Are you thinking of buying or selling a home? Well, you know this is no small feat. In fact, it's one of the biggest financial decisions of your life.
In such a case, don't underestimate the importance of a reputable real estate service.
Do you know there were more than 5 million homes sold in 2020 in the US?
A real estate transaction is a complicated and stressful process for sellers and buyers altogether. From listing/searching for a home, making/receiving offers, negotiating, and closing, the process can be a catch-22.
In spite of the hurdles, you can't afford any slip-ups; it's direful with far-reaching consequences. But do you know a real estate agent can save the day? Yes, these experts are adept in real estate transactions and will help you navigate the intricate process.
A reputable real estate agent will advise, negotiate, handle all paperwork and deal with prospective buyers/sellers to win you a good deal. But not every real estate agent is right; you must be spot-on when picking one.
We understand a real estate transaction can be perplexing. To help you out, here is a comprehensive real estate guide on everything you need to know.
Wondering What's the Difference Between Realtors and Real Estate Agents?
You've probably come across the word realtor, and real estate agent used interchangeably. This isn't very clear, especially for first-timers in the real estate market. But is there any difference between the two, or are they the same?
Realtors and real estate agents have only one real difference; a realtor is a part of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
The word Realtor is a trademark referring to an expert who is an active member of NAR. This implies realtors adhere to NAR's code of ethics. As a member of NAR, one gets discounts and educational resources to improve their earnings and practice.
While real estate agents are licensed to help consumers sell and buy properties, not all agents are realtors. Also, not all realtors are necessarily real estate agents, confusing? Well, any member of NAR – property manager, home appraisers, real estate brokers, and counselors- earns the title of Realtor.
In the US, only about half of the licensed real estate agents are realtors. To become a member of NAR, a real estate agent must pass an ethics code and pass an exam. Also, members need to take a refresher course is taken every four years.
You now know the difference between a realtor and a real estate agent, don't you?
Types of Real Estate Agents
Are you aware there are different types of real estate agents? Well, depending on whether you are buying or selling a home, not every agent is perfect for your case. Here's a brief description of each;
Yes, you guessed that right! If you are buying a property, you need to work with a buyer's real estate agent. By hiring this agent when buying a home, they help in different ways.
Help with Financing & Closing Cost Preparation
When buying a home, one of the key steps is to get a mortgage pre-approval. This helps you to know the exact amount you need and whether the mortgage payments are manageable.
In pre-approval, the lender has to verify your employment, credit, income, your financial position, and more. Also, the seller's agent will demand to know if the potential buyer can afford the property when making an offer. As such, they want to know if you are pre-approved when making an offer.
With a reliable buyer's agent, this process will be plain sailing. The agent will offer you recommendations for reputable mortgage brokers. The broker will help you out with the pre-approval, and you can shop your dream home with confidence.
During the pre-approval process, you need to show you have adequate finances to cater for the down payments and closing costs. Closing costs include property transfer taxes, lawyer fees, appraisal, and inspection costs.
An agent will help you determine the estimates for closing costs and any other expected expenses. Thus, you can plan yourself accordingly depending on what is required at completion.
Educate You on the Neighborhood
Home hunting can be both a fun and overwhelming process. The fun part is when you are getting started and choosing a new neighborhood. But it's important to know details about a neighborhood before you relocate there, right?
Well, you want to know about crime levels, district schools, demographics, and transport options. While you can get some of these details online, chances are they might be obsolete and not accurate.
However, a local buyer's agent knows the ins and outs of your preferred neighborhood. They will provide you with details to ensure it's the right neighborhood for you and your loved ones. Also, they answer all your questions and address your concerns.
Help Looking for Properties and Scheduling Showings
Without knowing where to start from, finding the perfect property to buy can be troublesome. However, a good agent already knows properties that are on the market. Also, they have tips to help you find your dream house quickly and easily.
An agent aids you in house hunting, finding new listings, and even notifying price adjustments matching your range. Also, they provide detailed information about sales activity to inform about the housing market. With this info, you can easily determine how much you need to pay for a property.
In addition, the agent can book showings, access other listing agents, and plan showing times on your behalf.
Make Recommendations and Share their Network
You already know there are different people involved in the home buying process, right? Apart from the seller, buyer, and their agents, there are other professionals involved. These include inspector, mortgage broker, and lawyer.
