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When selling a home, most people will engage the services of a real estate agent to help them. But do you need an agent when purchasing a home as well? The answer is a resounding YES, especially if you are a first time buyer. Here are just a few ways that realtor can help you with one of the most important purchases of your life:
1) Realtors know the process – buying a home is more than just finding what you want; an agent will take you step by step through the entire process: from getting pre-approved at your financial institution to getting an inspection, to picking up your keys on closing day. A realtor will be able to anticipate any bumps along the way and smooth the way to a successful closing.
2) Realtors are negotiating power-houses – an important part of their job is to negotiate the best price they can for you and make sure you do not pay a penny more than you should. Just because a seller is asking a certain price, does not mean you have to pay it.
3) Realtors know the contracts – they will go over all the clauses in the contract and explain exactly what you are signing and why. If you do not understand something, a realtor will explain it until you do.
4) Realtors know the neighborhoods – you may find that perfect house, but if it is in a high crime neighborhood, next to a crack house or was the site of a mass murder, your realtor will know.
5) Realtors work in your best interest – When you sign a buyer's agreement with a realtor, they work for you getting you the best price for your dream home.
6) MLS – realtors will be able to tell you as soon as a home comes on the market that is within your specifications. The website that the general public has access to is a few days behind what the realtors have access to. You can receive hot new listings every day before everyone else does. This can give you a significant advantage over other buyers.
7) You do not pay them a cent- realtors are generally paid from the seller, so there is nothing out of pocket for you as the buyer – how cool is that?
8) They are your co-ordinators- once you put an offer on a home, they will act as your relationship with your financial institution, your lawyer, and your home inspector. They will make sure that everyone has what they need in order to complete their part of the transaction. They do not stop working until you are moved in to your new home and are satisfied that everything is as it should be.
Having a real estate agent by your side has many benefits and they will ensure that you have a smooth, safe, pleasant experience when buying your next home. Do not be afraid to hire an agent when buying a home; it is just as important to have a buyer's agent on your side as it is when selling.
Some people think that they need to use a real estate agent when buying property in the same way that you need to use a stockbroker to buy and sell shares. This is not true. In Australia there is no legal requirement for property to be sold through a real estate agent.
Other buyers think that the process of buying property will be quicker and easier using a real estate agent. Wrong again. Many buyers find that by cutting out the middleman the process is faster and far less stressful than purchases made through an agent.
Owners are more knowledgeable about their own property
Who better to tell you about a property's features than an owner that has more than probably lived in their home for many years? The owner is likely to know what schools are in the area, the location of amenities such as parks and where the closest shops are. Real estate agents on the other hand are often woefully under-informed about the property that they are showing. A typical agent will often have several properties on their books at anyone time and will only remember the basic details of each property. Some agents do not even know the basic details! At one open house that I attended the agent did not even know if there was secure parking on title. Can you imagine an owner forgetting where they parked their car at night?
Real Estate agents offer no guarantee
Some agents will claim that by using their services buyers are protected from any misrepresentation as any disputes can be taken to a real estate tribunal. Unfortunately this is not the case. Agents found to be making false claims about a property will often claim that they are acting in good faith on the instructions of the owner therefore they are not guilty of misrepresentation. Members of these real estate tribunals are often chosen by the real estate industry and unsurprisingly dismiss many complaints bought before them. I wonder how many convictions you would get for armed robbery if bank robbers were allowed to select the jury?
For Sale By Owner sellers have room to negotiate
One of the main reasons that buyers chose to buy properties for sale by owner (or private sale as it is known in Australia) is that they know the owner can be more flexible on the price and both the buyer and the seller can still end up better off. As the owner is saving on the real estate agent's commission (sometimes this can be as much as 3%) they can sell the property for a lower price and still end up with more money in their pocket than they would have had they used an agent .
Buyers should not however expect the owner to discount their property by the full value of the commission saved. Although selling your own home is not nearly as difficult as real estate agents would have you believe there are costs involved both in terms of time and money. It is only fair to expect that the owner will want to keep some of this saved commission as a reward for their endeavors.
