Are you thinking about buying or selling a home? If so, chances are, at some point you've thought to yourself, "I wonder if I can pull this off on my own?".
While going at it alone may be tempting, there are several factors to consider before making that decision. Not only are you putting yourself at risk of being taken advantage of, there could also be serious legal, financial, and personal repercussions in the event the process isn't handled correctly; these would far outweigh the cost of a licensed, experienced Realtor® who has your best interests in mind.
Take into consideration just a few things that will need to be handled with care when deciding to buy or sell a home.
- Determining how much you can afford. This may seem silly to some, because of course you know how much you can afford! You handle the budget, you take care of savings, and you've put a lot of thought into making this lifestyle change. However, there can be unexpected costs, negotiations and charges associated with the sale or purchase of a home. A licensed Realtor® will be able to prepare you for these costs, as well as help factor them into your search for the perfect home or buyer.
- Pricing an existing home without the input of a market expert. They say a man's home is his castle. However, without the preview from a Realtor® as well as an actual appraisal, you could be missing structural issues, health and safety concerns, as well as simply the possibility of someone attempting to get the most money for their property without actually knowing (or simply just disregarding) the true value.
- Checking your credit report. Great! You found something you like! Time to check your credit! For some homes, you may need to go through the credit check process. In the event that something unexpected shows up and prevents you from being able to purchase the property you had hoped for, not only will you be out financially of the cost of the credit check, but you are also left without the details of what exactly you are in fact eligible for. With a Realtor®, you will be able to complete the pre-approval process in a matter of minutes, and start your search knowing exactly what paradise is in the realm of possibility for you.
- Deciding where to advertise to reach best potential buyers. For the most successful, well reviewed Realtor®, marketing and realty go hand in hand. A Realtor® should know who you are looking for, and where to find them. They will base the advertising of your home on where they know the most interest will be generated. They cast a wide net, and are able to garner a much larger response than most can typically do on their own.
- Putting your existing home on the market. This is where it gets delicate. Aside from the need for appraisal, there are so many documents required to properly sell your home. History of the property, tax details, deed information, all things that would not only take a substantial amount of time to gather on your own, but that can leave serious loopholes or even legal problems for you or your buyer if not done correctly. A Realtor® has access to gather this information in a fraction of the time it would take to do on your own, and would ensure that everything is done correctly, efficiently, and without risk to you or your buyer.
- Host open houses to sell existing home. A well experienced, knowledgeable Realtor® doesn't just stick a sign on the corner and cross their fingers. Time is spent in advertising your property and open house. Your home will be marketed to people who are actively looking for a property just like yours, and are ready and willing to make an offer if all goes well. A realtor will utilize the team they have on hand to make sure a campaign and action plan is put together, that works with the schedule YOU provide.
- Schedule appointments to show current home or to see new ones. Realtors work with one another on behalf of their clients, in order to make things as smooth for you as possible. Instead of spending your entire day searching randomly for properties, hoping to catch the owner on their lunch break, or trying to make it back in time to meet the couple interested in your own home, a Realtor® will know your schedule, find out the schedule of the people of interest, and arrange the meeting or viewing at a time that is acceptable for everyone. They do the work for you. All you will need to worry about is when and where.
- Find new home with all the features you want. This one we all understand! How frustrating is it finding a home that looks good from the outside, only to find out that the amenities, features, or add-on's are not available? With use of the MLS, a Realtor® is able to start broad, and specifically narrow down the results of your search based on what YOU want. No visiting multiple sites, sitting hours on end just hoping to catch something at the right time. They have access to everything in one place.
- Investigate school system. Whether you already have children or are planning to start a family, the school system is always one of the most important deciding factors in the purchase of a home. Realtors have the ability to view the school ratings, history, options, not just of the public schools in the area, but also find the schools that provide transportation should you choose to enroll at another location.
- Research neighborhoods and local amenities. Different neighborhoods and communities have a wide variety of features, activities, and lifestyles that you take into consideration while searching for the perfect home. Utilizing a Realtor® who is familiar with the area and location of your search is a wonderful way to ensure that you will end up in a community or neighborhood that is right for you.
- Analyze comparable home sales and make offer on new home. Sure, the price is good, the house is beautiful, and it's do-able for you. But, what about the other homes in the area? With a comparative market analysis, you will be provided with a visual comparison of how homes similar to the one you are searching for have sold, and make sure that you are making an offer that is realistic for the property you want.
- Consider offers for current home. A Realtor is legally bound to the commitment to make sure that you receive, or pay, the best price available. If you are selling, you will be provided with the offers that have been made, and given the appropriate options. If you are buying, you will be kept in communication with where the seller stands, and what to expect with the offer process.
- Review homeowners' association documents for new home. This ties in with number one. You may know what to expect with the price and purchase of your home, but depending where you choose, there may be homeowners fee's, or specific taxes that are omitted if you are simply researching on your own. A licensed Realtor® will be able to obtain all necessary documents that explain any fees or dues that you may need to be prepared for.
- Arrange home and pest inspections on new home. The little things can add up when trying to juggle all of the things that have to be done in preparation to sell your home or purchase a new one. Scheduling of inspections can be done by your Realtor®, and set for a time that does not interfere with your day.
- Meet home and pest inspectors for review of current home. Pest inspections are just one example of the appointments that will need to be kept on your behalf. A Realtor® is able to take the stress of making appointment times off of your hands. They handle the things that need to be done, while you continue with your regular routine.
