Aug 5 2010

Field Guide to Buying vs. Renting

Is it better to Buy or Rent? Whether renting is better than buying depends on many factors.  The information listed here will assist you in helping answer this question. Included are statistics and studies on homeowners and renters as well as financing options and tips. (M. Glick, Senior Information Specialist)

Rent-to-Own Deals: Smart Questions to Ask…

For Sellers:

Who will tend to the property and pay for routine maintenance?

Who pays for major repairs?

What are the costs of setting up and managing an escrow account for the portion of rent allotted to the down payment?

Will you manage the property yourself, or hire an agent?

What if the renters change their minds? Who keeps the money in the escrow account?

If the buyers change their minds, what will be required to put the property back on the market?

For Buyers:

How much of the rent is going to the down payment?

How locked in are you if you change your mind?

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May 28 2010

Preparing for Homeownership

Before you begin your home search at REALTOR.com, prepare yourself by reading Ten Steps to Homeownership.

Even before you begin looking for a home, the homebuying process requires diligent preparation. Buyers who have been preapproved for a home loan often have their offers taken more seriously by sellers. With advance preparation, you can tackle the process of acquiring the financing you need with more confidence. To help you on the path to homeownership, NeighborWorks® offers* step-by-step guides, developed by the Fannie Mae Foundation, that can help you get closer to achieving your dream:

via Preparing for Homeownership.

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May 26 2010

The National Association of REALTORS Code of Ethics: What Does it Mean for Consumers?

How does the Code of Ethics affect everyday real estate practices?

If a REALTOR® represents you, whether you are buying or selling a home, you can count on that REALTOR® to:

1. Be honest with all parties in the transaction – not just with you, as his or her client, but also with the other real estate practitioner and his or her clients.

For example, if REALTORS® represent a buyer with a spotty credit history, they can’t be dishonest with sellers about this fact. At the same time, REALTORS® can help their buyer clients collect and assemble information, such as credit reports and audited tax returns, to demonstrate that the buyer has addressed the problem and improved their situation.

2. Put your interests ahead of his or her own, at all times.

A REALTOR® makes every effort to understand the housing needs of his or her client, thoroughly researches available inventory, and shares all relevant information with the buyer so that he or she can make an informed decision. This service is provided regardless of the compensation available.

3. Disclose all pertinent facts regarding the property and the transaction to both buyer and seller.

If a REALTOR® believes information provided by a seller is questionable, the REALTOR® is obligated to investigate. REALTORS® should recommend that buyers consult their own experts, such as home inspectors, to address concerns. For example, if a home seller asks his or her REALTOR® to conceal the fact that the roof leaks, the REALTOR® cannot comply; if the seller insists, the REALTOR® should end the business relationship with that seller.

4. Be truthful in all communications with the public.

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May 23 2010

Broker Terminology

Broker Terminology

Logo of the National Association of Realtors.

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As you begin your house hunting, it helps to keep straight the various terms for real estate licensees.

Agent is a general term for anyone empowered to act for another. Many agents you meet have been hired by the seller and have special fiduciary duties to the seller (more on that important point later.)

Broker is a legal term for someone licensed by the state to negotiate real estate transactions and to charge for services.

Salesperson is the term for the holder of an entry-level license; a salesperson is allowed to assist a broker who is legally responsible for a salesperson’s activities. In some areas the word agent may be used for a salesperson, as opposed to a broker. A salesperson may not operate without supervision and may collect fees only from the sponsoring broker as a share of commissions earned by the salesperson’s efforts. In a new home purchase, the salesperson or builder sales consultant is generally employed by the builder to sell new home neighborhoods, with a license usually overseen by a “broker of record” within the building organization.

REALTOR® is a trademark designation (properly capitalized, like Xerox, Kleenex or Coke) for a broker (in some areas a salesperson) who belongs to a private organization called the local Association, or Board, of REALTORS®, a state board of REALTORS®, and the National Association of REALTORS®. REALTORS® subscribe to a code of ethics that goes beyond state license law, and usually sponsor a local Multiple Listing System, which offers access to houses listed for sale by many different firms.

REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® is the term used by some boards of REALTORS® for salespersons associated with member brokers.

