Questions to Ask When Hiring a Real Estate Agent

If you are looking to either buy or sell a home there are a few questions to ask when hiring a real estate agent. First, you want to concern yourself with the agent’s level of experience. You want to find out how long they have been in business. It is also important to know how often an agent works in the area your area if interest. After all, an agent can have a lot of experience in one locale but not have much local knowledge in the area you want to move to.

Experience means that you need to find an agent who sells a lot of homes in your price range. Experience also means finding the right agent for your area of need. This means finding a residential real estate agent if you are looking for or to sell a home, someone who specializes in land if you want to purchase or sell a vacant parcel, or a commercial agent for commercial space.

Questions to Ask When Hiring a Real Estate Agent: For Buyers

When you are looking to buy you want to find out how well your agent can represent you. This means asking questions about some of the agent’s negotiation strategies. How can they present your offer in the best light? In a competitive market this is a lot more than simply offering the largest amount of money. There are a variety of ways to make any buyers offer stand above the rest. Additionally, once you are under contract how will your potential agent support you? Will they continue to advocate on your behalf through inspection and appraisal, or will the next time they speak to you be at the closing table?

For Sellers

As a seller your needs and desires are different than that of a buyer. This likely boils down to two things. You want someone who can sell your home in a timely fashion and for the greatest amount of money. Sellers need to find out how well a potential agent knows their market, and their area. It is also important to understand what methods an agent uses to arrive at a price to list your home at. Money is just one aspect, time is also a vital factor.

For you this could mean a quick sale, or maybe you need a longer amount of time to determine your next move. When it comes to questions to ask when hiring a real estate agent you want to find out how they will remove road blocks during the under contract process to prevent delays. An experienced agent brings with them a specialized team of people, from inspectors to contractors to make repairs. Sometimes we can even negotiate to have the buyer use our preferred local lender to avoid the fly by night online operations which always result in delays. Find out if the agent you are interviewing has access to these types of professionals.

If you need help interviewing a great agent anywhere in the world we would be happy to find a great fit for you. Contact Us and let us ask the important questions so that your interests can be best represented.

Real Estate Agent Designations

In this article we will discuss real estate agent designations and how they help to set Realtors apart from those with less knowledge and experience about the field. You might be familiar with other types of professional designations such a those for project management professionals PMP or even those with MBA’s. In this post we want to provide a brief overview of some of the alphabet soup. This will help you to better understand what to look for your from your next agent. We hope this will aid in make an informed decision about who to work with.

Council of Residential Specialists CRS

The National Association of Realtors grants the The CRS designation. CRS is a difficult real estate agent designation to earn. Only 4% of Realtors nationwide are recognized as CRS agents. One major requirement is coursework in a variety of topics over the course of 30 hours of education. In order to obtain this designation Realtors must also complete 60 transactions or $30 Million in sales volume over the course of 5 years.

Certified Distressed Property Expert CDPE

CDPE is granted by its own oversight committee. This certification is earned through coursework which teaches agents how to work with properties facing short sales or foreclosures. Moreover, an agent with this knowledge is best able to help if you find yourself in this kind of situation.

Graduate of the Realtor Institute GRI

The National Association of Realtors is also responsible for granting the GRI designation. In order to obtain this certification Realtors must undergo rigorous training in legal and regulatory issues. The must also undertake coursework in professional standards and the real estate sales process. A GRI represents the pinnacle of knowledge for a Realtor. This means anyone who carries GRI behind their name will be a fantastic asset in your next real estate transaction.

Master Certified Negotiations Expert MCNE

The MCNE certification is earned through coursework under the Real Estate Negotiation Institute. Agents are provided with the knowledge of how to best advocate for their clients. Working with an agent who is an MCNE will provide you with the greatest advantage during your real estate transaction.

e-Pro

In order to earn the E-Pro designation Realtors must attend a two day long course put on through the National Association of Realtors NAR. The coursework includes in depth coverage of digital marketing and digital security. When an agent carries the E-Pro designation your property they will market your property professionally. Additionally, your digital information will be in excellent hands.

Does Your Real estate Agent Have Designations?

We do and we are happy to assist you in your next real estate transaction. We can also help you to find a highly certified agent almost anywhere in the world. This is because many of these designations have agent networks that we have access to. Contact us today and let us help make your real estate goals a reality.