Faster going direct
Real estate agents may claim that buyers can find a home more quickly by using their services as they have many properties on their books for the buyer to choose from. While this may have been true ten or twenty years ago like many other aspects of our lives the internet has changed this by offering a cheap way to bring buyers and sellers together. There are now dedicated private sale real estate websites such as http://www.smartvendor.com.au that allow buyers to compare hundreds of properties online, all for sale direct from the owner.
Real estate agents will often ignore a buyer's stated preferences and even lie about a property's features in order to get buyers to attend an inspection. Do agent's really believe that they are so good at extolling a property's virtues that the buyer is going to forget that they wanted a fourth bedroom? Some agents may take buyers on 'The Run' where they are driven to a number of cheaper but totally unsuitable properties in the hope that when they are shown the final property they'll jump a chance to buy it. Showing the buyers the property that suited them first could have saved this wasted time.
Even when real estate agents do not indulge in time wasting games the buying process is slowed down by the presence of a middleman. A call to the agent to request a viewing will be followed by a call to the owner to confirm that the time is suitable before the agent can call the buyer back with the final details. One call could replace these three phone calls when the buyer and seller deal direct.
Real estate agents are often referant to show homes at times other than their scheduled open house inspections. This is understandable as they may have many properties on their books and need to have some control over the viewings. An owner seller on the other hand only has the one property to sell and will often try to be as flexible as possible to be able to show the property at a time convenient for the buyer.
Speed up the process
Buyers can speed up the process still further by taking matters into their own hands and seeking out sellers with a letterbox drop in areas that interest them. For a fee your post office may even agree to distribute the letters for you. Alternatively buyers can get a feel for a neighborhood by walking around posting letters through the letterboxes of properties that look like they may be suitable. Some buyers may even choose to leave a message on the back of their business card to show that they are not real estate agents trying to drum up business.
Before you start to look for a property you should take the time to work out exactly what it is that you want, as this will speed things up in the long run. Make a list of all the features that a property must have and those features that it would be nice to have. Do not waste time going to view a property that does not have all the features on the must have list. If after a couple of months you are still looking re-evaluate your must have list.
It is advisable to obtain pre-approval for a loan before you start looking. This way you will know how much you can afford from the start and you wont waste time viewing properties that you can not afford and will avoid disappointment for all involved.
Viewing a property
Always be respectful when you are viewing a property for sale by owner and remember that it is their home. The interior decoration may not be to your taste but you can be tactful in how you express this. Antagonising the owner is not likely to result in them accepting a lower price for the property; in fact the opposite is true.
Closing the deal
Buyers should seek a professional home inspection before finalizing the transaction (this is the case whether purchasing through an agent or direct from the owner). This report will alert you to any problems such as termites, damp or structural irregularities. Any problems present at the time of purchase may become the buyer's responsibility to rectify as insurance policies and will not pay out for a pre-existing condition.
If the owner agreements to make any alterations to the property such as removing junk from the backyard, make sure that this is agreed in writing before signing the contract. Likewise if you have negotiated for any treaties such as a refrigerator to be included in the sale price this should also be included in the contract.
Without both the buyer and the seller have legal knowledge it is advisory for the contract to be handled by a legal professional or licensed conveyancer. As real estate agents have no legal training this would also be the case if buying through an agent.
Increase the chance of finding your dream home
Many homeowners have had previous bad encounters with real estate agents so that when they come to sell they will only deal direct with buyers. By including private sale properties in your search you cast a greater net increasing the chances of finding your dream home. If you have never bought without real estate agents being involved you may be surprised at how easy the process is.
So why do agents hold open houses? The open house is not a very effective tool for selling a home, but it brings an agent into contact with people who are looking to purchase a home. Even if the prospective homeowner is not interested in the home being shown, they may be interested in the agent's other listings.
For both the FSBO seller and the seller who uses an agent, the question is this: if the likelihood of finding a buyer via an open house is small, should you hold one? A real estate agent's goal is to sell a house – and yours is just one of the many they have listed. As an FSBO seller, your goal is to sell your house. In either case, the chance that an open house will connect you to a firm buyer is slim, however you can still use your home as part of your successful sales strategy.
