Real estate roundup with Sharon Alva: Your real estate team
Whether you are buying or selling your home, your best bet is to have a whole team approach. Especially in this market of problem loans, short sales, foreclosures and unexpected market trends, getting your team in place can save time and nerves and lead to a better financial outcome.
First choose a real estate agent. You don’t pay your agent on the buy side, but when you close the transaction the agent does get paid, so interview agents and make a smart choice. After all, you are hiring a professional to shepherd you through a large transaction.
Go to a few open houses and chat with the agents, ask your friends for recommendations, look at Yelp or other reviews and choose someone you feel comfortable with who has knowledge of the real estate market, the transaction process, and the skill set to negotiate and guide you through a smooth transaction. Make sure your agent is someone who is responsive and makes you feel comfortable asking questions and reviewing information that may not be clear.
If you are not getting quick calls back, answers to your questions or the sense that all your questions are being addressed, then this may not be a good fit.
Remember on the sell side that the agent is also relying on their brokerage to reach the broadest group of buyers. The more people see your property, the more likely you are to have quick offers, and a better selling price. An agent who understands marketing, and a company that has broad reach, is key to a successful sale.
Now work with your agent to start building a team.
Interview one or two lenders and compare their fee structures, rates and the timeline to close. Make sure to ask how long the lender will need to close. Some processes are more cumbersome than others. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples as an FHA loan could be thornier than a conventional loan. Your real estate agent cannot (and should not) answer all the loan questions, but they should be comfortable enough with the process to get you going and know where to direct questions.
YOUR TAX ADVISOR
Who has been doing your taxes? If the answer is TurboTax, you might consider working with a tax professional this year. Adding an asset like a home can complicate the situation enough to make a tax professional a huge asset.
As soon as you get into contract you will want to investigate the property. Both a home inspection and pest inspection are important. Other inspections may be warranted like roofing, foundation, drainage, and more. Here again your agent can suggest some vendors. Make sure to give your real estate agent feedback as we use this in determining whether to recommend these professionals again. You can also look at Yelp or use online communities like Berkeley Parents Network and Alameda Parents Network to get recommendations.
Other members of your team may include the escrow officer, plumbing and electrical professionals, stagers, and movers. Having everyone work in concert is something your agent should help with, but is also part of your due diligence in working to a smooth transaction.
Sharon Alva is a real estate agent with Alain Pinel Realtors, living in Alameda. You can reach her at email@example.com.