7 ways to protect your privacy while your home is on the market

It’s been said that knowledge is power. And, while poking around in a home seller’s personal papers for knowledge isn’t what the average buyer does, there is always a chance that a bad actor will tour the home.

Even if what is noticed isn’t nefarious, if it gives the buyer knowledge of why you’re selling, or your financial picture, you may lose a bit of negotiating power.

Following is a list of ways to guard your privacy while your home is on the market.

1. See those stacks of mail on the counter?

They need to be put away. Overdue bills, and letters from divorce lawyers can all be a dead giveaway as to why you are selling your home.

Even your mortgage statements contain information that the buyer shouldn’t be privy to.

If you have a safe, lock them up. Otherwise, consider bagging them up and stowing them in the trunk of your car.

2. Clear the walls

It’s no-one’s business that you just graduated from college (and therefore have a lot of debt) or hold an advanced degree (a sign of deep pockets).

Get the diplomas and degrees off the wall and into storage.

Also consider removing anything else that includes family member’s names or achievements.

3. Clean out the closets

Yes, potential buyers open closets. All that mail and those diplomas you removed from the counters and walls?  Don’t put them in the closet.

Do a check of closets to ensure no personal papers are left out.

4. Check the drawers

I hope you didn’t put the stacks of mail in a kitchen drawer. Yes, potential buyers open drawers as well. Box up and remove anything of a personal nature prior to showing your home.

5. What kind of reading material is lying around?

Trade journals and magazines can be a clue to how you make a living. If Single Parent magazine is sitting on the living room coffee table, a buyer may assume you’re in the process of getting a divorce.

The bottom line is: don’t give potential buyers personal information that could put them in a more powerful bargaining position.

6. And don’t give identity thieves the keys to your private life

This is just a short list of items to remove from view and, preferably, from the home:

  • Bank statements
  • Checkbooks and deposit slips
  • Credit card and loan statements
  • Anything that includes your driver’s license and/or social security number
  • Insurance policies
  • Anything to do with your mortgage
  • Legal documents
  • Anything having to do with taxes
  • Anything that lists your passwords and pin

7. How is your Wi-Fi network security?

If you’re unsure how to secure your network plan on disconnecting your Wi-Fi and disabling smart devices during showings and open houses.

Why?

“… without the proper security, someone could easily hop onto your wireless network,” according to Nathan Chandler & Wesley Fenlon at electronics.howstuffworks.com.

This someone could be a savvy identity thief.

As mentioned earlier, the vast majority of home showings and open houses go off without a hitch. But it pays to be prepared for that rare occasion when someone wants your private information.

Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions.

 

Don’t let cosmetics keep you from the home of your dreams

Most real estate agents who’ve been in the business for any amount of time will tell you that it is far too easy to fall in love with a home. It’s not wise but sometimes it can’t be helped and once it snags you, it’s over – you’re going to buy it.

The flipside are homebuyers who fall in hate with a home. The minute they step through the door something disagreeable hits their senses and they can’t get out of the home fast enough.

Every day we watch clients get turned off by ugly furniture or icky paint colors or they get hooked by clever home staging, throwing their common sense to the wind and either buying or turning down a home for all the wrong reasons.

Read on to become forewarned so you can shop smart for your next home.

Wall color

There are books written about the psychology of color – that’s how important it is in marketing anything for sale. Smart home stagers understand this concept and choose wall colors that will appeal to the emotions of the masses.

It’s a challenge to look beyond this tactic, whether the colors are amazing or downright ugly. I’ve actually sold homes that had nothing that the buyer claims he or she wanted, but the wall colors were appealing.

Whether you love the color or despise it, keep in mind that it’s just paint and for less than $1,000 you can repaint a 1,000 square foot home.

Look beyond the color to what is truly important- is there enough square footage, is the flow right, does the community offer the amenities you require?

Furniture

Stagers are the masters of deception, which is why staging a home is such a smart idea. For buyers, however, it may feel like a trap. If you’ve ever purchased a newly constructed home or rented an apartment you no doubt visited the models first, right?

Many a buyer or tenant has been lured into renting or buying based solely on the model. It’s a combination of all three items we address in this post but the furnishings are usually the clincher.

Then, when it comes time to move into your new home, reality hits: your furniture doesn’t at all make your home look like the model.

The little things

Among a home stagers’ tools is a warehouse full of mirrors, pillows, throws, rugs and more. These are the little things – the accessories ― that make the interior design really pop.

