Why Use the Services of a Real Estate Agent?

Watch on your mobile device >>

This question is often asked, especially by homeowners who consider selling their homes by themselves.

The fundamental first answer to this question is that an experienced realtor is an expert at what he or she does. Through hard work and education, they’ve acquired a set of skills that make the process of home buying and selling a lot easier than it would be by doing it yourself.

So, what are the skills in the set I’m talking about?

Well, for one thing, we have the skill of being the go-between. We’re the people who handle people and calls and separate the “wheat” (real buyers) from the “chaff” (non-buyers) without you ever having to deal with such situations. In Internet terms, we make sure you’re not “spammed” with worthless offers and target real deals for you.We’re also the ones who save you a lot of time by making sure you’re looking at appropriate properties and neighborhoods right from the get-go.

And, speaking of neighborhoods, an experienced realtor will know them inside-out or will know how to find the latest information on them. That means he or she can get you into neighborhoods where the crime rate is low or non-existent, find you ones with great school systems, rising property values, etc.

By the same token, an experienced agent will steer you away from neighborhoods where the trends are downward; that is, rising crime, falling property values, and so forth.

And what about the prices of homes? Well, some people believe that we select them for our clients. Not true! We have no way of setting prices. They’re set by the market! However, we can guide you toward properties that fit your individual needs and are comfortably within your price range. Frankly, it’s not in our best interests to put you into a home beyond your means or that’s not right for you. When that happens, we lose clients and money!

So, we’ll do our best to work within your price range and, based on current information (market supply, demand, etc.), we’ll come up with the best negotiation strategy possible. Current information can include cost-per-square-foot of homes, ratios of list-to-sold prices, knowledge of the buyer/seller, etc. All this information is gathered by the agent and used to formulate solid offers.

Another important skill experienced Realtors possess is objectivity
. We have the ability to stay out of the emotional process that often occurs with the buying and selling of a home. Instead, we present your case in the best light possible, all the while holding your information confidential from any competing interests.

One realtor skill that’s often not apparent is our ability to network with other service providers (housing inspectors, title companies, etc.) Professionally, we can’t recommend one specific vendor over another. However, we do keep lists of vendors with excellent reputations as well provide references for the vendors. This service allows you to choose the best provides for your particular situation.

Now, here’s one realtor skill that everyone truly appreciates – the ability to handle tons of paperwork! Today, purchase agreements can run 10+ pages, and that doesn’t even include all the state and federal disclosure statements that are required in the current market! Heck, a real estate file can end up being 2-3 inches thick with paperwork these days!

And it’s not only the heavy paperwork handled by realtors; it’s also the attention to detail within that paperwork. It’s their job (or a lawyer’s, depending on the state) to make sure all the information is correct because if it isn’t, it can end up costing the client hundreds of dollars. 

So, as you can see, there are many reasons why it’s wise to use an experienced Realtor for the purchase or sale of a home! To find out about the services I haven’t mentioned in this article, contact me today.

How Do I Find the Property Value Trends in My Area?

Knowing property value trends can be very helpful to you as a buyer, seller or investor. As a buyer, you can pinpoint bargains in areas that are trending upward (or downward) in price. As a seller, you can use the information as part of the bargaining process to get the maximum price from the sale. As an investor, you can use the latest forecasts and trends to determine whether you want to invest, when you want to invest, and how much to put into a property. 

Remember, the trends are not guarantees of future performance; they're an educated guess as to which way the market is moving.Whatever your real estate goals, you want the latest and best information, and you want it from experienced professionals. In terms of your neighborhood and/or city, your local real estate agent is the best source for weekly and monthly trends. After all, it's their job to stay on top of such trends in the markets they serve. 

Other organizations provide state, regional and national forecasts. They're often updated on a monthly or quarterly basis. Sources of Information Thanks to the Internet, there are many, many sources for data on real estate property value trends. 

For state trends, go to the Federal Housing Finance Agency website (http://www.fhfa.gov/Default.aspx?Page=215). Click on your state to get the Housing Price Index (HPI). 

