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By Tammy Hunt | Agent in Beverly Hills, CA
  • Picking Your Real Estate Agent

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Los Angeles, Home Selling in Los Angeles, How To... in Los Angeles  |  April 5, 2012 6:57 PM  |  274 views  |  2 comments

    Choosing A Realtor

    The decision to buy or sell a home is a major financial decision not to be taken lightly, but often times the perception of real estate agents is that one is as good as the other. People need to suit their needs to the agent they choose to represent them in their transaction.

    While every person who is in business admires the client who recommends they to a friend, that recommendation may not be appropriate for your needs. Finding the right person whom you will be communicating with and will be representing you and your money, can be a difficult decision to make, but with the right information and tools will be a smart one.

    “Real estate has always been a mark of independence and freedom in this country,” says Donald R. Brenner, professor emeritus at American University. “Owning property is very important, and when you deal with someone who is going to help you buy or sell a piece of property, you’d better find someone that knows what they’re doing.

    “If you pick up the phone book and choose from the yellow pages, you won’t make a better decision than if you picked up the telephone book to choose a brain surgeon,” says Brenner.

    Shelley O’Hara, author of ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying & Selling a Home,’ says, “When you announce your desire to purchase a house, you may be surprised at the number of real estate people who want to represent you. Agents come out of the woodwork. You won’t have to worry too much about finding an agent — you do need to worry about finding a good one.”

    Paul Purcell, a partner in Braddock & Purcell, a real estate advocate in New York City, agrees. “Buying a house is the most important financial transaction most people will make in a lifetime,” he says.

    “The most important thing when either buying or selling a home is to select the right real estate agent, but people usually go about it backwards. They read a newspaper or get one of the home magazines in the supermarkets, and they call about a home they see advertised. They should first select the real estate agent — one who will understand what they need and can navigate the system for them.

    “Advertising is designed to make the brokers’ and agents’ phones ring. Typically no one buys the house they called for, but from that point on, they’re joined at the hip with a real estate agent they don’t know anything about — whether they are good, bad or indifferent or new to the business. They need to find an agent before they find house.”

    Brenner explains, “You must make inquiries before you sign with an agent or broker. Commissions are usually substantial, so some real estate agents will try to sell you anything. They’ll tell you every house is the best house they’ve ever seen, every room is the prettiest, your kids are going to love it, and your dog is going to bark nicely. They’ll tell you anything!

    “If you’re selling, your property may be the most valuable thing you own and it is of utmost importance to find an agent you can trust,” Brenner says. “A real estate agent has a high fiduciary duty — a duty of trust and confidence. It is the most important duty of any sales person or broker in real estate. An agent must disclose all the material facts of any transaction — everything they know about the property, good or bad. If a salesperson knows there are three inches of water in the basement every time it rains, he is obligated to disclose that fact.”


    Ask a friend – Chances are you know someone who has used a Realtor to help them in some manner. Whether to purchase or sell a home or land, or simply to consult with regarding the timing of their decision.

    Find your brokerage firm first and ask for the best agents – You may be attending an open house one Sunday and you come across an agent you are impressed with. They may not be the best person to represent you because they often have the interests of their seller first and you second. ”Sometimes the broker is associated with a franchise, such as Century 21,” says author O’Hara. “If you select a franchised broker, you have the advantage of national name recognition and usually a strong national advertising campaign.” But beware. “You aren’t guaranteed a great agent just because you selected a well-known real estate franchise. You should select a firm based on that office’s reputation — not the reputation of the national firm.”

    Choose a Realtor – Being licensed by the state to sell real estate, an agent may also be a member of the National Association of Realtors. They must adhere to the strict code of ethics that allows the distinction of Realtor to be displayed and used. Brenner says, “The National Association of Realtors has a code of ethics that will knock your socks off, and they are very strict in dealing with people who don’t abide by them.” Also, only Realtors have access to Multiple Listing Services (MLS) through which members share listings and have access to many more properties than non-members. You can locate a Realtor in your area at www.realtor.com.

    Avoid dual agencies – Choosing to be represented by the same agent who represents the buyer can conflict in the negotiation process. Try to avoid dual agencies unless you have a deep abiding trust in your agent.

    Choose and agent that is experienced with your price range – If your agent is not used to dealing in transactions that have little economic incentive, then they may lose interest and become more of a hindrance than a help. Likewise, if your agent is not used to dealing with high priced transactions, they may be a little lost while trying to navigate “Millionaire’s Row.”

