Real estate takes a lot more knowledge than just having great houses on their list. It’s having the experience, knowing the area, and the ability to represent the client’s needs above anything else.
But how do you know who is the right real estate agent for you? Maybe your friend recommended their friend or your friend recommended themselves. Here are a few things to keep in mind when searching for the right fit in an agent.
Your Agent Should Be Local – Like Central Oregon Local
You’re looking for someone who has the knowledge of Central Oregon, who understands the market, knows the inventory, is familiar with different neighborhoods, schools, doctors, traffic, and so much more.
The person who was recommended to you in a different city should not be your agent – even if he or she produces big results. You’re looking for someone who knows the area you’re interested in.
So how do you find them?
Check out who’s selling in the area. Drive around and see whose signs are up. Use Zillow, Realtor.com, and even Google to see who’s getting the best reviews and who is the most active in your area of interest.
Don’t Pick the First Agent You Meet
Do a little self-examination. It’s important to make sure your personalities match. So don’t just pick that one real estate agent you met when you were out to dinner. They may not be the right fit for you.
In fact, shop around. Meet several agents and get an idea of what you’re looking for, what your requirements are and be sure they have the right compatibilities for you. Ask friends for recommendations and start doing your own research – online and in person.
Don’t Pick Your Friend Just Because They’re Your Friend
Now, that doesn’t mean don’t pick your friend at all. Just make sure to do your research and consider whether or not you’ll work well together in that environment. A real estate transaction is likely going to be the biggest money deal you make in your lifetime, and it’s important to choose a partner wisely in that endeavor.
Now is not the time to toss your friend a bone who just got their real estate license. It may be a little sensitive and your friend may be a little offended, but times like these call for first-hand knowledge of the process, area, and what you’re looking for when buying or selling your home.
If things aren’t going well in the buying or selling process, you need to be able to have a professional conversation with your agent. There can’t be room for fear of hurt feelings or concerns about what their reaction might be.
You have to hire the most qualified person for you.
The Best Listing Agent Doesn’t Tell You What You Want to Hear
Obviously, you’re always hoping for top dollar. And our human nature tends to lean toward the guy who suggests the highest listing price.
This is often a poor way to make your choice.
Go with the agent that backs their price up with local data and doesn’t just tell you what you want to hear. Because they can’t necessarily deliver and will often come back to you a few weeks later asking for a price reduction.
There are many strategies to listing a house. So listen to those strategies. Some agents will price a house low and let the marketplace drive up the price. Others think pricing it high and testing the waters will get you comfortable with the idea that your house isn’t really worth as much as you though. And that is an agent who tells you what you want to hear.
Go With an Agent Who Actually Closes Deals
There are career real estate agents and there are those whom career real estate agents call “hobbyists.” Some agents use their license a few hours a week while their kids are in school or as a supplemental income.
Make sure your agent is closing a deal at least once a month.
It’s hard work to sell houses and help buyers. Make sure your agent is working the hours necessary to get the job done.
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Moving can be time consuming… well “life” consuming. The last thing you need to be worried about is remembering what to check/repair in your new home. Here’s a great list of reminders to help you down the road:
- Make it a point to turn on all of your major appliances and let them run for a complete cycle, especially if your home is newly built to look for leaks.
- Be sure to read your warranty — don’t wait until an emergency to start familiarizing yourself with your legal rights and responsibilities.
45 Days Later
- Change the filter on your HVAC system, and vacuum out the air intake vents. Capturing dirt and dust with the right filter can go a long way toward reducing dust.
Six Months Later
- During summer months, keep an eye out for invasive animals like squirrels, birds and wasps. These pests look for loose soffits and buckled siding as a way to get into your home.
- Twice a year in the summer and fall, inspect the exterior of your house to make sure rainwater is draining properly.
- Landscaping should be negatively graded away from the house.
- Each winter, check to make sure that your pipes are properly insulated against freezing.
- Inspect your roof or have a professional roofer conduct an inspection. Look for missing shingles, gaps in the flashing around chimneys and other hazards. Indoors, check your ceiling for water spots.
Every Two Years
- Have a professional HVAC contractor inspect your furnace, air conditioner and hot water heater.
- Inspect exterior paint and touch up as needed.
Interesting article… Does it pay to have a more experienced agent?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of the Treasurey released the May edition of the Obama Administration’s Housing Scorecard, a comprehensive report on the nation’s housing market.
The May Housing Scorecard shows promise as indicators continue to show signs of stability. But, officials caution that the overall outlook remains mixed.
Sales of existing homes rose 2.4 percent in April, increasing in every region of the U.S. Also, the inventory of newly constructed houses increased for the first time since April 2007. Since sales outpaced inventory levels, the supply of homes on the market dropped. The impact of serious deliquencies and underwater mortgages continue to temper market gains. The full report can be viewed at www.hud.gov/scorecard.
