Helping You Buy Or Sell Your Home

Selling or buying a home is a task many people hope to never have to undertake more than once or twice. When selling, you have to fix up the home and remodel to make it presentable and attractive to potential buyers. You also have to advertise the property, spend time taking potential buyers around the house to view the features, close the deal, settle your mortgage and take care of the necessary paperwork. Buying, on the other hand, is just as complex. This is because you have to find the right property in the right location at the right price, get financing, have pre-purchase inspections done on the property, close the deal, remodel the house and move into the house. First time home buyers and sellers would not know everything there is to know about selling or buying a home, so costly mistakes can be made in the process. Click through to find out more.

Selling or buying a home is a task many people hope to never have to undertake more than once or twice. When selling, you have to fix up the home and remodel to make it presentable and attractive to potential buyers. You also have to advertise the property, spend time taking potential buyers around the house to view the features, close the deal, settle your mortgage and take care of the necessary paperwork. Buying, on the other hand, is just as complex. This is because you have to find the right property in the right location at the right price, get financing, have pre-purchase inspections done on the property, close the deal, remodel the house and move into the house. First time home buyers and sellers would not know everything there is to know about selling or buying a home, so costly mistakes can be made in the process. The following tips might help you buy or sell your home.

Tips For Buying A Home

helping you buy or sell a homeWhen looking for a home to buy, location is everything. However, timing is also important. You should never be in a hurry to buy a home. After all, it’s a lifetime investment which you should get right from the start. Ideally, you should save for the downpayment and wait for great deals, such as tax sales, short sales and other types of discount sales.

There are many ways to find your dream home. Obviously, you can search the internet for the type of home you want to buy in your preferred location. There are many real estate listings on the internet with millions of properties, so all you need to do is search the web. You can also search foreclosure listings and get a real estate lawyer to help you acquire any of the properties at a discount. If you do not have the time, expertise or willingness to search for a home on your own, you can work with a reputable real estate company. Real estate firms have the expertise, resources, networks and manpower needed to help clients find homes and empty lots for construction in any location.

After finding the right property, due diligence should be done to learn about the structural integrity of the property, outstanding property tax, real owner of the property, mortgage balances and any other loans borrowed against the equity in the property. The property must be inspected by a reputable inspector and appraised to ascertain its real market value. You should also have the mortgage pre-approval form with you and the downpayment ready. The home acquisition process should be done legally, so you may want to work with a real estate lawyer.

Selling A Home

 

When selling a home, your main concern should be getting the highest possible offer. Another major concern is closing or transferring your mortgage to the buyer. Since you may not know how to achieve these two outcomes, be sure to work with a real estate agent or firm to market the property. To improve your chances of getting a better price, be sure to fix up the property and do some painting. These are affordable repairs which can significantly increase the value of the property. The lawn should also be well-taken care of at all times. An experienced real estate agent can give you advise on how to present your property.

Should I Use A Real Estate Agent?

If you are buying or selling a home, then you might question whether or not you want to use a real estate agent. More than likely, this is because you want to save some cash and avoid the extra charges that comes along with hiring a professional to handle your purchase or sale. However, if you plan on selling or buying a house on your own because you think that you will save on costs, you might be surprised to find out that there are downfalls associated with avoiding paying the commissions. Click through to read more on this topic.

realtorIf you are buying or selling a home, then you might question whether or not you want to use a real estate agent. More than likely, this is because you want to save some cash and avoid the extra charges that comes along with hiring a professional to handle your purchase or sale. However, if you plan on selling or buying a house on your own because you think that you will save on costs, you might be surprised to find out that there are downfalls associated with avoiding paying the commissions. These include paying extra costs that might not see if you are not a season real estate agents. Also, most home sales can actually take more than twice as long when you skip out on hiring an agent. If you are a first-time home-buyer, then it is especially wise to hire the agent to help the process along.

There are many benefits that come along with hiring a professional to handle your real estate needs. First and foremost, a real estate agent can find properties a lot faster. This means that if you are buying a home, they can present you many options that you might have a hard time finding if you were on your own. If you are selling a home, using an agent will make the sale go much faster which saves you a lot of money in the end. In the following article titled “10 Benefits of Using a Real Estate Agent to Buy a Home” by HowStuffWorks, they discuss this topic in further detail. Here, we have listed some of the best tips that they mention in this article:

While anyone can spend a few minutes online and pull information on sales of comparable houses, real estate agents have the experience to know whether a specific house is overpriced or under-priced. In the best-case scenario, an agent will have such a good idea of what you’re looking for that she won’t even waste your time touring houses that won’t work.

