The Consumer’s Guide to Hiring an Amazing Real Estate Agent

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When you’re buying or selling a home, it’s crucial to work with a qualified real estate agent. Not just a professional, but an amazing agent and a market expert. So how do you ensure you’re hiring an amazing real estate agent?

There are currently more than two million real estate professionals in North America.1,2 With so many options to choose from, how does a prospective home buyer or seller choose the right agent or broker? According to the National Association of Realtors®, trust and reputation are the top deciding factors consumers use when hiring an agent.3

But how do you measure trust and reputation … and what criteria can be used to help you make your decision?

In this guide, we’ve outlined the top attributes that amazing agents possess, as well as the questions you can ask to make sure you’re working with the right market expert to achieve your real estate goals.

5 ATTRIBUTES OF AN AMAZING AGENT

As we mentioned above, not all real estate professionals are the same. And it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the options and information about working with real estate professionals to buy or sell your home. In fact, many real estate markets are oversaturated with agents.

To help you understand what makes top agents and market experts stand apart from the competition, following are five key attributes of an amazing agent:

 

  1. A Pricing Specialist

If an agent has their real estate license, they know the basics of the transaction process. They know what goes into buying and selling a home. However, there’s a difference between knowing the process and navigating it for an ideal result. This ideal result often means buying or selling a home for the best price.

For buyers, amazing agents have a strong understanding of market trends, competition, and how to make your offer attractive to sellers. They can help you identify and secure a deal to ensure you get the home you want, within your desired budget.

If you’re selling a home, market experts have experience pricing homes optimally for the market, and creating pricing plans to minimize the time spent selling the home. This will help you sell for your desired price, and avoid costs like additional mortgage and utility payments.

Takeaway: Whether buying or selling a home, pricing can be tricky. Market experts can help navigate best-possible pricing strategies, and also secure the home you want within your budget.
  1. An Effective Time Manager

It’s common to underestimate the amount of time it takes to buy or sell your home. The average real estate agent may not be utilizing the latest tools and technology to make the transaction easier and more cost effective for their clients. Market experts have tools and strategies at their disposal to minimize the amount of time you spend on the process.

For sellers, market experts can make sure you only deal with qualified buyers, not the “window shoppers” who can waste your time. We also utilize the latest marketing practices to advertise and price your home effectively, ensuring it gets sold quickly.

When looking to buy a home, inexperienced agents may waste your time by showing you homes that are not a good fit for you. A market expert knows how to prioritize your needs and wants to find you the ideal home within your budget. They also know how to spot “red flags” and can steer you away from homes that are likely to turn up major issues in a real estate inspection, saving you time and money.

In addition, well-networked Realtors can gain access to the hottest listings before many websites do. Their extensive professional networks can help identify “pre-list” homes before they’re officially on the market. This can be invaluable in a highly-competitive real estate market.

Takeaway: Even a well-intentioned agent may not have the skills, tools or technology to make the experience easy for you. There are lots of hidden activities that may take up unexpected time, and a market expert will save you time and energy.

  1. A Market Insider

While most agents can pull market stats about a neighborhood, community or city, they may not understand important trends or developments that would affect your transaction. These can include the state of the school district, issues with a homeowner association, new businesses in the area, zoning rules or trends in home prices.

Market experts live and breathe local real estate and know the trigger points for buying and selling in this market. We also stay current on effective marketing and negotiation practices, resulting in our track record of success.

For sellers, we understand what features of your home and neighborhood are assets in the selling process. And for buyers, we share a deep understanding of market factors, including school and neighborhood quality, crime statistics, speed of sales and more.

Takeaway: Getting relevant and specific market knowledge can be difficult and time consuming, which is why many real estate agents don’t have it. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, an experienced real estate agent is often the best source of information about a city, neighborhood, or even street … we’re literally conducting market research every day.

 

  1. A Strong Negotiator

Amazing agents truly set themselves apart in their ability to negotiate. Unfortunately, a large portion of agents don’t commit their full time to increasing this key skill.

