What To Know When Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent

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From beginning to end, it is a real estate agent helping you select, negotiate, and legally purchase your new home. Choosing the right real estate agent to help guide you through the whole process isn’t easy. Here’s an overview of what you need to know.

THE AGENCY RELATIONSHIP

Real estate agents are licensed by the State of Connecticut to represent a person in the purchase, sale, exchange or lease of real property. The Agency Relationship is based on one person representing the interests of another person.
The responsibility of the real estate agent is defined by the state law relating to agents, the REALTORS®’ Code of Ethics, and general principles of agency law.
The type of relationship formed between the agent and the client is called a fiduciary relationship. A fiduciary relationship is one based on trust because the agent owes the following duties to the client: Loyalty, Obedience, Diligence, Disclosure, Confidentiality, Accountability and Reasonable Skill & Care.

THE FOUR TYPES OF AGENCY RELATIONSHIPS

BUYER AGENCY
A Buyer’s Agent represents the interests exclusively of the buyer in a real estate transaction.
A Buyer’s Agent:
o        Arranges property showings that meet the buyer’s needs.
o        Provides information about the home or property, community, schools, taxes, utilities, and zoning.
o        Discloses any information about the property that can be obtained from public sources.
o        Prepares a competitive market analysis on the property.
o        Counsels the buyer on what price to offer the seller.
o        Shows what other buyers are paying for property in the area.
o        Assists in writing an offer with the buyer’s interests in mind.
o        Negotiates the best price and terms for the buyer.
o        Keeps the price capabilities and objectives of the buyer confidential    and maintains anonymity, if desired.
o        Assists with the loan application process.
o        Monitors all dates, events, and requirements.
o        Attends the closing with the buyer.

SELLER AGENCY

A Seller’s Agent represents the interests exclusively of the seller in a real estate transaction.
A Seller’s Agent:
o        Prepares a competitive market analysis of the seller’s home or property.
o        Develops and implements effective marketing strategies for the seller, including asking price, staging, and positioning.
o        Informs the seller how much other homes and properties have sold for in the area.
o        Presents all offers and counsels seller on what price to accept.
o        Negotiates exclusively on the seller’s behalf.
o        Updates the seller on market conditions.
o        Prepares an estimate of closing costs.
o        Works closely with seller to assure a smooth closing.
o        Monitors all dates, events, and requirements for the seller.
o        Represents the seller’s interest at the buyer’s walkthrough inspection.
o        Attends the closing with the seller.

DUAL AGENCY

Legal in all 50 states, Dual Agency occurs when a buyer’s agent shows a property to a buyer that is also represented by that REALTOR®’s firm, or when the Listing agency shows real estate to a buyer that is also represented by the same firm. In dual agency situations, both the buyer and seller will be asked to sign a consent agreement.
A Dual Agent owes both the buyer and seller equal representation and must:
o        Treat both parties fairly.
o        Not knowingly represent one party to the detriment of the other.
o        Disclose facts each party needs to make an informed decision.
o        To assist, as the buyer and seller are empowered to negotiate on their own behalf.
o        Assure confidentiality on each party’s price, terms, and personal information.

DESIGNATED AGENCY

Buyers and sellers have an option when the real estate brokerage firm is a dual agent. That option is called Designated Agency. In designated agency, the real estate brokerage firm will designate a salesperson to represent the buyer and another salesperson to represent the seller. The designated buyer’s agent will act as an agent for the buyer as described in “buyer agency” above. The designated seller’s agent will act as an agent for the seller as described in “seller agency” above. This is the case even though each of the salespeople is from the same real estate brokerage firm.

The seller and the buyer must each agree to having a salesperson designated for them, and the real estate broker in charge of the brokerage firm must make the designation.

UNREPRESENTED PERSONS
A person is Unrepresented by a real estate agent unless he or she has signed a representation agreement with that agent.
The real estate agent cannot provide advice or counsel to an Unrepresented Person on matters pertaining to real estate, including real estate financing. An Unrepresented Person has the responsibility to protect his or her own interests.

All real estate agents are obligated by law to treat all parties to a real estate transaction honestly irrespective of whom they represent in the transaction.

This information is reprinted courtesy of:

CONNECTICUT ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, INC.

ct-realtor

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First Home Buyer Checklist

For Millennials, buying your First Home is an exciting adventure. Owning a home is the American dream. It’s also the largest investment most of us will ever make (aside from perhaps the cost of a college education), Knowing what you’ll need before starting the trek is just as important as knowing what isn’t required. Here are some tips.