Your agent will ensure you have a great support team and coordinate all of them. Also, the agent makes sure you pick reputable and experienced experts for a smooth home buying experience. They have been in the market for years and can advise on the experts to pick and those to avoid.
Prepare a Contract
For a contract to be legally binding and protect you, various terms must be included. An attorney will prepare a contract and present it to the seller/listing agent on your behalf to ascertain this.
The real estate agent will protect you by making sure all the key terms are on the contract. Also, they advise on the key terms to include in your contract for a smooth process and get the best deal.
Negotiate Offer's Terms and Price
One of the key roles of the buyer's agent is negotiating on your behalf to win the best terms and price. During offer drafting, the agent will provide you with a comparative market analysis. This includes recently sold properties, expired listings, and properties in the market.
This helps you understand the market conditions and a reasonable price that you can agree upon during negotiations. In addition, they advise how property features will affect the price. This includes the lot size, renovations, view, location, renovations, and bathroom.
All these factors will help develop a negotiation strategy and best offer. They will present the initial offer to the seller's agent and use their negotiation skills to agree on the best price.
The agent will also negotiate for the best terms during the process. While they might seem trivial, contract terms such as dates and subjects are key.
Perform Due Diligence
If you are a first-time homebuyer, chances are you don't exactly know what you want. You're confused and bombarded with lots of questions about what to do and how to do it. But a buyer's agent will save the day.
The right agent will answer all your questions, doubts and make sure you understand what you are looking for. Also, they will help you conduct due diligence on the property. This includes;
• Fully investigate the property
• Review the property disclosure statement
• Evaluate different property costs
• Review the strata documents and identify red flags
Finalize Loose Ends for Closing
A lot can go wrong between the date of acceptance and closing. Also, within this period, so much needs to happen. You need to make your deposit, conduct your inspections and due diligence, provide lenders with financial documentation and mortgage information, negotiate repairs, conduct an appraisal, and more.
A listing agent is also known as the seller's agent and represents the interests of the seller. As a seller, you meet with the agent for consultation. Here, they will learn more about your property and your goals for sale.
The seller's agent will assume various roles.
Preparing Your Home to Sell
An experienced listing agent knows the hacks of maximizing your property value. With one, be assured of getting top dollar for the property. The agent will identify various home improvement projects which will increase your home's value.
Also, they will recommend top providers for quality services at affordable prices. These include an inspector, landscaper, stager, painter, handyman, and more.
Depending on your home's condition, the agent can emphasize the need for a pre-listing inspector. The inspector will perform a thorough inspection to identify any issue in your home that may reduce your home's price. These include pests, energy inefficiency, or problems with sewer, drainage, roof, and other home features.
But before carrying out any project, you need to evaluate ROI, right? The listing agent will also help with this. They make sure you'll receive better returns for every amount you spend to make the improvements.
Staging Your Home for Sale
To maximize your home's sale price, there's a lot to do. In fact, it's an art, and a lot of attention is required. And proper preparation before listing will prevent poor performance of the property on the market.
A real estate agent knows the tips and tricks of staging a home for sale. They will guide you on how to make your home create a positive first impression on prospective buyers. This is not only when they come for a show, but even on the listing photos.
Professional Listing Photos
A picture is worth a thousand words. And when selling your property, make sure they are flattering.
After your home is prepared and staged, it's time for a photoshoot. A listing agent will offer free professional photos as a package in their service. Also, they will have a 3D scan of your home so potential buyers get a full view of the house.
Deciding on Price
How much is your property worth? Without background experience in real estate, you might not be sure. However, pricing is one of the most important factors when selling your home.
If you overprice your home, you may spend weeks or even months without getting a buyer for your home. Also, underpricing your home means you get lowball amounts for what it's worth. It's always important to make sure your home is priced at the right value before listing it.
With a listing agent, you don't have to worry about the correct price for your home. The agent will conduct a comparative market analysis to evaluate similar homes sold nearby or on the market. Here, they gather information about what buyers are willing to pay for homes similar homes to yours.
After the analysis, they guide you through setting a competitive price for the property. The set price is both competitive and will get you a great deal on the sale.
Marketing Your Home to Potential Buyers
After setting a competitive price for your home, it's time to hit the market. Like any product, it's imperative to market your home to prospective buyers. But, don't worry, the agent will get the job done.
