The previous blog provided the list of questions. In this blog, I'm going to answer the questions like I would in an interview. Keep in mind that some of the questions are specifically related to the market of the moment or a specific market (and I will note that in the answer). This blog is super long (sorry!), yet I am more than willing to sit down and go over this in person if you are interested.
My goal for posting these questions is for buyers everywhere to hire the right for agent for the job. And my goal for answering them is to do a pre-interview online so buyers searching in our area can get to know me before we set up an official interview.
Thanks for reading!
• How many people are you currently assisting in finding a house? On average, I usually have at least 3 or 4 buyers that I actively work with at a time.
• How many buyers will you work with at one time? How many sellers? The maximum amount of buyers that I will work with at one time is 8 (keep in mind that I have an awesome licensed assistant too that helps me show homes and a team of agents to help me if it is a particularly busy time in the market. I'm not sure how agents work this business individually anymore. I'm a big fan of team work). I've had 10 listings at one time during the summer. Typically, agents can handle more listings than buyers. Buyers require 5-10 more hours of work on average.
• Will you be representing other buyers who are looking for homes in the same area and
price range as we are? Possibly. This situation happens, yet it happens rarely to me. I will talk with both buyers about the situation and do what the client wants me to do. If one of the buyers is uncomfortable with the situation, then I can have another agent on my team step in to help them. I've never had two buyers be exactly alike in their wants and needs (even though they are alike in price range and area).
• How many homes, on average, do you show your buyers? This depends on the market. In a buyers market, there are more homes to see and buyers on average will see 5 to 15 homes. In a sellers market, it's usually closer to 5 homes. My goal is always to find the home within 5 homes in either market.
• What is your experience in the locations we are looking at? I've sold homes in Austin and in every suburban city surrounding Austin, from Georgetown to Buda. I'm in my 10th year in the business (as of 11/2013) and have lived in North and South Austin and Lakeway.
• What percentage of the homes you've sold or located are in our search area? This will be specific to the buyer that is interviewing me. Happy to provide this information.
• Do you specialize in a certain area of town? No, I work all of Austin and the surrounding areas. I can advise you to make a good investment and smart real estate decision in any area of town (that is if you have already picked the area of town you want to live, many times I am advising on this question first).
• Do you have a price-range you specialize in? No, I've worked in the $100K price range and the $100,000,000 price range (and everything in between). I'm in this business to help people, no matter what price range they are seeking.
• How many homes did you sell in the past year as a buyer's agent? As of 11/2013, I have sold 38 homes and 21 of them were buyer represented.
• How do you stay up on current trends? Do you take classes or frequently attend training? I attend classes monthly. And I'm in an office with 500+ agents and I believe in strength in numbers in this business. If something is happening or about to happen in the market, most likely I know about it (thanks to my office and the amount of business that we do). Be weary of the lone agent that doesn't have a big office. Unless he is constantly researching and reading the news (which who has time for that when you are out showing homes and doing business?), I doubt he has the current trends knowledge base that I do being with a big office like Keller Williams.
• How do you stay up on proposed developments that will impact a property? I started in this business in a commercial office and have experience working on commercial zoning projects. Understanding the rezoning process can really give an agent insight into how commercial development will impact a home or neighborhood. The best place in Austin to stay up on proposed developments is the Austin Business Journal, attend a city council meeting and/or pay a visit to the development department of the city. I will help you with all of these things if you are focusing on a property that may be effected by commercial development or zoning.
• How do we know if this is the right time to buy? This is a question that I will help each individual buyer analyze. Considerations will include whether you have been renting or own a home (if renting, I've helped too many buyers choose the right area make good money on homes in a 3-5 year period, just on appreciation alone. Many times it's more money than clients have in their IRAs or 401Ks. Real estate can be such a great investment).
• Will you help us decide if our desired price range is appropriate? Can you help us
choose a good price range? This part of the process is where I lean on my favorite lender to help guide you. And I will help guide you on what areas are best for the price range in which you are pre-approved. I also advise to choose a price range with a monthly payment in which you are very comfortable paying and be as conservative as possible. I want home-ownership to empower you, not stress you out when you make your monthly payment.
• How will you help us determine if our down-payment is appropriate? This will depend on the financial and real estate market. At the moment, it is such a strong sellers market that showing at least 20% down on your offer will communicate to the seller that you are a strong buyer and will help us when we are competing against other offers.
• How can you help us determine if an offer we make is good one? When you want to make an offer on a home, we will discuss the sold prices of comparable properties and current market conditions. I also have the advantage that I'm with an office with more than 500 agents and involved in many transactions throughout the year, so I can help you write an offer according to the negotiation style you want and rate of success you desire.
• How will you leverage the best deal for us? We will discuss reasonable expectations for the definition what getting a "deal" in our current market means.
• How will you handle multiple offers? Thankfully, I am very successful at winning in multiple-offer situations for my clients. I have some strategies that we can discuss and implement if you like. Remember, you are the boss. I am going to present to you all of the options and tell you which one I think is best and then you are in charge of deciding how we handle the multiple offer based on my consultation.
