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Finding a real estate agent in Pinellas County that really listens to your needs is easy. In fact, you're already there!
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New Tech vs. Old School
Often, a search of homes for sale in today's new technology also becomes, ironically, a search for a person to help you find a house. Recent real estate and MLS statistics show that 86% of all home buyers use a real estate professional during their home search.
While the Internet has made looking for houses on your own much easier than in the past, most home buyers soon find that assessing the quality of a home, the actual market value of a home (not guess-timates), and the re-sale value of a home is often helpful with a real-live person who knows the business.
Even with the marvels of the Web 2.0, most people discover that the most efficient and custom-tailored method of finding the right house is to let a trusted partner with professional experience help out. But how do you find and select a real estate professional, and what services can you expect?
Finding a real estate professional
If you know somebody who has recently bought a house, you can ask for a referral from them. You should try to find an experienced agent or broker who works primarily in the area where you are interested and who has access to a computerized Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS is a Realtor®-controlled database of all houses for sale at any given time. The MLS is not a "house-trader". Only a licensed Realtor® can submit a house into the database or grant you access to the MLS. (Keep that in mind when browsing the Internet for the most complete home lists).
The relationship between a home buyer and a real estate professional is unusual, in that the buyer usually pays nothing for the agent's services. Instead, the agent is paid by the seller (usually a commission-based system, based on the sales price of the home). When a seller hires a real estate agent to sell their home, this act often represents the seller's motivated interest and commitment to the sale, rather than just "testing the waters".
To the interest of buyers, the real estate professional who will act on behalf of the interests of the buyer is called a Buyer's Agent. A Buyer's Agent can give you access to any MLS house for sale, even though it is not their listing to sell. A Buyer's Agent works specifically on behalf of the buyer during the real estate transaction. Normally, the Buyer's Agent is paid through a commission, often taking a percentage of the listing agent's commission, and buyers who use a Buyer's Agent usually pay no additional fees for their service. But you should determine beforehand how your Buyer's Agent will be paid. Will you be charged a commission if you buy a for sale by owner property? How will the Buyer's Agent split the seller-paid commission with the seller's agent?
A real estate Buyer's Agent can provide you with a broad range of services, including the following:
- Show you houses that are listed by Realtors® but are not posted in the Internet MLS. (A significant number of MLS listings are blocked from public website access due to the privacy concerns of the home seller. You will not find them on any website.)
- Use your "wish list" to call you about a house that meet your specifications the very moment they go on the market. No waiting for website updates or e-mails.
- Provide you with information about the community, including prices and characteristics of houses in the area, the locations of schools, property tax rates, unusual building code regulations, and availability of community services. This data is often proprietary, and usually much more detailed than what is available on the Internet.
A real estate professional knows how to present your offer to the seller, and negotiate with the seller on your behalf regarding the price and contingencies. A Buyer's Agent working on your behalf can also advise you about mortgage lenders, closing agents, home inspectors, and title companies.
- We invite you to consider WHY Realty as your licensed Buyers Agent. We can help you make the most of your real estate investment.
Working successfully with a real estate agent
Interview the real estate professional before you start hunting for a home. This person will play a very important role in the purchase of your home, so it is vital that you understand what you can expect from them. A good real estate professional will take the time to answer your questions, and if they don't, you should think about choosing a different agent.
Once you have decided on one particular agent, it makes sense not to work with any others, as a real estate agent will work hardest for you if he or she knows that they are the only one with whom you are searching. There is no benefit to you to "see which agent finds you a house first." They are all working with the same MLS, and one agent with your best interest in mind is better than several who have questions as to whether you are serious or not. Finding you a house is the only way a real estate agent will get paid for all the work they are doing on your behalf.
Some agents will ask you to sign a limited-term Exclusive Agent Agreement to ensure that you do not switch real estate professionals part-way through the process. Read the agreement carefully to ensure that you are comfortable with the agreement before signing. If you do not have a signed agreement, and are unhappy with your agent, let them know you will no longer be needing their services before you begin working with another agent.
If you feel you are being "steered" to or away from particular neighborhoods, you should report your grievance to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the agency in charge of enforcing the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, age, color, national origin, receipt of public assistance funds, sex, or marital status. You may also want to file a complaint with the local Board of Realtors®.