The listing agent will place a "for sale" sign on your property, set up a lockbox, and advertise your home on multiple listing sites. The agent should be well connected and have numerous ways of promoting your home. More ads and placements mean higher exposure to buyers.
Apart from online marketing, the agent can recommend an open house and set a deadline for offers.
Closing the Deal
After your property is well marketed, be sure to start receiving offers. The agent can also send alerts to those who viewed or liked your property on different sites. The aim is to receive additional offers from different buyers.
The seller's agent will review and evaluate each offer so as to get the best one. Also, they will help you negotiate the offers to ensure you get a good deal. And don't forget, they guide you through the tiresome paperwork and steps necessary during the closing process.
Benefits of Hiring a Real Estate Agent
If you are planning to buy or sell a property, do you really need to work with a real estate agent? Most people will first weigh the benefits and drawbacks of hiring a real estate agent before working with one.
Some people avoid working with real estate agents due to past experiences or thinking their fees are too high. But do you know you overlook multiple benefits of hiring a real estate agent when you avoid working with one?
Are you wondering how a real estate agent can make the real estate transaction easier? Whether you are a seller or a buyer, here are the top benefits of hiring a real estate agent.
Agents Know What to Look For
When searching for a property, you have an idea about the important features to consider in your new home. You know the number of bathrooms, bedrooms, swimming pool, and other must-have features the house must-have. During your search, you prefer to find properties with these kinds of features.
But searching for a perfect home can feel like wondering if a thick forest. You've got so many options and possibilities. Also, you don't know if your specific needs and budget will match. To make the process easier, work with a reputable real estate agent.
The agent already knows what properties are in the market. Depending on your specific needs and budget, they can provide options making the search much easier. If your needs don't meet your budget, they recommend the features you can compromise on and still get a perfect home.
Also, the agent will hold your hand through the entire home buying process to make it smooth and stress-free.
Extensive Market Knowledge
No one understands the existing real estate market conditions and trends better than an experienced agent. After being in the market for a long time, such an agent has in-depth knowledge. They understand regulations, laws, market conditions, and tricks to buy or sell a home fast.
Also, they are well informed with other real estate transactions aspects such as mortgage interest rates, and their specialized knowledge about houses in a certain location. They can offer key details about the housing market compared to the info found on the multiple listing service.
These agents' key data include price per square foot for similar houses, average and median prices, and ratios of list-to-sold prices. As a buyer or sell, getting this information can help you make a more informed decision quickly.
Also, the agent knows about neighborhoods around great schools and those with the highest increase in market value. With such info, you can evaluate whether a certain neighborhood suits your preference.
They Have Professional Networks
Real estate agents have a huge professional network. They know almost everyone involved in real estate property transactions. Also, some agents have a name of their preferred and trusted experts they have worked with.
As a buyer or seller, you get recommendations for top providers to work with. This includes staging companies, plumbers, inspectors, title companies, and other home repair professionals.
You already know the task of finding individual professionals can be daunting. With myriad options, you might make a mistake and pick the wrong lawyer, appraiser, or inspector. A single wrong step in this process can cost you dearly.
Find the best real estate agent to get recommendations for the best professionals to choose.
Can Easily Spot Pinpoint Problems
As a buyer or seller, working with a real estate agent can help to spot problems with the process or property. As a seller, your house must be in great shape for it to sell quickly and at a higher price.
As a buyer, you are in search of a great property that is in great condition. You don't want to purchase a property then spend lots of cash in making repairs and maintenance. While you are eager to identify issues in your next home, certain hidden problems require an expert eye to spot.
For instance, how would you identify a roofing issue, pest infestation, furnace problem, or leaks and mold? Well, the agent has a critical eye to make sure any problem or potential issue has been identified before you make an offer. Also, they know the kind of repairs to request and those they will negotiate to reduce the price of the property.
In addition, the agent can find a home inspector on your behalf. This professional will provide a detailed report on every problem with the house you are about to buy. You get peace of mind knowing you won't encounter any pre-existing problems after moving in.
Guide You Through Pricing
As a seller, your pricing decision may be clouded by your emotional attachment to the property. Perhaps you've lived in the house for decades, and when selling it, you underestimate the value. Also, it could be that you are under distress or not aware of the existing market conditions.