Today, nearly 8 out of 10 buyers study homes for sale using the Internet. If you list your home with an FSBO site, choose one that allows you to include a complete set of photographs and a video tour. Your prospective buyers may view your home any time of the day or night. Minimally, your photographs should show the home's exterior and the major rooms inside. This includes the kitchen, dining room, living room, family room and the bedrooms. If the home has a garage, professionally landscaped yard or other interesting features, these should be captured in photographs, too.
What about the bathroom? The debate rages over whether you should show the bathroom in photographs or not. No one will appeal about the value of the bathrooms in a home, and truthfully, a bathroom can make or break a sale. For a photographic tour, however, even an outstanding shot does not often capture a bathroom at its best.
Bathrooms have a lot of reflective surfaces. Tile, chrome, porcelain, marble and mirrors can impair photographs. Flash units sometimes obliterate the details and distract from the overall impression you're trying to make. Without your bathroom is something truly magnificent, you may want to hold off on putting photos of it in your tour.
A photo open house does not have to show your home's tiniest details. For the FSBO seller, the purpose of the photographic tour is to help prospective buyers determine whether they want to see your home in person. To that end, your photographs should be good quality images. The lighting should be sufficient to show the details of each room on the tour. Minimize the clutter in each room you photograph.
Aside from the photographs, you should provide the dimensions of each room. You do not have to post a layout of the home with the listing, but you should have one readily available for serious inquiries.
As an FSBO seller, feel free to skip the open house and refer prospective buyers to your online home tour. Instead, concentrate on creating an attractive online FSBO listing with good photographs that accentuate your home's most desirable features.
A bank short sale is one option lenders offer to help homeowners save their home from falling into foreclosure. Although the process is complicated, this alternative can offer struggling borrowers an opportunity to break free from the financial constraints of owning a home.
Bank short sale properties come in all sizes and price ranges. Lenders can grant approval for single family homes, condominiums, commercial real estate and vacant land. When borrowers fall behind on their mortgage payments and do not possess the financial means to get back on track, lenders may allow them to participate in this type of arrangement.
Short selling requires lender approval. This type of real estate transaction is generally handled by the lender's loss mitigation department. It involves selling the property for less than the borrower owes on their mortgage loan.
Most banks require short sale properties to be sold through a licensed realtor. Occasionally, banks will allow homeowners to list their property as "For Sale by Owner." The home must be sold within a set period of time established by the lender.
Not all banks participate in short sale transactions. Those who do, have strict guidelines in place which must be adhered to through the process. If borrowers do not follow protocol, lenders can consent with foreclosure action.
Real estate experts claim foreclosure costs banks approximately $ 60,000. By engaging in short sales, mortgage lenders can recoup some of their financial losses and avoid expense legal fees associated with the foreclosure process.
For individuals facing foreclosure, a bank short sale can be the answer to their prayers. Entering into this agreement does not allow borrowers to keep their home. Short sales have a detrimental effect on credit reports, but not quite as damaging as foreclosure.
Once lenders grant short sale approval, borrowers must submit a packet of information including financial documents, tax returns and a short sale hardship letter. This letter is of particular importance because it allows borrowers to detail events which caused them to become delinquent on their mortgage note.
Each lender establishes their own protocol for handling short sale transactions. Since the bank is taking a loss on the property, the borrower must prove they do not possess the financial means to make good on their loan. The process generally takes three to six months to complete.
Bank short sales are one of the few options that allow homeowners to avoid foreclosure. It is best to work with a real estate professional that possess experience with short sale transactions. Homeowners who need to sell their property quickly should consider seeking out private real estate investors who purchase homes with cash.
Cash deals can expedite the short sale process. With the current credit crunch, many investors are purchasing homes with cash because they can not obtain traditional financing. Local real estate investors can be found by typing in the name of your city and the phrase "real estate investors" using your favorite search engine.
Another way to locate private investors is to search for real estate investment networking groups. Attend meetings and network with members. Additionally, the classifieds section of newspapers and real estate magazines.
