In spite of the current economic uncertainties, the real estate market continues to function, albeit at a slower pace than during the housing boom. Admittedly, this is a buyers’ market, and sellers must deal with stiff competition that can drive asking prices lower than would have been preferred. The reality is that every time someone buys a home, someone else has sold his. Being on either side of the deal can be much easier with the assistance of a skilled real estate broker.
When looking for either a buyer’s agent or a seller’s agent, it is worth it to take the time to interview the person who will be representing your interests during the process. Qualities such as honesty, the ability to negotiate, friendliness, availability by phone or e-mail, and good communication skills are important in every agent.
While licensing requirements differ from state to state, it is important that a good buyers’ real estate agent should have a basic understanding of not only the housing sector, but also current financing rules and regulations. In an ever tougher lending environment, the agent should know enough to tell you to get yourself pre-qualified before you start house shopping.
A new agent can be a plus or minus, depending on your perspective and his/her energy level and eagerness. He may be more “hungry” because he is new to the pack, but he does need to be connected to a network of experienced agents so that he can find answers when he needs them. From your perspective, it is best to hire someone who is familiar with the area you want to look. He needs to know the comparative prices for similar properties that have sold there recently. He will assist the buyer with making a reasonable offer and presenting it, and at times he will be the world’s best negotiator for his client. The buyer’s agent will use his awareness of current market conditions to help his client decide on the purchase offer, will work with the seller’s agent to arrive at the final offer, and will be around to guide you through the home inspection and closing process.
A seller’s agent has a different role in the real estate transaction. He needs a trained perspective to recommend to the seller the best ways to market his home. He also must be aware of the current market sales in your neighborhood to help you determine a reasonable listing price. It is his responsibility to create a marketing plan for his client, including where and how often to advertise, online promotion, and other forms of social media marketing. A good agent will have a solid track record of pricing homes correctly so that most listed homes sell close to the original asking price. Of course, this is more difficult in the current economy, but he should be very familiar with your neighborhood market trends, recent sales, short sales, and foreclosures.
The amount of commission to be paid to both sellers and buyers agents is negotiated at the time the listing agreement is signed. Remember, neither real estate professional is paid until the purchase of the property is closed. Good realtors work hard to provide excellent professional service to both buyers and sellers because they are conscientious, ethical, and of course hope for referrals and future business. They use their knowledge, skills, and connections to close property transactions in which both parties feel like winners. They are especially useful to first-time buyers who may be totally confused about the process of purchasing one’s first home.
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