questionswhat should i ask a potential realtor?

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Do a lot of your own research to ensure whoever you wind up with stays honest. Thanksfully the internet makes it really easy to do a lot by yourself these days, from checking your credit, to looking up comps, and great appraisers.

http://www.crea.net/
http://realestate.yahoo.com/Homevalues
http://appraiserusa.com/

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@woothulhu: can you tell me anything about Brokers vs. Broker Associates?

Thanks for all the great links. It's nice to have what seems like a more "elite" selection to choose from. I'm going through each of them now.

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@perkalicious11: Associate Broker- A real estate person holding a broker license that chooses to associate or affiliate with another sponsoring broker rather than opening their own brokerage office. They want the added knowledge and status of a broker, but do not desire to operate an independent office

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I would ensure that being a Realtor is his/her only occupation, nothing worse than your huge life decision being set on the back burner because your Realtor is running around as the mobile notary public!

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@thilderbrand20: I really like that tip. When I purchased, my first realtor was not forthcoming about his employment status. His viewing availability was limited, and many times homes on my interest list already had accepted offers before we even got to visit them. It was quite frustrating. I appreciate the reminder: I wouldn't really want someone halfheartedly selling my home and not responding to potential inquiries in a timely manner.

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@perkalicious11: exactly!! VERY frustrating.. especially when they get paid very well for what they are doing for you..

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find out if they will work for a reduced commission, from the very beginning. If they won't, look for another realator. Most people believe the scam that they get 6% or so, but it is a negotiation, not a statement of fact. If they will not negotiate on their commission it tells me that they may not take low ball offers to the buyer/seller.

I refuse to pay someone 6% to do nothing that I am not doing already. I don't need them to hold my hand as I look at a house, and I don't need their advice on landscaping, paint colors etc. I need them for the area information that they are supposed to be experts in. That a few phone calls and any heads up on other new properties that pop into MLS after I begin my search or sale.

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@ecriscit: I'm a little confused. You argue that if they will not work for less than 6% (which is actually split between the buyer's realtor and my realtor) then they will not take a lowball offer from a buyer. Why would I want them to sell my house for an even greater loss for me?

I'm all about negotiating down the commission because even the ~3% they're taking home is quite the payday, but I've found that typically you can't negotiate away any of the buyer's realtor's fees (the other ~3%), so they won't budge much since they still want to get paid.

Just trying to understand your thought process.

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@perkalicious11: Sorry, I wasn't entirely clear on the previous comment. I had to take work home today, and was kinda sidetracking by checking deals.

What I was getting at is this, if they won't negotiate on their fee, they probably (not definetly) won't entertain taking a lowball offer to another dealer on a property (because they want more money). To explain this further, I have had realtors that have told me that they will not give my bid to the seller's agent because they thought it was too low. They are working for me and won't do what I ask because they feel a certain way. If I smell blood in the water, why wouldn't I want to low ball the house price?

I am not a real estate expert, but having moved many times in my life I have learned a few things. Having a couple of friends who flip houses have taught me several other things. I won't state them all here, because I will get the standard " that doesn't happen here/I would never do that/you don't understand" reply.

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I have found that many times realtors work with banks and other realtors so often that they have a cozy business relationship. They don't like it to be interferred with.

Some offices are quite shady.

Back to the original question....Always be prepared to walk away at any point in the process. See if your realtor has ever been to court.

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Having purchased and sold more than 15 homes (for my own use) over a period of many, many years and having worked on the other side (legal), my best advise on commission is to agree to the going rate in your area. At contract negotiation time, you can agree to accept a full price offer no contingencies and would be ok with the 6%. If you are offered less, that is the time to see if all realtors involved are willing to cut THEIR commission prior to your accepting less than you are comfortable with. In this market, most agents in an MLS will bypass lesser commission properties as those first chosen to show. A very good tool for seeing what is for sale and what has sold in your area is zillow.com. I also have used redfin.com, but have not purchased through them. If you are still unsure about fair price, I have not personaly but have known folks who will hire a professional appraiser (what the title companies and banks do when they approve a mortgage).

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There are also realtors out there who will tell you that your home is worth more than it may currently be, simply to get the listing. That is why using all of the help in determining what your price is yourself and then asking for their opinion (not divulging too much of your thoughts).

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Do you watch HGTV? I do and usually find the various topics of great interst. A neighbor of mine has decided to so a lot of upgrading, but she wants to know if her house is hiding any defects or not up to code first so those items would be handled first. She had a home inspection done (the sort of thing you do when you are purchasing). In order to meet today's code, all exterior doors had to be firedoors, wiring up to date, etc. Hers needed about $150 worth of small stuff.

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@ecriscit: I think I understand our confusion now. I see that the powers that be have re-tagged my question, and in doing so they decided my question was in regard to PURCHASING as opposed to my actual question which is regarding SELLING. Having seen that now, I understand where you would want your buyer's realtor to deliver any offer you feel like signing.

