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Answers to
Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

  1. What should I ask a real estate agent before I sign a listing contract to sell my home?
    13 powerful questions to ask a real estate agent before you sign a listing contract to sell your home
  2. What should I know about buyer agency?
  3. What should I watch out for when selling my home?
    -The 9 Most Deadly Mistakes You Can Make When Selling Your Home

1. What should I ask a real estate agent before I sign a listing contract to sell my home?
13 powerful questions to ask a real estate agent before you sign a listing contract to sell your home

1. How long have you been selling real estate?

2. What is the percent of Sellers compared to Buyers that you serve?

3. Can we cancel the listing if we're not happy?

4. Do you have a personal assistant?

5. Do you recommend that I hire an attorney?

6. May I see your resume or personal brochure?

7. What systems do you have in place that will keep you in constant contact with me during the listing and the transaction?

8. Are you fully automated with your own personal computer, FAX machine, copier, voice mail, etc.?

9. May I see all the paperwork that you are going to ask me to sign?

10. What professional designations do you have?

11. I want to give my home the advantage of the latest marketing strategies. How much time & money do you invest each month in professional training?

12. Why are you personally motivated to sell my house?

13. Why should I list with you rather than any other agent who is calling on me?

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2. What should I know about Buyer Agency?

The best agents strive to protect the best interest of the home buyer. Your agent should be willing to execute a contract to carry out their commitment and promise.

We recommend that all home buyers go into a contract with their buyer's agent in order to have full protection and recourse.

When contracting with an agent you should look for the following items in a buyer agency contract:

  • The buyer agent will, to the best of their abilities, search the entire market area for all properties which meet the purchasers needs, be it from the multiple listing service, for sale by owners or new construction. The agent will not waste the time of the purchaser by showing homes that do not meet the purchaser's criteria, unless the purchaser has agreed in advance to view other types of homes buyer agent feels would be in the purchaser's best interest.
  • To help insure the purchaser is not unknowingly over paying for a home, buyer agent agrees to perform a market analysis on every home on which the buyer is contemplating making an offer. Buyer agent will negotiate for the Buyer on each of the following issues:
  • Price
  • Terms
  • Possession
  • Contingencies
  • Inclusions/exclusions
  • Buyer agent agrees to assist and advise the purchaser on negotiating strategies that will help to procure the home at the most favorable price, terms and other factors for the purchaser.
  • In order for the purchaser to make an informed decision as to whether or not a particular property is a wise purchase, buyer agent agrees to disclose to the purchaser all known information, allowable by state or Federal law, be it positive or negative, regarding the desired property to purchase.
  • Buyer agent agrees to keep all confidential information (that state law allows) about the purchaser from the seller or listing agent, thus preventing the seller from gaining an upper hand on negotiating strategies. Examples would be for whom the buyer works, household income and maximum price purchaser is willing to spend.
  • Buyer agent will not to take compensation from any outside vendors relating to the purchase of the home without the knowledge and consent of the purchaser.
  • Should two separate clients of the brokerage firm become interested in the same property, at or near the same time, the clients that make the first offer to purchase the property will be allowed to complete all negotiations related to that offer before any other client can move forward on the same property.
  • The purchaser will cooperate with the real estate agent by providing true and accurate personal and financial information.
  • You shouldn't commit to a Buyer Agent on a long term basis until you are comfortable that the agent will be committed to you.
  • The purchaser acknowledges that the buyer agent will be putting in a lot of time and energy scouring the marketplace for all the homes that best suit the purchasers needs. The purchaser will not work with any other real estate agents during the term of the agreement.
  • There are many methods of compensation for a buyer agent. The most common is having the agent's commission paid by the seller from the proceeds of the transaction. Since most real estate agents are willing to give up a portion of the listing commission to the agent that brings about a buyer ready willing and able to purchase, you can request that your agent be paid that from the proceeds of the transaction. For other methods you should consult personally with your exclusive buyer agent.
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    3. What should I watch out for when selling my home?
    The 9 Most Deadly Mistakes You Can Make When Selling Your Home

    Mistake #1 - Pricing Incorrectly

    Every seller wants to realize as much money as possible when they sell their home. But a listing price that is too high often gets the seller less than a price that is at market value. If your house is not priced competitively, people looking in your price range will reject your house in favor of other, larger homes for the same price. At the same time, the people who should be looking at your house will not see it because it is priced over their heads! Overpricing usually increases time on the market, and that adds to the carrying costs. Ultimately, many overpriced properties sell below market value.

    Mistake #2 - Failing to "Showcase" the Home

    Buyers look for homes, not houses, and they buy the home in which they would like to live. Owners who fail to make necessary repairs, who don't spruce up the house inside and out, touch up the paint and landscape, and keep it clean and neat chase buyers away as rapidly as Realtors can bring them.

