Real Estate Frequently Asked Questions

Info You Need

What are some suggestions to successfully buying a home?

A key element to successful home buying is planning. The more you understand and plan for, the easier it will be to anticipate requests from lenders and others along the way.

Below are some questions to ask yourself, and things to consider, to start preparing.

Do You Know What You Want?

Whether this is your first time buying a home or your tenth, it is important to know why you are in the market to buy - are you being forced to relocate due to a job change or are you ready to expand so timing is less critical? The more you outline, the more likely you will meet your goals in the long run.

Do You Have The Money?

A lot of buyers who are also selling their home enter the process assuming they will have a portion of money to move forward on the buying transaction after their home is sold. While this may be the case, there are other costs to consider, such as closing costs and realtor fees. It is important to have those figures factored in when looking at your next purchase.

Should You Get a REALTOR®?

It may seem like a simple process just go online or drive around the area you are interested in and find a house you want to see. But the bottom line is that no two properties are alike and differ in many areas from financing to inspections. Getting a qualified REALTOR® can help you navigate through the processes involved in finding the home of your dreams and keep you informed during every step of the way. Century 21 Fisher & Associates agents are all seasoned REALTORS® who can guide you efficiently through the process.

Why Loan Pre-Approval is important

Most people cannot buy a home for cash and 90% of buyers finance the purchase - according to the National Association of REALTORS®. It is crucial for you to find a loan that fits your lifestyle - and budget. Pre-approval is not a loan commitment, but lets you provide assurance that you will be able to pay for the home once you find it. Keep in mind that each pre-approval requires a new credit check that will show up on your credit reports in the future.

Making an Offer

Once you have found a desirable home, you can make an offer. This process can vary from state to state, but in most cases your REALTOR® will present your offer to the owners or their agent. The owners can accept the offer, reject it or make a counter-offer. This process continues until both parties are satisfied with the purchase price, or one or both parties walk away from the negotiations.

It is important to have the home inspected. After the inspector evaluates the home, you will have a good idea of what problems the house may have and what it may cost to repair it. This may influence your decision on whether to move forward with the purchase.

The Basics of Closing

Once you have settled on a home and the terms of the purchase price, you will meet with your agent to close on the home. At closing, all papers should be prepared by the closing agents, title companies and lenders. All that is left is the signing. You will be able to review all documents before signing, but at this point in the process, there should be no surprises. Our agents are experts at keeping you fully informed and keeping things moving as smoothly as possible.

What's Next

For most people, owning a home will be one of the largest investments they will ever make. It is important to maintain insurance on the home, protecting your assets and valuables within - but most importantly - enjoy your home!

What homework should I do before selling my home?

Most sellers make the mistake of thinking the first step of selling their home is listing it, but there is a lot of homework that can be done prior to that which will make the process smoother.

Is the Home Ready?

You should start preparing your home to sell a few months ahead – ask yourself what you would like to see if you were buying a home. Simple steps like painting, touching up the trim or just cleaning out those closets can freshen up a house.

Is There a Better Time of Year to Sell?

The real estate market tends to be busiest in the late spring and early summer. Many families with children try to make a move before the new school year – and more people like to be out looking at houses when the weather is nice.

Do I Need a REALTOR®?

REALTORS® are a real resource when selling your home. They are community experts and have great knowledge about current real estate trends. There are basic questions you should ask in your REALTOR® search, such as what services they offer, what experience they have in your neighborhood, how they will price and market your home and what their fees are.

What is the Difference between a real estate agent and a REALTOR®?

The terms REALTOR® and real estate agent are frequently used interchangeably, but that is incorrect. They are not the same. While both are licensed to sell real estate, the basic difference between a real estate agent and a REALTOR® is a REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. As such, a REALTOR® must subscribe to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. But what does this mean to a consumer?

