The housing market is starting to cool down, which may make it a good time to stop looking for ways to pay rent, put your home on the market, or start looking for a new place.
In many cases, that also means working with a real estate agent. Understanding what this partnership entails will help you throughout the process.
To make the most out of the client relationship, here are a few rules that realtors would like you to know before you start working with them
Don't call other Realtors once you’ve committed to one
When you consider working with a real estate agent, you’ll likely need to sign a contract locking in a real estate agent to help you buy or sell a home. But once you commit to that agent, remember that you need to stick with them.
Don’t call other agents to help you find a buyer for your place or get another agent to show you homes.
You, like most buyers, peruse online listings before you go shopping, but you shouldn’t call the listing agent for the home directly. Instead, talk to your agent and have them contact the listing agent to get more information and schedule a showing.
Don’t bring your whole family to a showing
Showings are a good time for you to figure out what you want and find things that you like about a house. Adding a whole entourage to help you look at places may cause you to be overwhelmed or get too many opinions.
You also should try to leave kids at home while you’re looking so you can pay attention to the features of the home and not worry about kids messing up a home or running around someone else’s house.
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No house is perfect
Every house is going to have its negatives. Maybe the lot is too small or you’ll need to put some work into the house. Sometimes it could just be that the house doesn’t feel like home.
Before you write off a house, try to see the potential in it and envision what kind of changes you may want to make. Some things you can’t change. For example, a small lot will always be small.
But Realtors want you to remember that cosmetic changes can be fixed: you can paint walls if the color isn’t right for you. Finding your dream home without making any changes is unlikely.
Homeownership isn’t for everyone
A real estate agent doesn’t want to waste your time showing houses that you won’t buy, and it’s OK if you decide that maybe homeownership isn’t for you.
Perhaps you’ve started to do more research and decided you can’t buy right now. Or going to multiple showings has become overwhelming. Be honest with your agent, and don’t be afraid to walk away if you realize that owning a place isn’t ultimately what you want.
Spend the time and money to stage your home
You might like all your furniture and decorations, but buyers may not feel the same way. When you’re selling, consider having a professional come in to rearrange furniture or bring in different pieces to make your home look its best.
You’ll also want to consider decluttering, particularly when it comes to personal items, and getting rid of photos or other family mementos around the house.
Pay attention to the paperwork
There’s going to be a lot of legal paperwork that you have to sign throughout the buying or selling process. A good real estate agent should help you with these documents.
You’ll have to sign a contract with a real estate agent, a mortgage application, and then deal with the mountain of paperwork at closing. It’s important to keep an eye on all of these pieces and not blindly sign your name to things.
Make sure you understand what you’re signing and what you’re committing to whether you’re on the buying or selling side of the deal.
Don’t keep asking for revisits
Even if you fall in love with a home the moment you see it, you should visit it a couple of times. Ideally, you’d like to see a house at different times of day to see how much traffic or activity there is in the neighborhood. You can do this on your own.
But don’t continue to request repeated showings with your real estate agent. This inconveniences both your real estate agent and the seller. Try to decide whether you’re ready to put in an offer or not after a second showing.
And don’t ask to return over and over to bring in family or measure rooms. You’ll have time to do that once you close. Remember it’s not your home until you close on it.
Pets aren’t great for buyers or sellers
Showings are a time for you to see someone else’s home and decide if it’s the right place for you. But remember that this isn't your place, so leave your pets at home instead of dragging them into others’ spaces.
For a seller, it’s also a good idea to minimize or eliminate potential buyers’ interactions with your pets.
Take your dog on a walk with you while your home is being shown or keep a cat or other pet confined to a small area of your home. And make sure Realtors are aware that there may be a pet at home when they show the house.
Get pre-approved for a mortgage
You may be looking at homes in a certain price range, but have you been approved for a loan in that price range?
Getting approved for a mortgage can be a daunting process, but it’s important to do that before you start shopping so you know what you can afford and what you can offer. You don’t want to lose a home because a bank won't lend you enough money to cover the cost.
Pro tip: If you’re worried about your mortgage application, there are ways to make extra money for a down payment to help you get approved before you start the process.
So are you ready to shop for a mortgage and get your new home or put your current house on the market?
Before you contract with a real estate agent, get recommendations from family or friends who have worked with a particular agent. Then talk to a few to be sure they’re the right one for you.
And remember that following a few real estate rules of etiquette may make the home buying or selling experience better.
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