Michael Corbett–host of Extra’s Mansions and Millionaires–shares his strategies, tips, and never-before-revealed insider techniques that have helped him make a fortune in real estate. This book is for aspiring flippers, first-time home buyers, or any homeowner who wants to create big profits and own their ultimate dream home–mortgage free! Starting with the essentials, Corbett shares how to crunch the numbers to instantly determine a house’s profit potential. He then covers every step from purchase to sale: – Get the profit-making house at the price you can afford – Make the improvements that make you millions – Insider secrets that save you thousands – Take advantage of the market’s ups and downs – Sell your home tax free and pocket the profits Filled with practical tips, illustrated with before-and-after case studies and easy to use charts and worksheets, Find It, Fix It, Flip It! offers the insider expertise needed to tap into an exciting–and potentially limitless–new source of income and financial independence.
My top 10 tips for selling your condo suite
Preparing your condo for sale should be done in a prearranged and structured manner. Here are my top 10 ways to do so, in no particular order, as some might be more or equally important to you situation.
1: DE-CLUTTER – First and foremost. Creating the illusion of more space is a magical thing. An impression of a cluttered, messy space is certainly not. An open, inviting space is will be more accepted than a messy, bogged down one. Put "stuff" away. This includes everything from remote controls, to laundry, to dishes, to movies / video games. Also, some people think they can just toss everything into their closets as a quick fix. Nope! If it looks like your closets are jam packed and ready to explode, the potential buyer will come up with an image of their belongings not fitting either. The main word would be purge. If you have not worn it in a year, you do not need it.
2: DE-PERSONALIZE – Yes, everyone is impressed with your gleaming certificates plastered all over the walls, but when you're trying to sell, lose them. This goes for personal / family pictures, religious objects and so on. Potential buyers are already trying to get in the picture mindset of living there, so try and make it as easy as possible for this to occurrence. Someone might not like your property because of your tastes, beliefs or opinions, believe me – I've seen stranger things happen! Slowly comb through your suite and try to eliminate anything that is overly characteristic or personal.
3: AROMA – I'm sure you've read loads of articles & tips about baking cookies before an open house or showing. But let's not over do it too much. Granted fresh cookies and fabreeze does smell better than an avoided bathroom and four day old dishes, but we do not the smell to be too overpowering upon entering. Remember, there are people with all sorts of allergies. Consider investing in a couple of soft tone glade plug-ins or candles. A nice, soothing, calm and continuous aroma will ease the minds of buyers and assist them in sticking around for a while.
4: FIRST IMPRESSIONS – I figured I would follow aroma with this category. A great first impression is critical in captivating a buyer's interest. From a large reflective mirror, to a stunning piece of art, to a simple and open clear sight line of the suite and / or its view, use what you can to create a quick wow factor. Think of where your eyes would shift upon entrance. Work on overselling the first impression and the buyers will be craving the full, interrupted tour. But remember, first impressions do start before actually entering the suite. Make sure your property management company is on the ball with providing a clean, inviting atmosphere.
5: STAGING – Vacant suite? If you're sitting on a vacant suite, staging is something to think about. There is nothing more bland and unappealing than a lonely, vacant condo suite. Consider hiring a design and staging consultant. Remember, staging creates a lifestyle and existence that buyers crave and extremely desire. For a fairly affordable monthly cost you could have an excellent looking suite and really push for an offer. Compare that to a vacant suite and your carrying costs for two to three months. Staged suites do statistically sell faster than vacant suites so check out your options and use your resources. I offer staging and design consultations. Combining staging with selling is an art that usually leads to quick, painless sales.
6: COLOR / TONES – Tone down the color. Eliminate any strong, dark or personalized walls. You might like the bright red feature wall in the living area, but it will scare away your buyers. Dark colors actually squeeze the visibility out of the space and make it appear smaller. The key word is neutral. If you have to hire someone to come in and repaint the majority of your space, it will be worth it. Try a cool, modern and refreshing color to liven up the area but consider how it will look with your accessories, art, etc. Do not go out and break the bank finding something that you adore, as the new buyer might have plans to paint over it again once they move in. Be resourceful yet practical.
