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Discussion Starter #1
We are thinking about moving, but not sure if we're 100% ready yet. I think if we found the right house we would be.

I have been wearing out realtracs, but I have a sneaky feeling I'm only seeing the tip of the iceberg. I think a realtor could point us to even more and save us a lot of running around looking at things that won't ultimately be right.

We had a realtor when we bought this house. We looked at oh, about three houses, and found this one and both agreed it was perfect. We knew as soon as we drove up. Of course, it was our first house and as Kevin says, "Anything with a yard and a roof looked good to us." :D But we've been here for 13 years so I'd say our realtor did us right. He also found us the most fantastic deal in the world. Seriously, you wouldn't believe what we paid for this house.

Sadly, we can't locate our realtor now. We think he must have retired. He was getting to about that age. :-\

The other thing is: Do you think it's bad that we're calling the realtors who are selling the house and asking to see it? Is this something our realtor, if we had one, should be doing with us?

We've only done this once, so technically we're still pretty green. :p
 

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A realtor can give you a free, no-strings-attached comps value of your home, and help you find other homes. Unless you sign a contract with them, you are free to choose another realtor if they don't seem right for you. A realtor would stand to get commission from the sale of your home plus commission on the new home (which you can negotiate down), so they would be pretty motivated. They might know of some places and be able to give you the comps so you know how the price of the house compares to others in the neighborhood. They might pressure you to look more, but you can be firm and still go at your own pace. Try asking co-workers or friends if they've heard a great person, too. Realtors really depend on word of mouth in addition to lots of other advertising.
 

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I'm not sure if it works the same way in the States as here, but here goes!

As a seller, you would want a buyer to come in without their own agent. Why? Because then yours (seller's agent) could represent them as well, and as such, most will decrease their commission. When I sold my house in St.Catharines, my agents were also the buyer's agents and their commission dropped from 6% to 4%, which is significant on a $350,000 house.

As a buyer, I've looked at properties with and without an agent. Early on in the house hunt, if a property struck my fancy, I'd call up the listing agent and ask to see it. Bear in mind that they will try to become your agent as well. When I started getting serious about looking, I got my own agent, told her exactly what I was looking for and where, and she did all the legwork, finding properties, setting up showing appts etc. Realtors will always know of properties that haven't yet shown up on MLS, and are aware of comparable properties that have sold in the area you're looking ("comps") and will be able to advise you on asking price etc.

If you decide not to go in with your own agent, and use the seller's agent, be aware that while they are supposed to represent both parties equally, it is sometimes difficult to.

Too bad you're not here! ;) I've got two fantastic realtors that truly make house hunting and house buying fun and stress free!!
 

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Definitely get your own realtor. We learned this when we had the agent listing the house we are in now show us the house and amke the arrangements. His first priority is to the sellers, not the buyer. So get, your own guns in on the job.

Plus sometimes they get advanced notice through their contacts when new listings are going to come out before they hit the MLS list.
 

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I believe there are realtors who work only for buyers. When my friend was thinking about moving to North Carolina, he contacted a "buyer's realtor" and she showed him some homes.
 

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Remember, the realtor is there to make money. They are not going to be your friend. They have a vested interest in seeing you buy a house they show you and may not point out the warts. Also, don't use an inspector the realtor recommends, find one on your own. In real estate, it is caveat emptor.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I was definitely thinking we need our own agent, rather than buying from an agent who is working in the interest of someone else.

There is a girl I used to work with at the PR firm who is now in real estate. Everyone at work is telling me I should call her. She's only been at this two or three years, and I was kind of hoping to find someone like our last realtor. He really seemed to have been around the block - pun intended ;) But on the other hand, she IS a very, very smart girl. She was one of our best and brightest. So...? I may call her. But I'd hate to feel like she wasn't right and have to switch.

Sometimes it's easier to work with someone you don't know, your friends don't know. Know what I mean?

But Felicia, about the buyers/sellers agent being the same...that means they dropped their commission? Which meant you paid less? The sellers paid less too? How does that work?

We sort of liked the guy who showed us the Forest Trail house. He was young, but very nice and low-pressure.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yeah, that's the other thing...we need someone to point out the flaws.
 

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But Felicia, about the buyers/sellers agent being the same...that means they dropped their commission? Which meant you paid less? The sellers paid less too? How does that work?
When buyer's/seller's agent is the same person, often they will drop their commission amount to the seller. As a buyer, you don't pay the agent's commission, the seller does. So in this instance, for the seller, it's advantageous to have the same agent. The reason they drop their commission amount is this... normally they would have to split that commission (say 6%) with the buyer's agent, so they only make 3%. With no buyer's agent, they get to pocket the whole thing. See? So even if they drop to 4%, they're still making more than if they had to split, and the seller is getting a bit of a break too. Happy happy. :D

As a buyer however, it's NOT advantageous to have the same agent. You need someone working in YOUR best interests. :)

You can always "try out" a few realtors and see who you feel comfortable with, after all, this is a pretty huge purchase, both financially and emotionally. There's no obligation until you sign the contract.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
OK, OK, I see! ;D So that's one thing I was wondering...if it was OK to try a few, sort of "audition" them. I also wondered if they thought it was weird that I was calling them directly instead of coming to the home through my own agent. No one has seemed particularly shocked by it, but it's just something I wondered. :)
 

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Yes, by all means, try out a few until you find one you're comfortable with. You're a pretty good judge of character, so you'll know fairly early on whether you like or no-like. :D

Naw, I called listing agents all the time to set up my own appts... remember, they want you to come in without an agent! ;)

But if you guys are getting serious, definitely get your own.
 
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I didn't read the responses fully, but just wanted to throw in my two cents. We close on a house next Friday.

