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A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

Posted by deucedown (My Page) on
Tue, Nov 17, 09 at 13:59

When searching for a home, did you or would you rely primarily on your own internet, newspaper, or other searches to find a home, or did you/would you rely primarily on a real estate agent?

Also, Was the home you eventually purchased found by your individual efforts at locating a home, or were you introduced to the home by the efforts of a real estate agent?

Thanks, I am curious because this will influence my own process.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

We relied on open houses... and we found out about them in a variety of ways, including word-of-mouth.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

Western PA,

After you found and went into the open houses who represented you?

Thanks


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

I am using an agent to sell a home and the same agent to find one. I would never consider doing this myself.

Jane


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

Internet, it's so much easier. With the on-line MLS and Google Earth, you can search a wide area and eliminate undesirable location/addresses without leaving home.

We found our current home that way, and we found the property we are building on that way, too.

I avoid the sites like Realtor.com. I hate all the crap on there. I use the local MLS directly. They have a public access portal. They do limit you somewhat compared to the info REAs can access with their accounts, including not allowing the public to see the full sized photos, which I find infuriating.

I did notice that the URLs of the images contained the display size information, which of course could be, ahem, edited if one wished.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

We bought a house with no agent (FSBO) and sold a house with a flat listing fee service. We did end up paying a buyers agent in the sale.

Unless I needed to unload a place immediately, I can't imagine I would ever use a full service agent again. For a couple hundred bucks, a flat fee agent will get you signs and flyers and put the house on the MLS.

As a buyer, I might use an agent in the future. Most people still use agents to sell their homes, so you don't save money by skipping the buyers agent. All you do is give the sellers agent 100% of the commission AND you have to negotiate against a pro.

Of course, both my wife and I are pretty dispassionate about property. If you can't see it as a business transaction and keep your emotions out of it, you should probably hire someone who can handle the sale that way. It is very easy to "fall in love" with a house and then start making irrational decisions in order to get it. On the flip side, it is easy to overlook the flaws in your own home and overestimate the value of improvements. You can lose a lot of money by over or under pricing.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

"Western PA,

After you found and went into the open houses who represented you?

Thanks"

A local realtor (recommended by our lawyer) walked us through the process. We did not want to go that alone...


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

Most of the homes we bought involved a change in jobs and location.All but one was a long distant move. I typically had one week to hunt for a house in the new location so we used agents.
It helped that I knew what we wanted/ needed in terms of housing and was able to communicate that clearly to the agents we used.
Last house we bought was in our pre-computer days. If we had to move again I'd most certainly use the net as a means to help narrow down the field of choices. Certainly to check out the local papers for info on schools, crime, and future building projects in areas I'd be interested in moving to as well as to help me get a feel for what is out there and in what price ranges.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

All of our home purchases were due to relocations and were bought through working with an agent. Sometimes my hubby would have already relocated and he'd work with the realtor in narrowing down the list and the area to look in. But otherwise, a good realtor, lots of communication and understanding and most often just one long weekend in the new locale for a house hunting trip and we'd buy a home. Our last move was the only move where we used the internet to look at listings online that the realtor would suggest.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

I forgot add Geographic Information Systems (GIS). A lot of areas have a government sponsored GIS system with public access. It is usually linked to the tax records and sometimes more. They are usually a lot harder to use than something like Google Earth, but they provide solid information on a lot of things, including proximity to neighbors and commercial activities.

It is well worth your time to learn the system if the location you are looking at has a GIS.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

I found my current home though a for sale sign, I was looking for a different house in my neighborhood, so it was easy. The day the sign went up, we contacted the listing agent and bought the house immediately. This was during the hot market of 2002, so we wanted to lock in the offer with the LA fast.
For other houses I use zip realty to search, I've never used their service to buy a house, but I like the website much more than realtor.com.
I haven't used an agent to show me listing for many years, well since the internet. I can search easily online viewing the house, neighborhood, etc.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

You guys are forgetting a couple of points. Good agents usually have "pocket listings"... Sellers that are ready to sell, but do not want thier homes in the MLS. I have two of them right now, and both are homes that are above average homes when compared with the comps.
Also, there are tons of properties that have recently expired and have Sellers that are really motivated, that you will not find out about w/o an agent.
And for all of those third party vendor search sites... they can take up to a week or so to update new listings into the system. The really good deals are under contract by the time that they show up. Realtor.com is terrible concerning this.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

You guys are forgetting a couple of points. Good agents usually have "pocket listings"... Sellers that are ready to sell, but do not want thier homes in the MLS. I have two of them right now, and both are homes that are above average homes when compared with the comps.
Also, there are tons of properties that have recently expired and have Sellers that are really motivated, that you will not find out about w/o an agent.