Why You Should Be Working With An Experienced Agent

“Experience is the teacher of all things.” -Julius Caesar

Does it really make a difference to work with an experienced agent?  I have been ask this question more than once. I feel it does make a difference.  With nearly 24 years of experience working in Fort Collins and Northern Colorado I know that I know so much more than I did 20 years ago.  But you still want to know what difference it does make.  So I will tell you.  

Working with an experienced agent can save you money.  Experience teaches you how to negotiate.  Your agent may have even taken classes on how to be a better negotiator. In addition to strong negotiation skills, your agent can direct you to the best lender with the lowest fees and interest rates. These lenders can also provide a smooth process, and get us to the closing table on time. All of this saves you money. An experienced agent can guide you through the inspection so that you can end up with a home in the condition that you need for long term enjoyment. That can save you money long term. They can save you money through resources that they have at their fingertips.  

Working with an experienced agent can save you time.  Experienced agents know how to listen. They hear what you are saying and perhaps what you are not saying.  They see body language and know how to read it.  All of this can shorten the length of time that it takes for you to find the home that is perfect for you.  They know what questions to ask and how to direct you to make the best decisions for your and your family.  In a hot market saving time can mean saving money as prices climb. 

When selling your home working with an experienced agent can save you frustration.  An experienced agent knows the red flags and can avoid them.  They know what to suggest that you do so there are not problems.  They also know what to do to keep a transaction process running so you can keep smiling all of the way through.

Experienced agents have the know-how, the skills, education and the resources to keep a transaction running smoothly and their clients smiling all of the way through to the end and beyond.  Choose your agent carefully and enjoy the experience. Contact us so that we can provide a smooth real estate transaction from start to finish.

Selling Your Home Yourself in this Hot Sellers Market?

It is easy to think that when it is a Seller’s Market, inventory is low that you could and should just go ahead and sell your home yourself. After all, buyers are snatching up any home that comes on the market and buying those homes at top dollar.  So, thinking of selling your home yourself in this hot sellers market. We know itt is tempting to be a for sale by owner.  But, in a word, DON’T.  

I know that it is easy for me to say that.  I am a Realtor and I benefit when someone uses me to sell their home.  So, why is it a mistake to sell your home yourself.  Most sellers decide to sell their homes themselves so that they will save the commission and net more money.  Research has shown that this is not the case.  Most sellers who sell their homes themselves end up netting a lower median price on their homes.  It is hard to negotiate for yourself. The buyer is wanting the best deal.  The agent for the buyer is looking our for their clients.  You have no one looking out for you and helping you insure that your needs are met.  

Another concern in selling your home yourself in this hot sellers market is Safety!  When you are a for sale by owner it is difficult to control who enters your home.  You do not know if the people that are entering your home are “real” buyers or someone casing your home to later steal from you. 

When you are a for sale by owner it is difficult to have a strong online strategy.  Over 97% of all buyers shop online for their home.  How are buyers going to find your home?  What type of photos are you going to have of your home?  Are you going to provide a virtual tour?  All of this is important. 

When you are a for sale by owner how will you make sure that the buyer that wants to buy your home really can afford it and the lender that they might be working with can really close the deal?  You do not want to waste time with a buyer that cannot buy.  How do you insure all of this?

In our litigious society how do you make sure that you are providing the buyer with the necessary forms and information as a part of the process so that they will not sue you for failure to disclose or any number of other things.  A Realtor can help you avoid legal jeopardy. This alone can save you thousands of dollars.  

It is tempting to think that selling a home is easy and anyone can do it.  You just stick a sign in the yard and the buyers come and they will want to buy.  Then you just go to closing and collect your money.  Things are not always as they seem.  This is one of those situations.  Hire a trained, experienced, top agent to help you sell your home and look out for you.  You will be money ahead in the end. Contact us today and find out how we can help. 

How and Why I Became a Real Estate Agent

I became a Realtor over 20 years ago. Much has changed in that length of time.  Since becoming a Realtor I have seen the market in all its forms. I have seen a strong sellers market, a strong buyers market, the housing crisis, negotiated short sales and helped people avoid foreclosure. I have also seen people have over $100,000 in appreciation in their homes in less than 5 years.  What a ride the last 20 plus years has been. So I bet you’re wondering why I became a real estate agent.

When I decided to become a Realtor

I took the course to get my license by correspondence.  I studied the course content from a notebook.  At the end of each chapter I was required to take a test.  I would fax my test to the school, it would be graded and then I could begin the next chapter.  Then I studied for the licensing exam and drove down to Denver for that test.  I sat in a room with many others that wanted to become a realtor.  After passing the test I came to Century 21 Humpal to begin my career in real estate. 

