Tips On Working With An Agent

A Good Start

When a real estate agent begins to work with a new buyer, we will sit down with you, ask a number of questions, and listen carefully to your answers. Our purpose during this initial interview is to get a clear idea of what kind of property you are looking for and your approximate price range. We explain how we will function as your representative, what the local market is like, and what we can do to help you locate that perfect home.

It is important for you as a prospective buyer to be as clear as possible about your needs. After we have talked and you have decided how much you can comfortably spend, we will know how to facilitate your home search. We won't take you through a three-story colonial with a top floor master suite if you want to avoid climbing up and down stairs! Establishing clear communication with our clients helps us save you hours of unfocused house hunting.

A Matter of Timing

Buying real estate can sometimes involve tricky timing. For example, you may have found the perfect house and are thinking about making an offer, but are feeling pressured to make a decision just when you want time to consider the matter. The agent tells you that another party is thinking about making an offer, so you shouldn't hesitate if you really want the house. What should you do? Trust your agent!

It is natural to feel some pressure from even the most easy-going real estate agent--and some uncertainty about making an offer. If you really like a house, there is always the possibility that someone else will share your enthusiasm for it. Whether your local market is active or sluggish, it is sensible to assume that another offer is likely to come in. Perhaps you can afford to "sleep on it", but moving as quickly as possible will minimize the possibility that the house will go to another buyer.

A Real Estate Agents Expertise

If you are using the services of a professional real estate agent to find a new home, good communication is crucial to the transaction. A real estate agent who knows your most significant criteria can work much more effectively to show you homes that will meet your needs.

Let the real estate agent know why you are interested in a specific location. Discuss specific requirements such as proximity to your job, good schools, or recreational activities. If there are no houses available in your price range, the agent may suggest alternate neighborhoods with the same amenities. Do you need a home office or do you have hobbies that you want to accommodate? Is there a particular style of architecture that you prefer?

Agents sometimes have to be intuitive when we work with buyers. The more you can describe to your agent what elements in the home are essential and where you are willing to compromise, the easier it will be to use their expertise to find a home that's perfect for you.

A Real Estate Agents Reality

The process of guiding a home sales transaction is in reality more complex than many people realize. When qualified buyers present an offer on your home, it might seem that the deal is done, but this is only the beginning of the negotiations process. Ideally, this aspect of the transaction culminates in a meeting of the minds. At no point can the real estate agent just sit back and relax, because the "glue" that holds each transaction together is subject to a variety of factors and forces that may cause the deal to fall apart.

We can only hope that there are no surprises during the home inspections. We have to presume that the appraiser will think the house is worth as much as the buyer and seller do, but this is never guaranteed. As the buyers make their loan application, we cross our fingers that the credit report reveals they always pay their bills on time. 

Rarely is a transaction completed without a few problems. A real estate agent's professional skills come into play primarily during the time between contract ratification and the closing. At this point, we use our creativity, patience and negotiating skills to achieve a happy resolution to your transaction.

Active Marketing

It takes a lot more than a "For Sale" sign in the front yard, a Multiple Listing entry, and an occasional ad in the classifieds to get a home listing sold. Be sure to discuss the details of the marketing plan with the companies and real estate agents you interview about selling your home.

Real estate agents who provide high quality service will usually have a written marketing plan tailored to fit your home and your individual needs. A good marketing plan begins with pricing the home appropriately. It involves exposing your home to as many real estate professionals and qualified buyers as possible. The agent's job is to get buyers through your front door; your job is to ensure that the buyers like what they see. Top agents are very active in finding prospective buyers and in coaching sellers about how to enhance their home's presentation. There are differences in the marketing approaches of companies and individual agents, so ask for a written plan to give you a clear idea of what you can expect of your agent.

An Agents Role

Recent reforms in the disclosure laws and real estate practices around the country have resulted in new options for buyers and sellers. Real estate agents can take different roles with buyers and sellers.

A seller's agent works with loyalty and fidelity as the seller's advocate and negotiator, and is obligated to disclose to potential buyers all adverse material facts that are known about the property.

A buyer's agent works exclusively to negotiate the lowest purchase price and best terms for the buyer. This agent serves the buyer with undivided loyalty, confidentiality, and full disclosure. The agent would know the highest price that the buyer would be willing to offer for a home, but could not disclose that information to the seller.

A dual agent can work for both the buyer and the seller by written, informed consent of both parties and has fiduciary obligations to both. The agent can only disclose to one party what the other party allows to be revealed.

A transaction broker assists the buyer or seller or both throughout a real estate transaction without being an agent or advocate for any of the parties.

An Artful Compromise

People who try to sell their own homes begin to appreciate the expertise of professional real estate agents as soon as their first offer comes in. They want to sell their home, and they have found prospects who want to buy. But what happens next?

When the negotiating process begins, things can get "sticky". First, there are personalities involved, and real estate transactions can be stressful and challenging. The buyers may seem unreasonable if they make an offer that is considerably less than the sellers are willing to accept. At that point the buyers may become offended by the sellers' attitude. 

When professional real estate agents are involved, the process is much less adversarial. The two parties see very little of each other until the rough edges have been smoothed out and there has been a meeting of the minds. Good real estate agents know how to keep personalities out of the transaction and to help both sides reach a mutually agreeable compromise.

