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Buying a home can often seem to be a daunting task. Finding a home that meets your needs, getting the financing to purchase the home, inspecting your new home, information about the neighborhood, setting up utilities, and packing up and moving can seem like a large burden. Our team of professionals takes the worry out of buying a home because we guarentee your complete satisfaction. We help you navigate through a maze and guide you along every step of the way.
Sara Struyk wrote the following article, published at Forbes.com on 5/25/2010
FIVE REASONS WHY YOU STILL NEED A REAL ESTATE AGENT
The proliferation of services that help home buyers and sellers complete their own real estate transactions is relatively recent, and it may have you wondering whether using a real estate agent is becoming a relic of a bygone era. While doing the work yourself can save you the significant commission rates many real estate agents command, for many, flying solo may not be the way to go–and could end up being more costly than a realtor’s commission in the long run. Buying or selling a home is a major financial (and emotional) undertaking. Find out why you shouldn’t discard the notion of hiring an agent just yet.
1. Better Access/More Convenience
A real estate agent’s full-time job is to act as a liaison between buyers and sellers. This means that he or she will have easy access to all other properties listed by other agents. Both the buyer’s and seller’s agent work full time as real estate agents and they know what needs to be done to get a deal together. For example, if you are looking to buy a home, a real estate agent will track down homes that meet your criteria, get in touch with sellers’ agents and make appointments for you to view the homes. If you are buying on your own, you will have to play this telephone tag yourself. This may be especially difficult if you’re shopping for homes that are for sale by owner.
Similarly, if you are looking to sell your home yourself, you will have to solicit calls from interested parties, answer questions and make appointments. Keep in mind that potential buyers are likely to move on if you tend to be busy or don’t respond quickly enough. Alternatively, you may find yourself making an appointment and rushing home, only to find that no one shows up.
2. Negotiating Is Tricky Business
Many people don’t like the idea of doing a real estate deal through an agent and feel that direct negotiation between buyers and sellers is more transparent and allows the parties to better look after their own best interests. This is probably true–assuming that both the buyer and seller in a given transaction are reasonable people who are able to get along. Unfortunately, this isn’t always an easy relationship.
What if you, as a buyer, like a home but despise its wood-paneled walls, shag carpet and lurid orange kitchen? If you are working with an agent, you can express your contempt for the current owner’s decorating skills and rant about how much it’ll cost you to upgrade the home without insulting the owner. For all you know, the owner’s late mother may have lovingly chosen the décor. Your real estate agent can convey your concerns to the sellers’ agent. Acting as a messenger, the agent may be in a better position to negotiate a discount without ruffling the homeowner’s feathers.
A real estate agent can also play the “bad guy” in a transaction, preventing the bad blood between a buyer and seller that can kill a deal. Keep in mind that a seller can reject a potential buyer’s offer for any reason–including just because they hate his or her guts. An agent can help by speaking for you in tough transactions and smoothing things over to keep them from getting too personal. This can put you in a better position to get the house you want. The same is true for the seller, who can benefit from a hard-nosed real estate agent who will represent their interests without turning off potential buyers who want to niggle about the price.
3. Contracts Can Be Hard To Handle
If you decide to buy or sell a home, the offer to purchase contract is there to protect you and ensure that you are able to back out of the deal if certain conditions aren’t met. For example, if you plan to buy a home with a mortgage but you fail to make financing one of the conditions of the sale–and you aren’t approved for the mortgage–you can lose your deposit on the home and could even be sued by the seller for failing to fulfill your end of the contract.
An experienced real estate agent deals with the same contracts and conditions on a regular basis, and is familiar with which conditions should be used, when they can safely be removed and how to use the contract to protect you, whether you’re buying or selling your home.
4. Real Estate Agents Can’t Lie
Well, OK, actually they can. But because they are licensed professionals there are more repercussions if they do than for a private buyer or seller. If you are working with a licensed real estate agent under an agency agreement, (i.e., a conventional, full-service commission agreement in which the agent agrees to represent you), your agent will be bound by common law (in most states) to a fiduciary relationship. In other words, the agent is bound by license law to act in their clients’ best interest (not his or her own).
In addition, most realtors rely on referrals and repeat business to build the kind of clientèle base they’ll need to survive in the business. This means that doing what’s best for their clients should be as important to them as any individual sale.
Finally, if you do find that your agent has gotten away with lying to you, you will have more avenues for recourse, such as through your agent’s broker, professional association (such as the National Association Of Realtors) or possibly even in court if you can prove that your agent has failed to uphold his fiduciary duties.
When a buyer and seller work together directly, they can (and should) seek legal counsel, but because each is expected to act in his or her best interest, there isn’t much you can do if you find out later that you’ve been duped about multiple offers or the home’s condition. And having a lawyer on retainer any time you want to talk about potentially buying or selling a house could cost far more than an agent’s commissions by the time the transaction is complete.
5. Not Everyone Can Save Money
Many people eschew using a real estate agent to save money, but keep in mind that it is unlikely that both the buyer and seller will reap the benefits of not having to pay commissions. For example, if you are selling your home on your own, you will price it based on the sale prices of other comparable properties in your area. Many of these properties will be sold with the help of an agent. This means that the seller gets the keep the percentage of the home’s sale price that might otherwise be paid to the real estate agent.
