Home Buying in Pleasant Hill>Question Details

Ami_k, Home Buyer in Pleasant Hill, CA

Young couple, first time buyers with good credit, modest/low income.. scared to work with agent in Pleasant Hill, Ca. Interested in townhouse

Asked by Ami_k, Pleasant Hill, CA Fri Dec 3, 2010

We just don't want to be tricked or hustled. We have survived the bad economy with good credit, low debt to income ratio but have a low income (about 40K per year). Should a couple like us be embarrassed about going into a real estate office to ask questions?

Help the community by answering this question:


Emily Erekuff’s answer
Hi Everyone,

It looks as though the discussion has strayed from the topic at hand. Please make sure that any future answers address the question asked.

If anyone wishes to debate or share their views on the education requirements to become an agent, please create another thread, or a blog post, to do so.

Thank you,

Emily Erekuff
Community Moderator
3 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 6, 2010
Hi There Ami:

Thanks for your question.

I would like to congratulate you on maintaining your good credit and avoiding the purchase of a home during the bubble. You have nothing to be embarrassed about when you come into a real estate office. Many of the employees that work in real estate offices were probably deeply involved in the bubble either as a homebuyer or a puffer of home ownership. You are most likely in a better position that the people that will being giving you advice.

I talk from experience. I am an accountant with a degree in economics and spent 3 years charting the bubble from 2004-2007. I became tired of trying to explain to people that we were going through a bubble as every economist and real estate agent in the country was saying it was the best time in the history of the universe to buy a home. I finally sold my primary residence in 2007 and I am still renting today.

Much of my time today is spent giving people honest answers about real estate.

So I would like to give just two pieces of advice for now:

1) Don't be in a hurry to buy a home. It is the best time in history to sell a home because of the low interest rates and the fact that our government is spending over a trillion dollars a years to distort the real estate market. So in theory if it is the best time in history to sell a home, how can it be the best time to buy? My advice is to take your time and first find an area of Pleasant Hill that you love. Then go on realtor.com and get to know the home prices in the area that you love. Watch the trend on how pricing are still declining. You need to understand that there is no hurry to buy a home now.

2) DO NOT! sign an "exclusive" buyer's agreement with a real estate agent. Ironically, this demotivates the real estate agent to work in your best financial interest and will take away some of your ability to get some of the better deals that are starting to come about in today's declining market.

I do not have my clients sign an "exclusive" buyer's agreement. I have faith in my ability to help a buyer get the best deal. If the best deal involves my client using the seller's agent to get priority in getting the acceptance on a home with multiple offers, no problem. I may not get a commission on that sale but I have done my best to help my client to get the best deal.

So I won't get the commission but I guarantee that these people will use my tax service and will also come to me again when they need help with the purchase or sale of a home.

But whether you us me or someone else, please, please do not feel embarrassed. Embarrassment comes across as weakness in the financial world. You are someone that did not purchase during the bubble so you stand head and shoulders above the people that will use your weakness against you. Read the other posts to your question. These people would be happy to push you into the purchase of a home for a commission.

Don't fall for it. Talk to them. Use their information but don't sign an "exclusive" listing agreement with any of them. Be tough and get the best deal that you can get once you have used these people's information.

Only pay someone that is in a position to get you something that you want.

If you are confused about how to start your home purchase journey give me a call. My tax and real estate advice are always free.

Thanks again,

Charlie Husen
Tax Home Realty
1941 Oak Park Blvd Suite 40
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

(925) 482-7891
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 4, 2010
@Peter: If you want to give advice to consumers then you should disclose the following:

Here in California, where this couple is from, an individual with a salesperson license cannot collect a commission. They have to have their license with a California Licensed Real Estate Broker and that Broker is actually the one that gets paid. Then the Broker gives a "contractually", agreed upon portion to the licensed salesperson that holds the salesperson's license.

In other words, unless an individual obtains their CALIFORNIA REAL ESTATE BROKER'S LICENSE, WHICH IS MORE EDUCATION AND REQIRES A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TEST AND COURSE MATERIAL and fees, the SALESPERSONS, Broker is going to take a chunk of the commission money, for overseeing the transaction and also for administrative fees, and Errors and Omissions Insurance.


There are different educational requirements for every State
There are different licensing fees for every State
There are different licensing procedures for every State

Each property's buying and selling agent commissions can also be different. (Not all commissions are the 6% - 3% to each agent)

Just because someone passes the test that does not mean they have access to the Multiple Listings Service - again, depending on the State, and Local MLS rules, More Fees Are Required.

