Real Estate Advice
Here are nine red flags to watch for when choosing a real estate agent:
- The agent suggests the highest price for your house. If you’re selling your house, get listing presentations from at least three agents, who will tell you what comparable homes have sold for and how long they take to sell. The agents are all looking at the same data, so the suggested listing price should be close. Pricing a home too high at the start often means it takes longer to sell and ultimately sells for less.
- The agent does real estate on the side, part-time. Whether you’re a buyer or seller, you want to choose an agent who is actively following the market every day. If you’re buying, you want an agent who can jump on new listings and show them to you immediately. If you’re the seller, you want an agent who is always available to show your home to prospective buyers.
- The agent is a relative. Unless your relative is a full-time agent who specializes in your neighborhood, he or she is unlikely to do as good of a job as another agent. That can breed resentment, as well as derail your transaction.
- The agent doesn’t know the real estate landscape in your neighborhood. Finding a neighborhood expert is especially important in areas where moving a block can raise or lower the value of a home by $100,000. An agent who specializes in a neighborhood may also be in touch with buyers who are looking for a home just like yours or sellers who haven’t put their home on the market yet.
- The agent charges a lower commission. In most areas, commissions are traditionally 5 to 7 percent, split between the buying and selling agent. If the commission on your house is lower, fewer agents will show it. This doesn’t mean you can’t negotiate a slightly lower commission if one agent ends up both listing and selling the house. Some newer companies rebate part of the commission to the buyer or seller, but don’t use that as the sole reason to choose an agent. That’s only a bargain if the agent is otherwise a good fit.
- The agent’s face shows up with online listings. The agents’ faces are there because they paid to be there. They may or may not be the best choice for you. Don’t accept the online portal’s assertion that the agent is a neighborhood expert. Interview him or her yourself and find out.
- The agent doesn’t usually deal with your type of property. If you’re buying or selling a condominium, don’t pick an agent who rarely sells condos. If you’re looking for investment property, find an agent who traditionally works with investors. Many agents have multiple specialties, but you want to make sure the agent is well-versed in the type of transaction you’re doing.
- The agent doesn’t usually work with buyers in your price range. Some agents specialize in homes of all types in a specific area. But if you’re a first-time buyer looking for a $200,000 entry-level home, you are unlikely to get much attention from an agent who mostly handles $10 million luxury listings.
- The agent is a poor negotiator or fails to keep up with details of the transaction. In many cases, the most important work of an agent is not to find the home, but to make sure the sale closes. That includes making sure the buyer is pre-approved for a mortgage, the home is free of liens before it goes on the market, the appraisal is accurate and issues raised by the home inspection are resolved.
Upcoming Local Events
The Reston Community Center in Hunter Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road) will host the “Paws & Claws Pet Resource Expo” from noon to 3 p.m. April 24. Information on pet care, training, nutrition, emergency situations, day care and more will be available from local businesses. This Expo will take place inside RCC Hunters Woods. Pets, other than service animals, are not allowed inside the building.
Did you know?
Ani-Meals is the Humane Society of Fairfax County’s pet food pantry. It offers pet food and related pet care items to residents of Fairfax County, and the surrounding area, who may require assistance during these difficult economic times. This important program provides pet-related support for people who face financial difficulties or unforeseen situations such as job loss, illness or loss of the family’s key provider.
We recognize that pets provide a great source of comfort during difficult times and are working to ensure families are able to keep their companions with them rather than being forced to surrender them to an already burdened shelter or rescue organization. On designated days, pet food is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
To speed up the process, fill out the Ani-Meals Application in advance and bring it with you when you go. You may also fill out this application upon visiting the administrative offices.
Did I miss an event happening today? Know about something coming up? Have a real estate question? Let me know in the comments below.