Top 10 Agent Protocol Tips – Rules for Working With Agents

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Here are protocols you can use while shopping for a home that will keep you out of hot water:

1. Understand Agents Work on Commission

  • Very few real estate agents work on salary.
  • Most real estate agents are paid commission. If an agent does not close a transaction, she does not get paid.
  • Agents are not public servants and do not work for free. Do not ask an agent to work for you if you intend to cut the agent out of your deal.
2. Keep Appointments & Be On Time
  • Be respectful, use common courtesy and don’t expect an agent to drop what she is doing to run out to show you a home. You are probably not that agent’s only prospect / client. And if you are, lord help you.
  • Do not make an appointment with an agent and then forget to show up.
  • If you are going to be late, call and let your agent know when you expect to arrive.

3. Choose A Real Estate Agent

  • Decide whether you want to work without representation: dealing directly with listing agents, or if you want to hire your own agent.
  • If you decide to hire your own agent, find an agent with whom you are comfortable.
  • If you are interviewing agents, let each agent know you are in the interview stage.
  • Never, never, never interview two different agents from the same company. Trust me, don’t do it.

4. Do Not Call The Listing Agent if You Are Working With a Buying Agent

  • Listing agents work for the seller, not the buyer. If you hire the listing agent to represent you, that agent will now be working under dual agency.
  • If listing agents show you the property, the listing agent will expect to represent you.
  • Listing agents do not want to do the buying agent’s job. Let your buyer’s agent do her job.

5. Practice Open House Protocol

  • Ask your agent if it’s considered proper for you to attend open houses alone. In some areas, it is frowned upon to go to open houses unescorted.
  • Hand your agent’s business card to the agent hosting the open house. Sometimes this agent will be the listing agent, but often it is an agent also looking for unrepresented buyers. Announcing you are represented protects you.
  • Do not ask the open house host questions about the seller or the seller’s motivation. Let your agent ask those questions for you.

6. Sign a Buyer’s Broker Agreement with a Buying Agent

  • Expect to sign a buyer’s broker agreement. It creates a relationship between you and the agent, and explains the agent’s duties to you and vice versa.
  • Ask about the difference between an Exclusive and Non-Exclusive Buyer’s Broker Agreement.
  • If you’re not ready to sign a buyer’s broker, do not ask that agent to show you homes. Otherwise, procuring causemay pop up.
  • Ask your agent if she will release you from the contract if you become dissatisfied. If she refuses, hire somebody else.

7. Always Ask For and Sign an Agency Agreement

  • By law, agents are required to give buyers an Agency Disclosure.
  • Signing an agency disclosure is your proof of receipt. It is solely a disclosure. It is not an agreement to agency. Read it.
  • The best and most practiced type of agency is the single agency. This mean you are represented by your own agent who owes you a fiduciary responsibility.

8. Make Your Expectations Known

  • If you expect your agent to pick you up at your front door and drive you home after showing homes, tell her. Many will provide that service. If not, they will ask you to meet at the office.
  • Let your agent know how you want her to communicate with you and how often. Do you want phone calls, e-mails, text messages, IM‘s or all of the above?
  • Set realistic goals and a time frame to find your home. Ask your agent how you can help by supplying feedback.
  • If you are displeased, say so.

 

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Biggest Mistakes Buyers Make in a Hot Seller’s Market

In the current seller’s market that exists in many parts of the country, buyers need to perform near perfectly to attain the home of their dreams. Many of the best new listings that come to market are receiving multiple offers . . . and in just a few days on the market. So what can you do as a buyer to enhance your odds of getting your offer accepted?

1)      Get Serious and Work with a Real Estate Agent – while this sounds like a given, many buyers are casually looking and only get serious when they see a home on the internet and start their quest to buy that home from whatever agent they can find. By the time they get mobilized the home is gone!  Here in the Destin, and most of the Northwest Florida market, many homes that are terrific deals have multiple offers almost immediately after going on the market.

2)      Get Ready to Buy – There are great local lenders here in Destin, Niceville, Fort Walton Beach, Crestview, and Navarre markets – be sure to get prequalified or better yet preapproved for your loan. This eliminates any surprises and demonstrates to sellers that you are serious, qualified, and able to close. Have your proof of funds ready to show which is often required.  Especially if you find a foreclosure, they will want this proof of funds to come with the offer.