However, buyers who are looking to purchase a home sold by owners may also believe they can save some money on the home by not having an agent involved. They might even expect it and make an offer accordingly. However, unless buyer and seller agree to split the savings, they can’t both save the commission.
The Bottom Line
While there are certainly people who are qualified to sell their own homes, taking a quick look at the long list of frequently asked questions on most “for sale by owner” websites suggests the process isn’t as simple as many people assume. And when you get into a difficult situation, it can really pay to have a professional on your side.
ow to Choose a Neighborhood for Your Home Search
Narrow your home search by identifying neighborhoods that are right for you. This helps keep your search focused and efficient. Our REALTOR®s can offer neighborhood information to guide you in your search.
When evaluating a neighborhood you should investigate local conditions. Depending on your own particular needs and tastes, some of the following factors may be more important considerations than others:
> quality of schools
> property values
> beach access
> micro climate
> future construction
> proximity to schools, employment, medical centers, shops, public transportation, highways, the airport, beaches, parks, the Maui Arts & Cultural Center
Neighborhood Search Strategies for Limited Budgets
If you’re a first time-buyer with limited financial resources, it’s wise to buy a home that meets your primary needs in the best neighborhood that fits within your price range. You can maximize your home purchase location by incorporating some of the following strategies into your neighborhood search:
> Upcoming neighborhoods: Look for communities that are likely to become “hot neighborhoods” in the coming years. They can often be discovered on the periphery of the most continuously desirable areas.
> Check for planned future development such as additional transit; new community services such as pools and theaters; and stores planning to move in.
> Look for a home in a good neighborhood that is a bit farther out of the city. If commuting is a concern, purchase a home that is close to public transportation.
> Neighborhood demand: Look at the neighborhood demand by asking your real estate agent whether multiple offers are being made, whether the gap between the list price and sale price is decreasing and whether there is active community involvement. You can also drive around neighborhoods and see how many “sale pending” and “sold” signs there are in a particular area. Co-ownership: Look into purchasing a condominium or co-op, rather than a house, in a desirable neighborhood. This way you still may be able to purchase in a prime area that you otherwise could not afford.
Here are some tips to help determine which house is best for you.
Once you’ve settled on a couple of preferred neighborhoods for your home search, it’s time to pick out a few homes to view. Having a house features “wish list” keeps you focused on which features are most important to you.
When narrowing down your home search, consider the following:
> know what types of home you want to buy
> determine what age and condition of the house you want to buy
> consider resale potential
> use a features wish list to keep focused
> use a home search comparison chart to keep organized
> act decisively when you find the right home
Determine What Type of Home You Want to Buy
There are several forms of home ownership: single-family homes, multiple-family homes, condominiums and co-ops.
Single-family homes: One home per lot.
Multiple-family homes: Some buyers, particularly first-timers, start with multiple-family dwellings, so they’ll have rental income to help with their costs. Many mortgage plans, including VA and FHA loans, can be used for buildings with up to four units, if the buyer intends to occupy one of them.
Condominiums: With a condo, you own “from the plaster in.” You also own a certain percentage of the “common elements” – staircases, sidewalks, roofs, etc. Monthly charges pay your share of taxes and insurance on those elements, as well as repairs and maintenance. A homeowner’s association administers the development.
Co-ops: In some cities, cooperative apartments are common. With co-ops, you purchase shares in a corporation that owns the whole building, and you receive a lease to your own unit. A board of directors, comprised of owners and elected by owners, supervises the building management. Monthly charges include your share of an overall mortgage on the building.
Decide What Age and Condition of Home You Want to Purchase
Weigh your needs, budget and personal tastes in deciding whether you want to buy a newly constructed home, an older home or a “fixer-upper” that requires some work.
Consider Resale Potential
As you look at homes, you may want to keep in mind these resale considerations.
> One-bedroom condos are more difficult to resell than two-bedroom condos.
> Two-bedroom/one-bath single houses generally have less appeal than houses with three or more bedrooms, and therefore have less appreciation potential.
> Homes with “curb appeal,” i.e., well-maintained, attractive and with a charming appearance from the street, are the easiest to resell.
> The most expensive houses on the street, or ones with anything unusual or unique are not suited for resale. The best investment potential is traditionally found in a less expensive, more moderately sized home.
Use a Features Wish List to Keep Your Search Focused
Make a features wish list to clarify which features are most and least important to you when looking for a home. Using this features wish list will keep your house hunt focused and effective.
Use a Home Comparison Chart to Keep Your Observations Organized
While house hunting, it’s a good idea to make notes about what you see because viewing several houses at a time can be confusing. Use a home comparison chart to help you keep track of your search, organize your thoughts and record your impressions.
Act Decisively When You Find the Right Home
Before you begin the home buying process, resolve to act promptly when you do find the right house. Every REALTOR® has stories to tell about a couple who looked far and wide for their dream home, finally found it, and then said, “We always promised my Dad we’d sleep on it, so we’ll make an offer tomorrow.” Many times the story had a sad ending – someone else came in that evening with an offer that was accepted.
Resolve that you will act decisively when you find the house that’s clearly right for you. This is particularly important after a long search or if the house is newly listed and/or underpriced.