From the category archives:

Realtors

Having a Buyers Agent

Why have a buyers agentFirst things first. My name is Mark Brian and I am a REALTOR in Anderson South Carolina. Bill invited me to write a post that buyers would find informative or helpful. I was surprised that one of the most influential Realtors on the web would reach out to me.

So a BIG thank you goes to Bill!

I decided to write about why you need a buyers agent when buying a home.

Before you start thinking I am saying this for my benefit, I must tell you that I ONLY work as a listing agent. I have buyers agents in my office that work with buyers and I refer all buyers to them. The buyers agents in my office are REALLY good at what they do, so it just makes more sense for me to concentrate on what I do best.

Which is represent sellers and work to get them the best possible price and terms in the shortest amount of time. So how and why do you go about choosing a buyers agent?

The First Rumor to Dispel

There is a nasty rumor that buyers should go to the listing agent if they want to get a better deal. This is NOT true!
I don’t know why this myth still exists or how it got started.

Just hear me out on WHY it is NOT a good idea for Buyers to go to the listing agent thinking they will get a better deal:

  • The listing agent works for the seller to get the seller the best price and terms.
  • The buyers agent works for the buyer to get the buyer the best price and terms.

Do you see the difference?

If you are buying a home, you need a Buyers Agent to represent you!

Sure, the listing agent may be friendly, helpful, etc etc…

But make no mistake.

The listing agent is working for the seller.

I STRONGLY recommend ALL home buyers work with an experienced buyers agent.

Remember, I said I do NOT normally represent or work with buyers.

I only represent sellers as a listing agent and I am telling you:

Buyers always NEED a Buyers Agent!

Many buyers agents close more real estate transactions in one year than most people will in a life time. There is something to be said for the experience and knowledge that a buyers agent brings to the table.

My suggestion is to ask friends, family and coworkers for their suggestions. Interview several buyers agents and do not go with the first one. Do NOT select a buyers agent because they are your friend, family member or you went to school with them.

Find a buyers agent that you feel comfortable with and has the experience and knowledge you need.

A good buyers agent does much more than open doors or find you homes to look at. It is the stuff that comes AFTER you find the home of your dreams that makes the REAL value of a buyers agent crystal clear.

For example…

Making an Offer to Buy a Home

If you have found a home that fits your budget, in the right location and has what you need, then do not hesitate to make an offer. Because if you like this home, odds are there is another buyer right now looking for the same thing.

When you are working with a buyers agent, you can feel confident in making an offer. Remember the buyers agent is representing you and working to get you the best home at the best price and terms for you! But how much should you offer?

A Buyers Agent Will Help You Understand:

  • How long has the home been on the market
  • What’s the current market like?
  • Are home prices going up or down?
  • Are there any other offers on the property?
  • If there are other offers, how can you make your offer more attractive?
  • What does the comparable market analysis say?

Comps is short for comparable sales. Comparable sales are recently sold homes that are very similar to the home you are considering. You may also want to look again at the active listings to compare their prices to the home you are considering.

Too Little

If you make an offer that is too low, you run the risk of making the seller mad. This will only make negotiating much harder. Some sellers will not even counter an offer if it is too low.

With this in mind, your buyers agent will help you decide on a price that is realistic. Your offer should be based on what recently sold comparable homes have sold for.

Too Much

Without a buyers agent, it is also possible that you will offer too much for a property. An experienced buyers agent will know the local real estate market like the back of their hand. They can prevent you from paying too much!

Almost Right

Maybe your initial offer is close but not exactly what the seller was wanting. If the seller counters your offer, you and your buyers agent will need to negotiate the counter offer. Once again, the value of a buyers agent will become crystal clear.

But Wait There Is More…

Price is only part of your offer. You cannot forget the terms of the offer. You cannot overlook the contingencies. Exactly how this works varies from state to state and from one transaction to the next. Again, an experienced buyers agent is worth their weight in gold when it comes time to make an offer.

Your buyers agent will know how to write up the offer to include contingencies for inspections, the appraisal and financing and anything else that will protect you and help to ensure you are getting a good price and a fair deal.

In fact one of the biggest hurdles in a real estate transaction is the home home inspection. An outstanding buyer’ agent will help you negotiate any problems discovered at the inspection. Sometimes home inspection discussions can become contentious especially when the buyer and seller don’t see eye to eye on what should be fixed and what is a petty request. A good Realtor in your corner will help you sift through what requests are reasonable or not.

The Commission Is Not Reduced

No Commission SavingsSome buyers think that if they give up their right to have an experienced and knowledgeable REALTOR in their corner, that the commission will be reduced.