No, I haven't forgotten pocket listings, I also know I'd have to contact every agent in my area to find them all, not a good scenario. Contacting one agent will not do much good.
For one area I'm considering I've saved many expired listings, if I wanted to buy one, I'd contact the listing agent to make an offer.
As for the zip site, I find it very good, but the coverage area is limited.
I know, as an agent, you are protective of your value, good for you, but I don't want much hand holding, I know others do and will value your service.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

Staying in the same area to buy or sell a house you can easily get away without using an agent and just use a real estate lawyer BUT when going to a new area where the rules and regs are different and you don't know the area a agent can be a whole lotta help in guiding you thru.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

I agree Carol...all of our moves cross country would have been so much more difficult without a good realtor that knew the areas and knew the real estate customs and laws of that state.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

When we bought our rural lake house in another town a couple of years ago, we searched mls, lakehouse.com, and did google searches for local realtor sites once we had narrowed down the area. We weeded out several houses by looking at online pictures (note to self: next time we sell something, insist on great listing photos) and by going to google maps & looking at the aerial satellite shots to "see" what the neighbors properties looked like. If things looked good, we went in person to drive the area then would request a showing with the listing agent. Worked fine for us.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

I'm working with one of the best agents in my area. He knows the area, he knows a lot of people and other agents, he gets a lot of listings, he schmoozes! And he's a go-getter. He hears from other agents about listings before they hit the market, for example. He let the other agents know that he has a buyer who is looking for such-and-such.

In addition, I have automated searches plugged in at realtor.com, and I get an automated MLS email list from the agent as well. I have gone to every open house in the areas I want - even if they were not in my price range, and keep track of what prices houses that sold went for - this gives me good background knowledge about what pricing is fair for what kind of home in what neighborhood. I'm compulsive that way.

I am looking at 1 or 2 homes each week. Yes you can do this by yourself, but I find that it's a lot of work for a cherry-picking, picky buyer like myself to do it alone - so I found a good person to work for me as well.

Even if you do use an agent - you must do research on your own on the internet and by driving by listings, and especially researching neighborhood comps and recent sales.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

In my last two home purchases, I chose a neighborhood in my city that I really wanted to live in. I took walks in the neighborhoods and became very familiar with them. I did work with agents and they knew that I had chosen a very limited area to live in. I had to wait, but I'm really happy that I did it this way. Also, both locations held their value during the past few years.
Good luck
Susan


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

When selling in 1998, sold to someone I knew and that transaction required no REA at all. I had an attorney draw up the contract. The buyers were represented by the bank's attorney. This was in PA.

When buying in 2005, I used an agent who actually identified the home I bought, one that hadn't appealed to me from its listing and drive-by. Getting inside made all the difference, and, once the offer was made and the contract signed, the agent was able to help me gain access to the property with contractors to plan renovations, something the sellers and selling agent were not motivated to help with. This was in NY.

When it came to selling, though, I sold without an agent. It was a time and area where properties moved quickly and easily. I merely listed in the local paper, posted a FSBO sign with flyers out front, and joined a FSBO web site for a couple of weeks. One open house yielded 5 offers by the deadline 3 days later. A real estate attorney took care of the contract and closing. I paid no real estate commission, just the attorney's fee. The buyers represented themselves and used the bank's attorney. It was helpful to have a few neighbors who were selling on their own as well, and we compared notes and gave each other advice. All of us sold our homes at prices we wanted without using agents. Of course, that was then. Today I might have to do it differently, but I know someone who sold this past summer in the same area and did not use an agent. It's still a desirable location, and that makes all the difference.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

We have purchased three homes.

The first one was from a newspaper ad-FSBO.

