- Ask for a referral for a real estate from someone you trust. Go with the real estate agent that you trust most after calling at least three different agents from three different brokers. Agents work for real estate brokers, so make sure you talk to at least three different agents from three different companies. Mistakes that many first-time homebuyers often make include going with a real estate agent that heavily advertises, mistakenly believing that the agent’s publicity through advertising correlates with buyer satisfaction and industry knowledge. My favorite real estate agents are those with decades of local experience.
- Pick a real estate agent based on their industry experience. Based on my personal and professional experience, those with the most experience excel in what they do, and helping buyers find homes is a personal passion. I would not select a real estate agent who works only part-time, since that agent’s time will be more limited. If you’re fine only looking at prospective houses during late evening hours or weekends, maybe you’d be okay with finding a part-time agent. However, one thing to ask is why the agent requires supplemental income and hasn’t made real estate become full-time work.
- If you have an opportunity to find an associate broker, you may have the ability to haggle commissions when selling your home. If you’re working on selling your home and making the sale contingent on purchasing a new home, do the math. Typically, sellers pay the selling agent (buyer’s agent) and the listing agent (seller’s agent). In this area, it is common for the listing agent to offer up to 3% to the buyer’s agent as commission, based upon the selling price of the home. About of that 3% goes to the broker or real estate firm, and the other 1.5% goes directly to the agent. The same thing is true for the seller’s agent who gets about 3%, consisting of 1.5% for the agent and 1.5% for the firm. However, your money will go further when you work the same deal with the person helping you buy your home. If you use the same real estate agent, he or she will make about 6% commission (remember, the broker will dig into that amount). You may be able to offer a lesser sales commission if you buy your home from that same agent since he/she will face the choice of making 3% or more than 3% if the agent handles both sides of that transaction. Although the current market is extremely hot, and you may not have much wiggle room, some agents will provide you with deals if you work with them for both transactions.
- Instead of a home warranty or a “gift” to you at closing, ask them to kick in for staging your home OR pay for professional photography. A good home stager will use the most appropriate furniture to help prospective buyers fall in love with your home. It’s no secret that an empty home typically sells more quickly than a fully furnished home. This means that if you must pay extra to have your furniture in temporary storage, the costs of the temporary storage will outweigh the losses. People want to envision what their home will look like when they move in and having an empty home will help them dream bigger. They’re not stuck dreaming within the confines of your existing style. Similarly, a professional photographer can use the most up-to-date technology to take pictures of your home – this includes utilizing drones to take wonderful aerial shots, and to cut out pictures of neighboring homes that have less “eye-appeal” or aesthetic worth. Also, if you have areas of your home that you don’t want revealed, a professional real estate photographer will know what to cut out.
- Make it clear to your agent that you will select an independent home inspector. Most agents come along with their preferred home inspectors, and although for the most part, the inspectors are independent and are bound by their own code of ethics, they know not to bite the “hand that feeds them.” If an inspector is too meticulous, the buyer’s agent may not use him/her again because it either lowers their commission or puts them at having to delay a sale so that the seller can fix up items listed in your punch list.
If you’re looking for an experienced Virginia family and divorce law attorney, contact Keithley Law, PLLC today by calling (703) 865-7710 and schedule an initial consultation in our Fairfax law office. We have decades of legal real estate experience.
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