Again, whether you love them or hate them, they may speak to you. As we said earlier, it is important to look beyond these enticements to the true “bones” of the home.

In an overheated housing market, homes are moving very quickly. It’s easy to get carried away in the frenzy. Remind yourself to take a deep breath and view the home with a critical eye.

All the furniture and accessories will be gone when you move in. What you’ll be left with is a home that either works for you or doesn’t.

If you keep your heart and emotions in check, you’ll find one that is perfect for you.

Use your VA benefits to purchase a home

Although lenders talk a good game in their marketing, true zero-down mortgages are a rarity. Two credit unions offer them to their members – Navy Federal Credit Union and NASA Federal Credit Union.

The only two government-backed no-down-payment mortgages come from USDA’s Rural Development program and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). If you are active-duty military a veteran or a surviving spouse, the VA-backed home loan is one worth taking a look at.

Aside from waiving the down payment requirement of conventional loans, the VA mortgage has no mortgage insurance requirement and rates are typically lower, making the loan less expensive every month.

Since we celebrate Veteran’s Day this month we thought we’d remind about just one of the many benefits you’ve earned for serving our country.

Eligibility

Some of the eligibility criteria may be confusing, but let’s take a look at the basics:

  • The borrower must have sufficient income to pay his bills and the mortgage every month.
  • Although the lender will eventually determine your credit-worthiness, the VA states that the borrower must have what it considers “suitable credit.”
  • The veteran or service member must plan on occupying the home.
  • The applicant must obtain a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Many VA-approved lenders are able to access the Automated Certificate of Eligibility system (ACE) and retrieve the applicant’s COE online. If your lender can’t, she’ll tell you how to go about getting your COE.

 The Lender’s Role

The VA doesn’t lend money; it merely offers a guarantee (up to 25 percent of each VA loan). Applicants need to see a private lender that participates in the VA loan program. In addition to meeting the VA’s requirements, the borrower must also meet lender requirements.

The Purchase Process with a VA Loan

The actual home purchase process for the veteran is very much like that of a conventional buyer with the exception of the initial steps. Let’s take a look at the steps that you need to follow to get into a new home:

  • Find a lender that participates in the VA loan program. Ask for a pre-approval letter outlining how much you can spend on a home.
  • Obtain your COE.
  • Hire a real estate agent to assist you in finding a home.
  • Submit an offer on the home of your choice, reminding your real estate agent to insert a “VA Option Clause” and an escape clause, allowing you to cancel the purchase agreement without penalty if you aren’t approved for the VA loan.
  • Apply for the loan. The quicker you gather the required documents for the lender, the quicker the rest of the purchase process can move.

If at any time during the process you have questions that the lender can’t answer, contact a representative at your regional loan center. You can find the contact information on the VA website.

Happy Veteran’s Day and thank you for your service.

2 Surprising Things That Boost Home Values

What if we told you that you should fear not the big-box retailer that is rumored to be eyeing that vacant parcel near your neighborhood as a new location?

Sure, it might bring a lot more traffic to the area and, if you live right across the street, you may be kept up at night with the additional noise from the delivery trucks, but would it be worth it if that retailer helped boost your property value?

I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the things that boost home values that might surprise you.

The Big-Box Effect

ABC News actually calls this one “The Walmart Effect.” Critics of Walmart have been trying for years to prove that when the retail giant moves into a neighborhood, property values plummet.

Guess what? It’s just the opposite.

A study from the University of Chicago and Brigham Young University finds that the when Walmart moves into a neighborhood, home values actually increased as much as 3 percent for homes within 0.5 miles of the huge retailer and up to 2 percent for those located 1 mile from the store.

Then, there’s the “Whole Foods Effect.” While it may not directly cause values to rise it does set in motion a whole slew of events that eventually gentrifies the run-down neighborhoods in which they choose to build.

Why?

Several reasons, but chief among them is that “… proximity to a store like Whole Foods, often thought of as more high-end than other grocery stores, adds an air of prestige to a neighborhood,” according to Dana Schulz at 6sqft.com.

She goes on to cite an example from Detroit, Michigan.

On 2013, Whole Foods opened a store in downtown Detroit. “In 2009, the median home sale price here was $19,000. By 2015 [just two years after Whole Foods opened the store], it had skyrocketed to $80,000. And during this same time period, the median home price throughout the entire city quadrupled.”