The Code of Ethics is strictly enforced. It contains 17 Articles and various underlying Standards of Practice. The Standards are much more restrictive and confining as to conduct than those governing agents who simply hold a real estate license. It is an attempt by the industry to regulate and, as such, deserves recognition. All Century 21 Fisher & Associates agents are REALTORS® and have taken the oath to uphold the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.

Century 21 Fisher & Associates is a member of The National Association of REALTORS® which was founded in 1908 and has more than one million members. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics is a list of 17 articles that a REALTOR® promises to do:

  1. Pledge to put the interests of buyers and sellers ahead of their own and to treat all parties honestly.
  2. Refrain from exaggerating, misrepresenting or concealing material facts; and is obligated to investigate and disclose when situations reasonably warrant.
  3. Shall cooperate with other brokers / agents when it is in the best interests of the client to do so.
  4. Have a duty to disclose if they represent family members who own or are about to buy real estate, or if they themselves are a principal in a real estate transaction, that they are licensed to sell real estate.
  5. Shall not provide professional services in a transaction where the agent has a present or contemplated interest without disclosing that interest.
  6. Shall not collect any commissions without the seller's knowledge nor accept fees from a third-party without the seller's express consent.
  7. Shall refuse fees from more than one party without all parties' informed consent.
  8. Shall not co-mingle client funds with their own.
  9. Shall attempt to ensure that all written documents are easy to understand and will give everybody a copy of what they sign.
  10. Shall not discriminate in any fashion for any reason on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.
  11. Expects agents to be competent, to conform to standards of practice and to refuse to provide services for which they are unqualified.
  12. Must engage in truth in advertising.
  13. Shall not practice law unless they are a lawyer.
  14. Shall cooperate if charges are brought against them and present all evidence requested.
  15. Agree not to bad mouth competition and agree not to file unfounded ethics complaints.
  16. Shall not solicit another REALTOR®'s client nor interfere in a contractual relationship.
  17. Shall submit to arbitration to settle matters and not seek legal remedies in the judicial system.

Setting your Selling Price

Overpricing a home is the most common mistake sellers make and will usually drive interested parties to other properties. You must find a good balance between getting solid offers and receiving as much as possible for your investment, while staying competitive with the houses around you. Your Century 21 Fisher & Associates REALTOR® will help you to find the fair market value of your home, which will be comparable to other listings in the area. An asking price is generally 1 to 3 percent higher than the fair market value to allow some negotiating room during the process, but this is dependent on many variables which our REALTORS® can help you effectively evaluate.

Marketing Your Home

Our REALTORS® will use a number of strategies to market your home. Once listed, your home information will be listed the local Multiple Listing System (MLS) and will also be placed on the REALTOR®'s personal website within the world-wide Century 21 system. Your REALTOR® may also use mailers, email announcements, flyers and open house events. It is important to discuss the marketing plan in advance.

The Goal of a Good Offer

We all want a line of buyers out the front door offering us our asking price, but it is important to remain realistic. Most often there is balance between the asking price and what someone is willing to pay. There are a number of factors you should consider when looking at a buyer's offer – is the offer near your asking price and will you be at ease in accepting it? Do you have time to wait for better offers to come in and are you willing to risk passing up this offer? Do you gamble on someone who is making a better offer but does not have financing guaranteed or is it better to take a little less on a guaranteed purchase? You also have the option of counter-offering, but risk the buyer walking away. Your REALTOR® can guide you through these difficult choices.

The Basics of Closing

Once a sale agreement has been signed, you move to closing. Closing can be complex and very involved and you may find yourself seeing the light at the end of the tunnel only to have to stop the process and start all over again – in some cases, financing can fall through at the last minute for the buyer or a home inspection can bring up issues not foreseen. Your REALTOR® can guide you through all the ins and outs of the closing process.

What's Next

Once all your hard work has paid off – you begin your moving process. You can do this yourself and enlist trusted friends to help, or hire a moving company to get you through. Whatever you decide, you are moving to the next chapter of your life. Enjoy!