So you decided it's time to move for any number of reasons. Now it's time to find a real estate agent to help. As the average person know 9.2 real estate agents, how do you decide which one to choose? Coming from a seasoned agent, here are a couple of pointers.
First, use someone who has the Realtor designation. This person has opted to be a part of a nation-wide group called the National Board of Realtors, which holds its members to a higher standard of ethics then those who are not members. Don't you want to work with someone that excels in ethics? Of course you do.
Next, choose an agent that has chosen real estate as their career – where real estate is a full time job, not just a hobby. Shockingly, 73 percent of real estate agents have another job. These agents have limited knowledge and experience which may negatively affect the outcome of your transaction. They also don't have the time to devote to your situation. Would you go to a part time doctor for surgery or a part time lawyer for important legal advise? I don't think so. Why risk a horrible experience that can be financially damaging on your largest lifetime investment.
Experience is key. While there are many components in a real estate transaction that are constant (filling out paperwork, arranging photography, holding open houses), other areas need expertise. An agents experience really counts when it comes time for negotiating, which happens all throughout the transaction starting with the initial offer, then the inspection and right through to the closing. Coordinating the various steps of your transaction can be daunting, but not for an experienced agent. We've been doing this long enough to know how to get things done.
And lastly, what is the reputation of the Realtor you are considering? Do they come recommended or are you just taking a shot in the dark? Align yourself with someone you feel you can trust. This might come via a personal referral or maybe you read glowing recommendations on websites that are client driven such as Trulia or Zillow. You will be spending a lot of time with your agent and making some pretty big decisions with their help. Equally, you must trust them to make decisions on your behalf throughout the entire transaction. Are you satisfied with their capabilities?
In the end, what is personally important to you in your Realtor. Experience? Commitment? Designations? Recommendations? Probably a combination of all of these. It's best to interview a few candidates to see which one is most compatible with your needs. Ask tough questions and listen carefully to their answers. One thing for certain is that you should be looking for a trusted counselor to skillfully guide you through the entire process, not just a facilitator of paperwork. Take the time up front to work through this process and you are bound to enjoy a smooth real estate transaction.
As I officially welcome in the new year and set about creating a plan for a successful 2015, I think it is key to look back over the last year and see where the real estate market is trending. The general feeling within our industry is one of optimism. And with reviewing the progress made from December 2014 to December 2015, I can understand why. Let me share this with you.
There are a number of key factors showing growth in our markets here in Whatcom County. When comparing this December with last December, the number of homes pending are up by 31% and the number of homes closed are up by 18.2%. During this same time frame, we have also seen a rise in price per square foot for homes sold – from $148 to $155. Then we are witnessing the decrease in our current inventory this year, from 5.7 months of inventory to only 4.6 months today. The graph below shows monthly inventory and monthly solds. All of these factors combined with historically low interest rates (30 year at 3.875%) help to create a great opportunity for sellers.
Buyers can also benefit from the current market by taking advantage of the low interest rates. Within the past few months, banks have loosened their “death” grip on the money they have to lend. As well, the Federal government has declared a substantial decrease in private mortgage insurance (required by all lenders for borrowers with less than 20% down) which gives you more buying power. Wonderful programs such as USDA & VA zero down loans and FHA 3.5% down loans are now available to qualified borrower.
Buying and selling real estate is a process. An educated buyer or seller is definitely a more satisfied client. Let my 23+ years of working with people just like you to find the perfect fit become your wealth of information. Call me to begin formulating your plan for success – 360-961-8052 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Okay. So I confess that I haven’t been the most tech savvy Realtor so far. My career in real estate started back in 1990 (the olden days) when there weren’t any cellular phone, and fax machines (if you had one) used thermal paper. Does anybody remember that? And how thermal paper faded over time? Not great for keeping records of contracts and supporting documents. I am now taking this very first proactive step of writing a blog with the goal of reaching out to more people via the WWW. Sounds like fun eh? I ask that you please bear with me as I learn and grow on your time. Maybe we can grow together.
Although I have always had some interest in real estate thanks to my auntie Sharon, it was never my intention to end up as a Realtor. After graduation from Cal Berkeley in International Political Economies, I had my sights set on being a top paid executive of an international company such as P & G or General Electric. Traveling to and fro – jet setting. Instead I ended up meeting Adrian while in Hawaii (yeah), and this changed my master plan forever. Love does that to you, you know? My Canadian sweetie drew me up to the Pacific Northwest in 1989, and I have been here ever since and never regretted it.
Since there was no demand for a top paid executive in Blaine (without any experience I must add), I began to explore the idea of what the heck else I could do with my education, sales and marketing experience. How about sell real estate! I set about getting the education for my license in Lynnwood where I happened to be in the class with the future managing broker for Resort Properties of Resort Semiahmoo Bob Nott. Yes, you can put two and two together to figure that I began at Semiahmoo at the same time as Broker Bob. He had loads of experience and I did not. Which brings me to my first blog subject of whether agent experience is the most important thing when seeking a real estate professional to work with. After all, buying and/or selling real estate is one of the most important transactions you will ever engage in.
Experience is a good thing – a very good thing. But experience on it’s own does not make for a better real estate agent. Experience must be met with passion, determination and people skills. Fortunately for real estate agents, there are many places to seek council regarding rules, regulations, etiquette and ethics. And the internet creates an immediate source of information that wasn’t available in years past. Then there is always the age old practice of “boots on the ground” – going to the source for information in person.
Consider it a great use of your time to do some research on the real estate agents that you are thinking of hiring before you do. Again, the web is a terrific place to start. But don’t just stop there. Interview the agents to see if there is chemistry. Also, call on past clients to see if they would use that agent again and recommend them to you. This little bit of foot work can save you many sleepless nights and much anxiety. In the end, you need someone that you can confide and trust in during this journey. What do you think is most important? I’d like to hear from you.
Let’s make it happen – Leslie