So as you start your search for the best agent, should you prefer a salesperson or a broker? There’s something to be said for each. In general, you can expect a broker to have more education and experience. On the other hand, some long-time salespersons remain at that status simply because they prefer not to go into business for themselves. And you could run into a well-trained, highly motivated newcomer with the time and enthusiasm to do a first-class job for you.

via Home Buying: Chapter 2 Introduction. Continue reading


May 23 2010

Choosing an Agent: Tests to Apply

Here are a few tests to apply when judging a broker:

Does the broker explain your state’s law of agency at your first meeting and make it clear for whom he or she is working?

Does the agent return phone calls promptly? This simple question is a good screening device, whether you’re looking for a broker, lawyer, or plumber. In these days of cell phones, pagers, voicemail, and e-mail, there is no excuse to be out of touch. Does the agent explain things so you can understand them? This attribute is especially important for first-time buyers. If you can find an agent who is a born teacher, you are in luck. (The fact is, many brokers are former teachers.)

Does the agent seem ready to invest time in you? Where the broker is holding an open house that’s on the market, does he or she just wave you through, asking as you leave whether you’re interested in that house and letting it go at that? You want someone who, if not busy with other prospects, shows you the house in a professional manner, asks questions about your needs and wants, and offers to sit down and discuss other places on the market if you’re not interested in the house you’re touring.

Does the agent seem to have knowledge of the Internet? Some agents carry a laptop computer with them wherever they go and are able to pull up pertinent information and new listings on the spot. A computer has become a valuable hi-tech sales tool and a convenient and ready resource for savvy brokers these days. If Internet communication is important to you, ask agents if they e-mail their clients with information on new listings as they appear.

Does the broker suggest an initial session in the office, rather than simply meeting you at the house you called about? To get good service, you need a sit-down financial analysis and discussion of your whole situation in a confidential and professional setting.

Does the agent ask questions about your finances soon after meeting you? This may not be proper etiquette in ordinary society, but it’s the mark of an efficient broker who aims to give you good service. Suggesting a prequalification or a full loan preapproval is better yet, so that you have placed yourself in a position of strength and credibility as a buyer. If you haven’t already spoken to a loan agent, the agent may suggest someone with whom he or she has a track record of success.

Does the broker explain up front if he or she is acting as a seller’s agent? In most states, this information must be given to you in writing upon first contact.

When suggesting potential houses for the first time, did the agent show you listings that convince you that he or she has been listening and understands what you are looking for? If you’re shown houses with the wrong number of bedrooms or ones clearly out of your price range, this may not be the agent for you.

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May 23 2010

Why Use a REALTOR®

\Logo of the National Association of Realtors.

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Many consumers consider selling their home directly but eventually turn to REALTORS®. Smart home sellers realize they need the expertise in pricing their home, making connections with REALTORS® working with buyers, arranging and staffing open houses, and coordinating with other professionals in the sales process.

Only about half of all real estate agents are REALTORS® – the top half, in our not-so-humble opinion. REALTORS® work independently, for small agencies, or for large brokerages. They help people buy and sell residential or commercial properties, vacation homes, and land; they conduct appraisals; they operate in the United States and in other countries; some specialize in auctions; and others are buyer’s representatives.

Move or Remodel

Are you considering a move? Check out HouseLogic, NAR‘s new consumer site, to analyze the pros and cons of moving or staying put, plus lots more information about owning a home.

REALTORS® Are Experts

Eighty-five percent of sellers were assisted by a real estate agent when selling their home, according to NAR Research, and 79 percent of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker.

Why Use a REALTOR®?

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May 20 2010

New NAR Site | HouseLogic.com

The HouseLogic Story

What is HouseLogic.com?

HouseLogic is a free source of information and tools—from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®—that can help you make smart and timely decisions about your home.

What can HouseLogic do for me?

With content covering home improvement, maintenance, taxes, finance, insurance, and even ways you can get involved in and enrich your community, HouseLogic can help you increase and protect the value of your home by helping you make confident decisions.

Why did NAR create HouseLogic?

NAR has been a champion of homeownership rights and opportunities for more than a century. Helping consumers become more informed, responsible homeowners is important to the stability and value of the housing market – and your overall enjoyment of your home.

From time to time, NAR may ask you to partner on issues or legislation that may impact you as a homeowner.  It’s up to you whether to participate in these causes.

via The HouseLogic Story | HouseLogic.

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