It's the biggest purchase Americans make ... the house. The best way to make sure that buying a house goes off without a hitch is to get as much information about the process as possible, and to also know how to select the right real estate agent. On that note:
What's Your Number? – Ask how many properties the agent has sold. You want to see a proven track record, and someone who sells 10 homes a year probably won't get the job done as well as someone who sells 50 or 60 homes. Also, you want to find someone who is experienced in selling homes in your neighborhood.
It Ain't Pretty – A good real estate agent will make nice but honest suggestions on how to cosmetically improve your home. Don't take it personally. Listen, make the changes, and get your home sold. Simple.
Out To Lunch – Do they work full time? The odds are that agents who sell homes part time or just on the weekends won't be available when you need them. Ask them about their system for finding buyers and communicating with you as the seller, as well as if they have a team to cover for them if they are sick or on vacation.
Show Me the Odds – Ask what the agent's list-to-sell ratio is. What percentages of houses that they list actually sell, and what percentage of asking price do they get? The agent who wants to sell a house for the highest price is probably not the right person. Anybody can ask a high price, but that doesn't mean they can sell it for that.
Not All in the Family – Don't list your house with a family member or friend just because of the relationship. This is a business transaction, and if they are not good at the business, then your house doesn't get sold. If they are the top real estate agent in the market, then that's a different story. But hiring someone based purely on relationships is always bad.
So now you know a little about the agent, let's take it one step further. What do you look for in the house itself?
Brad called The Dave Ramsey Show to ask Dave about these things. He'd like to know what to look for in terms of house quality and which neighborhood to buy in. Dave thinks this is an excellent series of questions, and there are many people Brad needs to talk to.
Dave's answer: If you can avoid catching house fever, I'd start looking and shopping now. Look at different neighborhoods and ask construction workers about quality of construction. An older house isn't necessarily a better house. If you're buying a home that was built in the 1940s or the 1960s, you need to look at the plumbing, heating and air, electrical system and those kinds of things. That will help you determine the things that are out of date and could potentially create a mess for you.
Always get a home inspector to view the home as part of your purchase contract. As far as determining the area you want to buy in, there is no substitute for driving and looking. Don't just do that during daylight hours. Look on weekends and weeknights; look at traffic patterns and talk to real estate agents. Every city has multiple invisible lines. Some streets have homes that are 10% mre expensive than the homes across the street; it's just perception. Learn where those invisible lines are. The more information you gather, the more comfortable you'll be making your decision.
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