Notice to home buyers and sellers

notice to home buyers and sellers
“Real Estate Miranda Rights”

I have always found it curious that area agents feel a need to be licensed in three state jurisdictions (Maryland, DC, and Virginia) as if there is never enough business in any one area.  I get the idea that it potentially helps them make more money. Maybe they are putting home buyers and sellers at risk. Home buyers and sellers should be on notice.

Being a competent real estate agent requires more than just a license.  It also requires more than an understanding of the neighborhood housing market nuances.  A competent agent knows the jurisdiction and local statutory requirements where they are doing business.  They should also be knowledgeable of and use the latest contracts and disclosures.

It’s more than a full time job to be a local expert; following sales trends, knowing the latest home listings, and keeping up with specific statutory requirements. It’s very difficult (maybe almost impossible) to be a local expert in more than one county, let alone three states!  And as more state and local legal, zoning, and disclosure requirements for buyers and sellers become enacted – Home buyers and sellers at risk from incompetent agents.

For example, the statewide requirement of licensees to ensure home improvement contractor referrals are licensed is a consumer protection that many are unaware.  The requirement ensures that consumers can go to the MHIC if the work is faulty and/or there are issues with a licensed contractor.  If your agent unwittingly recommends an unlicensed contractor for home inspection repairs, (besides any potential action against the licensee), a home buyer could demand you make additional repairs and/or obtain certification from a licensed contractor that repairs were completed properly.

And effective October 1st, Maryland is altering its agency law again.  Among the requirements, agents conducting an open house must conspicuously post a notice from the Maryland Real Estate Commission.  The notice (sounding like Miranda Rights) states that any information provided to the open house agent is not considered confidential and buyers are “entitled” to representation.  What would your reaction be if your agent was unaware of this and the buyer is now seeking to void your contract because they were not given their “Real Estate Miranda Rights?”

Recent home seller requirements in Montgomery County are further example where you could be at risk if your agent is unaware of the local statutory requirements and ordinances (such as utility costs and radon test requirements).  Non-compliance and/or non-disclosure could possibly result in a fine.  And of course any future ordinances (such as a sign ban) furthers the risk.  Who knows?  Maybe the County Council will devise a local registry of agents doing business in the county to promote real estate agent competency and protect consumers.

Do yourself a favor and hire a competent real estate agent who is not only aware of sales trends and neighborhood values, but the local practices and regulations as well.

Increasing statewide and local regulation is making local real estate sales a specialized endeavor.  And as a home buyer or seller, you should bear this in mind when hiring real estate agent.  If you’re not being advised properly as a home seller, you’re at risk of non-compliance with statutes, regulations, and/or ordinances – which has potential for fines and a contract dispute.  If you’re not being advised properly as a home buyer, you’re at risk of missing specific local disclosures and notices that could affect you financially and/or physically as a home owner. You’re on notice.

Original published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2016/09/23/home-buyers-and-sellers-at-risk/

Copyright © Dan Krell

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Survey may indicate buyers need attentive agents

buyer agentA recent MarketWatch report indicated that the top four reasons why millennials are not buying homes include: lack of down payment; student loan debt; credit card debt; and not knowing where to start. The reasons per se may not surprise you; however, regional differences are interesting.

Daniel Goldstein’s May 30th report (Millennials in Texas and in California reject home ownership for vastly different reasons; marketwatch.com) tries to tie together a recent Carrington Mortgage survey and the lack of homeownership participation among millennials. Since millennials are supposed to be the heir apparent to the U.S. economy; he ponders about why there is only a 38% homeownership rate (according to CoreLogic) among millennials when mortgage interest rates are at record lows. The figure pales in comparison to the homeownership rate of 52% of the same age group in 1980 – at a time of double digit interest rates!

Millennials in the western region of the U.S. seem to be mostly concerned about down payment. This may be due to the region including many high cost metro areas. Additionally, the western region has seen much of the home price growth and hot markets we hear about in the media.

Midwestern region millennials are mostly concerned about student loan debt, which has a direct impact on their debt-to-income ratio. The midwestern region has some of the lowest cost of living areas, which influences wages and ability to qualify for a mortgage.

The top concern for millennials in the northeast is credit card debt. And while having credit card debt is not necessarily a bad thing (as long as credit is not maxed out and payments are timely); many do not understand the general concepts of credit reports, and the relation between credit scores and credit card debt.

Whereas most of the country seems to be concerned about wages, savings, and debt; southern millennials (which includes Maryland, DC, and Virginia) are reported to be generally stumped about the home buying process.