Back Then

we didn’t have the MLS online like we do today, but instead we had a listing book published and dropped off at each individual real estate office every week. This book was everything you needed to know that had happened in real estate in the Fort Collins area in the last week.  It contained the new listings, the sales that had occurred, under contract and withdrawn listings.  That book was not to leave the office and the book itself was not to be shared with clients. Now, of course, we have everything online and the public has access to much of the same information that we do as agents.  

My greatest surprise in becoming a Realtor

was the public’s opinion of real estate agents.  I had always had positive experiences in buying and selling real estate so I was quite surprised to learn that many people see real estate agents as not much better than a used car salesman.  It was after learning this that I made it my goal to change the public’s opinion of real estate agents one transaction at a time.  

So that is why I became a real estate agent.

Since my earliest days a lot has changed, but many things have stayed the same. I still enjoy working hand in hand with my clients in order to help them reach their real estate goals. Whatever they may be. Some of my greatest joys are the day that that first time home buyer is handed the keys at closing and becomes a homeowner. I also enjoy when my client becomes a landlord for the first time.  It is heartwarming and so rewarding to be trusted to walk people through the process.  I am thankful for each and everyone of you that trusts me.  If you want someone with my experiance contact me today. I will work hard for you and look out for your best interest. 

How To Buy Your First Home

Congratulations!  You have decided to buy your first home.  That means you need to get connected to a great Realtor.  It is important that you get to know your agent and your agent gets to know you.  That means you should have a sit down meeting with the agent you are considering working with. Here is an example of some questions that you might be ask.

  • Why do you want to buy know?
  • Are you working with a lender?
  • How many houses have you looked at? Moreover, what did you like and not like?
  • So, what would you do if we found the perfect house tomorrow?
  • What is your favorite room of your house?
  • How important is outdoor space?
  • Who will we be shopping for?  Do you have pets to consider?
  • How long do you think that you will live in this home?
  • What is your preferred method of communication?

When your agent gets the answers to these questions or questions like them, your agent will start to get a feel for you and what you feel is important.  This will help your agent find the home that is right for you.  Of course your agent will also be interested in the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and if you need a garage.  Moreover, the more information you share with your agent the better. 

It is helpful for your agent to know what you love about where you live now.  If you hate everything about it, tell your agent that too! It is vital to communicate both the things you love and hate so your agent can find you the best options out there.

Now that you know how to buy your first home you are ready for the hunt for the perfect home for you.  Additionally, make sure to enjoy it! Contact us to help you with your home search today.

Where To Start When Buying A Home

If you are interested in beginning your home search, but you are either a first time home buyer, or someone who hasn’t bought a home in a while we want to shed some light on first steps and provide you with insight into the process. So, where to start when buying a home. The very first step is to find a lender to work with. We have a couple of recommendations here.

Once you select a lender

You will likely begin by filling out a loan application in order for your lender to be better able to understand your financial situation. You will answer a number of personal financial questions. The process might feel a little uncomfortable. Rest assured it is confidential and will stay between you and your lender. When complete your lender will be able to tell you how much you can spend on a home. It is always up to you to choose to spend less, but you cannot spend more.  This is because this number is tied to your debt to income ratio. This is the amount you earn vs the amount you owe on other liabilities like car payments.

Your lender might also need to do some credit repair in order to boost your credit score. They can tell you exactly which things should be paid off in which order and which accounts you might be better off closing for good. Once you begin this process do not buy a car, or close accounts without first discussing it with your home lender. This can completely derail the process and set you back to square one. For more information see our blog post What Not To Do When Applying For A Mortgage.

Where To Start When Buying A Home, Process Continued

As soon as you have your number from your lender they can provide you with a lender letter that is required with any offer you submit. This letter acts as the proof that you can afford the home you want to buy. When you have this letter in hand you and your real estate agent can begin to look at homes and figure out what specifically you want and need. We can narrow it down together until we find the home you want to buy. That is how you begin the home buying process. We hope that clears up where to start when buying a home. If you have specific questions, contact us. We would be happy to help.

How to Interview an Agent

You have decided it is time to sell your home and you need an agent.  Spending time selecting an agent is one of the most important parts of the process.  Asking great questions will help you be successful. So How to Interview an Agent?