Real estate negotiations can be challenging, even for seasoned professionals. It takes skill, experience and a knowledge of how to fight for your client’s best interests. While any agent can enter negotiations to buy or sell a home, they may not know the effective strategies to exit those negotiations with the result you want.

Experienced Realtors focus on negotiation as a key skill. We understand what to do before entering negotiations (establishing the upper hand to set up the best outcome), as well as during the process (when to offer or accept concessions).

Takeaway: Many agents can feel the stress of the negotiation process, and may agree to terms of the buyer/seller. Working with a market expert will help ensure you get the best deal, not just the fastest deal.

 

  1. An Effective Closer

Closing a deal fast is often a good thing. For buyers, it means you found the home you wanted quickly. For sellers, it often means you can avoid the added expenses of mortgage and utility payments, and maximize the value of your home sale.

However, an agent solely focused on speed can make decisions that aren’t in your best interests. Top real estate professionals know how to not only achieve your real estate goals quickly, but in the right way to avoid potential pitfalls.

Just like negotiations, the paperwork and process of closing a real estate transaction are complicated. And they can be overwhelming for the average agent who hasn’t handled a lot of transactions. Sales contracts, property disclosures, occupancy agreements and even lead paint records need to be executed with precision. Your agent not only needs to be familiar with these, but also stay current on any changes in requirements or regulations.

Market experts have a strong understanding of real estate contracts, timelines, clauses and contingencies within the closing process. In fact, avoiding pitfalls during the closing process is where many sellers find an experienced Realtor is a huge asset.

Takeaway: Many agents don’t have a firm understanding of contracts. Because a real estate transaction often involves a significant investment, even a small mistake can mean serious trouble. With that in mind, it’s often best, and most responsible, to work with a true market expert.

 

5 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT

So how do you know if you’re working with an amazing agent?

The first step would be to “shop around.” Many people work with the first agent they come across without a firm understanding of their level of experience. It’s always a good idea to interview a number of agents before selecting one. If you’ve gotten referrals from people you trust, then you may only need to interview 2-3 agents.

However, it can be tough to know what to ask in the interview process. Here are some questions that can help you qualify the best agent to help you achieve your real estate goals:

 

  1. Can you send me some information about yourself?

Look for professionalism and consistency. What are their professional accomplishments? Also, try to identify how they approach their work. Look for a business person who has a strategy and solid support system. If they’re a newer agent, ask about their team’s dynamic and accomplishments.

  1. How long have you been in real estate?

The average Realtor has 10 years of experience4. But while longevity is important, even more telling are the number of transactions they have closed or been involved in. So feel free to also ask: “How many homes have you sold in this area?”

 

  1. What will you do to keep me informed?

Do you want daily or weekly reports from your agent? Will the agent be able to meet these expectations? Determine how much communication you want, and then find an agent who will give you the attention and time you want and deserve.

 

  1. Can you provide me with further resources I may need?

From market reports and pricing trends to school performance and crime statistics, top agents have resources at their disposal. In addition, market experts have built strong relationships with their extended team of professionals, and can often get expedient service or be able to “cash in a favor” for you should a need arise.

 

  1. Seller only: Can you share with me your plan to market my property? Many agents will simply put your home in the MLS and wait for it to sell. An amazing agent should have a detailed plan of how to get your home exposure on social media, to their local networks, and more.

 GET STARTED

Now that you’re armed with the 5 Attributes of Amazing Agents and the Top Questions to ensure you work with the best possible real estate agent, you’re ready to start interviewing agents.

We’d love an opportunity to win your business. Schedule a free consultation with us to find out how true market experts can help you achieve your real estate goals!

