully market your home. At this point, you should receive several offers from potential buyers that want to purchase your home. You and your agent will evaluate and select the best offer. Your agent will guide you through the process to ensure that your home is successfully sold and you get paid.  


What should I consider when choosing an agent?

There are several ways to find an agent. Referrals and positive feedback about an agent, by people you know, can be one of the best ways. Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, the fact is, most agents have access to the same resources needed to successfully close your transaction. I've learned that an important factor with most, if not all of my clients, is that they simply feel comfortable and trust you as their agent. You can expect to work closely with your agent for the next couple of months, so it’s important to feel comfortable and know that you can build that that level of trust in your relationship with your agent. The agent should have you and your family’s best interests in mind. Last, find out if your agent is a REALTOR®. More about whom a REALTOR® is can be found below in the next FAQ. With that said, before you sign an exclusive contract with an agent, consider the following:  Is the agent accessible? Does he/she return my calls? When the agent takes me to look at houses, does he/she make an effort to match what I’m looking for? Does the agent explain things in a way that I can understand, such as the buying or selling process or different financing options?


What is a REALTOR®?

A REALTOR® is part of an association that requires its members to abide by certain standards and practices related to real estate transactions. This organization is nationally recognized and exists in chapters at a state and local level. A “Real Estate Agent” is a generic term and is used to describe anyone with a license to sell real estate. A Real Estate Agent assists buyers and sellers with the transaction of transferring property from one person to another. This is a regulated function, therefore, agents/brokers must be licensed by the state. To learn more about a California REALTOR®, you can visit: http://www.realtor.com/basics/allabout/realtors/why.aspIn addition to the REALTOR® designation an agent can have additional designations listed as credentials such as ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative) or HAFA Specialist (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Specialist). These designations recognize the professional accomplishments of an agent in both experience and education.


What should I be aware of when working with a Real Estate Agent?

You should know the different roles an agent may play in the transaction. All agents work for a broker. A broker is ultimately responsible for all transactions and gets paid a percentage of all commissions earned by an agent. The agent can represent you in several different ways. A listing agent represents the seller and assists with setting a sales price, markets the property for sale, negotiates all offers on the property, and looks out for the seller’s best interests. A buyer’s agent identifies potential properties, negotiates the offer, and looks out for the buyer’s best interests. In a dual agency the agent represents both buyer and seller in the same transaction and still has the same fiduciary responsibility to both parties. 


How is a Real Estate Agent paid?

In most scenarios, it doesn’t cost the buyer any money out of pocket. The seller typically agrees to pay a commission, or percentage of the sales price, to the listing broker when the loan closes. This commission is shared between the listing broker, listing agent, buyer’s broker and buyer’s agent. When an agent represents you as a buyer’s agent, you may be asked to sign a buyer broker agreement. This is an exclusive agreement between you and the buyer’s broker and agent. The agreement outlines the duties and obligations of both parties and the commissions paid. You must understand that this is a legally binding contract that locks you into working exclusively with the agent for a specified period of time stated in the contract. For example, some new home developments (seller), usually the smaller ones, won’t pay the agent a “broker co-op” even if the agent guides you through the process of purchasing the home. Under the terms of the buyer broker agreement, the commission must still be paid. In this scenario, if the seller isn't paying it, the buyer pays the commission.


What is the MLS (Multiple Listing Service)?

Most agents pay a fee to become members of a Multiple Listing Service. The MLS is a database of available properties for sale. It's a valuable tool that provides your agent with real-time property updates and the ability to customize and tailor a search for properties that will quickly identify potential properties that meet your family’s needs. This beats using websites you can use on the Internet that market homes for sale, because their database is not updated minute-by-minute. The MLS allows an agent to create a Comparative Market Analysis. Whether you’re a buyer or seller, this report is valuable because it provides you with data about recently-sold properties in any given area based on similarities in size, features, and construction to name a few. This gives you an idea of what the value of your home is or the one you want to buy. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what the asking price is for a home like yours, and how long it took to sell it? Call me if you would like a complimentary Comparitive Market Analysis.


Should I get pre-qualified for a loan before finding a home?

Yes, you should get pre-approved prior to searching for a home. This will help you and your agent understand how much home you can actually afford. Knowing the facts about your loan and what you can afford sets you up in the ideal position to negotiate with a seller. You can contact your lending institution, but in most cases, your agent can refer you to a licensed mortgage consultant that can educate you on the different loan options that best suits you and your scenario.


Should I order a home inspection?

Yes, it will cost you several dollars out of pocket to hire a professional to conduct a home inspection. Although, it isn’t required for the purpose of closing your transaction, it is highly recommended and worth the money even if you don’t end up purchasing the home. A qualified home inspector will provide you with full disclosure of the property’s current condition. It will help you understand and identify current and potential problems that may need to be addressed before or after the sale.

Questions? Please contact me using the form below, or call (619) 948-5621.

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