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How to Hire a True Professional Real Estate Agent

How can you make sure that you hire the right real estate agent to guide you through our changing market? I’ll give you a few tips today.

How can you make sure you hire the right real estate agent? 

82% of homebuyers hire the first agent they talk to. Whether an agent was recommended or referred to you, you need to look at their online reviews to get a real idea of what it would be like to work with them. 

We have just over 200 reviews online. Just like when you buy merchandise, you need to check the reviews. We are selling a service, so you need to look at reviews and ask yourself, “What am I getting for my money?” 

Now, on the buyer side, you’re not paying the commission straight out; that’s usually paid by the seller. Still, it’s important that you hire a knowledgeable agent who will help you navigate the process. 

"82% of buyers hire the first agent they talk to, but are they getting the best value?"

We have a team of real estate professionals so when you work with us, you will always have support. If you call the office and you can’t get in touch with your real estate agent, one of our licensed real estate assistants or other agents will help you with whatever you need. 

It’s also important that you work with an agent who will get you good comps before you make an offer. We are seeing a lot more “For Sale By Owner” properties as the market changes. You need to know about comparable properties in the neighborhood so that you don’t pay more than you should for the home. 

When that happens, the home usually fails to appraise. If the seller doesn’t agree to change the purchase price, it could cost you a lot of time and money. From the home inspection to giving notice on a rental to setting up moving companies, there are a lot of costs that come with moving. 

Since there is so much that happens during a real estate transaction, it’s very important that you have professional assistance from a great real estate agent. If you have any questions or are interested in buying or selling a home, just give us a call or send us an email. My team and I would be happy to help you!

June Market Update for Baltimore

Now that we’re halfway through the year, it’s as important as ever to stay up-to-date with what is going on in our Baltimore market. Here are a few of the things you need to know.

Today I’d like to talk about what’s really happening in our Baltimore real estate market. 

With about 80 homes under contract at any given time, we’re now seeing pockets of both buyer’s markets and seller’s markets.

While it’s true that our local market is getting better, other states such as California, Arizona, and Florida have only about one and a half months of inventory compared to our five, almost six, months.

So, really, when you look at the market there are a number of factors to consider in terms of the big picture such as area and price point. 

In Hartford County and Baltimore County, for example, homes priced $500,000 and above are moving more slowly.

"The key thing really is to know what is going on in your market including the negatives."

The key thing really is to know what is going on in your market including the negatives, whether there are a lot of multiple offer situations, and so on. 

Oftentimes in this competitive market, issues occur when a seller is confronted with the prospect of needing to make repairs but is hesitant because they feel they are safe as a result of having multiple offers.

Unfortunately, this can result in the home going back up on the market, causing it to take longer to sell.

There are some issues going on in today’s market. But ultimately, these can be worked with as long as you are aware and your agent is proactive.

If you want more information or have any questions, we welcome you to call or email us. We look forward to hearing from you.

Be Careful of Zillow's Zestimates

Whether you're buying or selling a home, you've probably come across Zillow and their Zestimate tool. Allow me to explain why you should tread lightly with the Zestimate and your home's value.

We have a lot of clients who get worked up over Zillow and their Zestimates. However, these Zestimates—Zillow's home value estimation tool—are wildly inaccurate sometimes. In fact, the Zillow CEO actually sold his house in 2016 for 40% less than what his site's Zestimate said it was worth. 

Zillow hasn't walked through your property and they don't know about any upgrades you've done, and they can't factor in location. Your home's upgrades compared to features of other homes that have recently sold are crucial in determining its value. Zillow aggregates and average of area home values rather than doing a fine-tuned valuation of your property.

"Many sellers price their home inaccurately because of a Zestimate."

This is especially true with the market moving at as fast of a pace as it is right now. Many sellers think they can do it all on their own, but we see them end up pricing their home inaccurately thanks to a Zestimate. 

Similarly, when buying a home, you want a real estate agent to help you compare properties to determine values of the homes you're looking at since Zestimates can be so far off. Zillow is the top website for real estate searches right now, but you need to work with an agent to see how homes you're interested in compare.

If you have any questions about Zillow when buying or selling a home or you'd like to know what your home is really worth, give us a call or send us an email. We'd be glad to help.

What’s the Latest News From Our Baltimore Market?

Our Baltimore market is hot right now, but that doesn’t mean buyers and sellers don’t need to be mindful of a couple things before making a move.

Spring has brought us some nice weather, but what’s happening in our market right now?

Things are very busy and very hot. One thing I’ve been noticing lately, though, is home sellers thinking they don’t need to stage, declutter, and depersonalize their home before listing it. 

If you’re a seller, you still need to prep your house for the market. If you need painting or carpeting done, make sure you do it ahead of time. You can also make use of “Coming Soon” signs so that people know you’re getting ready to put your home on the market while you’re prepping it. Like I said, our market is very busy, and I don’t want you to enter into it with false expectations.

"Finding the best financing is just as important as finding the right house."

I’ve talked to our own stager about this problem and she said in today’s market, some people are skipping the staging process in the beginning because they assume their home doesn’t need it. Sure enough, these same people are calling her a month later after they see their neighbor’s house sell and their own stay on the market. 

On the buyer side, we’re seeing multiple offers on a lot of properties, so the first-time homebuyer market is very active. The move-up market above the $500,000 range is slightly slower, though. Interest rates are still very low and could possibly dip again, but we’ll see what happens over the summertime because last year they decreased during the summer months. 

If you have any more questions about our market or are looking to buy or sell a home, please give our office a call. We look forward to helping you.

Are You Paying Cash? The Importance of Home Financing in Today's Market

Unless you're one of the lucky 10% of people who can buy a home with cash, you'll need to secure financing to buy your house. Here are some of the important details to keep in mind about finding the right home loan.

When you buy a house, financing plays an extremely important role, and you have a lot of options.

Getting financing for a home is also very different than it was in recent years when the joke was that if you could fog a mirror, you could get a home loan. Now, lenders want to see all your financial records and many other things.

There are many types of home loans, including USDA, VA, FHA, and conventional loans. For example, I recently had a client's parent call me wanting to help their kid out. They wanted their kid to be able to buy their next house without having to sell their previous home first, so we discussed the parents possibly paying down the old house and some other strategies.

Finding the best financing is just as important as finding the right house.

We're always happy to answer questions about financing for you.

There is also a lot of grant money available for first-time homebuyers. Some of it is worth taking the time to obtain, but you need to be aware of all the facts surrounding them. For instance, you might get a $5,000 grant but not realize that you have to pay it back when you sell the house. Some grants, on the other hand, are forgivable after five to 15 years.

We work with an assortment of lenders, and it's good to know who has certain programs available. Of course, we're happy to provide you with any and all information you need. For instance, there might be a doctor's loan available for someone who just got out of medical school and has an income that's not yet close to where it will be in a year or two. There are also a lot of programs for first-time homebuyers. We're also seeing first and second mortgages gain popularity again as well.

Remember that obtaining the best financing is just as important as finding the right house. Make sure you speak with an agent to walk you through the process and get direction to the right people to help you find the best option. 

If you have questions for us, don't hesitate to give us a call or send us an email. We'd love to help you with your real estate and financing needs!