An Inspired Real Estate Agent

Sometimes a good real estate agent may remind you of a favorite aunt who is always trying to fix up her single nieces or nephews with her friends' sons or daughters. She really gets inspired when her efforts result in a great marriage. Real estate agents match prospective buyers with the perfect home for their family--and when it works, they feel terrific! And more important, their buyers and sellers feel terrific.

Sellers often have a strong attachment to a home that holds many memories for them. It is important for them to know that the new buyers will love it, too. While any sale can potentially become complicated and difficult, problems seem to work themselves out more easily if you have started out on a positive note. This is one important reason why agents work hard to maintain a good rapport between the parties involved in every transaction.

Choosing A Real Estate Agent

When you buy or sell a home, you want to work with a real estate agent who has the experience and expertise to handle such a complex transaction with a minimum amount of stress. When choosing a real estate agent, you should look for technical competence and interpersonal skills.

Ask prospective real estate agents several questions. How long have you been in the business? How do your services differ from those of your colleagues? Do you have a principal broker/owner who works closely with you and serves as a backup person if you are not available? 

Keep in mind that there are no "right" answers to these questions. Don't rule out a less-experienced agent who brings energy and enthusiasm to the job. You want personalized professional service from someone whom you can trust to lead you through the process.


Consult the Real Experts

When you buy your first home, you want the best advice you can get. You want to show the house to friends and relatives before you commit. They will probably tell you about all of the things that went wrong during their own transactions so you can avoid the same mistakes. These experts all have good intentions, but so much advice can put you into a state of high anxiety.

Real estate transactions are very complex, and difficulties can arise. If you are buying your home with the help of a professional real estate agent, your agent will know how to make sure that any minor upsets do not turn into major problems. A real estate agent's expertise is based on formal training and experience in many real estate transactions. Their reputation is on the line with each sale, so they are highly motivated to make your purchase or sale go as smoothly as possible. When you are dealing with a professional real estate agent, you can worry about what might go wrong if you wish, but you don't have to!


CRS, which stands for Certified Residential Specialist, is a designation that recognizes a high level of professional accomplishments in real estate experience and education. The Residential Sales Council grants the CRS designation only to the most outstanding sales associates in the residential sales field. Besides the completion of a rigorous course of study, the candidate must be able to demonstrate 75 successful transactions or average sales of $1 million per year of experience. Only 4% of all real estate agents are awarded the CRS designation. 

GRI stands for Graduate, REALTOR Institute. The REALTOR Institute offers a series of 90 hours of required and elective courses conducted by the local Board or Association of REALTORS. These courses cover all areas of real estate -- residential, investment, construction and mortgage. The GRI designation is a prerequisite of many specialized courses in the REALTOR organization.

Discuss Your Options

When you are working with a real estate agent to find a home, it is very important that you take the time to discuss the full range of your housing and financing options. Your real estate agent wants to understand your criteria and your expectations. Be very clear about the features you want in a home, describing what elements are essential to you and where you are willing to compromise.

When you start looking at homes, you may find that the available homes in your price range require much more of a financial commitment than you were prepared to make. Let your agent know if you are willing to consider alternative mortgage options to increase your buying power. Discuss the possibilities for buying in an area you had not previously considered. Would you consider a house with the same amenities in a different neighborhood, a "handyman special", a smaller yard or fewer bedrooms? An open mind and honest communication are crucial ingredients as you work with your real estate agent to find the best possible home for your needs.

Earning Your Loyalty

When you begin to search for a new home, you will probably encounter several real estate agents at open houses, through friends or from signs or advertisements. Each agent would like a commitment from you to work exclusively with him or her. Is this arrangement in your best interest or is it better to play the field?

There is a universal law that also pertains to real estate agents--you get back from a relationship what you put into it. If you are not convinced that one agent could possibly fill all your needs, you may be overlooking the positive aspects of a one-on-one relationship.

The first step is to find an agent whom you like and trust. Don't be afraid to discuss your reluctance to work with one agent exclusively, but be open to other viewpoints. You may be pleasantly surprised by the open communication that such an admission will establish right from the beginning! Making a commitment to work exclusively with an agent is part of the formula for success in real estate.

The strongest accountability is in the marketplace. A good reputation and referrals from happy clients are essential to a real estate agent's success!


Effective Marketing

If your home has been listed for a number of weeks and you have only seen it featured in one newspaper ad, you may start feeling anxious. Although your house is being shown regularly, you wonder if the agent is doing enough.

Home sellers often equate effective marketing with classified ads in the weekend Sunday real estate section. However, the most skilled real estate agents know the market well enough to be aware of where the prospective buyers for your home are likely to come from. They will look for the best ways to reach those people through direct mail, telephone contact or specialized ads in neighborhood publications. They will also work to get their colleagues excited about your house, especially agents who have many listings or sales in your neighborhood. And remember--it is important for you and your agent to communicate often so you will know exactly what is being done to sell your home.

Finding A Real Estate Agent

Finding an experienced, reliable real estate agent whom you like and trust is the first step in locating your new home. Here is an approach to finding the right agent. 

Call or stop by a real estate office and ask to speak with the manager. Describe the type of home you are looking for. The manager can refer you to an agent who knows that market very well. You might also use weekend "open houses" as opportunities to look for a real estate agent, as well as a new home. It is really a matter of chemistry! If you meet someone who is knowledgeable and with whom you feel comfortable, call that person!