Though most homes for sale are widely available for buyers to assess on Web sites, in some cases, sellers don’t want the fact that they’re selling to be widely publicized. In those cases, only the real estate agents know the houses are for sale.

If you’ve ever bought a house, you’ve probably dedicated a full shelf somewhere to the documents that were involved in the transaction. These probably include the written offer, the written and signed counteroffer, the little details (like specific repairs) and what exactly was and was not included in the sale. The paperwork can be tiresome.This is when a good real estate agent can save the day. The odds of missing something, not initialing a margin or not checking a box, can drop substantially when you’re working with someone who knows the paperwork inside and out.

If you are selling a house, then a real estate agent can list your house with the MLS which will make you house more accessible for those who are interested in buying a house. If you are buying a house, a real estate agent will know if the house is overpriced and spot any hidden costs, such as repairs, that you might not be aware of. Furthermore, you might be able to find your dream house on your own but can you handle the paperwork and negotiation process that comes with it? This can be tricky and sometimes only a seasoned real estate agent can truly handle it.

However, if you are not a first-time home-buyer or seller, then you might stand a better chance at selling or buying your home. You can save money on the commission which can definitely add up. However, you will have to know that value of the house and sometimes doing it yourself can actually cost you more in the long run. In the following article by Redfin, they discuss some aspects of buying or selling your home without an agent:

If you work without an agent, you can only buy for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) homes: False. You can make an offer on any home that you could if you were represented by an agent.
If you buy without an agent, the seller’s agent will just keep the extra commission: Tricky. If you’re not careful, this can definitely happen. Many listing agents have contracts with their clients that have variable commissions; if the buyer doesn’t have an agent, the listing agent automatically gets the “leftover” commission that would normally go to the buyer’s agent.
Sellers won’t take you seriously if you don’t use an agent: Toss-up. Every seller is different. Some might be happy to work with you, and others may not be interested. If you’ve done your homework, can offer proof of finances, and have all your paperwork in order, you’ll raise your chances of a good reception.
You need an agent to be present for inspections and appraisals: True. Usually, a licensed agent is required to be present for inspections or appraisals, and usually this is the buyer’s agent. You may be able to get the listing agent to agree to be there for these tasks, in the interest of closing the deal. Again, everyone is different; some listing agents will be happy to go the extra mile to close the deal, while others will insist on at least a partial cut of what would have been paid to your agent. Time to practice those negotiation skills.

Sections from this article was originally found on the “Redkin” website which can be viewed here.

Even if you sell or buy a home on your own, you have to be very careful. The most probable reason that you don’t want to hire an agent to begin with is to save yourself the typical 3% commission that goes to your agent but without an agent, you could be paying more than the commission that you would have paid your agent to begin with. This is especially true if your negotiation skills aren’t exactly up to par. Furthermore, if you are not using a real estate agent, the buyer’s or seller’s real estate agent might pocket some commission anyhow. They might not take you as seriously which means that you are entering a tough battle to begin with.

As tempting as it may be to sell a house on your own, you really have to know what you are doing. It is not advisable to be a first time home-buyer or seller and take this as an opportunity to find out if you have what it takes. Even if it is not the first home that you are buying or selling, you have to have a specific set of skills in your belt that make this a realistic option and not one that ends up costing you a lot in the end. In the following article by Forbes, they discuss some of the reasons of why you still need a real estate agent:

A real estate agent’s full-time job is to act as a liaison between buyers and sellers. This means that he or she will have easy access to all other properties listed by other agents. Both the buyer’s and seller’s agent work full time as real estate agents and they know what needs to be done to get a deal together.

If you decide to buy or sell a home, the offer to purchase contract is there to protect you and ensure that you are able to back out of the deal if certain conditions aren’t met. For example, if you plan to buy a home with a mortgage but you fail to make financing one of the conditions of the sale–and you aren’t approved for the mortgage–you can lose your deposit on the home and could even be sued by the seller for failing to fulfill your end of the contract.

Many people eschew using a real estate agent to save money, but keep in mind that it is unlikely that both the buyer and seller will reap the benefits of not having to pay commissions.

Click here to see the full article.