Consumers think that all Realtors do the same things to sell homes.  This information could not be further from the truth.  You have heard that in business 80% of sales are done by 20% of the people.  In real estate it is a stunning 95% to 5%.  Having been a Realtor for our 23 years I found that to be eye opening. Given these numbers is not hard to see why there is so much dissatisfaction among the public.  It is easy to get stuck with a real estate agent that does not do much business and has a poor work ethic.  Becoming a real estate agent is an easy task.  Take a class and spend the required number of hours in the classroom, take a test and you are an agent.  Then you hang your license with a brokerage.

How do you avoid getting a newbie agent with limited experience that has great enthusiasm, but not a clue? Asking some good questions before you start working with an agent can go a long way in helping select one of the good ones that is out there doing the business and has the experience to help you navigate through the process and end up with a successful outcome.  Understanding how to choose an agent can be critical to your success.  How to Interview an Agent? Here are some good questions to ask.

  • How long have you been selling real estate?
    • Experience is helpful, but that does not mean that a newer, not brand new, agent cannot be a rising star.
  • How many homes did you sell last year?  Of the homes that you sold last year how many were assisting sellers and how many were assisting buyers?
  • When assisting a seller what was the average days on the market and list to sale price ratio?  You do not want to hire an agent that will inflate the value of the home just to get you to list with them.
  • Do you have a personal assistant?
  • I have heard that the internet is a critical tool for selling a home.  How will you market my home online?  Your website? Facebook? Twitter? 90% of buyers find their home online so an online presence is very important! Your agent should be marking your home EVERYWHERE!
  • Do you photograph your own listings or hire a professional?  Do you do videos or    virtual tours?
  • Will you show me how to make my home more marketable?  Do you do home staging?
  • How will you communicate with me through the process?
  • Do you have a feedback system?
  • How assessable will you be through the process?
  • As production goes, if I called your broker would he/she tell me that you were a top producing agent or a middle of the road agent?
  • Will you allow me to terminate the listing contract if I am not completely satisfied?

There are great agents out there. That is what you need to know about How to Interview an Agent  Make sure that you do your due diligence and find them. These are great questions that should help you weed out and find a good one! A good agent can give you the best chance of a great real estate experience. Additionally, Contact us, we can find you an outstanding agent anywhere.

10 Steps to Buying a Home

When you break it down there are 10 steps any buyer must go through in order to move from looking at houses online to moving into a new home.

The 10 Steps to Buying a Home

  • The first of these steps is to begin working with a lender. This is an important first step because your lender will let you know how much home you can afford. They can also work with you to build or repair credit which can be a time consuming process, best to start early.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is New-Home-683x1024.jpg
  • Once you know your price range the next step is to find a good agent. This is important as a good agent has access to a vast knowledge of the market. They can let you know what to expect, help you find homes that match your criteria, and may even know of some listings that are coming up and might be able to get you in to see them before they hit the MLS. For this step you’re in luck you are already on the best real estate agent in Northern Colorado’s website, head over to the contact tab and let Lestel know how she can help.
  • It’s time to step up from Zillow. Now that you know your price range and are working with Lestel you can begin to look at houses.
  • Eventually you will find your perfect home. For some people this happens on their first outing, for others it may take several weeks, but eventually you will find the next home for you.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Buying-a-Home-1024x683.jpg
  • Have your agent write an offer. A great offer is not only how much you are willing to spend but also the timing of closing and possession. Sometimes allowing the seller to have possession for a few days or weeks after closing, meaning the seller only has to move once, may be worth thousands to them.

Additionally

  • During this phase you may go back and forth between you and the seller in order to negotiate price and terms and get offer accepted. Lestel is one of the best real estate agents in Northern Colorado because she is an experienced negotiator.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Welcome-Home-1-683x1024.jpg
  • After you go under contract you will need to have the home inspected. The inspector will provide you with a list of issues with the property. Touring the home with the inspector can also provide invaluable information on where critical systems within the home are located and how things work.
  • After the inspection you will have Lestel negotiate the condition of the property and what items the seller will fix or replace prior to closing.
  • If you are getting financing on the home the Lender will require an appraisal to be completed. This is simply to insure that the home is worth at least as much as you are buying it for. It protects your financial interests as much as the lender.
  • When all is said and done you will need to attend closing. This will take place at the title company and you will likely have your hands cramp up from signing so many documents before the seller passes on the keys to you.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Move-in-Day-1024x683.jpg
    Finally, it is time to move in and make it your own. For this we can recommend great moving companies, and a long list of great home service providers should you need an outlet repaired or garage door fixed at any point during the time you own your home. Those are the 10 Steps to Buying a Home. Lestel is always just a phone call away to help connect you with the right person to help.