A REALTOR® is an agent or agency that belongs to the local or state board of REALTORS and is affiliated with the "National Association of REALTORS" (NAR). They follow a strict code of ethics beyond state license laws and also sponsor the Multiple Listing System (MLS), which is used to list houses for sale.
A Realtor® is more than just a sales person. A Realtor® may act on your behalf, providing you with advice and guidance when buying or selling a home. Due to the constant changing market, the information available on listings is not always accurate. The only way to accurate information is with a Realtor®. In addition, many people would rather use a Realtor® due to the complexities of modern Real Estate transactions since they usually incorporate legal and financial attributes, which takes them well beyond a simple transaction.
While more buyers are using the internet to gain access to listings, or available properties for sale, it is still a good idea to use a Realtor®. The Realtor® brings value to the entire process: he or she is available to analyze available data, share their professional expertise and handle the mountain of paperwork and legwork that is involved with the complex real estate transaction.
For most home sales, there are two Realtors® involved in the deal; one that represents the seller and another who represents the buyer.
Listing brokers represent the sellers and charge a fee to represent them and market the property. Marketing may include advertising expenses, print ads, social media, post cards, brochures. The property will also be placed in the local multiple listing service (MLS), where the other Realtors® in the area (and nationally) will be able to search and find the home for sale.
Realtors® who represent buyers (a.k.s buyer's agent) are compensated by the listing broker for bringing the home buyers to the table. When the home is sold, the listing Realtor® splits the listing fee with the buyer's Realtor®. Thus buyers don't pay their Realtors®
Q. What Is The Difference Between Pre-qualified And Pre-approved?
Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage gives a homebuyer an indication of how much they "might" qualify to borrow. Your lender has evaluated your creditworthiness and has decided that you 'probably' will be eligible for a loan but it's just an approximation not a promise. You supply your lender with your overall financial picture. The mortgage amount is not guaranteed because no information has been verified.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is the real deal and is based on real credit score and the underwriter's review of all of your financial information, pay stubs, bank statement, salary, assets etc., As long as your financial situation does not change before closing, pre-approval should mean your loan is contingent only on the appraisal.
Pre-approval gives you a huge advantage in a competitive market, so while pre-qualified helps in determining how much a lender is willing to give you, a pre-approval will make a stronger impression on the seller.
Q. What Kind Of Credit Score Do I Need To Buy A Home?
A credit score numerically summarizes an individual's credit history and gives a snapshot of their financial standing to a lender. Most loan programs require a FICO score of 620 or better. Borrowers with higher credit scores represent less risk to the lender, often resulting in a lower down payment requirement and better interest rate. Conversely, home shoppers with lower credit scores may need to bring more money to the table (or accept a higher interest rate) to offset the lenders risk.
Q. How Much Do I need For A Downpayment?
Saving for a downpayment is the greatest obstacle for first-time homebuyers but gone are the days of needing to have at least 20% down payment to get approved for a mortgage. Some newer conventional loan programs are available with 3% down if the borrower carriers Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). Several first time home buyer programs don't require big down payments. A long time favorite, FHA loan, requires 3.5%-5% down.
Q. What Is A Multiple Listing Service (MLS)?
A multiple listing service is a computerized listing of homes for sale in an area with a Realtor®.
Q. What Is Earnest Money?
Earnest money is a good faith deposit. When a buyer wants to enter into a purchase contract, they provide the seller's real estate company a deposit to hold in escrow. The primary purpose of this deposit is to show a seller you are serious about buying their home. The amount that is deposited is subtracted from the final price that a buyer pays at the closing table.
Q. How Much Are My Closing Costs Going To Be?
The average closing costs are going to be around 3% of the purchase price/loan amount, but can be higher. Details will be outlined in the Good Faith Estimate you get from the lender when you first apply for a loan. Since its an estimate, the amounts at the actual closing may change.
Q. Who Pays What At Closing?
The contract will control who pays costs at closing. However, typically, buyer is responsible for all costs related to the loan, including bank fees, escrow, title insurance for the lender and buyer, survey, recording fees for the mortgage and taxes on the mortgage and attorney's fees. Seller is generally responsible for Realtor® commissions, title searches, transfer taxes on the deed, and its attorney fees. Home buyers pay between 2 to 5% of the purchase price on closing fees and are faced with more line item expenses than the seller.
Q. How Many Homes Should I View?
There is no right or wrong number of homes you should view before making an offer. Some popular find their dream home on day one while others hunt for months. View as many as it takes to find the home that fits your needs.
Q. Is There A Best Time Of Year "Price Wise" To Buy A Home?
There really isn't, prices depend on a number of factors like supply and demand and other housing market conditions. This can vary greatly from city to city, and from one neighborhood to another. Rather than the season, the number of days on the market is the biggest indicator of your negotiating power.
But if you want to get the best deal, buy a home in the fall or winter when prices start to dip. The trade off is less selection as sellers often pull their listing in the late fall and re-list in the spring.
Q. How Should I Prepare My Home To Sell?
Some homes sell faster and for more money because of how the home is prepared. Investing some time, effort and money up front to prepare your house for showings will generally increase the likelihood of receiving offers soon after you list your home. The longer your home stays on the market, the harder it can be to sell.
# 1 DECLUTTER and organize - Rooms, Closets, Cupboards, Shelving, Garage
You are trying to sell your home, not your stuff, so get rid of all the personal belongings. When a buyer walks into a home that's for sale, they want to be able to imagine themselves in it.
FRESHEN YOUR HOME - make small repairs that you've been putting off. Caulking around the bathtubs, repair holes in the wall, plaster and paint, replace light bulbs, install new outlet covers, leaky toilets, broken appliances. Small repairs can go a long way in making your home feel fresh. Repaint the whole house if necessary, shampoo carpet and/or refinish hardwood floors.
DEEP CLEAN or hire a professional cleaning company.
Consider hiring a professional stager, studies show that staging a home really can help it sell faster and for more money.
The curb appeal of your home is equally as important as the inside. First impressions are hard to overcome, there's no point the inside of your house looking gorgeous when everyone will be judging the book by its cover.
Treat it like a business, your house is no longer your home, it's an asset you are trying to get top dollar for.
Q. How Long Will It Take To Sell My Home?
The length it takes to sell a home is not concrete. There are many factors that contribute to the amount of time it will take to sell a home.
- Current state of the market (sellers market, buyers market, balanced market)
- The listing price
- Marketing strategies used
- Number of inspection contingencies
- Buyers mortgage approval process