Once you establish a strong working relationship with a real estate agent, your agent can show you a number of homes for sale, even if they are listed with other companies. Often the agent can show you a property as soon as it is placed on the market. Many of the best homes never even make it to the weekend classified section of the newspaper!

Finding Buyers

When a home owner tries to sell "By Owner", they commonly use two basic marketing techniques to advertise the property. They place a "For Sale" sign in the front yard and a classified ad in the local newspaper. When a seller lists their home with a professional real estate agent, however, a very sophisticated process is set in motion in order to facilitate the home sales transaction.

Real estate agents have a backlog of prospective buyers for the homes in their market. Through the Multiple Listing Service, the agent cooperates with other brokers in the area who will show your home to their prospective buyers. Professional real estate agents also combine direct mail, telephone calls, and specialized advertising techniques incorporating media such as the Internet, to reach the sales market. In this way we create activity on our listings that help them to sell quickly--and for the best price.

Help Your Real Estate Agent

Once your home is listed for sale, it may be difficult for you to step aside and let your agent take over. When prospective buyers arrive, you may want to stand by to point out the closet extenders, the hidden spice cabinet behind the kitchen door, the energy-saving storm windows or the updated copper plumbing. If you really want to help, however, you will leave the house whenever it is being shown!

We have found that the sales process does not really begin until buyers have begun to voice their objections about a property. Sometimes these concerns are serious enough to remove your house from consideration. Often, however, people voice objections as an automatic response when they really love the house and want to buy it. Real estate professionals are trained to know the difference. 

If a seller is standing at the agent's elbow, the buyer won't be comfortable enough to allow the process of raising objections take place. If the buyer feels intimidated or suppressed, we could lose the sale. The best way to help is to give your real estate agent room to make the sale.

Know Your Price Range

As a homebuyer, you may have found the perfect new house for your growing family, but what if it is a little out of your price range? You might list your current home for more than it is worth and be lucky enough to find a qualified buyer who is willing to pay the price, but it is impossible to know in advance what your home will sell for. 

If you want to sell your home quickly, have a frank and detailed conversation with your real estate agent to determine the best price for the house. Setting your price within 5% of the fair market value of your home greatly increases your chances of getting solid offers that will result in a relatively quick sale. 

Don't buy and sell so close to your target amount that you become anxious when the numbers don't meet your expectations. There may be other approaches, such as adjustable rate mortgages or owner financing, to increase your buying power and get you into that new home. When you are selling one home and buying another, you will need more than good luck. You will need a highly professional and experienced real estate agent who can give you solid advice on how to make the transaction work for your particular requirements.

Legal Documents

The stacks of papers that you have to sign in order to buy a house can leave you confused. The person conducting the closing will ask you to sign your name to countless documents that are filled with legal jargon. Some buyers just barely glance at each form and sign them without a lot of questions, while others find it very frustrating to try to read every form at the closing table.

You should read and understand the papers you sign. If you are getting a loan to buy the property, most of the paperwork will come from the mortgage company. In most cases, there is little time to read everything in advance because the forms arrive at the closing office shortly before closing is scheduled to begin. Most of the documents use standardized language, however, and you should be able to get copies of the documents ahead of time from the lender so that you can have your questions answered and be comfortable with the settlement process.

Liens Against the Title

Occasionally homeowners who are trying to sell their home are surprised to learn that their title is encumbered by a lien. There are several types of liens; the most common are mechanic's or contractor's liens.

The lien (or debt) must be paid off in order to be cleared. If the owner prefers to challenge the lien, he can release it by posting a bond, pending adjudication. In some types of liens, a title search may disclose claims against the property by an ex-spouse or long-ago heir of a former owner. A simple "quitclaim" deed may be used in these cases. By signing the deed, the person involved signs over whatever rights he or she might have, without laying any claim to the property.

Most real estate transactions involve at least some minor unresolved issues on the part of either the buyer or the seller. This is where an experienced real estate agent can provide solutions to resolve the issues and conclude the sale.


Listening To Your Needs

Some buyers purchase the exact kind of house they said they were looking for, in the neighborhood they preferred. Other buyers surprise us by falling in love with a house that is the complete opposite of what they originally wanted.

Real estate agents listen carefully when buyers describe their needs and preferences. We screen our current inventory of homes to come up with possible matches. Since there is almost always some compromise involved when selecting a home, we may suggest alternatives that might work for buyers.

If you like a specific neighborhood where there are no homes in your price range, we may suggest homes in other areas with similar amenities. If you want four bedrooms, and one of them will be used as a home office, we may look for a den or family room that could serve your needs. When you look at houses, remember that your feedback is important to us--and it won't hurt our feelings.


Listing Presentations

The listing presentation is the first step most sellers take when they are looking for a real estate professional to market their home. They communicate what they expect from the real estate agent who will list their home, and the agent explains their marketing strategy, including pricing recommendations, advertising, and any special programs they or their companies offer.

A good listing presentation takes careful planning. A written market analysis will help you get a clear idea of local market conditions. Many real estate agents will include a marketing plan, as well as suggestions on how to make sure that your home shows well and is accessible to agents. If you are talking to several companies, resist the temptation to go with the person who quotes you the highest price for your house. Look for an agent who is well prepared, professional, and has the best ideas. The most successful transactions involve careful collaboration between the sellers and the real estate agent.