 

Sources:

  1. National Association of REALTORS – https://www.nar.realtor/field-guides/field-guide-to-quick-real-estate-statistics
  2. Financial Post – http://business.financialpost.com/personal-finance/mortgages-real-estate/canada-housing-bubble-agents/wcm/b49d4e3a-bd8d-4d1c-9566-bd3d80c8e23a
  3. National Association of REALTORS –

https://www.nar.realtor/reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers

  1. National Association of REALTORS – https://www.nar.realtor/field-guides/field-guide-to-quick-real-estate-statistics
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Welcome Home: 10 Tips to Turn Your Neighborhood Into a Hometown Haven

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“Communities work better (students perform better, crime rates are lower, kids are safer, people live longer) when neighbors know one another better. Knowing your neighbor on a first-name basis…is a surprisingly effective first step.”
Robert Putnam, Harvard Public Policy Professor and author of Bowling Alone

While advancements in technology have made it possible for us to connect with people from around the world, numerous studies show that it has led to a decline in face-to-face interactions.1

Places where we used to strike up casual conversations—such as a doctor’s office waiting room, bus stop or grocery line—are now filled with people looking at their smart phones, barely acknowledging those around them.

Even many families dining together or relaxing in the evenings can be caught spending more time focused on screens than each other. Is it any surprise that we’ve experienced a steady decline in community involvement?

In his book Bowling Alone, Harvard Public Policy Professor Robert Putnam “draws on evidence including nearly 500,000 interviews over the last quarter century to show that we sign fewer petitions, belong to fewer organizations that meet, know our neighbors less, meet with friends less frequently, and even socialize with our families less often.”2

How is this shift impacting our overall well being? A study by Oregon Health & Science University researchers found that having limited face-to-face social contact nearly doubles an individual’s risk of depression.3

CONNECTING WITH YOUR COMMUNITY

If you’re considering a move to a new city or neighborhood, you may be worried about replacing the comfort and support of family and friends you’ll leave behind. Or perhaps you have completed a move but would like to meet more people, build friendships and strengthen your support system.

In this blog post, we’ll explore 10 ways you can utilize technology to foster in-person connections with your neighbors, make friends and get engaged in your local community.

 

  1. JOIN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD’S SOCIAL NETWORK

A growing number of neighborhoods are utilizing private social networks like U.S.-based Nextdoor and Canadian-based GoNeighbour. These platforms are designed specifically to connect neighbors and include an address verification process.

Residents post about a variety of topics, including neighborhood news, recommendations for local businesses, lost pets, etc. These platforms are a great way to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in your neighborhood, but don’t just use them to connect virtually. Extend an invitation to your neighbors to attend an in-person event, such as a park playdate for families, an informal soccer game or a potluck block party.

 

  1. ATTEND A PLACE OF WORSHIP

If you have a religious affiliation, joining a local place of worship is great way to meet people and get involved in your community. Aside from attending services, most religious institutions also host extracurricular activities to foster fellowship amongst the congregation.

Whether you are looking to join a church, synagogue, mosque or temple, there are a variety of online resources available to help you find a match in your area, including:

 

To make the most of your affiliation, look for opportunities to meet in smaller group settings. It’s a great way to form interpersonal relationships with people who share your beliefs and values.

 

  1. FIND AN INTEREST GROUP

Whatever your favorite hobby or pastime, you’re guaranteed to meet people who share your interests when you join an interest group!

The website Meetup.com has over 32 million members in 288,000 groups in 182 countries. You can search for a group in your area that appeals to you … from book clubs to running groups to professional networking, they have it all.

If you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can start your own group for a monthly fee. The site makes it easy to ask (or require) members to pitch in to cover the cost. It also enables you to promote a corporate sponsor on your page, so you may be able to find a local business to cover the cost.

Most people who join Meetup are there for the same reason you are … to meet people who share their interests. So it’s a great place to make like-minded friends in your community.

 

  1. LEND A HAND

Volunteering your time and talents is another good way to get engaged in your community and meet those who share a similar mission.

Most nonprofit organizations rely heavily on volunteers. Find one with a cause you’re passionate about by visiting VolunteerMatch.

You can search by cause, location and keywords, and filter your results to include opportunities that are suitable for kids, seniors or groups. Another option is to search for volunteer positions that require specialized skills. Perhaps you’re musical or maybe you’re good with computers. There could be an organization in your area that needs your talents or skills.

Lotsa Helping Hands is another site focused on connecting volunteers with those in need. Members can request help or search for opportunities to assist others in their area. Most of the volunteer opportunities involve aiding neighbors who are ill or elderly by delivering meals, offering rides to appointments or just stopping by for a visit. This can be a great way to make a direct impact on your neighbors who need a helping hand!