A good real estate agent will solve these problems. The listing agent will guide you in coming up with a reasonable and competitive price for your property. With competitive prices, your home can get top dollar offers quickly.
When buying, the agent makes sure the selling price of a potential property is set correctly. You are sure to pay the correct price for the value you are getting.
Whether buying or selling, a real estate agent gets you the best deal in the transaction.
Superior Negotiating Skills
Both sellers and buyers have one thing in common: get the best deal possible. To attain this, you require pro negotiation skills. Do you think you can pull the strings on this?
Well, I guess you don't have what it takes. But you can let the real estate agent do the heavy lifting. After being in the real estate markets, real estate agents are savvy negotiators. They know helpful pointers to help their clients negotiate for a good deal.
When making an offer, they know what tricks can work and those that won't. Also, hiring them means they have your best interests at heart; you get the best possible price. Using real estate market comparable, they will build a strong and winning negotiation strategy.
Also, don't forget the agent has no emotional attachment to the outcome of the process. This means their judgment or input to the process is not clouded in any way.
Access to Off-Market Listing
While you can find multiple listings on MLS and other listing sites, not every property finds its way there. If a seller doesn't want their property to be highly publicized, then it's less likely you'll find such a property on the listing site. In addition, you don't expect to find a "For Sale" sign in the yard.
In such instances, only the agents are aware that a certain property is on sale. When working with an experienced agent, be assured of finding off-market properties. What if the off-market property could just be the dream home for you?
Your agent will present you with multiple opportunities for the properties available in the real estate market.
Choosing a Real Estate Agent
While a real estate agent can be handy in home transactions, don't opt for any agent. Making the wrong choice can be detrimental and will have far-reaching consequences. But with more than more 2 million active real estate agents, how do you make the right choice?
Everybody can agree choosing an agent can feel like picking a needle from a haystack. However, despite the daunting task, you must hit the nail on the head. So, how do you choose the best real estate agent to hire?
To get you started, here are real estate agent tips to help you out, whether as a buyer or seller.
Ask For Referrals
It's likely that you are not the first to work with a real estate agent in your circle. If you have friends, colleagues, or family members who have used these services before, ask for recommendations. These individuals will offer you with names of agents with whom they have had a good experience.
Also, they might offer some crucial tips about finding the best and working with an agent. However, there is no guarantee that their agent will be the best for your unique case. It's highly recommended that you conduct a thorough research and background check of the provided names.
Research the Potential Candidates
You already have several names for potential real estate agents, right? It's now time to dig deeper to determine if they are the perfect choice for you.
One of the best platforms to start your research is online. Here, check on their online presence and how they interact with their clients. Can you find their contact or physical office on their website? It's always recommendable to hire an agent with a physical location.
Also, reach out to them to ask any questions you might be having.
Licensing and Certifications
Before hiring any real estate agent, Know the licensing and certification they got under the belt. If you have a potential real estate agent, they must have a license.
In the US, each state has unique requirements for one to be a licensed real estate agent. However, the majority require one to have at least 30 to 90 hours of classroom instructions. This should cover real estate fundamentals and should be achieved from a technical school, university or college.
For successful completion in real estate school, one must pass an official exam. The exam covers national and states real estate law as well as real estate standards and practices.
Depending on the state, a real estate agent needs to pay an annual license fee renewed either annually or biennially. Also, some states require continuing education during license renewal.
Also, make sure the agent has the title Realtor showing they are a member of the National Association of Realtors. With this, you can receive top-quality services since the agent follows a strict code of ethics guiding the sale.
Also, you may consider an agent with additional certifications. These include; Certified Residential Specialist, Accredited Buyer's Representative, and Seniors Real Estate Specialist. An agent possessing these certifications shows their commitment to offering top-quality services.
Check on Experience
When choosing a real estate agent, experience is a key consideration. Your agent will help you sail through the complex process. Make sure they have adequate experience levels to offer this.
A well-established agent has in-depth knowledge of the current real estate market. They understand the entire process from the start to the end. Having represented multiple clients close the deal, the attorney is familiar with every detail.
Also, they have every piece of information you may want to find hard to find.
To understand how long the agent has been in the industry, check on their website. Most agents highlight their level of experience on their marketing materials and website. However, confirm that it's not just a cunning marketing strategy they are using.
Reach out to them and ask about their experience, how long they have been around, and the number of successfully closed transactions.