If you're wondering exactly what the HPI measures and how it's calculated, here's what the site says: "The HPI is a broad measure of the movement of single-family house prices. The HPI is a weighted, repeat-sales index, meaning that it measures average price changes in repeat sales or re-financings on the same properties.

This information is obtained by reviewing repeat mortgage transactions on single-family properties whose mortgages have been purchased or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac since January 1975. The HPI serves as a timely, accurate indicator of house price trends at various geographic levels. Because of the breadth of the sample, it provides more information than is available in other house price indexes." So, if you want property value trends for Nebraska from the FHFA site, click on "State HPI Summary" and scan down the list of states until you find Nebraska. The handy table gives rankings and trends in quarterly, 1 year, 5 year and "Since 1991Q1" columns.On the same site, you can also click on "Research and Analysis," and you'll get a list of government and industry sites which will provide you with information on property trends. Note: The FHFA site doesn't provide predictions; it simply reports data. To get analysis and predictions, try the respected RealtyTimes.com. It reports on current market conditions and provides advice to consumers as well. Another site for information on residential properties is Zillow.com.

To find local information, fist click on the "Local Information" tab. That takes you to the page where you'll find the "State," "City," and "Nearby Neighborhoods" tabs. Click on the appropriate names, and you have local information! There are many, many other websites from which you can gather property value information. 

I don't have the space to list them all, so here's a partial list of major industry and governmental agencies: 

- National Association of Realtors = Freddie Mac 
- National Association of Home Builders 
- Census Bureau 

Of course, the network, cable, and satellite channels report many of the finding from the sources listed above on a national basis. But, if you want local information, I recommend you work with your local real estate agent! He or she is best positioned to give you the latest information on property value trends. 

To see what I can do for you in that regard, please contact me today!

How to Build Wealth With Refinancing and Home Equity Lines of Credit

Watch on your mobile device >>

You’ve probably already read through my previous article in this series of ways to make your house pay you back, so with article number three I wanted to share how you can gain extra wealth via your home using two tried and true systems that have been put in place to help homeowners; refinancing and home equity lines of credit. By following this advice, if applicable to you, you can end up with a sizable amount of extra income in your pocket – all as a bonus “gift” from your home.

Refinancing; Extra Disposable Income and More

Who doesn’t need extra income these days? With a myriad of things out there for us that must be done, whether paying off hefty credit card bills, going on a much needed and long-awaited vacation or paying for a child’s college education – the kind of liquid assets that are needed are simply impossible to come by for many people these days. But homeowners have the distinct advantage of being able to tap into their homes through the process of refinancing.

Through a series of steps followed with your bank or lender, you can apply for a refinancing loan. Property owners who opt for refinancing usually seek one or more of several benefits:

• Liquidating equity into cash
• Reducing interest costs
• Moving from one type of loan to another (fixed rate vs. adjustable)
• Reducing monthly payments by extending the current loan period

Essentially, the hidden immediate security in your home’s equity – aside from the obvious – lies in the ability to help you eliminate debt, pay down bills at a lower rate than a conventional loan might cost you, avoid having to tap into further credit card debt and more.

Tapping Into Your “Under The Surface Savings”

When buyers seek a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), they are essentially drawing funds from the bank against the equity of their homes. For example, if you paid $200,000 toward your home five years ago and the property’s value has gone up to $275,000 in that time – you have gained the financial advantage of as much as $75,000. Here are a few ways in which the opportunities of a HELOC can benefit homeowners:

• Home Equity Lines of Credit are tax deductible, making the income on a property’s equity far more beneficial than from a regular loan.
• Using this wealth, many property owners opt to reinvest the funds into different properties, therefore yielding a passive source income via investment properties.
• For senior citizens who are 62 years old and older and have completely paid off mortgages, the opportunity to obtain a reverse mortgage allows them the financial freedom to obtain one lump sum or multiples payments, against the home’s equity.

Regardless of what your needs or desires are, knowing that if you need it you CAN access a sizable amount of wealth through the equity of your home is a very comforting feeling. Not only does it provide peace of mind to property owners of all walks of life, but it also makes for business-savvy and pragmatic use of one’s greatest hidden assets – the home.