Locate Your Lifestyle

If you are looking for a new home, it is important to communicate with your real estate agent about any special aspects of your lifestyle that will influence your choice. This information will help your agent to locate the perfect home for you and your family.

Are you a gourmet cook who loves giving lots of parties? Do you want space to accommodate hobbies such as painting, photography, or woodworking? Will your decision be influenced by the accessibility of a community gym, a golf course or tennis courts? Does your son need space to rehearse with his rock band? Do you need a home office? Are you planning to enlarge your family? Is there someone in your household who cannot climb stairs? 

Knowing the significant factors that will influence your housing decision helps the agent to narrow the selection of homes on the market.


Making Choices

Buying a home isn't easy. You may have a good idea of what you want and how much you want to spend, but your search produces a wide array of homes on the market and a bewildering set of financing options.

As your real estate agent, their job is to minimize the confusion and help match you to the best home and loan for your needs and pocketbook. The agent will listen to your requirements and eliminate from consideration the properties that aren't suitable for you. If there is a gap between your taste and how much you feel comfortable spending, I can help you decide where to compromise and can suggest financing plans to increase your buying power. When you have selected a home, your next step is to find a lender, a qualified structural inspector, and a termite inspector.

Market Trends

Last summer your neighbors put their house on the market and had so many buyers that they were on the winning side of a bidding war. Now you are trying to sell your home, and there's just no action.

The real estate marketplace is very unpredictable. Many factors come into play, the most important being interest rates and prevailing sales prices. In a strong seller's market, prices tend to escalate until they reach a certain point where buyers begin to just say no and listing inventories increase. When this happens, sellers who price their homes at the higher level of previous sales prices must re-think their pricing strategies. If they don't, their homes may not sell. Whether you are buying or selling a home, it is important to remember that the shift from a seller's to a buyer's market can occur very quickly. You can count on your agent for sound advice on what phase the market is in right now.


When you list your home for sale, you and your agent must work as partners to ensure it sells as quickly as possible, and for the best price. While you take the necessary steps to make your property look good inside and out, your real estate agent will go to work to make sure your home is exposed to qualified buyers.

Real estate agents work with each seller to develop a written marketing plan. This enables you to know what your agent is doing to sell your home and what you can expect to happen while your property is on the market. It will also include suggestions on how to make your home sell. There will be regular communication between you and your real estate agent from the day the listing agreement is signed. The agent will give you progress reports and feedback from the people who have seen your home. You will also have frequent opportunities to ask questions and discuss changes in the marketing strategy.

Marketing Techniques

When a seller lists a home with a real estate agent, a lot of brainstorming follows. Who are the potential buyers, where do they live and work? How can they be reached effectively with information that will attract them to this particular property?

In addition to advertising each home on the widely used Multiple Listing Service, professional real estate agents employ marketing techniques tailored to the individual home they are selling. An agent will review various buyer lists to find potential purchasers. They will use telephone and direct mail marketing, produce property flyers and advertise on the Internet, in the newspaper, in community publications and in real estate magazines. Contacts will be made to other agents who sell homes in the area to encourage them to show the home to prospective buyers. 

Real estate agents combine pro-active marketing with realistic pricing to generate results for their home sellers.

Multiple Listing Service

When you list your house with a real estate agent who participates in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), you get a lot of service for your money. Depending upon the MLS region, there may be hundreds of participating members.

The real estate agent who lists your home works to get it sold. This is done by marketing directly to home buyers, but an even more powerful tool is marketing your home to other agents who have buyers. Your real estate agent makes all the crucial information about your home available to the other members through the MLS. Information such as your home's location, size, the number of rooms, the style of architecture, what personal property is included, and any other special features is posted. The MLS description will also contain information about any special financing that might be available, showing instructions, and special needs you may have with respect to closing. The MLS is a powerful tool for real estate matchmakers.

Negotiating Factors

Negotiations for the sale of a home can be affected by emotional factors. For example, it is easy to be offended by someone who is making an offer on your property. Even if the buyers love your house, they are trying to negotiate the best possible price and terms. They probably will not let you know how much they want your home until they have negotiated a purchase agreement. 

Buyers almost never write offers that please the sellers entirely. Offers and counter offers may be traded back and forth over days or weeks. Terms of the sale will be discussed and deadlines will be set. When there is finally a meeting of the minds, both sides may feel relieved but exhausted by the process. One of a real estate agent's most important jobs is to act as the intermediary during such negotiations. With your agents knowledge of financing, negotiation procedures, and the tax laws affecting real estate sales, agents come up with creative solutions to the challenges that may arise.

Preferences of Buyers

Although every purchase of a home involves a degree of compromise, the process begins with the buyer's preferences. When you are working with a real estate agent, it is important that you give your agent a clear idea which of your criteria are flexible and which items you really must have in your new home.

 If you prefer a specific location, for example, discuss why you want to live in that neighborhood. The agent might be able to suggest alternatives areas which offer the same amenities or convenience to your office. How important is size? Do you really need four bedrooms or would three bedrooms work, if there is a den for your home office? How much are you willing to correct with redecorating or remodeling? Are you willing to expand your price range by using an adjustable rate mortgage to increase your buying power?

The agent will ask you a lot of questions so that they can use your time most efficiently by showing you houses that meet your criterion as a buyer.