Just because someone passes the test that does not mean that they are a Realtor, they would have to join the California Association of Realtors and again there are more fees for that.

It's alright if you want to tell everyone to get their Real Estate License but please disclose the proper fees and requirements so that individuals understand the WHOLE picture!

Also, if YOU hold any kind of a real estate license anywhere then you have a fiduciary responsibility to give "Sound", fair and complete real estate advice. If you are a licensed Real Estate Broker and or a Realtor then your responsibility to give out Sound, Fair and Complete advise is even greater.

If you do not hold a Broker's license and are licensed as a salesperson and you are giving advice that your Broker doesn't know about, then you may want to get permission so that you and your Broker don't get sued for your incomplete advice.

3 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 6, 2010
Pete why not write a book on "Becoming a Realtor for Dummies - 101"

That might be much more productive than suggesting, on every forum you visit, that the person should get a real estate license!

Ami asked a simple question, and has received helpful advice and responses.

Hopefully, based on that advce, she and her hubby will feel more confident about moving forward.
I highly doubt suggesting she become an agent was helpful.

All the best Ami!
3 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 6, 2010
Peter, you seem to preach this all over...

Your advice to have everyone become a Realtor isn't sound. First, when you take a licensing class, it's to become a licensed real estate agent, not a Realtor.

A Realtor is a trademark of the National Associations of Realtors and one that is licensed cannot use Realtor in their names. They must be a member that paid their dues.

Secondly, a financial advisor isn't the best for real estate markets either. You don't need 6 years of school to be a licensed financial advisor. A real estate agent that works daily in their local markets would be the one that knows THEIR LOCAL MARKET, not the financial advisor that's looking to sell financial services.

I've linked Forbe's Article on "how to become a financial advisor" Notice it doesn't mention anything about local real estate markets and real estate sales.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 6, 2010
I remember my first time when I bought my home. Was pretty scary, and that was back in 2000. I didn't know a thing and honestly, the agent I got wasn't the most helpful.

There will be a lot of information thrown at you. There will be alot of paperwork that you need to review and sign and initial. There will be a lot of people to coordinate to get the home.

However, you should never be afraid to ask questions. The thing is, what is the right questions to ask? As a newbie buyer, I didn't know what to look for or ask. I simply went on to read what the agent put in front of me.

Lo and Behold, it's a legal transaction that involves a lot of money so emotions can come into play.

Do your due diligence first, research where you like to live and definitely talk to a people in real estate (agents/brokers/lenders even home buyers and sellers) and ask their experience and what would they have done differently.

Good luck and may you find the home you love!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 4, 2010
Goodness, why would you feel embarrassed? You're the client. You have every right to ask questions, especially since this could be the most significant purchase you'll make in your life --- until you're ready to move up and buy another home.

However, it is disconcerting to read that you don't want to be "tricked or hustled..."

There are so many laws, rules and regulations that govern how realtors conduct our business. You have certainly the right to choose the people you'd be most comfortable working with. So go ahead and interview at least 3 realtors to see whom you feel will work with you and who have your best interests at heart. There are so many good realtors who can help you.

Be prepared to answer one of their first questions which would be: are you preapproved for a loan?

Note that just as you are going to interview the realtors, they would also want to know how serious you are as buyers. If you don't know how to begin your realtor could also help point you in the right direction by referring you to mortgage lenders who can assist you in determining how much you can afford or how much you're comfortable spending.

Upon selecting your realtor, trust your realtor to do the job you hired him for.

Good luck!!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 3, 2010
Hi Ami

Anyone would be happy to help you , and answer your questions.
Just wait and see - I am sure a bunch of agents from your area will come along and offer their help!

Interview a few agents to see how comfortable you feel with them - have a list of questions, and ask them to suggest a mortgage broker to help answer your financing questions, too.

You'll be off to a good start.
Take your time, and learn all you can about the homebuying process from start to finish!

Good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 3, 2010
Hi Ami,

There are many great Realtor's out there and you should not be afraid at all to ask questions. That is the only way you are going to get a good feel for the person you are working with. If you are nervous, I would suggest you talk to a few agents and figure out which one best suits you. I can assure you that I deal with all of my clients openly and honestly and if you have any questions or need further assistance, please feel free to contact me.

