Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Q: We’ve been out with a couple of different agents looking at houses over the last few weeks.

They each have showed us different things. Do agents have favorites or what? We look on the internet sites but it’s hard to really know if we would like places until we see them.

A: First, you should decide who you’d like to work with on a long term basis and make a commitment to that agent or broker. It’s common for visitors and tourists to want to just window shop houses and that can be a real waste of an agents time, so if they’re not too busy they may do a quick tour of homes that are easy to show and nearby.

You should do an interview with several agents and select the one you feel you can work with best. Once you’ve selected that agent you should have a long conversation with that person so that they know what type of property you are most interested in. That can narrow the search. You should also get pre-approved with a lender as soon as possible so that you and the agent know your realistic price range. Remember that the price range isn’t just how much you can borrow, but also how much you’re comfortable spending on a mortgage each month.

You might also talk to your agent about the many limitations we have here. You know you like Vashon and want to move here but you need to know about the challenges with ferry commuting, King County’s critical areas ordinance, problems with landslide hazard areas, water and septic issues, etc. Knowing these things will help empower you to make better decisions.

Buying a home is a serious and expensive undertaking. The relationship you have with your real estate professional is critical to making that buying process go smoothly. Choosing someone you can trust, who is knowledgeable and experienced is important. Finding an agent who will do the research and go that extra mile will create a good, trusting relationship that means you’ll end up with a positive outcome.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Q: We've been having trouble with agents who are showing our house.

Even though we have a sign asking them to remove their shoes they and their clients often don't. They also leave lights on. What can we do to remedy this situation?

Some would say that in our down economy and slower real estate market you should simply be grateful you're getting showings. There are homes on the market that have had only one showing a month for over six months! However, I want to take your question seriously so let me explain things from the prospective of those of us showing property to prospective buyers.

The shoe issue comes up a lot. It's common here for people to remove their shoes before entering a home. That's unheard of in many other parts of the country. Many people feel very uncomfortable doing it and for some, it's very difficult. Except for the winter when they could be bringing in a lot of wet mud into a house, I try to cut them a little slack, although I always ask them to remove their shoes.

Buyers can show up in shoes that are difficult to untie or they wear special orthotic shoes and can't walk well without them. It's also hard to deal with children who may need help getting shoes off and on. Some homes provide booties for people to slip over their shoes but there's no guarantee that folks will use them.

I try to go back through a house and turn lights off, but sometimes a client will go back for a second look at a room and leave the lights on. It's also possible that the house is too dark. Most agents will go through a house ahead of their clients and turn lights on in dark rooms. You might consider leaving the lights on when you expect a showing. A dark house is almost always less desirable for most buyers. Just remember that a well priced, open and sunny home that welcomes potential buyers will sell, even in our current market.