Purchase Negotiations

If you are selling your home, you should be prepared for the day your first offer comes in. When your real estate agent calls to say there is an offer on your home, you will naturally get excited. When your agent describes the offer, you will probably experience an adrenaline rush. Whether the offer is good or bad, you should just remain calm--and discuss a counter-offer with your agent. The negotiations of a purchase begin with the buyer's ideal terms and a counter offer that communicates the seller's ideal terms. 

A good agent will look beyond the price when evaluating an offer. If the buyers' financial qualifications are shaky or the offer includes potentially problematic terms or conditions, your real estate agent should be there to minimize any risk to you and to address these items in your counter-offer. Your agent's job is not to make a decision for you, but to be sure that you understand fully what the offer includes and what is expected.

Questions from Real Estate Agents

Real estate agents begin their professional relationship with buyers by asking numerous questions about the buyer's personal and financial situation. The answers to these questions will give the real estate agent a clear idea about the buyer's housing needs and price range. It is a waste of time for an agent to show a buyer homes they can't afford, and it can be disheartening to consider unrealistic possibilities.

In order to do a great job finding you a home, your real estate agent needs to have some basic information about your income, debts, and the amount of cash you have available for a purchase. Your agent also needs to know something about your lifestyle. How large is your family? Where do you work? Do you have school-age children? Do you enjoy entertaining? What hobbies would you like to accommodate?

The real estate agent who helps you find your new home will get to know you very well, so it is very important that you feel comfortable with that person and free to communicate openly.

Real Estate Agent Advantages

How do real estate agents sell homes? When a professional real estate agent is retained to sell a home, the agent will develop a marketing plan that has proven effective for selling homes quickly and for the maximum sale price.

The real estate agent will perform a market analysis, comparing the home with similar homes in your neighborhood that have recently sold. Your agent will evaluate the current real estate market in order to develop a price opinion for your home. The next step will be to make recommendations about preparing your home so that it is presented to its best advantage. A description of the home will be uploaded into the local Multiple Listing Service, and your agent will implement a marketing plan tailored to your home. 

By listing your property, you expose it to thousands of real estate agents throughout the region. MLS exposure is one of the most valuable services a real estate agent can provide sellers. Real estate professionals aslo network with other agents in their office when they bring new listings to the market. Does this system work? 85% of the homes sold today use this method. Enough said!

Real Estate Agent Referrals

It takes time for real estate agents to build a business. Since a lot of our success depends on referrals from satisfied buyers or sellers, we work hard to exceed your expectations for service.

If a real estate agent has done a superb job of selling your house or finding you a new one, the best way to say "thank you" is to give that person's name (and phone number!) to anyone you know who is considering a move. You are not only doing the agent a favor, you are also directing your friends to a competent, knowledgeable and experienced salesperson. Buying a house or condo can be a little scary if you don't have a strong professional guiding you through the process. Real estate agents try extra hard to please referrals of friends or pleased customers. We are in the business for the long term and prosper by giving consistently high quality service.

Real Estate Agent Representation

Which party in a real estate transaction is represented by the real estate agent--the buyer or the seller? Until recently that question was never asked because the answer was always the same. Traditionally all the marketing professionals involved in real estate transactions were legally and ethically obligated to conduct business on behalf of the seller. They may have aided the buyer in certain situations, but their client was the seller. Today that is not necessarily the case.

In a time of increasing specialization, buyers can be represented by a real estate agent who functions solely as a buyer's broker. In this case, the sales professional helps the buyer locate a home, negotiate the price, and is responsible to the buyer only, for an agreed-upon fee or a percentage commission.

In any real estate transaction you have the right to know which party the real estate agent is representing.

Real Estate Finesse

Many changes can occur in a real estate transaction between the initial meeting of the minds and the completion of the sale. This is where having a professional to handle the sale of your home makes a big difference.

Real estate professionals view such changes as challenges, rather than problems. Many potential problems are predictable, but their consequences can be minimized by anticipating them. Real estate agents draw on their experience and the experience of their colleagues to ensure a successful closing for the buyers and sellers. When disputes arise, our expertise helps to create a win-win situation. This approach to selling real estate makes the difference for my buyers and sellers. I go the extra mile to handle the countless details and to keep my buyers and sellers informed at each step of the transaction.

Real Estate Match Makers

When you list your house with a real estate agent who participates in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), you get a lot of service for your money. Depending upon the MLS region, there may be hundreds of participating members. 

The real estate agent who lists your home works to get it sold. This is done by marketing directly to home buyers, but an even more powerful tool is marketing your home to other agents who have buyers. Your real estate agent makes all the crucial information about your home available to the other members through the MLS, such as location, size, the number of rooms, the style of architecture, what personal property is included, and any other special features. The MLS description will also contain information about any special financing that might be available, showing instructions, and special needs you may have with respect to closing. It is a powerful tool for real estate matchmakers.

Real Estate Sales

Making a move gets high marks on the stress scale, whether you are buying or selling a home. Not only is there a lot of money involved, there is also lot that can go wrong in a real estate transaction.

A professional real estate agent works to minimize the stress involved in the process and to make your closing as smooth as possible. The agent will monitor the progress of the loan application and check on the paperwork. He or she will remind the sellers about any repairs that need to be made before the closing and will assist both parties in coordinating the closing and their moves. The real estate agent will also help ensure a smooth transition by reminding the sellers to arrange for final utility readings and the buyers to set up new utility account.


