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How to Hire a Realtor

The by line on this post seems pretty self serving, I admit. But if you'll keep reading for a minute, I think you'll begin to see the importance and value in hiring a realtor to help you purchase a home. And it's not a bad idea when you're renting either.

There's been a lot of good news for home owners in this past year. Interest rates remain historically low. Back in 1985, interest rates for mortgages were 11.85 percent and folks were excited to get those good rates. Today, they are between 3.75 and 4 percent. Home prices are increasing and home sales have improved. We see it in our own office when we look at the increase from the current month's sales to the same period last year. So again, this is all good news.

Navigating the Changing Process

Now that the housing market has rebounded, people are buying homes. But the standards became tighter. A realtor can help you navigate the issues. Can you do this—especially with access to the Internet? Of course. But be prepared to dedicate dozens of hours figuring out the process.

Getting Financed

Financing your home can be daunting. Some of my clients go straight to their bank and settle with no issues. Others feel more comfortable going outside their banks. Sometimes they don't know where to start, they get confused and overwhelmed and that becomes the excuse for not pursuing their dream home. A realtor works with different lenders all the time and usually has a list of reputable lenders who will provide excellent service and act in your best interests—not their own.

Shopping for the Right Home

The Internet has made it much easier to find a home without an agent. But what the internet can't do is tell you what time you'll have to get up in the morning to move your car because the lane you park in every night turns into an HOV lane at 6 am Monday through Friday, and if you don't move your car by then, it will liklely be towed.

It's a realtor's job to find you a home that checks as many of the boxes on your wish list as it possibly can. A good realtor is connected in the community with other realtors, neighbors, businesses and trends on what's happening locally. And a good realtor will provide you with information about the home you might not have considered.

You're In Love—Making the Offer

Once you've found the home of your dreams and you are in love, its time to make an offer. Now you're emotionally engaged. Sure, you're level-headed. Most of the time. Realtors are experienced negotiators who make deals happen all the time. They are divorced of the emotion you feel about the home. And because real estate is their business, a good realtor can advise you on what's important.

You're Ratified!

Congratulations! You've just ratified a contract—a legally binding contract that has significant financial implications if you don't meet the requirements of the contract. If you're a first time buyer, you'll soon learn terms like "home inspection deadline" or "appraisal" and "financing contingency." Thes are exciting terms because they represent forward progress in the process, but if they are not addressed in a timely manner, you could be in trouble. A good realtor keeps you out of trouble.

You're Cleared for Settlement

The home inspection is complete. The appraisal came in as expected. The title is clear. You're financed and you've met all the conditions—now it's time for settlement. The HUD-1 is sent to all parties involved in this legal transaction. But what do all those numbers on all those lines really mean? A realtor has seen a few of these and knows all the details about the contract. The realtor can review the closing paperwork and make sure nothing has been overlooked so your settlement is smooth.

Your real estate purchase will be one of the biggest financial transations you make in your lifetime. Let a professional get you through the process hassle free.

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