7: AMBIANCE – Create an atmosphere that revolves around your target market. Plug in the calming water fountain, flick on the fireplace and hit play on the stereo. Remember who you are trying to sell to though. For a stylish, urban condo set the mood with some upbeat house music. For a quaint, large space utilize the fireplace as a relaxing focal point. Use your discretion and channel the energy of the space intelligently. Generate a fitting mood and everyone will feel pleasant and at home while viewing.
8: FOOD / TREATS – Want people to stick around for longer? Graciously leave a snack tray or some sort of offering for the individual (s) interested in your home. Bottled water is a great touch and a personal favorite. They might see 3-5 properties that day, but that water should last for a while, and they will remember that it was from you! Cookies, mints, gum, wrapped chocolate, etc … anything along these lines is a nice, thoughtful touch. Really want the wow factor? Get creative and consider something like a catered open house!
9: SANS SMOKE / PETS – This category may not apply to everyone, but it is tremendously important to certain households. If you smoke, take it outside … and not lean out the window type outside, all the way. Smoke is something that extremely lives in your walls and will constantly be lurking around. Buyers definitely do not want this. Buyers want to think this home is their fresh start, not a second hand ashtray. If possible, pets should be removed for shows and always for open houses. As buyers, the last thing we want to see are stains on the carpet, pet hair, and / or a big litter box staring back at us. Your pet is a member of the family … remove them for showings and certainly clean up after them. The main thing here is that you do not want a questionable issue in the back of the buyer's minds.
10: FENG SHUI – An intriguing ancient Chinese art form developed many years ago. Feng Shui is a knowledge which reveals how to balance energies in a space to bring health, positivity and good fortune for the individuals living there. There are nine quadrants that define different areas in your home and life. If you're looking for more money, work on your prosperity corner. If you're looking to improve your relationships then work on altering that corner. The list goes on. By accepting Feng Shui into your life at home, you will create a natural flow and energy into any space. Ever had a good or bad feeling upon entering a property? This may be why! Even if you're not selling, try different aspects of Fung Shui in your personal life … the results could astonish you!
The main thing is adhere to what you think fits your selling situation. Another tip as a seller, that should be obvious, is leave! Yes, do not be present when your property is being shown or an open house is taking place. Buyers will feel awkward with you there and feel like they are snooping around.
Selling my own home without a real estate agent is relatively simple. What makes selling one's own home so daunting is the amount involved, for most dealing in tens or hundreds of thousands is not what one does everyday. Still, selling one's own home is simply a process of controlling a few basic points of the real estate sale.
First is determining a sales price. The hardest part of this process is divorcing emotion from business; after all, regardless of feeling selling a home is a business deal. But if one can take an objective look at the sales price of comparable homes in the same neighborhood or market, a ballpark selling price should come to mind. Refining that price may take a trip to the courthouse to see tax value of neighboring homes.
The second process is getting the legal side settled. The safest is finding a real estate lawyer who will provide and exceed all contracts, while also providing counsel. There are lawyers who specialize in helping For Sale By Owner (FSBO) sales at a flat rate, possibly around $ 500. This can be quite a savings over paying 6% to a realtor. If one is determined to really go it alone, finding one's state legal requirement and appropriate paperwork may be found at a legal paperwork site like LegalZoom.com or a legal contracts retail store like We The People.
The third process is marketing. Simply stated, one needs to tell as many people as they can about their home being for sale. The cheapest form is of course word of mouth. The home seller should tell everyone they know that they have a home for sale. Then ask if they know anyone who could use a home that has a large backyard, a garage, and near an elementary school. Of course, substitute the prominent features of the house for sale to match the home for sale. Telling people should be easy to do because one is not looking to sell to the person listening but one is trying to get their house in the listener's mind. By adding features it helps sort all the people they know and gives a marker for discussion. Like being near an elementary school brings to mind families with young children or having a deck could trigger a couple that enjoys entertaining. Just saying a house is for sale is too broad and brings no one specific to mind.
There is much more that could be said and done for every process but being aware of them is a start. As one begins to work those processes, the fuller nature of what is needed will become apparent.
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