Confessions of a Real Estate Agent:

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“If you find something you love, don’t let it go,” she tells me. I sit across from Sara (not her real name) and listen to her advice, which sounds oddly romantic for a veteran real estate agent. I’m not perusing the personals; I’m shopping for a home.
She clarifies. “In the pre-internet days, the only way to weed out homes was to physically walk in and out of them. Now you can weed

“If you find something you love, don’t let it go,” she tells me. I sit across from Sara (not her real name) and listen to her advice, which sounds oddly romantic for a veteran real estate agent. I’m not perusing the personals; I’m shopping for a home.

She clarifies. “In the pre-internet days, the only way to weed out homes was to physically walk in and out of them. Now you can weed out all the junk online,” she says. “By the time you actually look at places, it’s quite likely you will find homes you like straight away. You might be hurting yourself by not making an offer simply because you feel it’s happened too soon.” The dating parallels are uncanny.

Sara goes on to tell me how to avoid some costly snafus when plotting my course through the presently risky real estate market, and I listen closely.

First Things First: Get Pre-Approved Before You Look

Sara cautions, “If you find the home of your dreams and you’re not pre-approved for financing, it could cost you. A lot of people have credit issues, whether it’s a genuine issue with their credit where it’s not as good as they think it is, or it’s a mistake.”

She tells me that 25 percent of credit reports have errors, and these are often simple reporting mistakes. However, it will take 30 days to fix, so you want to take care of any credit issues before you go shopping for a house.

‘It Feels Awesome to Cut Them Loose’

Sara tells me the value of a realtor is in her local knowledge. “Try to choose one who lives and works in the area or specializes in the area you want to move. You want a realtor who knows the schools and the back roads. Get a referral if you can, or interview one or two realtors that work a lot in the area.”

She says, “You want to make sure you’re comfortable with the one you choose, you trust them and feel they will represent your best interests. You are working for a common goal; the relationship shouldn’t feel conflicting. If there’s no trust, you shouldn’t work with that realtor.”

Sara says it’s time to dump your agent, “when they stop listening and they try to push you into properties they like. Or they push your price buttons. Or they want you to use their service providers when you don’t feel comfortable. When you feel pressured or like they’re irritated that the process is taking a long time. Or if they aren’t sitting you down to understand what you want and they’re just being a tour guide.”

Likewise, occasionally it’s time for your agent to dump you. “I can tell by someone’s tone if they’re telling me instead of asking if I can accommodate them, or if they’re guarded and I feel like they don’t trust me. No commission is worth dealing with someone who makes your blood pressure rise. Once you have enough business to keep food on the table, it’s best to say no to those people. It feels awesome to cut them loose,” she says.

When You Find the One, Make a Commitment

“A lot of people want my time, but the people who sign a buyer-broker agreement are my top priority. If I have five serious buyers who have all signed buyer-broker agreements with me and a sixth buyer comes along who doesn’t want to sign the agreement, that sixth buyer is at the bottom of my list and he isn’t my priority,” says Sara. If she discovers a home that’s a steal, she will call her clients that are committed to working with her first.

She says, “It’s also protection for a buyer. A realtor’s duties are to represent the buyer, to negotiate in your best interest, to account for money and to be responsive and professional. If you find a lot wrong with your new house and feel your realtor should have known, then you have protection – you would have more retribution than if it were unclear or vague. It would go to court if you could prove the realtor was negligent and a judge could decide a monetary reward.”

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