To enjoy peace of mind through the whole process, deal with a highly experienced real estate agent.
Local Market Knowledge
Apart from checking on the general experience of the agent, check if they understand the local market. Determine how long they have been serving the local market. Are they familiar with the law and regulations regarding property transactions in the area?
Depending on your specific needs as the buyer or seller, the agent needs to be well informed about the local market. Apart from the regulations, they must be adept with the current market conditions of the area.
Ask the agent about their experience handling property transactions in your preferred neighborhood. If the agent is well versed with the local market, you are set for a successful home sale or purchase.
It's always important to know what past clients are saying about your potential agent. Check on the past client's experience when working with the agent. But how do you determine this?
Get the info right from the horse's mouth. When browsing through the agents' websites, read the posted testimonials. However, the testimonials are all likely to be positive.
To get unbiased and honest reviews, visit a third-party website such as Yelp. Here, you will get unfiltered reviews from those served by the agent before. Similar to any other business, you will find both positive and negative reviews based on the actual experience of a buyer or seller.
However, if you come across multiple negative reviews, this is a red flag; avoid such an agent completely. Remember, the criticism or praise you find online about the practice represents the actual experience of hiring the agent. Evaluate if you'll be comfortable receiving similar services to the previous clients.
In addition, check on the real estate agent's rating and complain on the Better Business Bureau.
This info should help you evaluate and make an informed decision on who suits you best.
Apart from reading online reviews, you want one on one encounters with past clients. Ask your potential real estate agent to offer you contact details of the recent clients they have represented.
A good real estate agent will be more than happy to offer you the references. Furthermore, they know you will be more convinced to work with them after talking to past clients.
Reach out to their past clients and find out their experience and the kind of support they received. Ask how satisfied the agent's service is and if they would hire them again for their next transaction. In addition, ask them any questions you have about the agent.
If the real estate agent hesitates to provide contact details of past clients without a valid reason, be warned. Chances are they offer poor quality services or are trying to conceal some details about their services.
Interview Your Top Choices
After knowing who your top three choices are, interview them. Email or call the agent to schedule an interview. Through the interview, you'll learn more about the real estate agent's experience and style.
The goal is to find an agent specializing in a certain area and fully understand your needs and budget. How do they answer your questions to satisfaction? If you leave their office with more questions than you can with, move to the next.
Also, how do they make their presentation? Do they provide clear details and help you understand their role in the home transaction?
In addition, find out the agent's availability and their preferred communication method. Also, evaluate whether your conversation is flowing. While a personal friendship is not necessary when working with a real estate agent, a good client/agent relationship needs to exist.
Like other relationships, yours with an agent should be founded on solid communication. Before the home transaction is completed, there will be a lot of follow-ups to do. From the very first meeting, make sure you have a flowing and effortless communication with the agent.
Before the interview, arm yourself with the right question to ask the agent. The vetting questions include:
• Do you work with sellers or buyers?
• How many active clients do you handle at a time?
• How will you market my home?
• What's your specialty?
• Are you part of a team?
• What's your network?
Look for Conviction, Honesty, and Passion
You always want to evaluate the potential agent's work before picking one. One of the most valuable and easiest ways to achieve this is by reviewing how they are marketing other properties. Browse through their website and check on listing materials, signage, and brochures.
Also, you can look for these attributes by paying attention to their personal appearance and how they behave at the first meeting.
They Should Treat You with Respect
When searching for a real estate agent, always remember there is no shortage of these professionals. Thus, you don't have to stick with an agent who treats you with a lack of respect.
While real estate agents are busy people, they should prioritize you if you pick them. If you call, text, or email them without replies, look elsewhere.
In any profession, treating clients with respect is key to customer excellence. If you feel the agent is taking you for granted or snapping at you, it's time to avoid them. Simply let them know how you feel about the relationship and don't feel obliged to work with them; you deserve better.
Use the Above Comprehensive Guide About a Real Estate Service
Buying or selling a home is one of the most significant decisions in a lifetime. However, during a home transaction process, there's a lot that can go wrong. Work with a professional real estate agent for a smooth process and get the best deal.
Above is everything you need to know about a real estate service.
Are you looking for a real estate agent in San Diego? At Steel San Diego Homes, we got you covered. We are an experienced real estate firm committed to offering exceptional services to buyers, sellers, and renters.
Contact us today for a free consultation.