@klozitshoper: Sadly I purchased this home only 17 months ago, at which point I paid $300 for the appraisal as was required by the mortgage lender. I feel confident that the home will appraise for not terribly less than this value, so I have an general idea of where the pricing will land, but I'm not sure where it would actually sell another 1½ years later.

I've wondered about getting a few realtor's opinions as opposed to taking any one as gospel (again since value is subjective). I likened it to comparison shopping to same way you'd get multiple opinions from contractors before deciding. Is this appropriate in real estate?

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@klozitshoper: I do watch HGTV on occasion, although it was on my TV constantly when I was house-shopping. I've transitioned over the DIY network since. Since my home inspection was done <17 months ago and it got a clean bill, I'm not too worried about any expensive repairs being required.

I don't want to do too much upgrading that won't provide a return, but there are some things -- like adding drywall, a ceiling, and flooring to my work-in-progress lower level -- that should bring much more value than their cost to complete. Since my lower level is exposed, finishing will add another large bedroom and another full bathroom. Many of the rest of the houses in the neighborhood are in line with that sizing and pricing, so I won't be improving beyond the neighborhood, which was a consideration when I purchased.

The plumbing and electrical for the lower level have all been signed off bu the village inspector also.

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@thumperchick: thanks for that article. I'm taking notes. :)

Keep the tips coming! This process is pretty nerve-racking!

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I can understand your wanting to know what home improvements might actually tip you into a "cannot recoup" state! First and foremost with a home IMO, it is you and your residence and it is too bad to have to think of money spent versus values going down (as historically except for a few years here and there up to the fall of the market everywhere, houses either maintained their value or went up). Adding additonal living space as you are doing to your lower level can only make your home easier to sell at whatever the going rate for that location at the time when you anticipate selling. I do not believe there is anyone out there who can predict. One day the newspaper where I live screams that housing values, foreclosures, shortsales, etc. are rampant and getting worse. A couple of days later there is a headline that screams that there seems to be a turn-around!! Cont'd

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In other words, the Waterford chandelier could probably be replaced with a faux waterford chandelier that looks really well. IMO, doing something that looks like it was done with low grade materials is much worse than doing nothing at all. I realize full well that that is NOT your style. Bottom line, Zillow for what is selling and is for sale and what is old on the market vs. what is new is an excellent way to arrive at value TODAY; tomorrow who knows. It sounds to me as though you are only doing what would appreciate in the future. My wordiness is more directed to anyone else who is thinking about buyng, selling, improving. My taxes have risen a huge amount, and I called the asssessor's office and told them I would sell my house in a heartbeat for what they tax me on!

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@thilderbrand20: You mean the old fashioned and still working "kitchen brokers"! Good advice

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do you have a license?
have you ever been to jail/prison?

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@kamikazeken: What in the world causes you to make a comment of this sort? I will be happy to answer any question you have, predicated on what you mean by it. No, I am not a licensed realtor, and the prison/jail thing makes no sense at all. Please explain your problem or else don't post such antagonistic things for no reason at all.

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@klozitshoper: my guess is that @kamikazeken assumed you were a realtor because of your greater level of knowledge and advice than the rest of the community seemed to have. I'm assuming the jail thing is because of @ecriscit's advice to research if the realtor has been to court?

Anyway, I appreciate all of the advice so far. I have an appointment with one realtor on Saturday who is on the CREA list that @woothulhu shared. I figure at that time we'll get a better idea of how our personalities mesh, and I'll be able to ask the questions in the About article from @thumperchick.

The Woot community trumps all other deal sites. You all have been great.

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I just checked out out online Circuit Court Access Point, and it turns out her name it pretty popular. I don't see a middle initial for her, so it's hard to narrow the hits. I sorted by county, and one hit was real estate related. Looks like she was listed as a Plaintiff in a RE/MAX vs. RE/MAX case.

Any tips where I can find more details on it? It's pretty vague.

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@perkalicious11: Ah, crap. I've been up since oh-dark-thirty, and I'm just BARELY firing on all pistons (actually, some of them seem to be misfiring). I have "resources" in your state, and will communicate the information you are looking for in a bit, over thataway -->>

Even coffee doesn't help. :-(

Back in a bit.

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@perkalicious11: Fooey. Just talked to lawyer friends in your state, and I think that you'd already found out the most information that could be found without further access. On the other hand, it was pointed out to me that the description of the case could be as simple as "you didn't pay me my commission, bub" and that fact that this realtor's a plaintiff (rather than a defendant) is fine. You're welcome, still, to share basic information elsewhere. I have the resources to find out more other stuff...

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@perkalicious11: I did not connect the dots - my bad. I suppose that he was referring to someone else's post. I do not have tons of respect, btw, for an awful lot of realtors, real estate agencies, etc. There are some stellar people out there though. One thing I forgot for when you need to sign any kind of contract with anyone, you can always change the terms - just because it is preprinted that so&so pays the transfer fees, etc., it is easily changed when initialed prior to signing.