In a recovering market, some sellers might be tempted to try and sell their home on their own (FSBO) without using the services of a real estate professional. The real estate agent is a trained and experienced negotiator. In most cases, the seller is not. The seller must realize the ability to negotiate will determine whether they get the best deal for themselves and their family.
Here is a list of some of the people with whom the seller must be prepared to negotiate if they decide to FSBO:
- The buyer who wants the best deal possible
- The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
- The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
- The home inspection companies which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house.
- The termite company if there are challenges
- The buyer’s lender if the structure of the mortgage requires the sellers’ participation
- The appraiser if there is a question of value
- The title company if there are challenges with certificates of occupancy (CO) or other permits
- The town or municipality if you need to get the COs permits mentioned above
- The buyer’s buyer in case there are challenges on the house your buyer is selling.
- Your bank in the case of a short sale
Are you thinking of buying a home? Are you dreading having to walk through strangers’ houses? Are you concerned about getting the paperwork correct? Hiring a professional real estate agent can take away most of the challenges of buying. A great agent is always worth more than the commission they charge just like a great doctor or great accountant.
You want to deal with one of the best agents in your marketplace. To do this, you must be able to distinguish the average agent from the great one.
Here are the top 4 demands you need to make of your Real Estate Agent when buying a home:
1. Tell the truth about the price
Too many agents just take your offer at any price and then try to ‘work’ both the seller and you while negotiating later. Demand that the agent prove to you that they have a belief in the price you are offering. Make them show you their plan to get both the seller – and the bank – to accept that price. Every house in today’s market must be sold two times – first to you and then to your bank.
The second sale may be more difficult than the first. The residential appraisal process has gotten tougher. A recent survey showed that there was a challenge with the appraisal on 24% of all residential real estate transactions. It has become more difficult to get the banks to agree on the contract price. A red flag should be raised if your agent is not discussing this with you at the time of the original offer.
2. Understand the timetable with which your family is dealing
You will be moving your family into a new home. Whether the move revolves around the start of a new school year or the start of a new job, you will be trying to put the move to a plan.
This can be very emotionally draining. Demand from your agent an appreciation for the timetables you are setting. You agent cannot pick the exact date of your move, but they should exert any influence they can, to make it work.
3. Remove as many of the challenges as possible
It is imperative that your agent knows how to handle the challenges that will arise. An agent’s ability to negotiate is critical in this market.
Remember: If you have an agent who was weak negotiating with you on parts of the purchase offer, don’t expect them to turn into a super hero when they are negotiating with the seller for you and your family.
4. FIND the right house!
There is a reason you are putting yourself and your family through the process of moving.
You are moving on with your life in some way. The reason is important or you wouldn’t be dealing with the headaches and challenges that come along with purchasing. Do not allow your agent to forget these motivations. Constantly remind them that finding the right house is why you hired them. Make sure that they don’t worry about your feelings more than they worry about your family. If they discover something needs to be done to attain your goal (i.e. rethinking price), insist they have the courage to inform you.
Good agents know how to deliver good news. Great agents know how to deliver tough news. In today’s market, YOU NEED A GREAT AGENT!
We are often asked why there is so much paperwork mandated by the bank for a mortgage loan application when buying a home today. It seems that the bank needs to know everything about us and requires three separate sources to validate each and every entry on the application form. Many buyers are being told by friends and family that the process was a hundred times easier when they bought their home ten to twenty years ago.
There are two very good reasons that the loan process is much more onerous on today’s buyer than perhaps any time in history.
- The government has set new guidelines that now demand that the bank prove beyond any doubt that you are indeed capable of affording the mortgage. During the run-up in the housing market, many people ‘qualified’ for mortgages that they could never pay back. This led to millions of families losing their home. The government wants to make sure this can’t happen again
- The banks don’t want to be in the real estate business. Over the last seven years, banks were forced to take on the responsibility of liquidating millions of foreclosures and also negotiating another million plus short sales. Just like the government, they don’t want more foreclosures. For that reason, they need to double (maybe even triple) check everything on the application.
However, there is some good news in the situation. The housing crash that mandated that banks be extremely strict on paperwork requirements also allowed you to get a mortgage interest rate probably below 5%.
The friends and family who bought homes ten or twenty ago experienced a simpler mortgage application process but also paid a higher interest rate (the average 30 year fixed rate mortgage was 8.12% in the 1990’s and 6.29% in the 2000’s). If you went to the bank and offered to pay 7% instead of <5%, they would probably bend over backwards to make the process much easier.
Instead of concentrating on the additional paperwork required, let’s be thankful that we are able to buy a home at historically low rates.