After several years selling real estate representing everyone from first time home buyers to customers selling a house, there's one thing I can say for certain. Most people do not understand the real estate process and what role Realtors play in that process.
So I thought it would be a good idea to explain some things that you probably don't know. Unfortunately once I started writing, I ended up with too much for one blog post. So, today we will start with buyers, and tomorrow I'll move on to sellers.
Let's Start with Buyers
Many buyers are more comfortable on their keyboards and the internet than they are talking on the phone or in face to face conversations. So it only makes sense that your first stop in the home buying process is the internet. You most often begin by looking at houses online. You may not know any Realtors or don't really know where to find a Realtor, and you most likely have no idea why you would even need to choose one at this point. Your goal in the long run is buying a house, but for now you just want to look at the houses. That's great. However, when you see a house you really like and want to see inside or want to know more about it, what do you do?
Very often at this point you're going to click some button that says something like Get More Info. You have no idea what's going to happen when you click it, but you want more info. Well, what happens is some agent who is paying to get buyer clients from that site is going to get your information and call you. They aren't going to be the agent who listed the property and represents the seller. They aren't going to be someone who works for the website you're browsing. They're going to be an agent looking for home buyers to represent. They paid a lot of their hard earned money to get your information, and they won't make any money unless you use them as your agent and buy a house.
I think that's a point that needs to be made very clear. The agent who calls you doesn't get a salary. They work solely on commission. They spend many hours every day taking and making calls, answering questions, and showing properties to people who may or may not ever hire them or purchase a property. They often don't get paid at all for that time and effort.
Now you have an agent calling you, but you may already have an agent in mind you'd like to use.
Piece of Advice #1
If you have an agent you plan to use for the purchase of a home, have THAT agent show you properties and answer your questions. Do NOT click any buttons on web sites or call agents from online ads or call the listing agent. A big part of your a buyer's agent's job is to show you properties and answer your questions. If your agent is too busy to show you properties, get a new agent. When you have agents from web sites show you properties and you have no intention of letting them represent you, you are wasting their time and costing them money. Also, the agent who is going to represent you really should view the house with you to give you their advice and so they know all the details to structure your offer.
Even if you don't have an agent in mind, you have no idea how good the agent who's calling you is. Are they brand new? Are they selling real estate as a hobby instead of a career? Have they earned any certifications or regularly attended any training outside of getting licensed? These are important considerations. This person will be representing you in possibly the biggest purchase of your life. Don't you think it's important that they have experience and take their role seriously?
Piece of Advice #2
Find out about the agent you are intending to have represent you. Google them. Read their reviews on sites like Rate My Agent or Real Satisfied. Look them up on Yelp. Look on Zillow to see what they've sold recently. Then call to meet with them. Did they answer your call or call you back in a timely manner? Make sure you like them. Ask if they will be at the home inspection and the closing. Ask if they can refer you to contractors if you need one. Make sure they know their job and are willing to go the extra mile for you.
When you click on Get More Info on multiple sites or for more than one property, you are going to get calls from many agents. Since they paid for your information, they are probably going to each call, text and email you many times. Why would you want all that?
Piece of Advice #3
Hire an agent instead of clicking on any buttons on home search sites. Do the research from Piece of Advice #2, and hire a buyer's agent. Then you won't end up with an agent who isn't good or you don't like, and you won't end up getting so much contact from so many agents.
When you have an agent show you property, then you buy that property with another agent, you could be creating a bad situation for the agent you used for the purchase. The agent who showed you the property could bring a case against the agent you chose to represent you for the commission on the sale. It's called procuring cause. It's not a situation either agent wants to find themselves in, and the best way to avoid it is to decide on your agent first and have them be the ONLY agent showing you properties.
What about paying for the house? Have you thought of that? Well, you should. First, hire a good Realtor to represent you. Second, get with a lender to get a pre approval. Your Realtor should have a referral to a great lender they've worked with in the past. They should also be able to steer you away from lenders who are not so good. Listen to your Realtor. You know they know what they're talking about because you already researched them. Now trust them. That brings me to the next 2 pieces of advice.
Piece of Advice #4
Get a pre approval done ASAP in the process. Many sellers won't even consider your offer without a pre approval letter, and many agents won't show you houses without one. You will need to give your lender all the documentation they are going to request for the pre approval anyhow. Why not give it to them up front and have one less thing to worry about later? The biggest reason to get a pre approval is to know what you can afford. How horrible would it be to go look at a $300,000 house and fall in love with it only to find out you only qualify for a $225,000 mortgage? Avoid the heartbreak and headache, and get the pre approval.
Piece of Advice #5
Trust the expertise of the Realtor you hire. I don't mean blind trust, but if you feel you can't trust them then they aren't the agent for you. If you hired an experienced, qualified agent, they do this every day. They know what they're talking about and which other industry professionals are good and which aren't. Take advantage of their experience and trust the advice they give you.
Stay tuned to tomorrow's post where we'll cover sellers.