Naturally, it’s not an overnight occurrence, Schulz cautions. But if you’re planning on being in the home for the long haul, don’t let news of a big-box store opening nearby dissuade you from buying that house.

I See Dead People

This one always throws folks for a loop. “Homes less than 50 feet from a cemetery sell for more money per square foot than homes farther away,” say the findings of a study commissioned by a national real estate chain.

The downside is that these homes sit on the market longer, but when they eventually do sell, they tend to bring in a higher price than homes located further from the cemetery.

In fact, the study broke down the prices of homes according to their proximity to graveyards. Those within 50 feet brought in the highest prices and prices went down until the 1,000 foot mark where they shot back up to be equal to the first category.

So, if you can’t buy within 50 feet of a cemetery, make sure the home you do buy is at least 1,000 feet away.

While these location-related value boosters may be surprising, something like a new garage door or roof may have a bigger impact on the value of a home.

Yes, you can love it AND leave it

Most of us are familiar with buyer’s remorse. It’s that sinking feeling that, for any number of reasons, we shouldn’t have made a recent purchase. We become filled with regret, second-guessing our decision to buy.

Buyer’s remorse is so prevalent that the Federal Trade Commission created the “Cooling-Off Rule,” which gives the buyer “… three days to cancel certain sales … but not all sales are covered,” including real estate, says an unknown writer on the FTC’s website.

Seller’s remorse is the flip side of buyer’s remorse and doesn’t get nearly the attention that the latter does. This is because we typically don’t sell something that we don’t want to get rid of. When we do sell something that we don’t want to, remorse may set in.

Selling a home is often a tough decision. You may have scores of rational reasons but when push comes to shove, the memories you’ve built in the home may cause a gut-wrenching reluctance to leave.

If you’re emotionally attached to the home, it’s time to separate those emotions from the business aspect of what you are about to undertake. After all, selling a home is, at its core, a financial and business transaction.

Let’s take a look at a few tips to help you overcome some common emotional pitfalls in the process.

Turn a blind eye (and ear) to criticism (real and perceived)

Following your agent’s advice about preparing the home properly for the market is critical. Not only will it help the home sell for the amount you hope, but it may sell quicker.

Another bonus is that a well-prepared home should give you confidence in how it  presents to potential buyers. Hold on to that confidence because you’ll need it in the face of any criticism that might come your way.

I think that most of us have read at least a couple of reviews of products and services online. Regardless of the number of consumers who give rave, 5-star reviews, there is always a handful of them that find fault with it. A 100% 5 stars rate seems an impossibility.

Keep that in mind while your home is on the market. You may receive negative feedback from a buyer’s agent. You may receive a lowball offer that borders on insulting. You may be asked to rip out your “ugly wallpaper.”

Should this occur, remember that the criticism or insult isn’t meant to be taken personally. This, as I mentioned earlier, is a financial/business transaction. Try to brush it off as such and keep your emotions in check.

Disrupters

You wouldn’t be the first home seller to feel that their home has become the “Grand Central Station” of the local real estate market. Especially in our current market; buyers are clamoring for homes.

On the flipside, sellers still have lives to lead, jobs to go to, kids in school and participating in athletics, etc. Then, there is the family time at home that many busy families treasure.

Despite this, you’ll need to remain flexible for showings. Naturally, we’ll help you find a balance between your life and home showings. It’s up to you, however, to understand that the home is now akin to a product and, if you want to sell it, you will try your hardest to accommodate those who want to view it.

A few coping mechanisms to help you let go

“Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it,” said author David Foster Wallace. If you can relate to that, especially when you think about selling your home, read on.

From the time you sign the listing agreement until the ink is dry on the closing papers is dangerous territory for those who are prone to seller’s remorse.

It seems, however, to get worse the closer we get to closing. Panic sets in and remorse and regret are typically not far behind.

One suggestion we often provide to our clients is to focus on the future. Think about the new home, how you’ll furnish it, landscape it or whatever else may be planned for the future that keeps you optimistic.

Take photos of the current home, inside and out. Plan on taking a favorite plant to the new home (dig it up before the home goes on the market). Plan a goodbye-party and invite neighbors you’ve grown especially fond of.

Then, focus on why you planned on selling it to begin with. Think about the current home’s short-comings, such as how cramped the kids are in their bedrooms or how far the commute is.