The second one from a for sale sign on the street.

The third (current one) one was from a realty flyer. We were already familiar with the neighborhood, and jumped on it.

Obviously, these were all moves in the same city, moving up the real estate ladder.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

When buying my first house in 1993 the internet wasn't as big. I had a new inexperienced realtor who kept showing me stale inventory and things I didn't like. I was looking in a town 20 miles from where I lived but where I worked and didn't know it all that well. So I started driving through neighborhoods, up and down streets for an hour or so everyday before I hit the highway. I found the house I ultimately bought.
Fast forward to 2004, different state different city, experienced realtor but I was looking for a semi rural property which are generally in short supply everywhere and pricey. There just wasn't much out there that wasn't too big and too expensive. I surfed endlessly. I ended up stumbling on a non-realtor website where a guy (lawyer) was selling 9 acres for his elderly uncle. I bought that and built. (Maybe not the wisest decision in hindsight.) I used her to find a builder and she was very helpful there and steered me away from one that ended up going bankrupt and leaving some people stranded. So that worked out for us both and I used her to sell a couple of years later.
I moved states again in June 2007 and have been on the hunt for the elusive small house semi rural acreage. I intially worked with one realtor, who faded, then another, who faded. There is never much inventory at my price range. I have seen only one property that I maybe have some regrets about not acting on. So since I decided not to buy unless it really is the right property at the right price (i.e. the golden bb) I am not seen as a serious buyer and they move on. In some respects I suppose they are right.
So I look on my own which is pretty easy with MLS, realtor websites, craigslist. There are a lot of good sounding realtors on this forum but I haven't found it so easy to find the right realtor for me.
For example - Having heard about pocket properties here I have brought up the idea oto every realtor. Mostly I get that "startled silence, oh, hmmm, hadn't thought, let me check" but have never found a realtor with any or that has found anyone else with one. Or that realtor that is willing to just "keep an eye open" for potential properties in that couple of days before they hit the MLS open ended over a long period of time - no one I've talked to seems willing to do that. They just want to set me up on an automated MLS mailing and will answer the phone when I call to see something. I'm not saying they aren't out there but they seem much rarer than talked about on the internet real estate forums.
So I suspect that if I end up buying, I will have found it myself.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

I found my first home through an agent, but we were limited to assumable mortgages and it was pre-internet anyway.
I found my current house on the internet.
I then contacted a local agent to arrange for my relatives to tour the home and take pictures. I never saw it in person until I pulled into the driveway.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

Marys1000,
Yes, it is difficult for us agents to actively spend time and energy on someone whose expectations are such that it stacks the odds against ever finding something that matches your criteria.
Those auto searches are helpful, in that it will email you anything that does match your criteria the day it comes on the market. If you get no emails, then there are no listings out there for you.
You could ask an agent to run all of the expireds and withdrawns and see if there was anything once listed that matches your criteria, and then have the agent contact the owners.
Good luck in your search.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

When we moved to a new state for husband's job, we only talked to the agents who listed homes we were interested in. We found houses online. We thought this might save us at least part of the commission that would otherwise go to the buyer's agent, and we were right. Saved us a few thousand dollars. You have to be willing to make those phone calls to the listing agents and also have to be willing to be direct in telling the listing agent that you would like to negotiate his/her commission (which could be as high as 100% of the commission, if no buyers' agent is involved). He ended up getting somewhere between 50% and perhaps 75% of the full commission (don't recall exactly). It can pay to go this route.


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RE: A couple questions for people that bought or sold their homes

Sometimes it depends on where you live. In California the process of buying or selling a house has become horrific because of all the paperwork that is now involved and the detailed knowledge that is necessary to negotiate various pitfalls. We used the same agent I had used previously and the process of selling our previous homes (my husband and I were not yet married) and buying our new home went extremely smoothly because of her knowledge and suggestions. We followed her suggestions on sale prices of all properties and bowed to her superior knowledge (and our knowledge that she was a very ethical and savvy professional) in all matters. She called us "dream clients" because of this, but really it was all to our advantage and we ended up with a wonderful house in the hills and a quick sale of our previous homes (and she reduced her commission substantially since we gave her three homes to make a profit on.)


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