Had it with bad landlords and rude roommates? Disgusted with throwing away thousands of dollars every year on rent? Maybe it’s time to take advantage of still historic low interest rates and become a first-time homebuyer.
For most first-time homebuyers, buying a home will likely be the biggest financial decision of their lifetime. It will also likely be one of the largest sources of stress of their lifetime. For most first-time buyers, the home-buying process is a bit confusing and sometimes even a little overwhelming. The good news is the real estate professionals at the Trembley Group can help make it a smoother and less stressful experience by walking first-timers through every step of the process. For most first-time homebuyers, with the help of a professional sales executive, the home-buying process will not be as intimidating as it initially might seem.
Buying a Home Is a Big Deal
Too often, people rush into home ownership because it’s seen as a sign of adulthood and financial responsibility. But owning a home is a big commitment, it’s not a guaranteed good investment and it’s a lot of work. Home ownership is almost always a smart long-term decision, but it’s important to understand everything that’s involved.
That said, folks who are reading this have most likely made the decision to buy a house and that is most likely a smart decision. But for most first-time homebuyers, buying a home will likely be the biggest financial commitment of their lifetime. And likely one of the largest sources of stress of their lifetime. For most first-time buyers, the process will sometimes seem a bit confusing or even a little overwhelming. The good news is the process can be smoother and less stressful with the help of a myriad of professionals available to help avoid some common mistakes.
Articles in publications like Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and Kiplinger Magazine have all discussed the importance of finding a professional Realtor when looking for a home. But finding a good real estate agent may be more difficult than it appears. A good agent will be someone who’s trustworthy, motivated, knowledgeable, and has experience with both the neighborhoods and kind of home you’re looking to buy.
Even before starting to seriously look for a home, a first-time homebuyer will likely have called about “For Sale” yard signs and maybe have even dropped by interesting looking open houses. Now they’re anxious to look for a home but there is all sorts of uncharted territory to navigate. With all the different kinds of home loans available, which one is the best and what size loan is really affordable? Plus, what’s inside scoop on each home, what are the right questions to ask, and how is the negotiation process started? A professional real estate agent can help answer all of these questions and more.
Real estate agents work to make buying houses easier, especially for first-time buyers. Experts in the local real estate market where they work, agents can make a difficult transaction seamless and worry-free. Unfortunately, some people still think that there are a dozen real estate agents around every corner. This doesn’t mean that the profession is full of lazy or incompetent people, but there’s no denying that some real estate agents do a much better job than others.
So, what’s the best way to find the best real estate agent? Start by checking credentials.
The Realtor Difference
There are many active real estate agents, but not all of them are “Realtors”. To use the term Realtor, a licensed real estate agent must also be a member of the National Association of Realtors. This requires additional training above the licensing requirements that all agents must meet. Realtors complete ethics courses and exams, and make a commitment to uphold the association’s ethics standards, which are more stringent than both federal and state laws.
Realtors also hold themselves to higher standards regarding client rights. That means when hiring a Realtor, a buyer or seller ensures they have a trustworthy professional on their side. Every Trembley Group Real Estate Sales Executive is a member of the National Association of Realtors and proudly use the Realtor designation.
Check for Complaints with the State
Before signing a contract, check the Realtor’s history to be sure there are no legal or ethics violations on record. This is easy by going to the South Carolina Real Estate Commission website. On the right hand side of the page will be a link entitled “Licensee Lookup.” Following the link will lead to a page where a real estate licensee or company can be entered. The page will list any complaints against the agent or the company.
Check Online Reviews on Zillow
Consumers have posted more than 1 million reviews of real estate professionals on Zillow.com in the last four years — nearly half of those in the last year alone, an acceleration in growth that points to the growing importance of agents’ profiles on listing portals. Zillow profiles individual companies as well.
More than 780,000 agents have Zillow profiles, as do tens of thousands of mortgage lenders, home improvement pros, property managers and other real estate players.