What millennials reported in the survey is what generally daunts first time home buyers – the overwhelming process of buying a home. Although not considered rocket science, buying your first home can be intimidating. And it’s not just because it is one of the most expensive purchases of a lifetime; but also because the process is multifaceted with many possible pitfalls. Recent industry trends have also made the process less personal, leaving many home buyers to “figure it out” on their own.

Millennials’ concern about the home buying process may not necessarily be economics as it is about the industry itself. It may be a telling sign that “continuity of care” in the real estate industry is lacking, and should have many professionals revisit the client centered business model.

Although recent industry trends favor real estate agent teams as a means to high volume home sales; buyers who work with a team may not necessarily be overly satisfied with communication and support. Millennials and other first time home buyers may be seeking seasoned real estate agents and loan officers who are able to listen to their needs and concerns, while being able to educate and provide guidance. Much like having the ability to talk to a physician directly, rather than communicating through messaging services and technicians; having a single Realtor® who can promptly answer phone calls and emails, may greatly increase satisfaction and quality of service.

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Narcissistic real estate agents?

narcissistic real estate agents
When real estate agents are narcissistic

A common criticism of real estate agents is that they are manipulative and often focused on their own needs rather the home buyer or seller. Could it be that real estate agents are narcissists? Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D. describes a narcissist in the World of Psychology blog (psychcentral.com/blog) as someone who is preoccupied with “self, personal preferences, aspirations, needs, success, and how he/she is perceived by others.”  How can you tell when you are dealing with narcissistic real estate agents?

In an industry that relies on self promotion, it’s not as easy as you might think to spot narcissistic real estate agents.  They initially don’t often come across as manipulative or self centered. Dr. Lopez De Victoria describes. Extreme narcissists as being able to portray themselves in many ways to attract others to get what they want.  They will seem likeable  and be the “nice person.” They may often seem to be the “proper diplomatic” person.  They often appear to care about you, but it is not authentic empathy.  And of course, they are often a charming person.

Dr. Lopez De Victoria says that having some amount of narcissism is normal and even healthy. So even though most agents are not extreme narcissists, it does not address the remorse expressed by some about the agents they chose. Even though industry experts recommend interviewing several agents before buying or listing a home, the majority of home buyers and sellers do not. According to the National Association of Realtors® 2014 Highlights of the Profile of Buyers and Sellers (realtor.rog), 70% of home sellers and about 66% of home buyers only contacted one agent before listing or buying a home. Regardless of the remorse expressed by home buyers and sellers about their agent, maybe they would have chosen to work with other agents if given the chance.

Although interviewing several agents before you buy or sell a home won’t eliminate all remorse over your choice of agent, it can certainly increase the probability of your satisfaction. If you choose to interview several agents, you might consider having a conversation about their experience, knowledge, and expertise. Additionally, knowledge about the local neighborhood market and surrounding neighborhoods is extremely important because market trends are hyper-local. You should also talk about the agent’s specialized experience, if your buying or selling situation is unique.

You should also ask about the agent’s limitations. This is an area where some agents get themselves into trouble is by not knowing, or are unwilling to disclose their limitations to potential buyers or sellers. By discussing the agent’s limitations, you can understand what the agent can and cannot do as well as know when the agent will refer you to other professionals for advice; this can also frame your expectations.

To get some insight into the agent’s way of thinking and service, you might consider asking atypical questions too! Surely an agent is more than happy to talk about their accomplishments, number of sales, and even name drop a past client or two; but what about the listings that didn’t sell? Have they been fired by a client?

The ratio of expired to sold listings can be telling; is the agent focused on servicing your listing or is it a “numbers game” for them? If an agent is open to sharing those figures, ask for reasons why the listings didn’t sell; was it about price or the marketing? If an agent has a history of being fired, it could be a possible indication of issues with the quality of service, including over-promising and not meeting expectations.

Original published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2014/11/14/narcissistic-real-estate-agents/

© Dan Krell
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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Retro-future of real estate – buyers like representation

For SaleWhen I wrote about the future of real estate brokerage seven years ago, I predicted that consumers would become increasingly reliant on the internet; while the process of selling homes would remain interpersonal. Once thought to free home buyers and sellers from real estate brokers, the internet has become ancillary to the home buying and selling process.

Some real estate experts point to home buyers’ perception of buyer agency as a reason for the integration of the internet into the buying process. The internet has become a prolific source of information that funnels buyers directly to listing agents. With information in hand, many buyers are seemingly ditching their agents when viewing homes; some thinking they can negotiate a sweat deal directly with the listing agent.

Consider this 2012 anonymous post from a popular real estate web site. The poster proclaimed to have fired their agent and on their own negotiated a $490,000 price, when a previous buyer backed out from a $515,000 contract. The poster stated that “it makes financial sense,” the rationale being that there is always a 6% commission built into the price. The post stated that the seller makes more money if there is no buyer agent to pay, even if the offer is lower; while also getting the listing agent to accept a lower commission.