You leave the closing feeling really good about the way your agent handled the sale of your home. It was priced well, and by following your real estate agent's advice on how to show your home to its best advantage, you sold it quickly. The agent followed up with the lender and the appraiser to make sure that everything went smoothly and that small problems didn't become big ones. You had heard stories from friends about their stressful moves, and you are relieved and happy that you were spared any serious mix-ups. How do you say "Thanks for a job well done" to your agent?

Real estate agents depend on referrals for a big part of their business. An agent who has served you well will probably do a professional job for your friends or colleagues. The nicest thing you can do for a good real estate agent is to pass their name on to prospective buyers or sellers.


Responding to Low Offers

The beginning of negotiations is usually the end of many months of hard work for the buyer or seller. The work ahead requires skill in order to maintain a strong position.

Sellers can lose their advantage if they do not counter an offer that a buyer has made. Even if the opening offer is beneath what the seller feels is reasonable, it is advisable for the seller to respond with a slight reduction from the asking price. The most important component in negotiating is good communication.

The best way to handle a low offer is to counter it with definite terms that are favorable to the seller. A counter offer has two advantages: 1) it keeps the buyer interested, and 2) it moves the negotiation forward and gives the buyer the opportunity to submit another offer that the seller is more likely to prefer.

Reviving the Listing

In every town there are homes that sell rather quickly, while others linger on the market. Real estate professionals suggest numerous approaches to maximizing a home's curb appeal -- everything from fresh paint to new landscaping. But if the "For Sale" sign in front of your house has become a neighborhood fixture, it is important to work with your real estate agent to keep your listing fresh. 

Whenever your house is shown, the real estate agent will get feedback from the buyers or other agents about what they liked about your house and what did not work for them. Allow your agent to be completely frank with you about any feedback he or she receives. Listen with an open mind and with the understanding that there is nothing personal about these comments. Don't delay in implementing any of the ideas that make sense to you. 

Your real estate agent's job is to come up with new ideas for marketing your home in order to get buyers inside. Your job is to ensure that your house looks its best.

Sales Professionals

A real estate agent's job is to sell your home for the best price, in the shortest time. Another important part of the agent's responsibility is to make the sales process as easy as possible for you, the seller. Your real estate agent can eliminate much of the hassle involved in selling your home, while providing you and your family with the "peace of mind" you need during this sensitive time. Your agent can help you avoid the inconvenience of having buyers stop by unannounced to see your home or your wasting time with those who are not financially qualified to buy your home.

When you list your home with a sales professional, you get an array of valuable services, including the widest possible exposure through Multiple Listing Service. This is the best vehicle to get the most qualified buyers to see your home.

     Selecting A Real Estate Agent

Finding the right real estate agent to help you in your search is the important first step to take when you are ready to buy a new home. Some people feel it is better to use someone you don't know--I can't agree with this thought because someone you know will usually go above and beyond the call of duty and have you as top priority at all times.

Knowledge, professionalism and experience are the important factors to consider when selecting a real estate agent. You should also look for someone who listens carefully to what you want in a new home and who knows the market well enough to find the right house for you within a reasonable period of time. Be comfortable with the person you choose. If you feel like the real estate agent is sensitive to your needs and desires, you will feel confident working with that person.

Selling Before Buying

Timing can sometimes be difficult if you have to sell a home before you can buy another one. Most people need the equity from the sale of their first home for the down payment on the new house. If your present home goes on the market first, you may be concerned that it will sell before you find the one you want to buy. On the other hand, if you find the perfect home before your present home is under contract, the sellers may be reluctant to accept your offer, and you may be too nervous to sign a contract.

It is a good idea to sit down with a good real estate agent for some professional advice before you begin your search. It will probably be necessary to be flexible on the closing date, because it can be easier to find a home that you want to buy than to sell your present home. After finding the house you want, you can ask the lender about arranging a short-term bridge loan that can make the purchase possible before you sell your current residence.

Selling For Top Dollar

When you get serious about selling your home, the chances of your selling it quickly for top dollar will improve considerably if you list it with a real estate sales professional. If you doubt this, consider the fact that eight out of ten homes sold today--more in some markets--are listed with a professional real estate agent.

Listing your home places it on the local Multiple Listing Service that is subscribed to by a majority of real estate sales professionals. Through the MLS listing, your home is assured of getting the widest possible exposure to the market place.

Some buyers shop the home market on their own, but most save time and money by using the services of a real estate sales professional. Ask yourself which homes the real estate agent is going to show the prospective buyers--homes listed on the MLS or those that are not?

If you still want to try to sell your own home, be aware that you will face stiff competition when it comes to attracting qualified buyers!

Selling Selling Sold

Although your real estate agent is responsible for marketing your property, it requires a joint effort to get your home sold.

How can you empower your agent? It is very important that you feel absolutely confident in your agent's ability to produce results--no matter what the market is like in your area! This may sound like stating the obvious, but it is important to let your real estate agent know you trust them to get the job done. Support that trust by putting a realistic price tag on the property and keeping it in prime showing condition. Work out showing agreements that will make it easy for agents to preview or show your home. Meet periodically to discuss any feedback from buyers who have seen your home to determine how you can improve its appeal. 

Don't hesitate to share any ideas you may have about marketing your home. I will try anything that works, and have received some very good suggestions from clients.