“Reviews have become incredibly important to consumers,” said Amy Bohutinsky, Zillow’s chief marketing officer. With homebuyers typically starting the home search process online, she said, reviews “are playing a crucial part in the selection process as they search for the real estate professionals to help them, whether they are looking for an agent, mortgage expert or other real estate professional.”
Zillow first rolled out unfiltered consumer and ratings on its real estate profile pages in 2010, and then began allowing brokerages, multiple listing services and agents to publish them on their sites. A few years later, Trulia followed Zillow’s lead by adding unfiltered reviews to its profile pages. Unlike its competitors, realtor.com’s real estate pro profile pages feature “recommendations,” which are published at agents’ discretion.
As they’ve gotten more prevalent, online reviews have become an important aspect of agents’ online lead generation strategy. Reviews are just one component of the profile pages that Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com feature on their sites in their quest to be the online intermediary between consumers and agents. Zillow and Trulia feature ratings and reviews, while all three portals feature transaction histories, biographical information and other agent and company info.
Interview Prospective Agents
Once a Realtor’s credentials have been checked and with a few recommendations in hand, the next step in choosing an agent is to call the top Realtors and conduct an interview. As a buyer’s agent, the Realtor will represent the buyer. It’s important to be comfortable with their personality, energy level, typical work hours and plan for finding the perfect home.
Ask how many years they have been a Realtor and the type of property or area of town in which they specialize. Make sure the agent is a member of the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) as well, as that will give you access to all the homes in an area that meet your criteria. You may even want to meet the Realtor face to face before deciding if she is the right one for you.
After the interview, it’s time to make a decision. If it’s difficult choosing between two or three Realtors, make a “pros” and “cons” list. What did you like, or dislike about each? When your final decision is made, you’ll need to meet with the Realtor to sign an agency contract. The contract states that the Realtor is working for you, for the purpose of finding a house which meets your criteria.
Be prepared to tell the Realtor your criteria. She needs to know how many bedrooms and bathrooms you’d like, the area of town you prefer, any special amenities you’d like and, of course, the price range you can afford, and have been pre-qualified for. If you haven’t received a lender pre-qualification for a loan, the Realtor should be able to give you references for qualified, honest lenders whom she has worked with previously. After completing these steps, you’ll be ready to look at houses, submit offers and purchase the perfect home.
The Final Decision
Venturing into this process alone, without professional help, is not a good idea. While every rule has its exception, generally, first-time homebuyers should not try to deal directly with the listing agent, Anderson says.
According to a recent Forbes magazine article on the traits to look for in a real estate agent, Angela Yuan, a member of the Forbes Real Estate Council says, “Are your friends flooding you with, “Call Auntie Kay’s Realtor” or “My mom is a Realtor”? That’s fine; call them.” But Angela goes on to say, “The best qualities to look for in a realtor are: They know your area well, they listen to your wants and needs, they email you newly listed homes daily and they have a team of assistants. Your realtor is going to be your new best friend for the next few months, so choose wisely.”
The owners of The Trembley Group, Scott Trembley and Jeremy Jenks, understand the importance of a first rate team of assistants to help their sales executives. The company has assembled the best marketing director, in-house customer care specialists, and closing coordinator in the industry. And to assure that every closing is as seamless and efficient as possible the company has teamed with the best attorneys, home inspectors, insurance specialists, home improvement contractors, mortgage brokers, in Myrtle Beach, professionals that they can confidently recommend without qualification, knowing that they will give an unprecedented level of professional real estate service.
For the Trembley Group Real Estate, the key word is “team.” The Sales Executives understand the complexity of buying or selling a home and understand that they are only one part of the process. The Trembley Group Real Estate Sales Executives work as a team with each other, with its office support staff, and with the team of outside support professionals to make the exciting selling and buying process as simple and as possible.
At The Trembley Group, we pride ourselves on being the experts at more than just selling real estate. We are local residents, some of us have been here for a lifetime. The rest of us will be here until the end of time. We love living, working, and playing in the diverse backyard of Coastal Carolina, and look forward to helping you live and love your dreams soon too. Please reach out to us by phone or email for personalized service and one-on-one advice.