    Choose an agent that is patient and takes the time to listen and explain – Your decision to use a real estate agent is based on their expertise in their field. If they cannot find the time to sit down with you and explain, thoroughly, the process in which you are engaging in and the complex terminology, they probably are not very experienced; or friendly. If your personalities clash and you find yourself struggling to get along with that person, ditch them. There is no need to deal with people who you could not see being your friend outside of this very personal business transaction.

    Scheduling – If your agent doesn’t work on Sunday’s, don’t use them. If your agent is not a full-time agent, probably best stay away. You need to find someone who will work with you on your schedule and your time. While you need to be respectful that this is their way of making a living (and they don’t make a living until something sells) they need to be open to visiting you when you are available.

    Choose an agent who can and will provide other services. Will they help arrange a house inspection, refer you to qualified lending professionals and real estate attorneys, and conduct a study of the property’s value?

    Interviewing prospects
    The biggest challenge is to find the agent that will work the hardest for you.

    You should interview agents just as though you are hiring them for a job, because you are! And remember that you are doing the agent a favor by giving him your business.”The only way to find the agent that’s right for you is to sit down with them and ask questions,” Brenner says.

    If you’re selling, ask prospective agents about their marketing plan for your specific home, emphasizes Mitchell Herman, a Florida Realtor and owner of Flat Rate Realty USA, which offers FSBO sellers the ability to list their home on the MLS through a flat-rate plan.

    “As a professional salesman, I interviewed agents who wanted to list my home and I asked them how they would earn their fee. They offered an undefined marketing plan and an MLS listing. That was it,” he told Bankrate. “If all a listing agent is offering is an MLS listing, he’s not worth the commission.”

    Whether buying or selling, Purcell advocates interviewing three different agents from three different firms.

    “Ask all of them questions — the same questions so you won’t be comparing apples to oranges. Ask them to explain the market place and the market conditions — who is buying, what price range is moving and why. Then ask them to explain who they are and what makes them different from their competitors. Ask why you should choose them. Then ask about their firm and why their firm is different and why you should choose their firm.”

    Tammy Hunt

  • Professional Listings Services

    Posted Under: Home Selling, In My Neighborhood, How To...  |  March 30, 2012 1:52 PM  |  170 views  |  No comments
    When it comes to selling your home, and finding a Realtor to do it, service is the name of the game. A lot of Realtors talk a big game, but their actions don’t match their words. I do more than just talk; I put my promises into action. Take a look at a list of the services I provide for you:

    • •    Complete Communication about sales process
    • •    Advertising in top Real Estate Publications, Dream Homes L.A., Distinctive Homes L.A., Caravan Express, L.A. Times Property Preview.
    • •    Direct Mail&Flyer; to Client Database
    • •    “Just Listed” Postcards to entire Database
    • •    Online, 360 degree Virtual Tour of house
    • •    Broker’s Open – Immediately after Listing
    • •    Open Houses – As often as seller wishes
    • •    Exposure in Multiple Listing Service
    • •    Pre-qualifying all potential buyers 
    • •    Personally accompany all property showings
    • •    Absolute Completion of all Contingencies (see list)
    • •    Weekly updates regarding property showings
    • •    Weekly updates regarding Contingency completion 

    Please visit my blog post for a more in depth look into each point: 


  • Statements of Information. What Are They?

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Home Selling, Property Q&A  |  September 19, 2011 4:38 PM  |  179 views  |  No comments

    Many people – buyers, sellers and, yes, even Realtors, often ask “Why should we fill out a Statement of Information?”

    Did you know that when a policy of title insurance is requested, not only is the property searched for specific items such as easements, taxes and deeds of trust, but a search is also made on the parties selling and buying the property?

    Why is this necessary?

    Certain types of liens attach to all property a party may own or acquire at a later time. Money judgements, such as state tax liens, federal income tax liens, county welfare liens and other similar matters attach to all property.

    Individuals with names similar to the buyer or seller may be involved in such judgements. A Statement of Information that is correctly and fully filled out gives the title company information, such as dates of birth, social security numbers, past places of residence and employment. This will determine whether or not the parties involved in the sale of the property are or ARE NOT the parties involved in the judgements.

    It is always better for a title company to call for a Statement of Information in a transaction than to list items that may not even affect the parties in the transaction.

    It saves everyone time and money!

    Please visit my website for more information: www.tammyhunt.com

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