3)      Operate with a Sense of Urgency – Have your real estate agent set you up a new listings alert and when a hot property comes to market moving quickly is extremely important. If a listing comes to market on a Wednesday, waiting until Saturday to see it because you want to watch TV won’t work. Always assume that other interested buyers are seeing the home on day 1 and making an offer on day 1!

4)      Make Clean Offers – offers that are not clean result in delays and counter offers– delays results in more buyer offers – multiple offers drive prices up and probability of getting your dream home down. If there is something specific that the seller is looking for in your offer do everything possible to accommodate it.

Why Hire A Real Estate Agent?

The typical real estate transaction involves at least two dozen separate individuals – insurance assessors, mortgage brokers and underwriters, inspectors, appraisers, escrow officers, buyer’s agents, seller’s agents, bankers, title researchers, and a number of other individuals whose actions and decisions have to be orchestrated in order to perform in harmony and get a home sale closed. It is the responsibility of your real estate agent to expertly coordinate all the professionals involved in your home purchase and to act as the advocate for you and your interests throughout.

Seven main roles of your real estate agent
A Buyer’s Real Estate Agent:

  1. Educates you about your market.
  2. Analyzes your wants and needs.
  3. Guides you to homes that fit your criteria.
  4. Coordinates the work of other needed professionals.
  5. Negotiates on your behalf.
  6. Checks and double-checks paperwork and deadlines.
  7. Solves any problems that may arise.

Home Staging–Things That Help (Or Hinder)

Silly Staging Ideas Room-by-Room:

Living Room. Displaying photos of people more attractive than family members by hanging frames with manufacturers’ photos still inside, or even displaying photos of celebrities around the room, are not good ideas. Not only silly, this breaks the ‘de-personalize’ staging rule. Remove any photos, diplomas or similar items, as they do nothing but distract buyers.  Look for some tasteful art for staging instead.

Kitchen and Dining Room. Nothing screams ‘staged home’ like a formally set dining room. Less is more! Skip the formal setting and put a simple vase of flowers on the table instead. Clear kitchen counters of all clutter and add a simple bowl of fruit for a clean, open look.

Bedroom. The casually draped throw over the foot of the bed with ‘tea for two’ on top has been overdone, and buyers know you don’t live that way. Invest in some nice bedding, put night tables on either side of the bed and include one long dresser and a tall chest of drawers in the master bedroom. If the room seems crowded with those items, use a double bed instead of a queen or king.

Bathroom.Tassels draped over hand towels, seashells nestled atop a stack of towels wrapped in a bow and champagne flutes on the bathtub are perhaps befitting for a honeymoon suite, but not a family home. Don’t fill the bathtub with blue-tinted water and don’t tie a ribbon around the toilet seat either. These have been done, but don’t make the same silly mistake. Invest in new hand towels, a new shower curtain and remove personal items from countertops such as toothbrushes and makeup.

A buyer won’t buy based on dining room settings or a frou-frou bathroom. After staging your home, you want a clean, de-personalized, clutter-free space. If you’ve done a good job, a buyer won’t be able to tell it was staged at all.

Top 10 Mistakes Home Buyers Make

Mistake #1: Waiting for the market to improve or not buying at all

No one can predict precisely where the market is going, so trying to time your home purchase with the bottom of the market is futile. If you’re financially and emotionally ready to be a homeowner, it’s always a good time to buy. Just think: all the time you spend procrastinating on purchasing a home, you could be building equity, getting tax deductions and enjoying the many other benefits of homeownership

Mistake #2: Making an offer without contingencies

When you’re buying a home, Plan A is always to buy the home on the terms in the original contract. Plan B is to buy the home after renegotiating some of the terms. Plan C is the contingency plan: if there is an irresolvable flaw in the condition of the home, the home doesn’t appraise for the purchase price, or your lender refuses to fund your loan for whatever reason, you can back out of the transaction with no penalty (other than the money you’ve spent on inspections) so long as you have the appropriate contingencies in place. Remember, contingency = the right to bail.

Mistake #3: Not reading the fine print

If you did your homework, you had your trustworthy real estate attorney review all your paperwork and discuss it with you so you don’t get a nasty surprise at closing.