Actually, this is NOT true in most cases. I do not know where or why this idea came about.

The commission is set when the seller signs the listing contract. The listing company then agrees to split that commission with another broker if they bring the buyer.

Normally there is no mention of the commission being reduced if a Buyer wants to buy a home without professional representation.

Information Versus Knowledge and Experience

The changes that technology and the internet have brought to real estate have been substantial. Many thought that the same thing that happened to travel agents would happen to real estate agents. There have been many attempts to accomplish this but technology cannot match the consumer’s need for the knowledge and experience of REALTORS.

Many buyers think that since they can find listings online without an agent, they do not need a buyers agent. Adding to this problem are the websites that produce home values which cause buyers to believe they do not need a buyers agent.

Some real estate websites have another problem with accuracy:

Listings That Are NOT For Sale

OR

Home Values That are WRONG

These websites are NOT licensed real estate professionals. This means they are not accountable and can pretty much do whatever they want. Which means buyers find homes on these websites that are NOT for sale or sold many months ago.

There is no doubt that buyers can find a plethora of real estate information online. And buyers can browse thousands of listings from the comfort of their couch.

The problem is some of the information you find online is not true. Especially home values. If a website has home values that are off by 5%, that doesn’t sound too bad until you do the math.

A 5% error on the price of a $300,000 home is a $15,000 difference.

Not sure about you, but I wouldn’t mind an extra $15,000 in my pocket…

A BIGGER problem for buyers is all the information in the world means nothing if you do not have the knowledge and experience to use this information correctly. You have to know what information is true, what is helpful or accurate and what to toss out.

An experienced buyers agent will know the local real estate market like the back of their hands. One of a top agents greatest assets is being able to determine the market value of a home for you. An experienced buyers agent will have seen almost every situation imaginable. A Buyers Agent knows how to write contracts to protect the buyer. A buyers agent is an expert in negotiations.

Can you honestly say this about yourself?

So while buyers can find plenty of information online, it is NOT a substitute for the knowledge and experience of what a great agent can do for you!

The Buyer’s Agent Summary:

When you are buying a home, you are dealing with what is probably the largest financial decision of your life.

  • You need someone on your side that knows what they are doing.
  • That person is called a buyers agent.
  • Not having a buyers agent does not get a home buyer a better deal.
  • Not having a buyers agent does not mean the commission is reduced.
  • Do not select a buyers agent because they are your friend, family member or someone you went to school with.

Interview several real estate agents and find someone you are comfortable with and has in depth knowledge in the area you are interested in buying a home. They should have experience dealing with the type of home you are interested in buying also. A good real estate agent will point out mistakes you could be making and not bat an eyelash in doing so. After all the best buyer’s agents are thinking about their fiduciary responsibility to you and not when they will be cashing their commission check!

There is a difference between information and having knowledge and experience when it comes to real estate. If a listing agent is telling you to get a buyers agent to help you to buy a home, isn’t this something you should consider?

Hopefully you have figured out that it really makes sense to have a buyers agent when purchasing real estate!

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How Real Estate Agents Can Market Themselves

Real Estate Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Jenson, a real estate agent in Cleveland, came to me with a request: “I want a book to promote my business. But not a book about real estate – a book about me!”

It was a strange approach, but not ineffective.

It was strange, because the normal approach we take with real estate agents is to write a book that gives lots of tips on how to buy and sell your home. That makes the book useful to readers, and helps them understand that the agent really knows his stuff. Amidst the standard advice, one inserts some anecdotes from the agent’s past experience, to show how he has come to the rescue, achieved a higher sales price for the seller on one occasion and bargained the seller down for the buyer on another.

Here are some of the points that would typically be included:

• How to work with an agent
• Determining your asking price
How to apply for a mortgage
• What forms you will need to complete
• How to prepare your house to fetch the highest value
• How to host an open house
• How to buy a house for less
• How to make sure you don’t buy problems
• How to determine what you can afford
• How to narrow down the choices
• Home inspections

Mark Jenson wanted none of that. He wanted something focusing strictly on himself. He wanted to build a relationship with potential clients. Sure, the anecdotes in the book were all real estate related, so they clearly demonstrated his expertise. But would the unorthodox approach work?

In a word, yes.

Let’s not forget that it really takes only one or two extra sales for a book to hit positive ROI. While direct cause and effect cannot always be drawn from a marketing tool to a listing, it does appear that Mark has already broken even and made some money from the book. But why did his approach work? And did it work any better than the more orthodox approach.