Turn your attention to items that the new home offers that excite you. Concentrate on those. “It will be so nice to have a bigger pantry,” or “The new backyard is perfect for the dog.”

Finally, work closely with your real estate agent. Ensure the agent you hire understands how your connection to the home is deeply emotional and how that is impacting you. Ensure as well that the agent is a positive person, able to handle the ups and downs you may throw his or her way.

Yes, selling a home is stressful, even if you aren’t that fond of it. But when you focus on what the future holds instead of what you’re giving up, the entire process will be much smoother.

 

Don’t believe these 2 common mortgage myths

The biggest myth about mortgages (aka “home loans”) is that they’re hard to get. From how to qualify to acceptable credit scores to down payments, mortgage myths abound.

Today, we’ll debunk those that may be keeping you from confidently walking into a lender’s office and asking for a loan.

My credit score is too low

While a homebuyer’s credit score is scrutinized, and a lot is riding on it, it’s common for a borrower to be granted a home loan even with a less-than-perfect credit score.

FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) scores range from 300 to 850. Keep in mind that “Only about 1.6% of the U.S. population with a credit score has a perfect 850,” according to Elizabeth Gravier, citing recent FICO statistics at cnbc.com.

Since that pool of Americans represents such a tiny fraction of the homebuying pool, obviously a perfect credit score isn’t required to get a home loan.

In fact, the “ideal” credit score is 760, according to experts that Gravier consulted.

“Reaching a credit score of 760 will likely get you all the same benefits — and the best deals — on everything from mortgages and car loans to credit card rewards,” she said.

On the flipside, a credit score below 500 will probably keep you from your dreams of owning a home.

500??? I can get a mortgage with a 500 FICO score?

“If you can make a 10% down payment, your credit score can be in the 500 – 579 range,” to obtain an FHA-backed mortgage, according to Victoria Araj at rocketmortgage.com.

Naturally, approval of a loan for a borrower with a 500 FICO score depends on more than just your credit score such as other items in your credit reports, your debt-to-income ratio and more.

If all else looks good, however, you may just score yourself a mortgage with a good down payment.

No, you don’t need to have a 20% down payment

When you take out a mortgage, you’ll need to come up with a down payment and closing costs. The former is a source of confusion among many homebuyers.

While financial experts recommend a large down payment on a home loan, it is often not a hard and fast requirement. Depending on your income, your debt and your credit history, you may qualify for a far lower down payment than 20%.

These are just two of the many mortgage myths swirling around today. Suffice it to say, you may qualify for a mortgage without having to save for the down payment for the rest of your life.

Feel free to reach out to us with any questions.

Time to downsize? Check out the incredible advantages

In 1973, the median U.S. home size was 1,525 square feet. Since then, builders have gradually increased the square footage of the homes they construct.

In 2007, home sizes hit their peak (2,227 square feet) and have been dropping ever since, according to the Census Bureau.

Although Americans aren’t quite ready to completely give up their McMansions, the trend appears to be toward smaller homes.

A smaller footprint has its advantages. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Money Saver

The most obvious advantage to buying a smaller home is that the monthly payment will typically be lower than it would be if you bought a large home.  Less obvious money-saving advantages include:

  • Lower utility bills – less area to heat and cool.
  • Smaller houses require less maintenance, which can cost a bundle with a large house — a smaller roof requires fewer materials to repair it, for example.
  • Small homes cost less to keep clean – you’ll spend less on cleaning supplies and whatever you estimate your time is worth.
  • Small houses cost less to furnish – the furniture that you do purchase will be smaller as well.
  • Smaller homes have smaller tax bills.

The case for downsizing to save money is even more urgent if you are nearing or in retirement. Annual property taxes and home maintenance can eat up a huge amount of your savings.

If you aren’t near retirement, think of what you can do with the money saved by downsizing – like furnishing it with high-quality furniture and appliances that will last longer; another cost-saving advantage.

No Wasted Space

Lifestyles have changed since the days when formal dining and living rooms were in vogue. Americans are awake to the fact that they have been paying for huge amounts of space that they seldom use.

Today, a country kitchen or informal dining room suffices for our smaller families and any extra space is typically devoted to a home office or larger kitchens and bathrooms.

One of the most common fears when considering a smaller home, however, is the lack of storage space. The solution? Downsize all your “stuff” too.