The National Association of REALTORS said that of the 146 Metro cities surveyed, home prices rose in 74 of them in the first quarter of 2012. This is up from 29 cities that saw an increase in home prices in the fourth quarter of 2011. In addition, the National Association of REALTORS stated that inventories for existing homes fell 22% since this time last year and are down 41% since the peak in mid-2007 (see our previous blog post for more information on local home inventories). Obviously, the housing market has a long way to go, but this report was a nice step in the right direction.
Many buyers are now competing for the same house. Todays bidding wars, unlike those in the past, reflect a supply shortage. Caused by tight inventory, this is the latest evidence that housing demand is starting to increase after a six year slump. the National Association of Realtors reported in late April that the index that measures the number of contracts signed to buy previously owned homes went up in March to the highest level in two years.
A balanced supply of homes is reflected in a 6 month inventory. This means that it would take 6 months to sell all the homes on the market at any given time. The current supply of inventory for homes in Bend, under $200,000, is two weeks.
In 2011, 10% of realtors spent time negotiating low-ball offers on listed homes — offers usually submitted by the buyer
for 25% or more below the list price (according to a National Association of REALTORS® survey of its members). In 2012- that number has dropped drastically. According to a survey this March of 4,500 agents and brokers, not one realtor has experienced a negotiation with low-ball offers.
We are experiencing that low ball offers no longer are a way to go. In fact, single family residences sold in Bend in the last three months sold at 99% of asking price. And we are experiencing multiple offers on properties that are priced to market. The issue is that inventory is low and buyers are buying.
For home buyers who still think they have a chance of hitting it lucky with a low-ball offer, they’re finding in many markets that their offers are more often being rejected or countered closer to the original asking price. So get ready, as the trend to a sellers market is returning.
“According to city records, the city of Bend has issued 89 building permits in the first quarter of the year for new, single family homes. This is the highest rate for a first quarter in the last 5 years, sparking optimism for a robust summer season in the housing construction and real estate industries.
This is an 89 percent increase over last year, when 47 permits were issued in the first quarter. If the pace continues, it could indicate that the region is headed in the right direction for a housing recovery.” Oregon Legal Journal, By Lori Gleichman, April 19, 2012
Looks like we are shifting into a sellers market. Is it time to list?
If you can’t stay put, don’t buy
If you can’t commit to remaining in one place for at least a few years, then owning is probably not for you, at least not yet. With the transaction costs of buying and selling a home, you may end up losing money if you sell any sooner.
Check your credit report, with a fine tooth comb
Since you most likely will need to get a mortgage to buy a house, you must make sure your credit history is as clean as possible. Before you start house hunting, get copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any discrepancies you discover.
Purchase within your budget
The rule of thumb is that you can buy housing that runs about two-and-one-half times your annual salary. But you’ll do better to use one of many calculators available online to get a better handle on how your income, debts, and expenses affect what you can afford.
If you can’t put down the usual 20 percent, you may still qualify for a loan
There are a variety of public and private lenders who, if you qualify, offer low-interest mortgages that require a down payment as small as 3 percent of the purchase price.
A good school district does make a difference
When it comes time to sell, you’ll learn that strong school districts are a top priority for many home buyers, thus helping to boost property values. So even if you don’t have your own children, this is a factor to greatly consider.
Get professional help
Even though the internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings, most new buyers (and many more experienced ones) are better off using a professional agent. The team of Rinehart, Dempsey & Phelps have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the entire house hunting/bidding/purchasing process.
Choose carefully between points and rate
When picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points — a portion of the interest that you pay at closing — in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you stay in the house for a long time — say three to five years or more — it’s usually a better deal to take the points. The lower interest rate will save you more in the long run.
Get pre-approved before you start looking
Getting pre-approved will you save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can’t afford and put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Not to be confused with pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history.
Do your homework before bidding
Your opening bid should be based on the sales trend of similar homes in the neighborhood. So before making it, consider sales of similar homes in the last three months. If homes have recently sold at 5 percent less than the asking price, you should make a bid that’s about eight to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.
A home inspection is a must
Sure, your lender will require a home appraisal anyway. But t
hat’s just the bank’s way of determining whether the house is worth the price you’ve agreed to pay. Separately, you should hire your own home inspector, preferably an engineer with experience in doing home surveys in the area where you are buying. His or her job will be to point out potential problems that could require costly repairs down the road.
Headed into the spring buying season, experts say the trend in contract activity implies we are on track for a more meaningful sales gain this year. With a sustained downtrend in unsold inventory, this would bring about a broad price stabilization or even modest national price growth. Job gains, high affordability and rising rents are hopefully pushing the market into what appears to be a sustained housing recovery.
Here in Bend we have less than a one month supply of homes that are priceed $300,000 and under. However this has not translated into increased sales prices, yet. Near record low interest rates makes it a good time to buy.