First and foremost, it worked because a real estate agent can always distinguish himself or herself in the market as an authority by becoming a “published author”. As long as the book is about real estate, an agent’s face and name on the cover simply says “expert” and “authority” and “trust me” with a credibility that no business card will ever convey.

The business card says: I am a real estate agent.

The book says: I am THE real estate agent.

In that respect, the approach made no difference.

Second, Mark has been in real estate for over a decade, so he has some stories to tell. Stories always make for a better read than how-to tips,. On the other hand, how-to tips are more useful, especially if someone is about to buy or sell something as important as a home. I don’t think we’ll ever know which got read more, nor am I convinced that matters.

Mark’s strategy was simple. When a new owner takes possession of a home, he leaves a bouquet of flowers and three copies of his book, autographed, in with the new owners. The new owners move in, meet the neighbors, show their friends and family around, talk about the agent (“An amazing agent. Have you seen his book?”) And the word spreads.

This strategy varies from the typical agent’s book marketing strategy, where an agent might hand a book out to everyone who walks into his office.

Another standard tactic is to send a copy of the book to the local media, along with a note: “If ever you need someone to comment on real estate in this town, I am sure I can help you.” I have no idea if Mark did this. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

The weekly real estate section in most big city newspapers needs content – interesting articles to offset the pages and pages of listings. They aren’t fooling anyone; the section is an advertising tool, not a part of the “newspaper”. But they like to put content, and a review of a new and local real estate book can be a refreshing change. More importantly, if they need comments on house prices or mortgage rates, they now have another source that they might turn to for a quote.

Not every agent is well-placed to follow Mark’s strategy. Not every agent has a dozen years under his belt. A newer agent who wants to distinguish himself with a book, is probably better placed to go the conventional route, dispensing solid advice and showing that he knows what he is talking about..

At this point, you might be wondering whether book marketing should replace billboards and benches and other signage. The short answer is, no.

Billboards and similar advertising have one goal and one goal only – to keep an agent top of mind, so that when the time comes to sell, people will pick that agent. It’s all about name recognition.

So where does a book come in? The answer: anywhere there is a heated battle for name recognition, and several names are recognized. In those communities, having name recognition and being seen as authority on real estate gives an agent the edge.

So which works better, Mark’s approach or a more conventional how-to real estate book? I have no idea, and I am sure I will never know. But you probably do know, because you know your market and you know how you relate to people. That is likely the secret to success, and what Mark Jenson intuitively understood. If you want to distinguish yourself with a book, just make sure it will fit your personality and your marketing style, and I don’t think you can lose.

David Leonhardt runs a global team of writers through The Happy Guy Marketing. His team helps entrepreneurs, including real estate agents and mortgage brokers, write their business books. They help other people write their biographies and novels and screenplays.

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Picking a Massachusetts Realtor

Selling a Massachusetts home today is not like it used to be back in the middle of this decade. Quite honestly when you needed to sell a home back then it was as easy as convincing a dog that table scraps taste better than what’s in his bowl. Boy has the Real Estate landscape changed!

Back then the 3 P’s of marketing always worked…Put a sign in the yard, put it in MLS and pray:)

When you are selling a home today in Massachusetts you better be darn sure you do your homework on who will be representing your best interests in the sale.

Selecting a great Realtor to market your home should be one of your 1st considerations.

As a Realtor who has been selling Real Estate for almost twenty five years, I can tell you with certainty that the Real Estate agent you select will have the greatest bearing on whether you will be happy a happy camper or not. In the Real Estate industry there are some very good agents and some that have no business holding a license.

One of the things that puzzles me the most about the my business is how lackadaisical people are about selecting a Realtor. When people need a good doctor, lawyer, auto mechanic or a host of other things they do their proper research. Decisions are not made lightly. On many occasions this does not hold true with selecting a Realtor even though you would think it should given a home is often times a persons largest asset.

From being in the business I can tell you with certainty that there are three traits that you most successful agents have mastered.

These include the ability to price a home properly, a well designed marketing plan, and someone with effective communication skills.

Lets face it we all want our homes to sell for the most money. It is human nature. We all think our home is better than the guy that just sold down the street. Many home owners make their biggest mistake by going with the Realtor that gives them the highest price.

Guess what…there are unprofessional agents that know some people make decisions based on emotion and not logic. There are a certain segment of Realtors that will tell you what you want to hear to get your business.

Once the agent has you under contract and the home has been on the market for a while they start to badger you for price reductions or worse say nothing. You may be thinking what is the point of having an overpriced home? Some agents just don’t care because they are using your home as a means of drawing calls from buyers that could lead to  sales elsewhere.