“We use 20 percent of what we own, 80 percent of the time,” according to Regina Brett at cleveland.com. This means that 80 percent of our “stuff” just sits, taking up valuable space.

If you feel that you absolutely can’t live without these belongings, put them in storage and pull them out on the rare occasions you need to use them.

The rest can be stored creatively in a smaller home. Utilize the vertical spaces in the home, such as placing shelves above the washer and dryer or the clothing rod in the closet. Raise the beds to create storage space beneath them.

Peace of Mind

While living large is impressive, living small brings happiness, according to Stephanie Rosenbloom of the New York Times. Smaller homes require less work thus freeing up time for leisure activities and time to make memories.

Since they also cost less, the extra money can be used to create happiness. “Current research suggests that, unlike consumption of material goods, spending on leisure and services typically strengthens social bonds, which in turn helps amplify happiness,” Rosenbloom claims.

Yes, large homes still signify status – especially if the home is of the luxury variety. If you aren’t a member of the country’s 1 percent, however, smaller may just be better.

Reach out to us for more ideas on downsizing to a smaller home.

Should I buy a home with a septic system?

When looking at homes for sale you may see in the listing description that a home isn’t on “city services.”

What this means is that the home has its own “sewer,” known as a septic system.

We frequently field questions about septic systems, so we put together this report with the basics you’ll need to know about buying and owning a home that isn’t on city services.

The anatomy of the septic system

Let’s face it: Sewage is probably the least glamorous topic to consider. But bodily fluids have to go somewhere and sewers and septic systems are our current choices.

Whatever is put down the drain, from the toilet, shower, washing machine and sink, ends up in the septic tank.

That tank is located underground and it’s watertight. This is where all the incoming “stuff” is treated. The solids are trapped on the bottom of the tank and the wastewater that’s left over is released into the leach field (sometimes called a “drain field”).

The solids, or sludge as it’s called in the septic business, are broken down by bacteria naturally found in wastewater. Not all of it is broken down and what’s not remains in the tank until the homeowner has it pumped out.

As mentioned earlier, this is a basic description. If you want to dive into the technical aspects of septic systems, you’ll find lots of information online.

Septic system maintenance

If you purchase a home with a septic system, you will be responsible for its maintenance. Defer maintenance on the system and problems will get worse.

In fact, the national average cost for septic system repair is around $2,700.

Aside from a hefty bill, if the tank isn’t maintained it may spring a leak, saturating the leach field. You may end up with sewage coming back into the home, into the bathtub or another plumbing fixture.

Allow the problem to get so bad that you need a new system and you’re looking at a cost of around $4,600 (but it can go higher).

When considering purchasing a home with a septic system you’ll want consider basic maintenance costs. This includes paying for an annual inspection and having the tank pumped every three to five years.

The cost to pump the tank varies according to the tank’s capacity. The national average, according to HomeAdvisor.com, is $381.

Your due diligence

Aside from the whole house inspection every smart homebuyer should have performed, we recommend that you also hire a professional septic contractor to inspect the septic system.

The inspection will include looking for leaks, ensuring that the sludge levels are below the outlet tee, checking to ensure the electrical and mechanical components are in good condition and more.

Typically, it’s the homebuyer’s responsibility to hire and pay for the contractor, but not always. In some regions, such as Central Virginia, for instance, the seller must have the septic system inspected “within 30 days of the closing date,” according to information posted at Realtor.com.

Septic systems aren’t as scary as many homebuyers think. Yes, they aren’t as convenient as being on city services, but as long as the system is inspected each year and you keep up the maintenance, you should have no worries.

And, it beats having to pay to get the home connected to the city’s sewer system.

The lead based paint disclosure

Among the many forms you’ll be asked to sign when you buy a home is the Lead Based Paint disclosure. I’ve seen many clients give it just a cursory glance before signing it; rarely does anyone take the time to read it.

It’s an important disclosure, as it lets you know if there is lead-based paint on the walls, window sills and doors.

Why should you care?

Lead-based paint dust and chips can cause serious health problems, especially in kids. “Lead is particularly dangerous to children because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead,” cautions the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“Babies and young children can also be more highly exposed to lead because they often put their hands and other objects that can have lead from dust or soil on them into their mouths.”

A little history

Before 1978, lead-based paint was the most commonly used in new-home construction.

The EPA estimates that 87 percent of homes built before 1940, 69 percent of those built between 1940 and 1959 and 24 percent of homes built between 1960 and 1977 contain lead-based paint.

