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Changing homes is stressful for the whole family. Here’s how to make the process smoother, with advice you can follow before, during and after your move.
June 4th, 2012 by Amy Glover Bryant
The question of whether or not you should use a Realtor to sell or buy a home reminds me a lot of the commercials that are currently running on TV showing a doctor running a jackhammer. You wouldn’t want someone untrained doing such a job and the same can be said for buying and selling a home.
Real estate transactions involve one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime. Transactions today usually exceed $100,000. If you had a $100,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to deal with it without the help of a CPA? If you had a $100,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering the small upside cost and the large downside risk, it would be foolish to consider a deal in real estate without the professional assistance of a Realtor.
But if you’re still not convinced of the value of a Realtor, here are several more reasons to use one:
• Your Realtor can help you determine your buying power — that is, your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. If you give a Realtor some basic information about your available savings, income and current debt, he or she can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you. Most lenders — banks and mortgage companies — offer limited choices.
• Your Realtor has many resources to assist you in your home search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your agent to find all available properties.
• Your Realtor can assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property. Agents who are Realtors have access to a variety of informational resources. There are two things you’ll want to know. First, will the property provide the environment you want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when you are ready to sell?
• Your Realtor can help you negotiate. There are myriad negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession, and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment. The purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
• Your Realtor provides due diligence during the evaluation of the property. Depending on the area and property, this could include inspections for termites, dry rot, asbestos, faulty structure, roof condition, septic tank and well tests, just to name a few. Your Realtor can assist you in finding qualified, responsible professionals to do most of these investigations and provide you with written reports. You will also want to see a preliminary report on the title of the property. Title indicates ownership of property and can be mired in confusing status of past owners or rights of access. The title to most properties will have some limitations; for example, easements (access rights) for utilities. Your Realtor, title company or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.
• When selling your home, your Realtor can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.
• Your Realtor markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. Often, your Realtor can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of your property. Your Realtor acts as the marketing coordinator, disbursing information about your property to other real estate agents through a multiple listing service or other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, etc.
• Your Realtor will know when, where and how to advertise your property. There is a misconception that advertising alone sells real estate. Studies by the National Association of Realtors show that 82 percent of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts.
• Your Realtor can help you objectively evaluate every buyer’s proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing — a lot of possible pitfalls. Your Realtor can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.
• Your Realtor can help close the sale of your home. Between the initial sales agreement and closing (or settlement), questions may arise. For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud in the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your Realtor is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing (or settlement).
• In Arkansas there are more than 6,000 Realtors ready to help you make one of the biggest decisions of your life. To find one, visit http://www.ArkansasRealtors.com and click on “Housing Resources.”
House to House is distributed by the Arkansas Realtors Association. For more information about the ARA, visit http://www.ArkansasRealtors.com.
More from columnist Amy Glover Bryant