This Web Page serves to help my readers and customers better understand the many facets of the real estate process. It is my opinion that education and knowledge is an important asset for both me and my customers. Obviously I will help and assist you in every aspect of real estate when you are selling or buying a property.
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Advice and Help for My Web Page Readers and Customers
The buying and selling of a property can be a very stressful and difficult experience. Selecting a full time agent with both real estate and local experience is the proper decision to a success ful working relationship. Any knowledge and education about the many facets of the real estate gained prior to your decision to buy or sell will help you better understand the recommendations of your agent. The articles included on the website listed below will address every facet of the buying and selling process and will answer most of your questions.
Twelve (12) Questions to Ask When Choosing Your REALTOR®
Make sure you choose a REALTOR® who will provide top-notch service and meet your unique needs. Before you interview agents to meet your real estate needs, ask Anna Marie or the other agents the following questions:
1. How long have you been in residential real estate sales? Is it your full-time job? While experience is no guarantee of skill, real estate — like many other professions — is mostly learned on the job.
2. What designations do you hold? Designations such as GRI and CRS®, which require that agents take additional, specialized real estate training, are held only by about one-quarter of real estate practitioners.
3. How many homes did you and your real estate brokerage sell last year? By asking this question, you’ll get a good idea of how much experience the practitioner has.
4. How many days did it take you to sell the average home? How did that compare to the overall market? The REALTOR® you interview should have these facts on hand, and be able to present market statistics from the local MLS to provide a comparison.
5. How close to the initial asking prices of the homes you sold were the final sale prices? This is one indication of how skilled the REALTOR® is at pricing homes and marketing to suitable buyers. Of course, other factors also may be at play, including an exceptionally hot or cool real estate market.
6. What types of specific marketing systems and approaches will you use to sell my home? You don’t want someone who’s going to put a For Sale sign in the yard and hope for the best. Look for someone who has aggressive and innovative approaches, and knows how to market your property competitively on the Internet. Buyers today want information fast, so it’s important that your REALTOR® is responsive.
7. Will you represent me exclusively, or will you represent both the buyer and the seller in the transaction? While it’s usually legal to represent both parties in a transaction, it’s important to understand where the practitioner’s obligations lie. Your REALTOR® should explain his or her agency relationship to you and describe the rights of each party.
8. Can you recommend service providers who can help me obtain a mortgage, make home repairs, and help with other things I need done? Because REALTORS® are immersed in the industry, they’re wonderful resources as you seek lenders, home improvement companies, and other home service providers. Practitioners should generally recommend more than one provider and let you know if they have any special relationship with or receive compensation from any of the providers.
9. What type of support and supervision does your brokerage office provide to you? Having resources such as in-house support staff, access to a real estate attorney, and assistance with technology can help an agent sell your home.
10. What’s your business philosophy? While there’s no right answer to this question, the response will help you assess what’s important to the agent and determine how closely the agent’s goals and business emphasis mesh with your own.
11. How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction? How frequently? Again, this is not a question with a correct answer, but how you judge the response will reflect your own desires. Do you want updates twice a week or do you prefer not to be bothered unless there’s a hot prospect? Do you prefer phone, e-mail, or a personal visit?
12. Could you please give me the names and phone numbers of your three most recent clients? Ask recent clients if they would work with this REALTOR® again. Find out whether they were pleased with the communication style, follow-up, and work ethic of the REALTOR®.
BUYERS ADVICE FOR NEXT YEAR
If you are planning on waiting out this housing downturn, intending to buy a home when the coast is clear, the first step is to start checking their credit reports now. There may be some surprises waiting. Credit card companies are reducing credit limits on some borrowers. And for some people, that may cause a drag on their credit score.
Here’s why: A major factor in calculating a person’s credit score is credit utilization, said Barry Paperno, consumer operations manager for Fair Isaac’s myFICO division. When your total available credit shrinks, the percentage of credit that is being used goes up-and that has the potential to do some damage to your credit score.
“That will become a problem for some consumers, and it’s something that they need to be paying close attention to,” said Steve Ely, president of Equifax Personal Information Solutions. Equifax is a credit reporting agency.
A good credit score is necessary to get the best loan rates, and for more than a year now lenders have been requiring higher scores as mortgage underwriting standards tightened.
Credit card companies also are interested in controlling their risk, and that’s why they’re reeling in credit limits, said Andrea Ayers, president of customer management for Convergys, a customer-service firm that works for credit card companies.
If your credit limit is cut, it might be difficult today to change the lender’s mind.
“In past times, I might have said to call your creditor. But if they’ve taken that action to lower your limit, chances are not good that they will raise it,” Paperno said.
In addition to cutting limits, credit card companies have been making changes to interest rates and fees. They’re also reaching out earlier to borrowers when they have a missed payment, using a “soft touch” to help them create payment plans shortly after the due date has passed instead of waiting a month, Ayers said.
Granted, not everyone is seeing their credit disappear. To determine where to make changes, companies look at customers’ credit scores and their track record for paying bills on time, Paperno said. They also, however, base decisions on their experiences with people who have similar credit scores, he added.
If, say, a company’s data shows that people with FICO scores of 710 or less have shown a higher pattern of risk lately, someone with a 700 score could very well be affected, he said.
Unfortunately, that creates the possibly of a consumer experiencing a “snowball effect,” which could push his or her score down even farther, he said.
“Let’s say lender 1 reduces your limit because it’s tightening up on credit exposure. Your score drops,” he said. With that lower score, “lender 2 is going to lower your credit limit,” pushing your score down even more, he said.
This scenario hasn’t played out very much yet because there is some lag time involved, Paperno said. It takes time for a reduction in credit to be reflected in a credit score, and it would take additional time for a second lender to react as well.
Those with credit accounts that haven’t been used in a while might also be affected in this environment, said Cate Williams, vice president of financial literacy for Money Management International, which operates credit counseling agencies.
“They granted you a product and they want you to use that product. And if you’re not using a credit card, I could see the credit cards saying ‘If you’re not interested, we’re not interested in keeping this on our books,’” she said.
Recently, lenders have been freezing home equity lines of credit as well, although a reduction in these lines shouldn’t hurt a person’s credit score much, if at all, Paperno said.
If you plan on buying a new home in the next year, there are some things you can do to keep your credit looking as good as possible.
- Check your credit report. Find out if there have been changes to your account limits, and make sure there aren’t any errors. Look for any negatives on your report-many negative items should be removed after seven or 10 years.
- Don’t get close to card limits. About 30% of your FICO is based on the ratio of the amount that is owed on active cards to your available credit. But utilization on individual cards is important too; getting close to the limit on one card will also reflect negatively on your score. Pay down balances as much as possible.
- Keep accounts active. Accounts get closed when there hasn’t been activity on them for a while. Make small purchases on cards a couple of times a year-then pay them off right away-to keep accounts active and your available credit up.
- Pay bills on time. This should an easy one, but could prove challenging for people who could lose their jobs in the months ahead. Be proactive, and contact the credit card company as soon as possible if you’re having problems paying your bill. Payment history counts for about 35% of your credit score.
- Don’t apply for new cards. Store cards are tempting when they offer discounts at the register, but don’t bite. Applying for that card will have a negative effect on your score in the short term.
If you need my response to any of the above questions or any clarification, call me at 910-393-7306 or click on Contact Me to communicate with me by email or fax. I will provide you with additional information without any obligation or committment.
If you need information on mortgages, contact Mary Ellen Good by clicking Mortgage Planning and she will provide you with the professional service to meet your needs.