If you contact the realtor listing the house, they are not working in YOUR interests but in the intrests of the seller. You want a buyer's agent. Someone looking out for you who will tell you the dirty hidden secrets of each house. Best of all, it is no cost to you.

SU and I were really fortunate to find someone that attends our church who helped us immensely. He did the foot shuffle thing where he could tell us if something was wrong with the foundation. He noticed wall seams, and all sorts of stuff I wouldn't notice right away. I was looking at how pretty I could make it, not how structurally sound it was. He found out at the courthouse how much the sellers paid for the house when they bought it. How long its been on the market, etc., etc. Some houses he would tell us right off the bat that it wasn't worth the trouble. It saved us a lot of time. If we got to a house that we knew we had no desire to buy, we were not pressured into looking at it anyway.

My favorite website is Realtor.com. Look at houses, and write down the addresses, and most importantly the MLS (multilisting search) # for houses you are interested in. This list can help your buyers agent get a better idea of what you are looking for.

Hope this helps. Good luck with the house hunting. Have fun! :)
 

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Around here (so Cal) here's how it works:

Every realtor here is a buyer's agent AND a seller's agent -- the name they go by depends on what you hire them for. If you're buying then the realtor is a buyer's agent. Selling? Then he's the seller's agent. And here, like elsewhere, the realtors love to "double dip" -- that is, THEY love to do both for one person because they make more money that way.

We've done it both ways -- had our realtor represent only us which worked great for us -- we strongly prefer this approach.

And on the house we're in now our realtor represented us as we bought this house AND represented us on the condo we sold as well as represented the buyer of our condo -- this was NOT GOOD. I strongly recommend against it. Your realtor will likely tell you that it works beautifully and there aren't any problems representing both buyer and seller, but I assure you, when you're dealing with the amount of money involved in houses you start noticing things. I don't mean to be cryptic -- but we purchased our house six years ago and I don't remember all the details (thanks, perimenopause!) but do remember feeling ticked off a lot of the time.

The time to get a realtor is NOW because they will want you to get a prequalify letter from your lender (assuming that you need a mortgage) so that if you do come across the exact property you want you will have the lender's preapproval letter in hand which puts you in good stead with the seller and the seller's realtor -- it says you're serious and you're taking the right steps to ensure a successful sale.

Make sure if you put down a good faith deposit that you have it in writing somewhere that if you back out of the deal within XX number of days that your FULL good faith deposit will be returned. Don't trust the realtor who says, "oh, you don't need to get that in writing. Why, in all my years as a realtor I've never known one seller to keep a good faith deposit if the buyer backs out." WRONG! Get it in writing (and be willing to grant that same grace to the prospective buyer of your home).

Have you thought about actually buying a plot of land and moving your current house to it? I wonder what that would cost -- it's done around here a fair amount.

Good luck, Connie!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Karen, that's all so helpful!! Thank you!!

Hmmm...we hadn't thought about moving our house. That's very interesting 8) I do wonder how much that would cost? I think I might try to find out, just out of curiousity.

We have two levels now though, and Kevin and I both don't like to move much, so we were thinking our next house would be all on one level. Or close...we have looked at some split levels and I kind of like those too. Split levels were apparently huge in the 70s. We're thinking of our knees as we get older. :p

Someone up the street from us, a few blocks away, moved a house onto a plot of land in between two other houses. It seemed very odd to us, because the house looks like your basic 70s ranch, nothing special at all. It looks odd in this neighborhood, which was born in the late 80s and has mostly comtemporary architecture. But that makes me think it can't be too expensive to move a house. ???
 

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We have bought our house(s) using a buyer's realtor. We found it nice to have her weed through properties we wouldn't be interested in. I was travelliing quite a bit and she was a timesaver.

Keep in mind both the seller's and the buyers agent make some money on the deal. They are salesmen and they certainly have an interest in the commission they will earn. Most people aren't in the habit of buying and selling houses every few years, so a good realtor will make every effort to find you what you want. Word of mouth is the greatest advertising that a realtor can have and they need that for future commissions not from you as much as from those that you tell.

The only sure way to find deal breaking house flaws is with a building inspector. I get a kick out of some of the ones I met. They put on quite a show,especially if the house is relatively new and is in really nice shape. It's hard to justify their fees when they can't find anything wrong ;D When I went with my daughter during her house inpection this spring. I brought my moisture meter and a small ac power analyzer. The building inspector asked what they were. ::)
 

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I agree to go ahead and get a realtor now ours put us on a daily email list of new or revised listings in the area we wanted to live in the price range we gave her. He also did comps for the areas we looked at houses in to show us if the house we were looking at was a good deal for the area compared to other houses that have sold recently. She showed us several houses that we asked to see. Our realtor ended up being the buyer agent for the people we bought our house from but not the selling agent for our house (if that makes sence) the house was listed through and assist to sell type realtor who wasn't much help to them at all so our agent took them out looking at houses. It was ok she was still very attentive to us and didn't start working with them until after we had a contract signed for the house. Definatley have the contract for any house your interested in contingent on an inspection and have it done by someone you trust.

Good luck and have fun :) I really enjoyed looking at all the houses and the whole experience.
 

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Connie...feel free to PM me....I was a realtor and still work in the business. And Mirabaella......... ::)
The seller's agent does work for the seller.....get your own, Connie.
 

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Get a realtor. They work for you. I highly reccomend listing your house with an agent too. Lots of people say they don't want to pay the commission but think about your house sitting on the market for extra months and extra house payments. I had friends who refused to use an agent because they didn't want to pay the commission. They built another house while theirs was for for sale. They couldn't sell it themselves, moved to NC and their house foreclose in MI. In the rocess they screwed themselves and added another bad mark for home buyers in MI.
 
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