Lots of good answers below --- I would highly recommend that you find an agent you like and trust to represent you. I would do your research online and then make some phone calls until you click with someone.
Read testimonials on Trulia, Zillow etc...and look at their individual websites. If it is a canned website I would move on. it would be a good idea to pick an agent that has at least 5 years of experience and has not held any other job during this time. You should look for a FULL TIME agent. Also ask to speak with their recent clients that just closed escrow! At least three clients with in the last 30 - 60 days. Verify these were their clients with proof of the sold MLS listing.
Everyone says they are an expert in short sales and REO's - the truth is far from that for most agents.
Have the agent send you their own work and not what their office closed. You can obtain this information directly from the board of realtors as well.
Experience is crucial in this business right now. If you call the listing agent they could be listing this house for their relative. They may have zero experience. I had a broker recently tell me how long he had been in the business and how experienced he was. Then he opened his mouth and I could see he know absolutely nothing about what he was doing. inmho.
I would work with an agent that has been in the business -full time- for no less than 5 years. Also, I would be careful to work with a company or agent that has fewer listings and not a ton of listings. Sometime when an agent has too many listings you don't get as much one to one time as you might require.
We represent more buyers than sellers. We have been in the business in the Valley for over 20 years.
Based on your question I would say you are at the beginning stages of buying? Am I right? You haven't yet experienced the crazy and frustrating problems that arise in this kind of market. It is not as easy as you think it is...you will find out that being a buyer is not the wonderful blessing to the market you might think it is. There are soooo many buyers out there right now!!! Many of them big business with all cash offers. Do you know how to stand out and get your offer accepted against that all cash offer??
Do you know what it takes to get an offer accepted when you need financing and not paying cash?
You have a lot of competition in the Temecula Valley right now. Then do you know what you should watch out for.... or ....what needs to be done to protect you? That's right you don't ---- so you need someone that does. And most importantly an agent you trust to do everything possible to take care of your best interest...NOT the sellers!
This is a big decision - you need an expert in this market- you must have representation on your side -the buyers side! When you call the listing agent your calling the person that has a relationship with the seller already. The person that pays them. I prefer on my listings that the buyer has their own representation.
Short sales are not the deal they appear. The banks will obtain an appraisal - the appraisal dictates the sales price --- not what you see on the listing price! Same with and REO.
Some agents will list short sales well under market to attrack buyers that don't know any better.
Then you sit for months until the bank counters the under market price. If you are not prepared for this you just wasted months of your time. We're not saying to ignore short sales - you should look at everything on the market. You need an agent that will be honest with you and tell you the truth not what you want to hear.
There is so much to learn in this market. This is the third down market we've worked thru - we are amazed at what we see out there. I would recommend you find a good agent that knows what they're doing. That agent will get you the lowest price plus protect you!
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Scott and Shelley Weier
Cal State Realty
C2 Financial Corporation
NMLS License # 258707