From Yahoo Homes....
Mortgage rates recently hit
all-time record lows, giving consumers plenty of incentive to buy a first
home or sell the present one and move up. Cash-strapped buyers often shop for
the best value -- but should they do it all themselves, or spring for the
services of a real estate pro?
Although commissions can add up, real estate professionals say their services
routinely extend far beyond what the public expects. Real estate agents
Determine the value of your home. A real estate
agent will tell you even if you're not a client. Realtor David Welch of RE/MAX
200 Realty in Orlando, Fla., says he's happy to help homeowners figure out how
much their homes are really worth. He prepared a comparative market assessment
for one couple that purchased their home during the peak of the overheated
market a few years ago, he says. "They were convinced the assessment on their
home was overstated, since values had started to decline." They were able to use
Welch's assessment as proof to score a county tax break.
Locate your ideal neighborhood. Agents know what makes a
neighborhood your kind of place, says Michael Lebout, a Realtor in Colorado
Springs, Colo., who is regional vice president of the National Association of
Realtors. After all, being a reliable conduit of information brings them repeat
business, and since the U.S. Census says the average American moves 11.7 times
in his or her lifetime, it makes good sense to know where the parks and schools
Find some help mowing your lawn. Real estate agencies
routinely help their clients keep their property clean and yards manicured — a
real plus when selling from a distance. Lebout's Colorado Springs is home to a
large military population, where people often move before their houses are sold.
Having someone to keep the property in tip-top shape makes life easier and a
sale more likely.
Think like an advertising whiz.
Tech-savvy buyers now expect more when they're perusing the Internet
for a new place. "In a market flooded with inventory, having an effective,
well-crafted video tour can be the difference between buyers scheduling a
viewing or summarily dismissing it as not meeting their needs," says Alex Cortez
of Island Sotheby's in Maui, which specializes in high-end
Help you cash in on local deals. Many real
estate professionals have local connections offering discounts, coupons, and
other goodies to those buying into a new area. Lebout says it's good business
Develop your home's designer potential. Home staging has
come into its own, and many real estate pros offer this service without charge
or at minimal cost to the seller. Realtor Peggy Palms of Boone, N.C., says: "The
best surprise is how gorgeous the house can look and how fast the buyers will
write an offer when they see your 'model home.' "
Be a friend for life. A top-notch agent doesn't stop helping
once the ink dries on the sales contract, but stays in touch with clients and
their needs, says Lebout. "Selling the house is only part of it." He himself
remains on call for his clients years after a sale is completed, he says.