 

  1. TAKE A CLASS

Taking a class is a wonderful way to develop a skill while meeting people who share your interests and passion for learning.

Whether you want to brush up on your Spanish, finish your novel, or learn how to tango, most community colleges offer inexpensive, non-credit classes on a variety of topics.

And if you are pursuing a degree, forego taking your courses online. Opt for the traditional route instead. There’s no substitute for being part of a live community of your peers.

To search for a community college in your area, visit the American Association of Community Colleges or SchoolsInCanada.com.

 

  1. ATTEND AN EVENT

Attending a live event is another way to engage with members of your community. From festivals to fundraisers to retreats, Eventbrite is a great place to search for events in your area. You can filter your search by category, event type, date and price to find something that fits your interests, schedule and budget.

Be strategic about the type of event you choose. For example, while attending a large festival might be a fun way to feel engaged with your community, it might also be harder to meet people. A retreat or a networking event may offer more opportunities for one-on-one interaction.

 

  1. SHARE YOUR STUFF

Everyone’s talking about the rise of the “sharing economy” with the popularity of Uber and Airbnb. But there’s also been a rise in “sharing communities,” which facilitate the free exchange of goods among neighbors to reduce consumption and keep usable items out of landfills.

Nonprofit groups like The Freecycle Network are made up of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and neighborhoods. Members can post “offers” of free items or “wanted” items they need.

The company Peerby has a similar goal of reducing consumption by encouraging neighbors to lend and borrow items they don’t often use. For example, you can offer to share your blender, rake or ladder. Maybe you need to borrow a drill, cake pan or moving trolley. Peerby enables you to request items to borrow from your neighbors and encourages you to register items you are willing to lend.

The Little Free Library is another innovative way neighbors are participating in a sharing community. Stewards build or purchase a box to house the library and fill it with books they are willing to give away. The library is usually placed in their front yard or in a public outdoor space. Visitors are encouraged to take a book they’d like to read, and in exchange leave a book for someone else to enjoy. With over 60,000 libraries in 80 countries, the organization estimates millions of books are exchanged annually among neighbors.

 

  1. SUPPORT A COMMUNITY GARDEN

 Community gardens have become increasingly popular in both urban and rural areas across North America. Not only do they beautify a neighborhood, they also foster community, encourage self-reliance, reduce family food budgets, conserve resources, and provide opportunities for recreation and exercise.

The mission of the American Community Gardening Association is to build community by increasing and enhancing community gardening and greening across the United States and Canada. The organization’s website enables you to search for existing community gardens in your area. If there isn’t one nearby, you might considering starting one. The site provides helpful tips and resources for organizing a garden in your neighborhood.

 

  1. CARPOOL WITH A COWORKER

In the spirit of joining a “sharing community,” carpooling offers many similar benefits. It presents an opportunity to form a bond with coworkers and/or neighbors during your daily commute. Additionally, you can save money on gas, reduce wear-and-tear on your vehicle, lower carbon emissions, and in many cities reduce your commute time by taking advantage of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) travel lanes.

The success of ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft has spurred a new wave of carpooling websites and apps that aim to revolutionize the way we commute by making it easier and more convenient to carpool. While many of these are still in their infancy stages, they are expanding into new markets and improving functionality at a rapid pace.

Kangaride Local, Scoop and Waze Carpool are just a few examples, and more are popping up every day. They are currently available in limited markets throughout the United States and Canada, but are becoming prevalent in more cities as residents opt-in. Check to see if any of these are available in your local area.

Alternatively, you can try posting on your neighborhood’s social network to see if one or more of your neighbors are commuting to a nearby location. Take turns driving and start benefiting from all that carpooling has to offer!

 

  1. PARTICIPATE IN WORLD NEIGHBORS DAY

The organizers behind World Neighbors Day promote it as “an invitation to share a moment with your neighbors, to get to know each other better and develop a real sense of community.”