Evan Homer
(925) 642-5760

1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 3, 2010
Hi Ami_K,
It is so unfortunate that many people have such a low opinion of realtors. I suggest that you go to an office and ask to speak with the manager and let them know how you feel. They will hopefully put you in touch with a couple realtors that have the wisdom and honesty to represent you with integrity. It would also be wise to ask for referrals and really call them. Ask the referrals any questions you may have about the work ethic of the realtor, their communication skills and how they assisted them, without pressure, to make a wise choice.
I know you will find the right person able to eleviate your concerns. There are many truly professional and honest realtors in your market.
Good luck to you,
Suzanne Looker
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 24, 2011
Hi Ami, I hope you have been able to get all your questions answered. You must find someone you feel you are comfortable with. If you have any doubt then find someone else. The best thing to do is ask around and find out who other people used.

In addition, you really need to start with a mortgage lender. You can check your lender out online and checking their license at http://www.nmlsconsumer.org. A lender will sit you down and go over all of your options. You need someone who will give you options and not just tell you what you want. It's very scary for a first time homebuyer, not to mention all the bad press. But rest assured, you are buying at a great time!

Please always get a second or third opinion so you can make a comfortable decision.

Please feel free to ask me any questions.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 23, 2011
Ami ... I apologize for taking so long to respond. It is amazing to me that someone like you with specific concerns can not get a straight forward answer...

Do not be embarrassed to walk into a real estate office to ask questions ... and expect reasonable answers.

Based on your numbers assuming you have access to some cash for a small down payment and perhaps some closing costs you could qualify for about a $180,000 home... and in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties there are 990 properties with at least 1000 sf and 2 bedrooms that meet that price point for you. 84 of those are in Martinez or Concord and 16 of those are singel family detached. You have options. If you want to buy a home even here in expensive CA you can do it

Call me if you have any questions.

Steve Curtis
Broker / Owner
Windermere Walnut Creek
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 14, 2011
Why would you be embarrassed? Ask as many questions as are necessary to make you feel comfortable that you have chosen the correct person for you. Speak with several agents - choose the one you like the best. Never apologize for who you are or what you are. If someone makes you feel that way - "it's hasta la vista, baby." Just remember everyone wants your business. You have to give it to them. So you have that power. I hope I have made your day!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 10, 2010
Hi Ami. I'm not in your area, so I have no motive to deceive you. Not to say anyone has at all in this forum. As many have stated, you both sound like the best qualified couple an agent could hope to meet!

Feel free to talk with your local broker. They would love to be of service. I'm not sure what prices are in your market and that is a good reason to work with someone who knows the areas of interest to you. Next thing is pre-approval for a loan with the mortgage consultant of your choice to help you know how much house you can afford. Your broker can refer you I'm sure.

Sounds like you're very close to home ownership. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 10, 2010
You have nothing to worry about! Agents are there to help and they know home buyers come in all different shapes and sizes. Agents love it when the buyer is reasonable (meaning they look at homes that are within their budget) so sounds like you're there.

Good luck with the process!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 10, 2010
I completely understand. First of all, you have gotten to where you are able to buy a home by making good financial decisions.

Frankly, most Realtors are there to help, not "hustle" you.

Take a deep breath, meet with someone in person and listen carefully to what they say. See if they can explain the process of buying, the available financing, and the ramifications of your purchase FOR YOU in terms you are able to understand.

If you begin feeling confused or wary, walk away.

This is a decision that will have to remain a good one for a long time. Don't rush, wait until you feel confident, and don't take any advice at face value. Buying a home is complex, but it is not brain surgery.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 10, 2010
Ask your friends who own homes or have purchased recently if they were happy with their Realtor. That way you'll find a Realtor you can trust who's done a great job for someone else. Especially as a first time buyer you should not make one of the most important purchases of your life without representation. There are an enormous number of things you need to know about not only about the process but about the building you're about to purchase. As much volitility as there is in the California market you would be well served.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 9, 2010

There are many honest real estate professionals out there, you just need to find one you are comfortable. I'd suggest you set up appointments to meet with different agents in order to find one that you feel comfortable and confident with helping you find your first home! Also, you should never be embarrassed of your income. You could always contact local institutions or mortgage reps and see how much you prequalify for, as well as figure out where you stand financially in order to see how big or small of a down payment you can put on your home. Finding out if you are prequalified will also aide you in finding the perfect home because you will have an exact budget of where your max spending limit on a home will be. I hope this helps, and Good Luck purchasing your first home!!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 9, 2010
I would suggest that you get a pre-qualification from a lender before you see a Realtor. That way everyone would know just what you can afford and if you needed seller's help in paying closing costs. My sister lives in Walnut Creek and I have been helping her with her financing. The prices have really dropped and you may be able to qualify for a nice townhouse in the Pleasant Hill/Martinez area. There are also 1st time homebuyer programs that you qualify for

Ask people you know that have used a lender or realtor for a referral. I can also help if you would like. I am in Redding but can do loans in the whole state. I have been in the mortgage industry for 30 years and the majority of my business is referrals or repeat customers. My toll free number is 877-933-3330
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 9, 2010
Never. You might not be able to get the house of your dreams but you should be able to afford something. You have to have somewhere to live. You have 2 choices - keep paying rent which gets you a ZERO return or try to buy something that will at least build equity.