The post’s rationale may seem ostensibly compelling; and if the tactic works, it most likely has nothing to do with commissions per se. The strategy of negotiating a better price based on commission falls flat when you understand how broker commissions are negotiated. Generally, commissions are negotiated between the listing broker and the seller before the home is listed; the negotiated commission is expressly stated in the listing contract. The commission belongs to the listing broker, not the agents. The listing contract is also specific to the amount of the commission to be split if the buyer is represented by a buyer broker. Trends in commissions vary; including variable commissions, which is an agreement to a reduced listing commission if the buyer is not represented.
(Continued below)

Of course this do-it-yourself (DIY) home buyer post (and many others like it) has garnered a lot of attention and unconfirmed corroboration. However, there is no additional information about this specific transaction; and two thoughts immediately come to mind, either: the home did not appraise at the higher price (this was 2012); or the buyer walked on the home inspection.

The truth is that many still value buyer broker representation, which goes beyond just finding a home and negotiating a sales price; and may include (among other responsibilities) identifying and guiding you through any obstacles that can arise during the transaction. Of course, not all agents are the same. If your agent is a strong negotiator, the probability on settling on a better price is higher; as well as other occasions during the transaction where negotiation is paramount – notably during the home inspection process.

What some experts proclaim to be evidence of a trend of home buyers purchasing sans a buyer agent, may actually be just a shift in buyer behavior. Sure, there will always be the “DYI” buyer trying to justify a price by reducing commissions. But the reality may be that, rather than ditching the buyer agent altogether, the internet has allowed many home buyers to put off signing a buyer agency agreement until they are ready to make an offer.

© Dan Krell
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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Hire a real estate agent

hore a real estate agentWhy should you hire a real estate agent? Home buying and selling without an agent is not for everyone.

A somewhat prophetic Howard Schneider proclaimed in a 1995 article “For Better or for Worse” (published in Mortgage Banking; 56(1), 110) that a combination of technology and industry consolidation would drastically change the real estate landscape by the end of the 1990’s.

Schneider discussed technology changing the relationship between Realtors® and consumers such that through the development of technology, home sellers and buyers would be able to interact without the use of a real estate agent. He quoted John Moore, then president and CEO of Genesis Relocation Services, “If you can get the word out about your property efficiently to the mass market, you can avoid paying the full brokerage commission…” and “…within five years, most homes will be able to see listings around the country on interactive T.V.”

What Schneider described actually happened,  and is now called “the internet.” The growth of the internet during the first decade of the 21st century allowed home buyers and sellers to interact with each other like no other time. The technology was a boon for those who decided to go it alone, and not hire a real estate agent.

Of course the internet was only a piece to the larger puzzle of the early 2000’s. It seems that for a very brief time, just placing a sign in the yard was enough to spread the word of your home sale.  Deciding price, financing, and closing all seemed to be a “no-brainer.” But five years after the housing boom, it’s evident that not everyone can sell real estate “by owner.” Many moved back to hire a real estate agent.

One of the top reasons for selling or buying a home without a real estate agent is the perception of saving money. People who decide to sell without an agent don’t see the value of hiring an agent; while some buyers who decide to buy without an agent believe they can reduce their sale price by the commission amount.

Although hiring an agent may not be a god fit for some, many value what an agent can bring to the transaction. Real estate agents are housing-market experts; besides knowing neighborhood trends, they can provide detailed market analyses to assist in formulating a listing or sale price for home sellers or buyers. Agents facilitate offers, transactions, and negotiation. They are up to date on legislation affecting home buyers and sellers; agents know the seller’s/buyer’s obligations, including compulsory disclosures and forms. And of course, there is the time aspect (how much is your time worth?).

Reasons to hire a real estate agent

Talented real estate agents are sales and marketing specialists. These agents know how to interpret home sale data to determine a price, and the best times to list/buy your home. Additionally, they know how to prepare and present your home to prospective home buyers and promote it to grab home buyers’ attention.

Getting back to Schneider’s article, he concluded that regardless of technological advances and the inclination toward mergers to an increasingly centralized industry with few big players. It’s ultimately about nearby professionals who have the knowledge of the local market. It’s basically who can personally assist you through your transaction. Personal attention cannot be under-emphasized, especially when the transaction is demanding or emotionally charged.

Are you better off without a real estate agent? You might think that technology has made it easier for you to go it alone; but, if you want a relatively smooth transaction with little drama – hire a professional.

Original located at https://dankrell.com/blog/2013/01/24/thinking-of-buying-or-selling-a-home-without-an-agent-hire-a-professsional/

by Dan Krell
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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.