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. 

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.  I then 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  It contained the new listings, the sales that had occurred, under contract and withdrawn listings.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.  

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 or 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.  I will work hard for you and look out for your best interest as we pursue your real estate goals together. 

So, You’ve Decided 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. Expect to be asked a lot of questions.  Like what you say? 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?  What did you like and not like?
  • 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.  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! 

Now you are ready for the hunt for the perfect home for you.  Enjoy it!

I Want To Buy A Home, Where Do I Start?

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. 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, but 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 on what not to do, see our blog post 6 Don’ts When Applying for a Mortgage.

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, ideally us, 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, and that is how you begin the home buying process.

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.

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.  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.  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.

The 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.

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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. Lestel is always just a phone call away to help connect you with the right person to help.