Record-low interest rates and record-low housing prices are renewing interest in the floundering housing market for many people. Now could be the time to sell and buy a new home and earn an even bigger slice of the real estate pie. Whether an individual is a buyer or a seller, or doing both, his or her goal is to get the best financial deal on the home -- and often that means having a qualified real estate agent working in his or her corner.
Those entering the real estate realm may have misconceptions about what’s involved. Oftentimes, individuals think they can go it alone and save money on real estate commissions in the process. However, not having a knowledgeable agent to navigate the process can end up costing more money in the long run. An agent is not there just to open up houses for viewing or to simply put a for-sale sign on the front lawn. Agents guide the seller or buyer through a complicated process of legalities and emotional hurdles. The agent also negotiates for the buyer and seller to help them make important financial decisions.
“When sellers are interviewing real estate agents to market their homes, their primary focus is usually on the advertising that the agent will offer them,” says Jessica Goodbody of Weichert Realtors. “Advertising is important, but, once sellers have an offer, they need a strong negotiator to help them get the best price and terms. Buyers should also look for agents who have strong negotiating skills and neighborhood knowledge which will help them make the most of their purchasing power.”
Individuals can expect a real estate agent to help them navigate a process that, to first-time buyers or sellers, can prove intimidating.
Buying a Home
1. Schedule a consultation to discuss what features and amenities buyer is looking for in a home.
2. The agent may suggest buyers speak with a mortgage consultant to figure out their buying power and obtain a mortgage pre-approval letter.
3. The agent will then look up home listings in a particular price range and help the buyers to view the homes.
4. When buyers find a home they want to purchase, the real estate agent will help them come up with a fair market price and write up the contract to present to the seller.
5. The agent will help the buyer negotiate on the final price with the seller.
6. In some states, the agent will accept a down payment to place in trust or work with a real estate attorney on behalf of the buyer.
7. The agent may be present during a home inspection, which is recommended.
8. The agent will then schedule the home appraisal.
9. He or she will then confirm the closing and be present at closing with the buyer and the attorney, if necessary.
Selling a Home
1. The real estate agent will meet with the sellers and evaluate the home and property.
2. He or she will do a market analysis to figure out the best price to list the house based on the neighborhood and comparable sales.
3. The agent may make suggestions for repairs or improvements that can help make the home more attractive to buyers.
4. The real estate agent may present a marketing plan that indicates where the home will be advertised.
5. He or she will write up a listing agreement and begin the process of marketing the home.
6. An open house for real estate brokers may be scheduled, also a caravan of brokers from the agents’ own real estate office and surrounding affiliates.
7. An open house for buyers will be scheduled.
8. The agent will field calls from other agents and notify the seller when a viewing request has been made.
9. Follow-up feedback can be offered, which may include information the agent receives by making calls to people who viewed the home or by tracking how many potential buyers viewed the home listing.
10. When an offer comes in, the agent will notify the sellers and advise him or her of the negotiation process.
11. The agent will be present during the home inspection, if the buyer requests one.
12. The agent will schedule with the city or town to have a certificate of occupancy inspection conducted.
13. The seller will be notified by the agent when the buyer has obtained a mortgage commitment and made good faith deposits.
14. The agent will likely be present at the home closing with the real estate attorneys.
Individuals buying or selling a home can certainly do it by themselves, but real estate agents have the knowledge and provide assistance through the myriad steps of the process, helping individuals to save time and money.