 

The bottom line is that if you plan on selling or buying a home, it is better to hire a real estate agent unless you feel that you have enough experience to understand the transactions, see any hidden costs, and posses the necessary negotiation skills. Most people who want to avoid paying the agent’s commission might end up paying more than what the commission would be anyhow.

Tips On Selling Bethlehem PA Real Estate

Ask any realtor and they’ll agree, the key to selling a Bethlehem PA home is to enhance the function and beauty, and enable potential buyers to see how it might augment their lives. Learn what you can do in order to improve your home’s appeal so that it has a better chance at selling faster.

selling a Bethlehem PA homeAsk any realtor and they’ll agree, the key to selling a Bethlehem PA home is to enhance the function and beauty, and enable potential buyers to see how it might augment their lives.

To start, the majority of home-buyers begin the decision making process on the outside; does your home invite them in or tell them to keep driving past to the next for sale sign? You can make sure all potential home-buyers want to come inside your home with a little curb appeal.

Put your money where it can be most useful to boost your home’s sales appeal because a little can differentiate your home from the others on your block. Focus on the elements every potential home-buyer will look for. You’ve heard it repeated time and time again, but the first is one of the most important elements of selling your home.

Curb Appeal

You really don’t have to spend an arm and a leg outdoors; simply make sure your grass is mowed, and the house does not look worn. Perhaps a fresh coat of paint and a manicured and tidy look will do the job. If you’d liked a splash of color add a few flowers or a wreath, hanging from the door.
The best rule of thumb is to look at the exterior of the home and ask yourself is there anything that should be improved?

Cabinets And Closets

High: If you can afford to hire a mill work specialist or carpenter to build in window seats, pullout drawers or built-in cabinets, you will make the most of every square inch of your home, while enhancing the architectural character.
Low:  Install ready-made shelves and add crown molding; you can also build up your existing molding around cabinet doors with trim. Also, add glass-front cabinet doors and unique knobs that both add value.

Clutter Free

Take a look around your home, especially your bathrooms and make sure everything is in place. Why does this make a difference? When you have disorder and many things are out of place, it could translate into not enough storage space. Everyone has lots of “stuff” yet we want to streamline our things, and have the perfect places to hide everything.

Make good use of caddies, two-level turntables inside of the cabinets and attractive containers to keep things organized while hidden.

Staging Your Home

Lastly, you may want to consider staging your home. Home staging simply means decorating your dwelling in a way that appeals to a potential buyer. Here are some things to add to your checklist:

  • Add lighting to ensure you home is lit up and looks attractive at night. Home-buyers often perform a ‘drive-by’ at dusk to see what the home looks like at night.
  • De-personalize. Pack up the bric-a-brac and personal embellishments that make a house a home: these can divert attention from buying the home, so clear away the personal photographs, trophies and novelties.

 

It doesn’t take much when selling a home. A little imagination, organization and creative control will go a long way. This will help your realtor find the highest price when selling your home.

How Do Realtors Charge?

When you are buying or selling a home, there is so much paperwork and associated costs that it can seem overwhelming. Another aspect of the list of expenses that can sometimes seem vague is how much of these costs actually go to the real estate agents. In this article, we will outline what portion of the costs are given to the real estate agents.

how do realtors get paidWhen you are buying or selling a home, there is so much paperwork and associated costs that it can seem overwhelming to know what goes where. Another aspect of the list of expenses that can sometimes seem vague is how much of these costs actually go to the real estate agent(s). In this article, we will outline what portion of the costs are given to the real estate agents.

Real estate agents make their income off of the commission that is made when they sell or buy a house. The commission rate is typically 6% in Pennsylvania, where 3% goes to the buyer’s agent and 3% goes to the seller’s agent. It is divided evenly. Typically, the commission is earned after the settlement has taken place. This means that while they are working hard to sell a home or find a buyer, they are not paid for that until your house has been bought or sold, depending on the circumstances. So who pays the commission? The seller or the buyer? In the following article by realtor.com, they answer this question in detail:

How Do Real Estate Agents Get Paid?

Technically, the total commission is always paid by the seller at the settlement table, where the fee is subtracted from the proceeds of the home sale.

However, in a sense, the buyers are paying the commission because they’re paying to buy the house and the sellers have taken the REALTORS®’ commission into account when determining a listing price. The commission is split at the settlement table between the listing agent’s brokerage and the buyers’ agent brokerage; then the agents themselves are paid by their brokers.