 Here’s what you’ll need:
♦   Get Mortgage Pre-Approval. A Mortgage Pre-Approval is a commitmenapp approvedt by your lender that they will lend you a specific amount of money when you find your new home.  By getting Pre-Approved for a mortgage before you start house hunting, not only can you shop with confidence, but you’ll be show sellers you are qualified and serious about buying their home.
♦   Enough income to pay monthly mortgage payments. Keep in mind that FHA MIyour monthly mortgage obligation will include not only the mortgage payment, it will also include an escrow payment for your home owners insurance (HOI), taxes, and your monthly mortgage insurance premium (commonly called PMI or MIP).
♦   The ability to maintain the property. You must keep a home in good repair or it will lose value and you’ll lose money. One of the “joys” of homeownership is keeping up with the chores around the house.  You’ll need a lawnmower to maintain curb appeal and you can’t ignore peeling paint or unexpected repairs that eventually come along. If you’re handy you can DIY or you can hire someone to do it for you. Either way, it will cost money. And you ‘d better be prepared.
♦   A decent credit record. Your credit score is the major determining factor in your ability to get a mortgage at the best terms. Low scores are caused by late payments, bankruptcy or collection accounts
There is only one Website authorized by law to provide the Free Annual Credit Report you are entitled to under the Free Credit Reporting Act – annualcreditreport.com. Check it out! And if you see any problems, take action.

Here’s What You Won’t Need:
♦   A big down payment. Sure, it would be nice to be able to make a 20% down payment on your new home. With equity in your home, you canInterest Rates avoid paying PMI, you might get a better rate and you’ll lower your monthly payments.
But it is possible to buy a home with a small down payment. There are several loan programs available to qualified home buyers that allow for down payents as low as 3 to 3.5%; there’s even one that allows for up to 100% financing of eligible properties. Talk to a professional mortgage loan officer about the best option for your family.
♦  Experience. There is a lot of information on the internet about the whole home financing/home purchase adventure. It all tends to result in a giant house puzzlejigsaw puzzle. Look to the experts for help putting those pieces together. A professional mortgage loan officer has the experience to guide you through the complicated mortgage application process. A trusted Realtor can help find the right house, assist with your negotiations and address other issues with the home purchase.

Resource:  http://www.hgtv.com/design/real-estate/a-checklist-for-first-time-homebuyers

 

5 Negotiating Tips for First Home Buyers

Homeownership is a big step and it is important to make sure that you approach it wisely. The first step is to be Pre-Approved by a mortgage professional you trust to give you the best advice on your mortgage qualifications and your mortgage options,
Then, when you do find the home that you are looking for, there is often the opportunity to negotiate a price that is lower than the list price. 
You need to know what you are doing, because negotiating poorly can cause you to lose the home that you truly want. Work closely with a Realtor you trust. He/She is on your side and has been through the process many times. In addition to their experience, here are 5 Important Negotiating Tips First Home Buyers should consider:  
1.     Try not to get emotional. It can be extremely tempting to bid top dollar for a place that has everything you have ever wanted, but you could end up setting the negotiating standard so high that you can’t afford the house. 
You need to set your limits before you put in an offer and don’t compromise. If you become too emotionally attached to a particular property, you might feel unwilling to pass on an offer that might be unreasonable or simply too much for your budget. Many First  Home Buyers are scared to end negotiations and move on when they probably should. Be as objective as possible, and don’t compromise your standards just to jump into a home.
2.    
Get a Comparable Market Analyses (CMA). Here’s where your Realtor can be a big help. Experienced agents can easily supply you with a CMA, which is basically an average price range for recently sold home within the same neighborhood with the same features. 
Ask your real estate agent about comparables before you place your offer. It is important to know whether or not the asking price for the home is reasonable, overpriced or underpriced when compared to others that have just been sold. 
If you are home shopping on your own, you can still contact an agent in your area to get a free CMA. You might be able to find them online.
3.     Access the seller’s motivation level. There are many reasons why people sell their homes. Sometimes people are relocating for job purposes, divorce, moving up, downsizing, or the owner passes away. If the seller is in a situation where they need to be rid of the property quickly, you may be able to bring them down in the asking price. Sellers who seem more relaxed or are not in a hurry to sell may not be willing to negotiate at all.
Whatever you do, gather as much information as you can about who the seller is and why they are selling. The information you find can be positive or negative in terms of getting the price you want; knowing the facts will benefit you either way.
4.     Make a firm and reasonable offer. People who are new to the real estate market assume that in order to get the price they truly want, they should start out very low with their offer. This may not be the best tactic as it could insult the seller and make them want to hold firm to their asking price. 
Use what you know about the CMA, the condition of the property, and the down payment that you can afford to present a fair number. It is perfectly fine to make an offer that is slightly lower if you know the seller is motivated, however, don’t go insultingly low. It is also wise not to add a long list of conditions or requests.
5.     Put everything in writing. Verbal offers are difficult to enforce. Once you and the seller have agreed upon a price and terms; make sure that everything gets printed out and signed by both parties. 
With a verbal agreement, you might remember the agreement a certain way and the seller might disagree with you. You can avoid this problem all together with some ink and paper. Here’s where your agent and attorney can help. Purchase agreements are required to be in writing. Putting everything down on paper will keep confusion out of the picture.

SUMMARY.  Overall, the best way to approach negotiations when you find a property that you like is to proceed with caution. Understand that perhaps it may not work out in your favor and you will need to move on. 
You should not see this as a negative possibility, because the next house might suit your needs better, even if you don’t “fall in love” with it right away. 
Do your homework, be realistic, and be reasonable. When the seller comes to the table with the same rationale, you just might come out of the negotiations as a homeowner.

If I can answer any questions you may have about how changes in the mortgage market affects you, do not hesitate to give me a call.
I appreciate your business and the opportunity to help.