In Canada it’s held on the second Saturday in June, and in the United States it’s held on the third Sunday in September. Participants are encouraged to organize gatherings with their neighbors to build relationships that “form the fabric of our communities.”

You can participate by attending or organizing a gathering in your neighborhood. Examples include: a block party, outdoor movie screening, book exchange, charity bake sale, volleyball game, etc. Anything that brings neighbors together in a fun and relaxed setting is a good choice!

Gatherings can be promoted through your neighborhood’s social media network, blog or listserv, or you can go the old-fashioned route and hand out flyers door-to-door. Whatever you do, be sure to make your gathering inclusive and welcoming to all.

 

BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR

 As with anything in life, you will get out what you put in. It can take time to build lasting and meaningful friendships with your neighbors, but the effort you make is likely to pay off tenfold.

The tried-and-true way to make friends, expand your circle, grow your support system and get engaged in your community? Be a good neighbor yourself.

 

 

What are the best ways you’ve found to meet and engage with your neighbors? Share your success stories or challenges in the comments below!

 

Sources:

  1. Lengacher, L. (2015) Mobile Technology: Its Effect on Face-to-Face Communication and Interpersonal Interaction. Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences –
    http://www.kon.org/urc/v14/lengacher.html
  2. Putnam, R. (2000) Bowling Alone. New York: Simon & Schuster –
    http://bowlingalone.com/
  3. Bergland, C. (2015 October 5) Face-to-Face Social Contact Reduces Risk of Depression. Psychology Today
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201510/face-face-social-contact-reduces-risk-depression

Phoenix Market Update January 2017

Phoenix Market Update courtesy of Craig and Stacey Akers at NextHome Valleywide.  Contact 480-621-6828 or info@nexthomevalleywide.com for a Seller Solution book that will give you selling tips, pricing, and comparable home sales in your area.

2016 Sales up 7% over 2015
2016 Median Sales Price 7.7% Higher than 2015

Welcome 2017!  The headlines these days are full of projections and reflections for the Phoenix Metropolitan Area residential real estate market.  To complement our monthly measures here are some year-end numbers to reflect on.

2016 MLS Sales – Up 7.0% overall compared to 2015
·        72.9% of sales were under $300,000 (# of sales up 3.4%)
·        19.6% of sales were between $300,000 and $500,000 (# of sales up 20.2%)
·        6.1% of sales were between $500,000 and $1,000,000 (# of sales up 15.4%)
·        1.4% of sales were over $1,000,000 (# of sales up 8.1%)

2016 New Listings – up 4.6% overall compared to 2015
·        65.8% of new listings were under $300,000 (# of new listings up 0.8%)
·        22.0% of new listings were between $300,000 and $500,000 (# of new listings up 13.5%)
·        9.2% of new listings were between $500,000 and $1,000,000 (# of new listings up 13.6%)
·        3.0% of new listings were over $1,000,000 (# of new listings up 5.7%)

2016 Appreciation based on Annual Sales Price per Square Foot – up 5.4% from 2015
·        Under $300,000 – up 7.6%
·        $300,000 – $500,000 – up 2.0%
·        $500,000 – $1,000,000 – Less than 1% change
·        Over $1,000,000 – Less than 1% change

It’s been a good news/bad news year for sellers over $500,000.  The good news is that more buyers purchased in the higher price ranges in 2016 than in 2015.  The bad news is the neighbors also noticed increased demand and listed their homes too, increasing the number of new listings on the market simultaneously.  This increased supply, combined with builders getting in on the action over $250,000, created a more competitive and balanced market and put price increases in check.

It’s been good news/bad news for buyers under $300,000.  The good news is their homes have appreciated nicely over the past year.  The bad news, finding move-in ready homes and winning the bid was more stressful and competitive than many expected.  Especially for single family homes under $200,000.  (Yes, they do exist.)

Looking forward in the short term, the market can expect more buyers emerging with improved credit scores as we move farther away in time from the foreclosure and short sale crisis.  Recent announcements regarding FHA loan limit increases and lower mortgage insurance premium fees signify a loosening up in lending that will contribute to more demand for listings under $300,000. Higher interest rates will cause some buyers to purchase smaller homes than they anticipated, putting even more pressure on the market under $300,000; which is already short of supply for existing demand.  With nearly 73% of all sales in this price point, it’s reasonable to expect appreciation to continue to be positive for the Phoenix Metropolitan Area overall.