Skillful Negotiations

Negotiating the sale or purchase of a home is a highly creative endeavor that can be stressful at times. Even though the process is not usually an adversarial one, there are issues which may require a compromise from each party, such as the price, the date of possession, and the condition of the property at closing.

It helps to know why people are relocating. If a home is part of an estate, for example, it may evoke childhood memories and intense emotions for the person who is overseeing the sale. If the sellers are in the middle of a divorce, their mood will be different than someone who has just won the lottery and is moving to their dream home. Buyers who have been transferred and have to leave their dream home behind will feel differently from someone who feels that your home is their "ideal". One of a real estate agent's most important jobs is managing all of the relationships in the transaction. These situations don't often get really difficult, but when they do, agent's don't take it personally.


Some things are hard to measure, and others are easy. Success in a real estate sale is easy. It occurs when the "SOLD" sign is in your front yard. And having that occur as quickly as possible is the goal of every real estate agent and every home seller.

You have undoubtedly heard that old saying about the "hard way" and the "easy way" to do something. The hard way to get the "SOLD" sign up is to try and sell it yourself. The easy way is to use the services of a real estate sales professional, someone who is not only trained to get it sold, but to get as much for your home as the market will bear.

Remember, the agent doesn't get paid until your home is "SOLD". And the amount they earn in commission is dependent upon the amount of the sale. That's a lot of genuine motivation to do the job right. Save yourself headaches and frustration when you are ready to sell--call a professional real estate agent.

Stand By Me

Real estate transactions are complicated and unpredictable. Professional real estate agents are trained to handle the many facets of buying a home. A good agent is an invaluable asset to your venture if you are in the market for a house.

When you find a real estate agent with whom you feel confident, it is good to enter into a committed working relationship with that person. Concentrating your search with one agent will allow that agent to become truly familiar with your needs, desires, and financial capacities.

Maintaining loyalty to the real estate agent of your choice will bear you more fruit than scattering your attention among several agents. An agent who feels your commitment will devote his or her entire energy to finding the right home for you.

Target Marketing

As soon as the listing agreement is signed, your real estate agent will begin the search for a buyer for your home. This means directing agents marketing efforts to target groups of individuals who are likely to be attracted to the amenities offered by your home and neighborhood.

If your property is near a new office park, your real estate agent will look there for prospects who want to live near their work place. If it is an historic property, the local preservation society may have a publication in which to advertise. Your agent may call or write to the neighbors who may know someone who would be attracted to your home. When your home is being marketed professionally, your agent will do a lot more than just feed the listing into the MLS and place an occasional ad.

Tell Your Agent

Good communication will enable you to get the best service from the real estate agent who is helping you to buy or sell a home. If you have any concerns, make them known not just to your spouse, your mother and your co-workers, but to the person who can do something about it--your agent! 

Real estate sales are extremely complex transactions which involve negotiating large sums of money and turning over the largest single asset most individuals will ever own. Since the possibilities for misunderstandings are great, professional real estate agents work hard to ensure that the transaction will go smoothly. This requires clear communication between the buyers and the sellers and other agents. 

Most of the breakdowns in real estate transactions result from vague or inadequate communication prior to the signing of the contract. Express any concerns that you may have and ask about anything you don't understand--the only foolish question is the one that isn't asked!

The Best Real Estate Agents

The best real estate agents in today's marketplace are becoming even better about marketing the homes they list to the public, as well as to other agents who have potential buyers.

When you are interviewing prospective real estate agents to help you sell your home, ask how they find buyers. In the past, a "For Sale" sign would go into the ground, the basic information went into the Multiple Listing Service, and then there was an occasional Sunday classified ad and an "open house". If the house did not sell right away, the agent might recommend a price reduction. 

Agents today are much more sophisticated and pro-active about getting people into their homes. They rely on computers, direct mail, telemarketing, and just plain clever ideas that no one else has tried. Ask prospective listing agents for two things--a written analysis of what is happening with housing prices in your area and a marketing plan which outlines how they would get your home from "For Sale" to "Sold".

The Exclusive Sale

The most common and popular arrangement to have with a real estate agent when selling a specific property is an "exclusive right-to-sell". This type of agreement has advantages for both the broker and the seller. It allows an agent to give his or her full attention to marketing a seller's home or property for a certain period of time without competition from other real estate companies.

Within such an exclusive arrangement, the real estate agent shares the listing with national and worldwide referral networks through the Multiple Listing Service that is subscribed to by most real estate sales professionals. The MLS listing assures your home of the widest possible exposure to the market place.

Nine out of ten homes that are sold today are "listed" homes (more in some markets). Enough said!      


The Language of Real Estate Agents

Technical terms can be confusing to people who do not work in a profession, and real estate agents use language that may be confusing to many home buyers and sellers.

If you find your eyes glazing over when your real estate agent starts talking about escrow, clear title, easements, encroachments, contingencies, financing, appraisals and the closing process, don't hesitate to ask for a translation. Buying or selling a home is a major step, and professional real estate agents are totally committed to helping you understand the process thoroughly so that you can make informed decisions. 

The simple transaction of trading the sellers' house for the buyers' money has become complicated by several hundred years of custom, common law, and state and local government requirements. Consumer demands have resulted in up-to-date rules that communication be as clear and understandable as possible. Real estate agents work to create an atmosphere in which you feel comfortable to ask questions.