• Tell us about the inspection process. How do we renegotiate the offer if the inspection
reveals a problem? Will you attend our inspection? I have a list of inspectors that I work with regularly. I will get bids and availability from them and then let you choose whom you want to move forward with (unless you have an inspector you would like to use already). I may or may not attend the inspection. I do recommend buyers attend the inspection to learn more about the home. I will come by and review with the inspector at the end of the inspection if this is recommended by the inspector. If repairs are necessary, this is how I suggest we negotiate: 1. My buyers safety is of the utmost importance to me. If anything on the report needs to be repaired that may effect your safety when you move in the home. Then these are items that must get fixed. 2. Any repairs that are lender required. 3. I will get you estimates on the repairs, so we can either ask the seller to make the repairs or discount the sales price or give you money towards closings costs so that you may monitor the repairs.
• What are the average closing costs your buyers have had recently? Are there possible
hidden/ costs we might encounter? Average costs to buy a home to expect will be 2-3% of the home value that you will need to bring to closing on top of your down payment. The lender will give you an estimate showing you all of the fees involved. Some of those costs involve setting up the escrow account so that your lender can pay your tax bill at the end of the year. Other costs to expect, depending on the size and age of the home $350-$600 for home inspection, $500 if home is on septic (pumping and inspection), many older homes need a plumbing test $400, $400-$600 for appraisal once under contract, 1% of sales price will be needed for an earnest money check (this will be credited back to you at closing) and $150 - $400 for termination option money check.
• How are you compensated? The Seller's Agent/Broker pays me a commission only if the home closes.
• Will you always be the one showing us houses and contacting the seller's agent? Correct. My licensed showing assistant may show you some homes if I am not available.
• How accessible are you since we may have to act within hours on a property? How often
will we talk to you? You can text/email/call me anytime. I have a team of 4 agents and 3 licensed assistants that will be able to help us see a home if we need to within hours (if I am not available).
• How much notice do you need if we want to look at a home? Most homes require an hour. Some require up to 24 hours. As much notice as we can give, the better.
• What are your negotiation techniques? My first priority is to present you with the different options and strategies I can use to negotiate on your behalf and then let you choose (I will tell you which one I think is best, of course). Point is that I will not negotiate a certain way without your permission. I hold your interest above my own and have a fiduciary duty to you.
• How will you search for properties that may not be listed in MLS (those sold by the
owner)? I'm always on the hunt for "coming soon" properties. I will also call other dominant and active agents in the area to find these properties. It also helps I'm with a big office and company that does more business than any company in town.
•How do you represent us in a for sale by owner situation? Many FSBO sellers are still offering to pay a commission to buyer's agents in our market. Let me call on your behalf to get more information and set up a showing. If the FSBO seller does not want to work with agents, I can step back and still help keep you protected through the process. I've been very successful working with FSBO sellers and my buyers to make a deal work.
• What about foreclosure situations? How do those work? In my opinion, the least risky foreclosures to buy are the ones listed in the MLS by an REO specialist. I will set up a private website for you to view homes and this will also include foreclosure homes on the market and I will email you as new properties are listed or prices are adjusted. If you want to pursue bidding on foreclosures posted on the court house steps, I suggest this type of purchase for buyers that have a lot of cash on hand and that are comfortable purchasing a home without viewing it first and without title insurance. And another thought to add to this question, many of the foreclosures in our market are homes that were rejected by the market when the owners tried to sell before foreclosure. I often see history repeat itself in this business and this should be seen as a warning that if you bought that foreclosure property, the same fate my face you if you needed to sell (depending on the market, of course).
• What expectations do you have of us as the buyer? I always turn this around and ask what expectations you have of me as your agent. Most people say honesty and I am always above and beyond in that department. And I expect the same thing from my buyers. I'm not an agent that will pressure you into buying a home. I want to give you all of the information you need to make the best decision for yourself. Buying a home is a journey and I want to make it as pleasant and smooth as I can for you.
• What questions did we not ask? I think a smart question to ask is whether it is a buyer's or seller's market. And if you are interviewing more than one agent for the job, this is a great question to ask every agent. I'm surprised how many agents listen to the national news to answer this question. During the recession, many agents in Austin would tell you it's a buyer's market. Yet, my answer would be it would depend on the neighborhood or part of the city and then explain how to calculate and determine buyers/sellers market. I won't go into it with this answer, yet I've seen even certain streets within neighborhood be a buyer's market and the rest of the neighborhood be a seller's market. This is knowledge you need whether you are buying or selling that will help you during negotiations and with your expectations for the sale. So important and not many agents know how to calculate this correctly.
Laura Ivy Blessing blogs about the Austin, TX known and lesser known happenings with a splash of real estate savvy for today's buyers and sellers. Please call her today to consult and advise you through your next real estate transaction.
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