Commentary written by Tina Tamboer, Senior Real Estate Analyst with The Cromford Report ©2016 Cromford Associates LLC and Tamboer Consulting LLC

Phoenix Real Estate Market Update for Sept 2016

Phoenix Market Update

Real estate market update courtesy of Craig and Stacey Akers at NextHome Valleywide. Contact 480-621-6828 or info@nexthomevalleywide.com for a Seller Solution book that will give you selling tips, pricing, and comparative home sales in your area.

For Sellers:  For those who own a condo or townhome, the shortage of single family supply under $200K is good news.  Sales of condos and townhomes are up 6.1% and the median sale price is up 12.5% .

For Buyers:  Buyers looking for larger single family homes under $200K may want to consider the Southwest Valley with 50% of all sales occurring under $185K and an average size of 1,929 square feet.

phoenix real estate
Sept 2016 – Commentary written by Tina Tamboer, The Cromford Report

72% of all purchases over the past month have been under $300K, which is why this price point dominates Phoenix Metro overall statistics and projections.  Sales between $300K and $500K are up 27.8% over last year, up 8.5% between $500K and $1M are exactly the same for sales over $1M.  Appreciation rates are not as strong in these price points because supply grew alongside demand, keeping the market in a balanced state.

Contact the real estate experts at NextHome Valleywide in Chandler, AZ at 480-621-6828 for more information.  If you are currently looking at buying or selling a home in the Phoenix, Scottsdale or East Valley area and are not sure where to turn, search for homes at ChandlerAreaHomeSearch.com, where you can find single family homes, golf and lakefront properties, 55+ communities, townhomes and much more.

5 Mistakes That Will Turn a Home Buyer Away

mistakes home seller
Don’t do these 5 things when selling your home.

If you’re preparing to sell your home you’ve likely heard many tips and tricks to help close quickly, however few people will ever tell you what you’re doing wrong with your overall home presentation.  Don’t be your own roadblock to success!  Avoid these common seller mistakes to ensure that your home leaves a lasting impression on buyers, instead of sending them running for the hills.

1) Dirt: It’s A Don’t

Perhaps one of the biggest turn-offs in real estate, dirt gives the impression that your property is not well maintained. A dirty home is simply not aesthetically appealing and can often be the root cause of other turn-offs, such as bad odors. Keeping a clean, clutter ­free home will show potential buyers that your property is a beautiful, healthy place where they can live comfortably without any foul surprises.

2) It’s Nothing Personal

While you may love looking at family photos, funky trinkets from travelling, or your colorful assortment of bath products, personal items such as these should be stored away during an open house. Showings are for buyers to see if they can see themselves living in your home, which is difficult to imagine when there are someone else’s belongings scattered throughout the house. If you’re serious about selling, pack away any items that send the message that this is your space.

3) Old News

Most often when people are looking for a new home they’re looking for just that: a NEW home!  Having old, dated fixtures in your house tells prospective buyers that your property is stuck in the past, rather than prepared for the future. Make your property a place that anyone can move forward in.

4) Street Style

You may have spent so much time and effort making the inside of your home immaculate for a sale that you’ve completely forgotten that the outside is equally as important. Curb appeal is the very first impression that your home will have on buyers, and it’s essential that your property looks just as nice from the street as it does inside.

5) Snoopy Seller

You know your home better than anyone else, and you want to sell it to someone who genuinely cares about your property. While this statement may be true, it is counterproductive for you to participate in showings, pointing out all the great features of your home to interested buyers and grilling them on their intentions for when they purchase it. Give buyers space they need to see if your home is the right fit for them, and you’ll be selling it in no time.

If you’re currently looking at buying or selling a home in the Phoenix, Scottsdale or East Valley area and are not sure where to turn, contact the real estate experts at NextHome Valleywide in Chandler, AZ at 480-621-6828 for more information.