The Listing Agent

Only approximately 2% of all listings nationwide are sold by the listing agent. When you list your house with me, I will try my best to sell it myself, but more importantly, I will simply get it sold.

Colleagues in my firm or real estate agents who are affiliated with a cooperating broker may sell my listings. This is why I work hard to maintain a reputation for being very professional and easy to work with. I make the homes I list as easy as possible for other real estate agents to preview or show to buyers. 

When you select a real estate agent to market your property, you are hiring them not only for their list of prospective buyers, but for their ability to tap the lists of other people in the business. I constantly lobby among my competition, asking if they have seen my listings, getting feedback and urging them to add my listings to the short lists that they show when they have a prospective buyer.

The Perfect Home

When we help prospective buyers locate a new home we listen carefully to their goals. What are their criteria for selecting a neighborhood, what style of house do they prefer, what price range and floor plan meet their needs? Will any special considerations go into making the homebuying decision? When we have a good picture of what the buyer wants, we will go to work to find the best property on the market that will accommodate those needs.

Our real estate agents succeed when they can make the buyers' goals their goals. Finding the perfect home is a collaborative effort. The buyers communicate what they want, why they want it, and where compromise might be possible, and the agent listens carefully and selects the homes that come as close as possible to meeting the needs expressed. When there is trust and communication between the buyers and the real estate agent, miracles can happen! Creating these miracles for buyers and sellers is "Job #1" for us.

The Pheromone Factor

Pheromones are mysterious little chemical sensors that are supposed to have a lot to do with whether or not we are attracted to people. They may also play a big part in the way people react to houses.

If you have a house on the market, it will be important to ensure that the pheromone factor is as high as possible--so that the prospects who come inside will involuntarily pull out their checkbooks and offer to pay your asking price. A good real estate agent can give you some important hints about maximizing your home's ability to attract buyers. This could mean completely airing out every room to eliminate musty odors, or allowing enough time for freshly painted walls to lose that telltale toxic smell. 

Unless you are already compulsively neat, you may need to make temporary changes in your housekeeping habits to ensure that your home is both fresh-smelling and sparkling clean. Sometimes this will involve hiring a professional cleaning service. Give your real estate agent the space to speak candidly about what you need to do to make your house looks its best.

The Sniff Test

The sense of smell is a powerful motivator. When prospective buyers walk into a house, they respond more positively if they smell freshly baking oatmeal cookies instead of the lingering odor of a household pet. 

As the homeowner, you may not notice odors that visitors are aware of as soon as they walk in the door. When your house is for sale, ask a friend or neighbor to give it a "sniff test". If there are offensive odors in your home, how do you get rid of them? 

There are a few simple solutions--giving the floors and walls a good scrubbing, using the old vanilla-on-the-light-bulb trick, plugging in an essential oil diffuser and throwing out the dog's special chair. You can temporarily declare your home a "no smoking" zone. You may need professional help for cleaning carpets and drapes or deodorizing walls and wood floors. Your real estate agent will be able to provide you with a list of cleaning services which can assist you in making your home smell clean and fresh.

When to Take a Walk

Your agent calls to say he is bringing prospective buyers to see your home at 2:00 p.m. You quickly straighten up the house and run the dishwasher. What should you do then? If you have to let them into the house--then take a drive or walk the dog!

Many owners think they should linger close by while their home is being shown. They are afraid that the real estate agent might miss the storage shelves in the basement or forget to point out the beautiful new floor in the kitchen. It is better for the agent to miss something than for you to be ushering the buyers around, so resist the temptation to stay while your house is being shown.

Buyers usually base their decision to buy on an attraction that often has more to do with emotions than pure logic, and a lot goes on between buyer and agent during a showing. The buyer needs to evaluate the home's pluses and minuses, and the agent needs the opportunity to work with the buyer's objections. This process cannot take place comfortably if the seller is on the scene.

Why Is It Not Selling

If you are selling your home and it has been on the market for several months, you might start to wonder why it just isn't moving. How can you introduce some extra energy into the sale?

The first thing you should do is have a frank talk with your real estate agent in order to get feedback from prospective buyers who have seen your home, and other agents who have shown it. Does your home look its best? Is it accessible for agents to show on short notice? Is the price in line with the rest of the market? Do you need to consider neutralizing any strong decorating features that may not have wide appeal? 

Getting your home sold is a collaborative effort between you and your real estate agent. It is important for your agent to market your property aggressively, but you must do your part to ensure that buyers see a home that is as appealing as it can be. Ask your agent for any new ideas that will create results.

Working With A Real Estate Agent

It is not unusual for homeowners to yield to the temptation to try to sell their own home. It seems easy enough--just place an ad in the weekend paper and wait for buyers to show up. Although it may seem simple, real estate sales transactions are extremely complex proceedings.

The first pitfall can come with pricing your property realistically. Homeowners often price their property too high initially, then drastically slash the price when weeks go buy without an offer. Even if a prospective buyer agrees to the initial asking price, there could be complications if the buyers begin to feel that they have agreed to pay too much, or if the lender's appraisal values the property at far less than the agreed-upon price. Some clients hire agents to market their home professionally after weeks or months of trying to sell their own home without success, or after their FSBO transaction fell through.

Shirl A Thornton
Shirl A Thornton