The commission is paid by the seller and it is taken from the proceeds of the sale. It is said that the seller pays the commission. This article claims that the buyer is indirectly paying the commission because simply put, they are buying the house where the overall price has the commission included in it.

The percentage of the commission is not fixed and can be negotiable. Many realtors will not take a commission that is less than 6% and some realtors even charge more for special circumstances. Realtors warn that anyone who is buying or selling a home should be cautious about using a realtor who is willing to negotiate commission price. In the following article by realtor.com, they discuss commission negotiations:

What Percentage of the Sale Price Do Realtors Charge?

I can tell you that I do not taking listings for less than 6%. Sometimes I even charge 15%, if the situation is extraordinary. I do this because I work very hard for my clients, spend lots of money on marketing, network with colleagues and clients internationally, and take no more than 2 clients at a time.

I caution you about working with agents that will take less than the customary commission percentage. The reason I say this is simple: If the agent cannot negotiate well enough to keep their own money, how will they successfully negotiate keeping your money? You want an agent that knows their worth and knows the value of your home. You want your agent to know what values support the price they charge you, just like you want them to know what values support the price they are selling your house for.

Click here to see the full article.

realtor commissionsThis article claims that if you can talk your realtor into lowering their commission rate then you might have to pay less, but you also might be losing quality of work. In general, realtors who lower their commission rates tend to take on too many clients at once and therefore, will not give your house the attention that it requires in order to sell it or in order to find the right buyer. This translates into your sale or purchase taking a lot longer than necessary which also ends up being more costly.

Not all of the commissions are split right down the middle. An agent can act as a dual agent where s/he represents both the seller and the buyer. This means that they will get the entire 6% of the commission. An agent would prefer to act as a dual agent so that they can earn the 6% and represent both sides of the sale. Dual agency is not legal in all 50 states but in Pennsylvania, it is legal. In the following article by About.com, they discuss what dual agency is:

Dual Agency in a real estate transaction means the listing broker represents both the seller and the buyer. A dual agent must not disclose confidential information to either party and must operate in a hands-off manner. A dual agent cannot get the highest price for the seller and the lowest price for the buyer — it is impossible.

Dual agency can happen even if the buyer is represented by an agent other than the listing agent if that agent is also employed by the same broker.

Click here to see the full article.

A single agent can work as a dual agent or dual agency can be established if there are two agents who are licensed by the same broker. However, as this article mentions, it is impossible to get the highest price for the seller and the lowest price for the buyer. Therefore, it is better to have your own agent.

If you do want to try to save some money and negotiate the commission rate with your realtor, then there are certain aspects of this negotiation that you should know about. Since the commission can be the second highest expense after your mortgage, you might think that it is the best option for you. In the following article by Nolo, they discuss some aspects that you might want to take into consideration when negotiating the commission:

Negotiate the Agent’s Commission When Selling Your House

Of course, some agents may simply refuse. They’re under pressure from the company they work for to keep commissions high — plus they’ll have to work out an agreeable split with the buyer’s agent.

Go to the top. Seek out the broker, rather than the real estate agent who holds your listing. The broker has the power to pull strings, negotiate his or her cut with the agent, or otherwise help you get a discount.

Also think about how you can reduce the agent’s work on the physical condition of your home, too. A real estate agent knows he or she will have to work harder if your home isn’t model home ready and may be less likely to reduce the commission. Ideally before the agent even sees the place, add curb appeal to get shoppers excited about the property, and spiff up the inside so that it’s clutter free, sparkling like a gem, and laid out for easy navigation. Consider spending some of that commission break on a professional stager.

Whether it’s the dead of winter in some locales or the pre-school summer doldrums in others, selling in the slowest seasonal periods can be the best times to find a real estate agent who’s hungry for work, even at a cut rate.

This section was originally found on the “Nolo” website which can be viewed here.

This article claims that if you want to negotiate the commission rate, then you might have to do some of the leg work yourself. This includes staging your own home, increasing curb appeal and even hosting the open houses. It also mentions trying to sell your house during the off season when realtors do not have as much work and might be more flexible.

Overall, the way that a real estate agent gets paid is through earned commission. In Pennsylvania, the earned commission is 6% which is traditionally divided between the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. The seller typically pays the commission although the commission is usually included in the price for the home. It is best to hire your own agent because a single dual agent cannot give you the best price when purchasing a home if they are also representing the seller who also wants to find a buyer who will pay the highest price. If you do hire an agent, you can negotiate your commission rate to a lower one if you follow the above tips.