1. How much does it cost to use your services?
Well that depends on what you need us for!
Buyers: It’s FREE! “Really?!” you ask. Yes. Really. Real Estate agents are paid by the selling side of the transaction, which means the seller of the home you purchase will be in charge of paying us. One caveat however, if you find a home that is listed directly by the owner (a.k.a. not through another agent), they may not be willing to pay the fee for your agent. If you wouldn’t dream of facing the purchase alone, you would have to come up with the real estate agent’s fee (the amount is always negotiable). That fee means you make sure you have someone representing you in the negotiations, walking you through escrow, and making sure that everything gets legally disclosed. It’s well worth the peace of mind.
Sellers: If we’re selling your home, there is a fee. All agents work on a solely commission basis. Sellers pay a fee (which is negotiated at the time the listing is signed) to the listing agent and to the selling agent (this is agent that brought the buyer – we know it doesn’t make much sense, but they didn’t ask us when they came up with the lingo!) once escrow closes. This means no upfront cost to you and if your home doesn’t sell – you don’t pay a dime! This fee covers all of your marketing costs, negotiations, and guidance throughout the entire process from listing, to escrow, to closing. It’s well worth the money!
2. Can I work with multiple agents?
The short answer is no. Agents only get paid when a transaction closes and they have to be the one who brought the buyer to the property. Any agent can show you any home that is listed by another agent, so there is no benefit to working with multiple people. If your agent feels like you’re giving them the run-around or there’s a good chance they won’t get paid for all the work they did, it’s likely you won’t be getting the quality service you deserve.
That being said, you should feel free to interview with many agents before selecting who you want to work with. Buying or selling a home is a huge deal with many emotional factors that come into play. You don’t want to get stuck working with someone you don’t trust or don’t enjoy working with. You can “fire” an agent if you become unsatisfied with their work, but remember to let them know what’s going on and if you’ve signed a contract with the agent make sure you’re covered in writing! Communication is key to a happy real estate experience. Once you find your perfect agent, commit to them and stop playing the field!
3. I’ve been doing a lot of research online – should I send you the homes I’ve found?
Yes. We love seeing what homes you’re interested in and want you to be involved in the process. That being said, many online sites (ie. Trulia.com or Zillow.com) do not necessarily have updated information. If you keep your agent spending all their time looking up the 100 homes you sent them (only to find that they’ve all already sold!), you’re not allowing them to do their job, which is to find you that perfect available home! The best use of everyone’s time is to keep your agent informed about your wants and needs and then trust them to translate that into your dream home.
4. Can you show me a property that you are not the listing agent for?
Absolutely! Real estate agents can show you any home that is listed by another agent. If you drive by a sign, just give your agent the address and they can arrange a showing. If you pop into an open house, just make sure the agent holding it knows you’re already working with someone. Also, let you Realtor know about any “For Sale By Owner” homes that you may be interested in. Many times your agent can negotiate with the seller and get you in there.
5. How do real estate agents get paid?
Real estate agents work solely on commission. That means they don’t get a dime until a transaction closes. The commission is negotiable and will be paid by the seller. This is good because it means no upfront costs to sell your home, and buyers have no excuse not to have someone representing them.
6. I’m looking to buy a home. Will I save any money by going straight to the listing agent?
Nope. If the listing agent brings the buyer, it just means they will receive both sides of the commission. Now, before you scream “That’s not fair!” remember, this means that agent will be doing twice the work.
As a buyer, you are much better off having someone who’s solely in your corner, negotiating to get you the best price. If you have an agent of your very own, you have someone whose job is to get you the lowest price and the best price terms for YOU. The listing agent has the fiduciary responsibility to get the seller the highest price and best terms for THEM. See where the conflict of interest lies? Doesn’t mean it’s not done all the time, but it is certainly in your best interest you have your own representation and chances are you’ll end up saving more through negotiation than you would have by trying to trim the agent’s commission.
7. What is the first step I should take if I want to SELL my home?
Selling your home is a big decision and once you’re ready to go ahead, the first step is to start interviewing agents. An agent will sit down with you and talk about what they will do to market and sell your home and discuss with you the price you both feel the home should be listed at. Look at it like a job interview. You’ll be hiring someone to help you navigate this complicated process and make sure you’re protected, so you want to make sure you have the right person for the job!
Also, don’t be afraid to call up an agent even if you’re still on the fence about selling your home. We know that many times the price you can reasonably expect for your home is a HUGE factor in the decision making process. An agent can give you a good idea about whether or not it’s the right time to sell. Remember, you’re not obligated to use an agent or to sell your home just by asking them out for a chat.
8. What is the first step I should take if I want to BUY a new home?
As a potential buyer, the first step in the process is knowing where your purchase funds will be coming from. If you’ll be using all cash to buy the home, you’ll need to provide proof of funds (ie. a bank statement) at the time you put in an offer. This means you’ll want to make sure that your purchase funds are completely liquid by the time you start looking. If you will be financing the purchase, you will want to start talking with a lender. You’ll need to submit a pre-approval letter from your lender with any offer you put in and it can take awhile to get this letter from the lender, so you’ll want to start this process as soon as you know you want to buy. The amount your lender approves you for will also help determine your budget.
There is nothing more frustrating than finding your dream home and not being able to move ahead because you don’t have all your ducks in a row. Need recommendations for lenders or more information on the process? Contact us and we’d be happy to help!