So how do you avoid making a poor decision picking a Massachusetts Realtor?  Here are a few tips:

  • Ask good Realtor interview questions. Look for a Realtor that has a good track record in both seller’s and buyer’s markets. Past success is usually a great indicator of future success. Ask the agent for a few references. I would suggest asking for some of their most recent sales and not from some hand picked list that you know will be giving them glowing reviews.
  • Look over the market evaluation of your home very closely. Do the comparable sales look similar to your property? Remember you need to be looking at this information through the eyes of a buyer. If a similar home down the street had a brand new top of the line kitchen and other updates don’t expect to be getting the same price if you don’t have them.
  • Picking a Realtor based on the price they give you is really double whammy because more often than not you will be stuck with a lousy agent and an overpriced home. Even an outstanding agent will have difficulty selling an improperly priced home. There are countless homes that come up expired each week. The common denominator is most often the wrong list price!

The 2nd trait that most exceptional Real Estate agents have is the ability to market well. What this really means is the ability to market on-line. The days of people finding homes by looking in the classifieds and magazines are over! Almost 90% of all buyers find their homes by doing some kind of on-line search.

As a home seller you should be looking for a agent that has a very strong web presence. By web presence I don’t mean putting it into the Multiple listing service (MLS) and Realtor.com. While these things are important they are what every Realtor does.

The Realtor you select should have their own website and it should come up in local Real Estate searches. The ability for the site to come up in searches is of the utmost importance. A Realtor could have a very attractive website but if it does not come up in competitive searches it will not help YOU sell your home.

Massachusetts Real Estate marketing

For example if I am a buyer and I am going to be looking for homes or condos on-line, I am probably going to go to Google and punch in something like:

  • Hopkinton MA Real Estate
  • Holliston MA homes for sale
  • Real Estate Ashland MA

or something similar. A Realtor that can come up on the 1st page of Google for these terms knows what they are doing, as these are the most competitive terms to rank for. All the National Real Estate portals such as Realtor.com, Homes.com,  Zillow, Trulia, and Yahoo Real Estate spend lots of money to make sure their sites are on the 1st page of Google because they know that consumers use these kind of terms to find property. When a Realtor can get their website to the 1st page of Google guess what happens?

Lots of traffic and many more eyes viewing the homes they have listed for sale!

When doing these kind of searches today you will also notice that the agents that really know their way around the web 2.0 have started a Real Estate blog to market their properties.

Google loves blogs because they are not static like websites. The best blogs are updated on a weekly basis and will be used to showcase a homes best attributes. Search engines love fresh Real Estate content!

Besides a website and a blog you want to make sure that your home is found in the places where most people searching for a home visit.  One of the things I am most proud of as an agent is my ability to have my clients homes or condos all over the place on-line. Here is a list of the most visited Massachusetts Real Estate sites for selling a home or condo.

Let me say with great emphasis that there is a big difference between just being in these sites and doing a great job making your home stand out from the competition! What you want to see for your home is multiple photos taken with a high end camera, well thought out descriptions highlighting the best features, and video tour that takes a buyer through the home.

Lastly, you want a Realtor who communicates with you on a consistent basis. Most sellers want to know what is going on with the process of selling their home. Who wouldn’t! Make sure the agent has a plan to keep you informed. Does your Realtor call every agent after the home is shown to see what are the agents/buyers thoughts?

How is this information relayed back to you? One of the things I do for my clients which they really appreciate is a feedback report that can be viewed on-line. We give the client a password to the site and they are the only ones besides us that can see it. It keeps them in the loop on what buyers are saying and they just love it! The feedback helps us as well because if we see a pattern in the comments we can make suggestions to address the issue.

If you find an agent that does these things and you do your part keeping the home clean and making it easy to show, you will have a blueprint for a successful Massachusetts home sale!

Other related Real Estate articles:

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on selling a Massachusetts home and picking a Realtor was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 24+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Hopkinton, Milford, Southboro, Westboro, Ashland, Holliston, Medway, Franklin, Framingham, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Upton, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Northboro, Bellingham, Uxbridge, Worcester and Douglas.

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Disclosing a Haunted Massachusetts Home

While working as a Massachusetts Realtor over the last twenty five years one of the questions that always seems to come up is whether or not a Realtor is obligated to disclose a murder, suicide, haunting or other type of paranormal activity that may have occurred in a home or other Real Estate.

Wikepedia defines a haunted house as a home or other Real Estate often perceived as being inhabited by disembodied spirits of the deceased who may have been former residents or were familiar with the property. Supernatural activity inside homes is said to be mainly associated with violent or tragic events in the building’s past such as murder, accidental death, or suicide.