Before you go the real estate agent, check your credit score. You have to have a middle score of 660 or better before most lenders will qualify you. That means of the 3 (Experian, Trans Union and Equifax) your middle score has to be 660 or more.

If that part is ok, then your next visit should be shopping for a lender. Get pre approved so that you can see what you can afford! That will let you know what your price range is.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 9, 2010
Never be scared to ask questions. The first place to start is speaking to a lender or bank. Find out how much you can afford. Most good, ethical realtors would not begin to show you homes unless you have gone through the process of speaking to a lender to see what you could afford for a mortgage. If you are unable to afford something now, then you will know what goals you have to set financially to reach your dream of home ownership. Good luck to you -
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 9, 2010

I understand you are skeptical about trusting Realtors and Loan Officers, but there are many good honest individuals in both professions. You should not be embarrassed about going to a real estate office to ask questions. Anytime you have a question, you are more than welcome to call me, or stop by my office. It is next to the Safeway in Pleasant Hill. If you want I can introduce you to a few agents in my office, and you can choose the one you feel comfortable with.


Adrian Huntington
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 9, 2010
Hello Ami_k: A Realtor can help you with your transaction. A Realtor is ruled by a code of ethics which the State Commissioner makes sure its followed, you can call any of the major Real Estate companies such as RE/MAX or Century 21 and you can be sure you will be treated with respect and will help you in your transaction. The State of California as well as the Federal Government have 1st time buyer programs that help you with the down payment, closing costs and sometimes even with the appliances, they're also low interest. Good luck and don't be afraid to buy your 1st home you deserve it!!!!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 8, 2010
Hi Amy_k ,

Thanks for your question. I would recommend that you interview agents who are Realtors and have earned their ABR (special training in working with buyers). Those agents are geared toward buyers and many work specifically with first-time buyers
I understand your concerns, but Realtors build their businesses on Trust and Referrals. We simply could not succeed if we treated clients poorly, and those who have done such things are surely not in the business any longer. We do operate under a code of ethics and most of us really do like people, this is a people business!
I have had appointments with clients that were informational only, some where the client was not ready to buy but working on a down payment and wanting information. Just let the Realtor know in advance and relax.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 7, 2010

There are many agents and many types of agents. Good ones as well as bad ones and each different agent brings different qualities to enhance your real estate knolwedge and skill. NOT using an agent will not increase your odds of tricked or hustled. In California there are many consumer protections that are designed to protect and help you. Looking at the list of people who are regular posters, some of whom I know, will do very well for you becasue their knowlege is on display in this forum.

What I do advise is go to open houses for sale and talk to agents letting them know you are looking to rent in the area. (We are looking around for rentals... Do you have information on local rentals?" and wait for a reply) Seek out someone that is helpful and respectfully and is willing to answer some of your questions onsite. From there give a phone number and ask to call you later. Do this several times and the better agetns will identify themselves through their replies.

As far as going out an getting your license, Pete is correct that any trained monkey can run a contract competently but the job of realtor is more than running a contract. It's closing contracts. Negotiations and knowing what you can and can not extract from a seller determines a good or bad deal if it closes. This is NOT taught in books. Novice agents frequently miss things... trust me on this one. IN the end their clients are none the wiser but their transactions still close. More frequently than FSBO's but less often then veterans.
Web Reference: http://bob2sell.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 6, 2010
My best advice is to ask your friends, family, or coworkers for an agent referall, someone who they have used in the past and trust. If that doesn't work then do your research, either on Trulia or another website, regarding agents in your area. Read posts they have written, questions they have answered, etc and then give them a call so you can meet them in person. Most important when you meet them is that they make you feel comfortable to be open about your situation and what you are looking for in a home, neighborhood, and future. Your agent should not only help you to find a home but also educate you on the local real estate market, provide you with contacts for mortgage, contractors, etc, and be a support through what can be a very emotional process.

There are always a few bad seeds in any marketplace, but remember that there are a lot of honest, hardworking, and genuine Realtors who would be delighted to help you. Good luck to you!

-Sunny Fellman, Realtor
Cape Cod, MA
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 6, 2010
Hi Ami...