Mistake #4: Forgoing a home inspection

Even if a home looks flawless, it’s a mistake to assume that it’s actually problem-free. All homes have defects — even brand new ones — so getting a professional inspection before making the commitment to buy is crucial. Be sure to attend the inspection so the inspector can explain any issues

Mistake #5: Falling for love at first sight

Buying the first house you like is kind of like marrying the first person you go on a date with: not necessarily a good idea. If you don’t shop around and see what else is out there, you could miss out on a good deal or potentially regret your purchase.

Mistake #6: Buying a house you can’t afford

Just because a lender is willing to loan you a fortune doesn’t mean you should take it. Buying more home than you can afford can quickly lead to financial trouble. As a rule of thumb, your mortgage payment should be less than 28 percent of your gross monthly income. Besides your mortgage payment, be prepared for the additional costs of homeownership, such as insurance, property taxes, utilities and maintenance

Mistake #7: Buying a foreclosure or fixer-upper without doing your research

Some homebuyers are so set on finding a bargain, they overlook the fact that buying a home that needs repairs can be a stressful and expensive endeavor. Before buying a fixer-upper, get estimates on any necessary repairs and renovations and make sure they will pay for themselves in increased property value

Mistake #8: Not researching the neighborhood

What good is having your dream home, if you don’t like the community where it’s located? Before shopping for a home, shop for a neighborhood. Make sure it’s a good fit for your lifestyle — figure out how long you want your work commute to be, how close you want to be to amenities like shopping and nightlife, and which school districts are the best. Even if you don’t have children, living near good schools raises your property value.

Mistake #9: Thinking short-term

The house you purchase should be a place that feels like home to you and your family, but it’s important to remember that it’s also a huge investment. When shopping for a home, it pays to think about resale down the road. Search for homes in sought-after locations, and look for features that future buyers will want, such as central air conditioning and lots of storage space.

Mistake #10: Not getting pre-approved before house hunting

Why get your hopes up looking at $500,000 homes, when you can really only afford a $300,000 home? Before you start house hunting, narrow down your price range by getting pre-approved. Shop for a lender or mortgage broker you can trust. The mortgage pro will review your credit, income, assets and debts, and recommend a mortgage with monthly payments that fit your budget. The result is a good faith estimate, a document that spells out the likely terms of your loan, including the interest rate and closing costs. Not only does this let you know how much house you can afford, it also lets sellers know that you’re serious about buying.

 

Home Improvements for $100 or Less

Tip 1: Spend an hour with a pro.

Invite a Realtor or interior designer over to check out your home. Many Realtors will do this as a courtesy, but you will probably have to pay a consultation fee to a designer. Check with several designers in your area — a standard hourly fee is normally less than $100.

In an hour, a professional can give you lots of ideas for needed improvements. Even small suggestions, such as paint colors or furniture placement, can go a long way toward improving the look and feel of your home.

Tip 2: Find inspiration.

Want an even cheaper alternative to a professional consultation? Search for remodeling and decorating inspiration in design-oriented magazines, books, TV shows and Web sites. Simply tear out or print off the ideas you want to try and start your to-do list. Keep it simple: when remodeling on a tight budget, do-it-yourself type projects are best.

Tip 3: Inspect it!

Not every home improvement is cosmetic. Hidden problems like deteriorating roofs, termite infestation or outdated electrical systems can negatively impact your home’s value. Hire an inspectorto check out the areas of your home that you don’t normally see. Small problems, like a hidden water leak, can become expensive headaches if you put off repairs. A little investment now can save you loads of cash later.

Tip 4: Paint, paint, paint.

One of the simplest, most cost-effective improvementsof all is a fresh coat of paint. Newly painted rooms look clean and updated — and that spells value. Neutral paint colors appeal to the greatest number of people, therefore making your home more desirable. On average, a gallon of paint costs around $25, leaving you plenty of money to buy rollers, tape, drop cloths and brushes. So, buy a few gallons and get busy!

Tip 5: Cut energy costs.

If you think your utility bill is a fixed amount, call your local utility company to find out. Many energy providers offer free energy audits of their customers’ homes. They can show you how to maximize the energy efficiency of your home. A power- and water-saving home will conserve your money now, and is more valuable in the long run. Plus, you can use the money you save for more updates!