    If you were selling a car, you would wash it, or maybe even detail it to get the highest price. Houses are no different.

    Mistake #3 - Using the "Hard Sell" During Showings

    Buying a house is an emotional decision. People like to "try on" a house and see if it is comfortable for them. It's difficult for them to do that if you follow them around pointing out every improvement that you made. It may even have the opposite effect you want, by making them feel they are intruding on your private space.

    Resist the temptation to talk the entire time a buyer is there, and let them discover things on their own. Try a tasteful sign to point out some hidden amenity that they might miss.

    Mistake #4 - Mistaking Lookers for Buyers

    For Sale By Owners always get more activity than houses listed with an agent. No question about it, Realtors will only bring qualified buyers, and these will be fewer than if you open your front door to everyone who walks down the street.

    A qualified buyer is one who is ready, willing, and able to buy your house. We find that most people who go looking at For Sale By Owners are just starting to think about moving. They may be good buyers, but they're just 6-9 months away from being ready. They don't want to bother an agent yet, so they call the "By Owner" ads to get a feel for what's available. They may have a house to sell first, or may need to save some more, or may have credit that needs fixing. When everything is in place, that's when they go out looking with a Realtor.

    An agent will ask a buyer how much they can really spend for a house, how much they have to put down, how good their credit is, how much they can pay each month, how much they will realize (realistically!) when they sell their present home and about a dozen other questions like that. But unless your Realtor finds all the facts first, you must ask all these questions before the buyer crosses your threshold. Otherwise, you may have a parade of Sunday afternoon shoppers with a dream of owning a home some day.

    Mistake #5 - Not Knowing Your Rights & Obligations

    Real estate law is extensive and complex; the contract for sale and purchase is a legally binding document. An improperly written contract can cause the sale to fall through, or cost you thousands for repairs, inspections, and remedies for title defects. You must be certain which repairs and closing costs you are responsible for. You must know whether the property can legally be sold "as is," and how deed restrictions and local zoning will affect the transaction. If there are defects in your title, or if your property is in conflict with local restrictions, you or your Realtor must remedy them, or you might have to pay a great deal.

    Mistake #6 - Signing a Listing Contract with No Way Out

    Many times an agent will have good intentions about marketing your house, but circumstances can change. There might be a death in the agent's family, or the agent may decide to quit the business. In these cases where the agent couldn't or wouldn't perform, you should have the right to fire your agent. In some companies the broker will assign your listing to someone else in the office, someone new in the business that you didn't personally select. Always protect yourself by getting a guarantee of performance with the right to cancel.

    Mistake #7 - Limiting the Marketing and Exposure of the Property

    The two most obvious marketing tools (open houses and classified ads) are only moderately effective. Surprisingly, less than 1% of homes are sold at an open house. Agents use them to attract future prospects, not to sell the house!

    Advertising studies show that less than 3% of people purchased their home because they called on an ad. And if a machine answers, most callers just hang up without leaving a message.

    The right Realtor will employ a broad spectrum of marketing activities, emphasizing the ones they believe will work best for you. There are dozens of more effective ways to find buyers than just open houses and advertising. By the way, they or a trained member of their staff will be there every time the phone rings. Did you know that most calls come in during business hours when sellers are away at work, and most home showings are between 9:00 and 5:00 Monday through Friday?

    Mistake #8 - Believing that a Re-finance Appraisal is the Market Value of Your Home

    An appraisal is an opinion of value for a certain purpose. If the lender wants to lend you the money, they are motivated to have the appraisal come in high. The appraiser may ignore foreclosure or distress sales in order to justify the high value. But a real buyer in the real world will not ignore these properties. They are your competitors when you try to sell.

    I can't tell you how many ridiculous re-fi appraisals I've seen. Don't make the mistake of thinking that the value you were told 6 months ago when you refinanced is what a real buyer would pay. Ask your Realtor for ALL the solds in your area, then decide.

    Mistake #9 - Choosing the Wrong Realtor, or Choosing One for the Wrong Reasons

    It's likely that you don't interview people very often. And yet in order to find the Realtor who is right for you, you may interview several. The quality of your home selling experience is dependent upon your skill at selecting the person best qualified.

    It's interesting that in the real estate business, someone with many successfully closed transactions usually costs the same as someone who is inexperienced. Bringing that experience to bear on your transaction could mean a higher price at the negotiating table, selling in less time, and with the minimum amount of hassles.

    The world is populated with Realtors who are wrong for you. For example, the housewife who sells an occasional house because she needs a little pocket change, or the insurance salesman who believes he can handle two careers. Or perhaps your cousin George, who really needs your business.

    The sale of your home could well be the most important financial transaction you have ever been involved with. The person you select can make it a satisfying and profitable activity, or a terrible experience. It's your home, and your money. The choice of your Realtor is up to you. Make that selection carefully.

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