The older the home, the better the chance that it contains hazardous levels of lead. The use of lead-based paint was banned in the United States in 1978.

Homeowner disclosure requirements

Although federal law requires the home seller to disclose the presence of lead-based paint if the home was built prior to 1978, most offer the disclosure even for more recently built homes.

The seller is also required to give the buyer a pamphlet titled “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home.”

The buyer must be allowed a 10-day period to inspect the paint in the home, but this time period may be adjusted by mutual agreement.

Homebuyer duties

Despite seller disclosure duties, homebuyers are expected to exercise due diligence when purchasing a home. This means reading and understanding each form you sign during the transaction.

If the home was built before 1978 and the seller claims he or she has no knowledge of the presence of lead-based paint, you should hire a lead inspector to ensure that there is no lead present in the home.

You can search for Certified Inspection firms on the EPA’s website.

Will finding lead in the home kill the deal?

The presence of lead in the home doesn’t necessarily derail the purchase. The inspector should be able to provide you with an estimate on fixing the problem.

We can take this estimate to the seller and ask him or her to make the repairs before the close of escrow or request the amount required to remedy the situation as cash-back at the close of escrow and have the repairs performed after you move in.

Feel free to reach out to us if you need more information on this disclosure or other aspects of the home purchase or sale process.

What questions should I ask real estate agents?

Seven in 10 real estate consumers work with the first real estate agent they interview, according to studies by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

I don’t know about you, but I find that statistic shocking. Whether buying or selling a home, you’re dealing with one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your lifetime.

Why wouldn’t you take the time to ensure that the person that assists you in this transaction is experienced, knowledgeable and equipped with the skills required to get you where you want to be both financially and personally?

Even more surprising, according to the NAR, sellers typically ask real estate agents only two questions before hiring them — they want to know how much their home is worth and how much they will have to pay in commissions. That’s it; they ask no further questions.

So, this month, we’ll take a look at some answers to the tough questions you should ask before trusting any real estate agent to represent you in the purchase or sale of real estate.

This is a job interview

When you interview agents to assist you in the sale or purchase of a home you are, in essence, conducting a job interview and you should approach it as such.

Be aware of how the agent presents herself (or himself, as the case may be) and his or her business.

Are listing presentation materials professionally formatted and presented? Remember, if any of the agents can’t or won’t market themselves effectively, how can they possibly market your home?

Ask the right questions

Ah, the internet – what would we do without it? Homebuyers, by and large, begin their home searches online and many sellers use the internet to size up the competition. The web also happens to be the ideal place to help you narrow your choices when it comes to choosing a real estate agent.

More than 70 percent of Americans seek online product reviews before making a purchase, according to researchers at Northwestern University.

While service reviews aren’t quite as prevalent, you can find agent reviews and testimonials from clients online. So, once you have your list of agents to interview, it’s your turn to seek out reviews.

Real estate consumer success stories, in their own words, are powerful proof of an agent’s effectiveness. You can typically find testimonials on agent websites, but the best are unsolicited by the agent and you’ll find those on yelp.com and some of the large real estate platforms.

OK, here’s question number one to ask in agent interviews: “May I have the name and telephone numbers of some past clients?” Then, don’t be afraid to call them and probe for details about the agent’s skills, strong points and work ethic.

Additional questions you should ask each agent include:

  • Length of time in the industry – Even more important, or perhaps it goes hand-in-hand, is the number of “deals” the agent has participated in. The best agents have enough experience to where they can handle whatever a transaction throws their way.
  • Marketing – It’s a listing agent’s primary job and therefore an important question to ask is how he or she plans on marketing your home.

The agent should have a visible and robust online presence as well as access to the many online real estate marketing platforms.

Ask to see examples of past marketing campaigns. Home descriptions should be compelling and the photos should be clear.

If a virtual or 3D tour is important to you, ask for examples that the agent has created for past clients. Finally, it takes money to effectively market a home so ensure that the agent you hire has a marketing budget to back up the plan.

  • Ask the agents for their list-to-sales price ratio. This represents how close to list price the agent’s listings have sold.

Each agent should be able to tell you the average days a home remains on the market in our area so ask. Then, inquire as to how long the agent’s listings remain on the market.

Just as in any other industry, not all real estate agents are alike. To assume they are sets you up for wasted time and money.

Interview at least three agents and be prepared to ask the tough questions.