- Coordinate closing with lender, title company and customer. Once everything is ready to begin the closing process, the paperwork, meetings, and appointments can become overwhelming if not scheduled well. Why not take advantage of the experience a Realtor® can provide, minimizing your time away from work, home or family, and making sure everything is done in an efficient, convenient way.
- Finding an attorney to draft the contract. So much time can be saved from just Googling and calling multiple attorneys, trying to find the one with the right credentials and experience to handle your situation. A Realtor® has a massive network of connections to knowledgeable, proficient, and well-reputed attorneys who are able to make the process easy for you.
- Negotiate terms of sale or purchase, including repairs or concessions. In the event there are things that you or your buyer do not find perfectly acceptable, there may be the need to have certain terms made that will designate what repairs will be done, and by whom, before the closing of the sale or purchase. Legal documentation of terms of sale or purchase are delicate, and to ensure that you have not been taken advantage of, or that you have in fact been provided everything required to make the deal satisfactory, it is always recommended to have someone who knows exactly what to look for, expect, and how to properly draft the contract needed for those allowances.
- Review and approve contract. Without the backing of someone who knows exactly what to look for, someone who has the legal experience and knowledge of contracts, it could be very easy to sign a document that does not, in fact, protect you or your investment. Always make sure a licensed professional is able to read over your contract prior to any signature.
- Get signed seller to contract. The communication between buyer and seller is time sensitive. A Realtor® is able to ensure transportation and receipt of important legal documents, with the time constraints that are legally in place being recognized and respected.
- Hire attorney or title company to complete closing research. Closing a purchase and sale of real estate can be a complicated process, particularly if a mortgage is involved. The typical Florida real estate sale may require preparation of numerous documents: a purchase and sale contract, a real estate transfer deed, a Certificate of Non-Foreign Status for purposes of tax withholding, and a closing statement, which describes all costs associated with the sale. Although an attorney is not required in Florida for the preparation of these documents, many real estate attorneys would argue that hiring an attorney, whether for the buyer or seller, will increase the client's protection during the process. In addition to real estate brokers or agents, the title insurance company is also heavily involved in a real estate purchase. The title insurance company's role is to research the background of past ownership of a piece of property and certify that the seller actually has the legal right to transfer the property.
- Choosing a mortgage lender. The mortgage lending business is hyper-competitive and mortgage originators come in all forms of education, training, experience and affiliation. The decision of mortgage lender can be one of the most overwhelming part of the process of purchasing a home. It is important to not become completely invested in hearsay or opinions of friends and even family when it comes to choosing a mortgage lender. Every situation is different, and it is imperative that the right considerations are made for you in this decision. The network of lenders that is familiar to a licensed Realtor® will ensure that you will be assisted in your decision, based on what is truly the best option for you.
- Hire surveyor to survey property. A lot of people think their property is bigger than it is. Relying on anecdotal evidence is never a good idea, and your boundaries should always be verified by a licensed surveyor.
- Order title search. A title search is the process that allows you to determine if the seller owns and can actually sell the property you are buying. If allows you to flush out any liens against the property or the seller - back taxes, mortgages, mechanic's lien - that need to be paid off at closing. In addition, a title search will uncover any other issues that could complicate your purchase and enjoyment of the property.
- Obtain title insurance. Title insurance is crucial for a home buyer because it protects you and the lender from the possibility that your seller doesn't - or previous seller didn't - have free and clear ownership of the house and property and, therefore, can't rightfully transfer full ownership to you. Even though the chance of calling on the insurance for coverage is relatively low, the value on what you stand to lose if you go without coverage is high - you could, in fact, lose the house itself.
- Review and approve closing costs. The fees associated with a closing can be daunting. It's very easy to become overwhelmed with the paperwork and details of a closing. A licensed Realtor® will know what to expect, and have the ability to explain the documents laid out before you in detail, so that you know the exact purpose and reason for any fee assessed in the closing.
- Obtain homeowners' insurance. People take out homeowners insurance for the same reason they take out car and health insurance: If a home is damaged or someone else injured on the property, insurance helps owners cope with the financial consequences. Homeowners insurance is actually a combination of two different types of protection, hazard insurance and liability insurance. The amount of homeowners insurance providers that a Realtor® deals with on a daily basis will give you the options and insight into your decision of provider necessary to ensure a proper blanket of coverage.
- Conduct final walk-through of homes. When the home buying process is nearly complete, many buyers start relaxing and focusing on other details, such as purchasing new furniture and looking at paint samples. But there is one more crucial step to take before closing on the house: a final walk-through. This is the last chance to make sure everything is in working condition. A final walk-through can not only help you feel more confident about your purchase and avoid buyer's remorse, it can also pinpoint any last-minute problems that should be taken care of before settlement. The experienced eyes of a Realtor®, as well as the ability to handle anything else that may arise will ensure all has been covered when performing the final walk-through.
- Review and sign closing documents. There can be many changes occur between the point of interest and the actual closing of a property. When the buyer's financial circumstances change, opening a new credit account, securing a new auto loan or charging up an existing credit card can delay or even cancel your mortgage closing. Whether there are complications at the time of closing or not, there are more than 25 separate portions of the closing that time must be allotted for, and to make sure you are prepared, educated, and thorough with this process, having a Realtor® on hand will give the peace of mind needed.
The REALTOR® is the only constant in the real estate transaction. Can you afford not to have that experience on your side?