I would be happy to answer any financial related questions. Call anytime or contact me on my website = )
Web Reference: http://www.loansquawk.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 6, 2010
NO you should not be embarrassed to ask for help - the resources you align yourself with make such a difference to you success. Start right here on Trulia in your search for an agent to help you. Identify several, interview them, be honest and open about your concerns and select the agent that is the best fit.

Best of luck to you,
Jeanne Feenick
Unwavering Commitment to Service
Web Reference: http://www.feenick.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 5, 2010
Your questions need be directed to your buyers agent who represents you.

Trick or hustled do you realize how many "others are their represent you besides agent"
a) Inspector publishes a report on your behalf on condition of home
b) Lender who is approving your loan sends out an appraiser on your behalf
c) Title company can't transfer a clear title UNLESS all liens are cleared.

Agent is serves assist you locating a home others are there to protect you along with Realtor

Lynn911 Dallas Realtor & Consultant, Loan Officer, Credit Repair Advisor
The Michael Group - Dallas Business Journal Top Ranked Realtors
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 5, 2010
Ami: I don't think you are embarrassed as much as you are wanting to avoid an intimidating Real Estate Agent who may try to push you to buy a home. Just remember you are the buyers and buying your first home should be an educational, fun and informative process. As soon as you are getting the feeling that an agent is intimidating you find another one who you are comfortable with.

It may take speaking to several Real Estate Professionals but just like making any other major purchase you need to do your research and find a Real Estate Pro that you feel extremely comfortable with.

Best of luck to you on buying your first home!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 5, 2010
Hi Ami,
The beauty about the current market is that a person in your income level can, get a foot in the door of real estate. It wasn't that long ago that I was in a similar situation. You should never hesitate to ask questions to a real estate professional. We are here to be your personal consultant and source of information.
Suzanne Looker
Web Reference: http://suzannelooker.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 4, 2010
This is such a good question because....I actually got into the Real Estate business because I was duped by a real estate agent some 20 years ago. I would be happy to share my story with you and provide you with this agents name because he is still working in the Bay Area. The best thing you can do is do some research as to finding a good agent, please do not sign any exclusive agreements and shop around until you feel comfortable, ask family and friends for referrals as well. Good luck :)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 4, 2010
Nothing to be embarrassed about, you should do your homework so that you can choose your agent with care--interview a few agents or as many as needed from different realty offices, then choose the one you like best--then go from there.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 4, 2010

You should not feel embarrassed. Under no means do you need to feel that way. I work with buyers with substantially less income all the up the spectrum to high six figures. One thing I do is treat them all the same.

You are going to need to be educated on the process of buying a home. A realtor is going to help you find the right home for you at a fair price. there are a lot of things you will nto know or think of to ask that a realtor can help you with. By all means walk into or call a few offices and talk with different Realtors.

I advise you shop around until you find a Realtor you are comfortbale with. One that you feel is working in your best interest and trying to help you find the right house. you shoudl not have to worry about being tricked or hsutled. Make sure you do not sign anything you are not comfortable with.

before you start searching for a Realtor though. Look inot a pre qualification ro pre approval for a mortgage. This will be vital to help you in your search. You cna see what you can afford and decide what you want to pay for a home and work off that budget before getting a Realtor involcved. This way you are not looking at homes over your price budget.

Good luck and best wishes on finding your first home
Web Reference: http://www.davedicecco.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 4, 2010
Before you speak with an agent or a mortgage person, meet with a financial planner. A certified financial planner can look at your income, savings, debt, credit, and family financial goals to determine whether or not investing in a home is right for you at this point in time. Once you have a financial plan, you'll know how much you can spend and how you can protect yourself from the problems many homeowners are experiencing today.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 3, 2010
Hi Ami -

You definitely should not feel embarrassed. Having questions and concerns is natural, normal and to be expected. If an agent ever makes you feel embarrassed about that, I would argue that you're working with the wrong agent.

As Evan mentioned, there are some great agents out there that would love to help you and your husband navigate the buying process. Because of that, you should start meeting and interviewing some until you feel you find one that you connect with. That person should not only understand your needs and desires, but also be tuned into your fears and concerns. Based on the wording of your question, I would say transparency is going to be an integral trait for whatever agent you decide to select. Transparency in the process; transparency in the research; transparency in the negotiating.

I'd love to be included in your selection process, but, if not, I wish you and your husband the best of luck.

Take care,
- Brian Sparr
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 3, 2010
Search Advice
Ask our community a question
Email me when…

Learn more

Copyright © 2016 Trulia, Inc. All rights reserved.   |  
Have a question? Visit our Help Center to find the answer