Disclosing Murder, Suicide, and Haunted Homes in Massachusetts

This is one of those topics that I would be willing to bet at least half the Realtors polled would get the answer wrong. I am sure most Real Estate agents would say that they are required to disclose a haunted house or if someone died in a property by murder or suicide. They would be dead wrong:)

One of my beliefs is that every buyer should be entitled to know anything that could materially effect the value of a home or the ability to sell in the future. This in fact is one of the articles in the Real Estate code of ethics.

In Massachusetts anyways, a Realtor is not required to disclose these kinds of events in a property. Apparently lawmakers do not feel these kind of events are worthy of Real Estate disclosure. I suppose in the case of a haunted home it would be much harder to prove the actual existence of ghosts.

Many states require full disclosure of violent crimes such as murder and any other event that may stigmatize a property before it is sold. Not the case in Massachusetts!

Below is the excerpt from the Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 93, section 114 that discusses Real Estate disclosure for alleged haunted homes, murder and suicide:

Afraid man of Massachusetts Haunted House

The fact or suspicion that real property may be or is psychologically impacted shall not be deemed to be a material fact required to be disclosed in a real estate transaction. “Psychologically impacted” shall mean an impact being the result of facts or suspicions including, but not limited to, the following:

  • (a) that an occupant of real property is now or has been suspected to be infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or any other disease which reasonable medical evidence suggests to be highly unlikely to be transmitted through the occupying of a dwelling;
  • (b) that the real property was the site of a felony, suicide or homicide; and
  • (c) that the real property has been the site of an alleged para psychological or supernatural phenomenon.

No cause of action shall arise or be maintained against a seller or lessor of real property or a real estate broker or salesman, by statute or at common law, for failure to disclose to a buyer or tenant that the real property is or was psychologically impacted.

While this is the case in Massachusetts you can not assume that in other states it is alright not to disclose known events such as a murder or haunting.

I find it kind of interesting that disclosure of a person who had AIDS was lumped into this kind of stigmatization. It does not seem all that similar of a disclosure issue?

If you are a Massachusetts Realtor another thing to pay careful attention to is purposely deceiving someone. While non disclosure may not be an issue, blatantly lying to someone certainly could be. If you are marketing a home that is well know to be suspected of being haunted and a buyer ask you a direct question about it you should always be truthful of what you know.

Other Real Estate articles worth a look:

Massachusetts seller’s disclosure statement

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on disclosing murder, suicide and haunted Massachusetts homes was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 25+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Hopkinton, Milford, Southboro, Westboro, Ashland, Holliston, Medway, Franklin, Framingham, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Upton, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Northboro, Bellingham, Uxbridge, Natick, Worcester and Douglas.

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How to Interview a Realtor With Great Questions

September 30, 2010

Realtor interview Questions Carefully interviewing a Realtor should be one of the most important things any home seller does when considering selling their home yet many do not. Having been in this business for almost twenty seven years I have found this to be pretty fascinating. There are lots of folks that will make contact [...]

14 comments Read the full article →

Picking The Wrong Massachusetts Realtor Can Get Ugly!

June 18, 2010

As a Realtor, knowing how to market your services as well as a clients property online can be very powerful. In the Real Estate field it can certainly be the difference maker in whether or not a client chooses to hire you or NOT! It is not that hard to figure out that Realtors are [...]

6 comments Read the full article →

Marking a Property Under Agreement or Accepting Back Up Offers in Real Estate?

May 13, 2010

In Massachusetts when you are marketing a seller’s home and you procure a ready willing and able buyer to purchase a property you have hopefully started your journey to a successful closing. One of the things that Realtors are required to do is change the status of the property when we have a signed contract [...]

1 comment Read the full article →

Picking a Dominant Online Metrowest MA Realtor

May 2, 2010

It is a fact that 90% of all home buyers start their search for a home online. The days of buyers using newspapers and magazines as a viable means to find a home are over! Keeping this in mind, the goal of any Realtor that is worth their commission is to make darn sure the [...]

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Realtor Communication Skills The Number One Complaint!

April 28, 2010

If you look at any of the National Real Estate surveys the number one complaint from consumers against Realtors who are representing home sellers is the lack of communication skills. There are countless stories of sellers signing a listing contract and then never hearing from their Realtor again unless they initiate the contact. Obviously if [...]

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How Not to Sell a Massachusetts Home

April 26, 2010

Every week on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) you see countless homes that come up “expired”. For those that are not familiar with the term, an expired listing is a home that did not sell. When looking over the possible common denominators of why some homes do not sell the reason is usually pretty easy [...]

3 comments Read the full article →