What to Expect When Buying a Home: Please, please just give us the keys!

by seacoast_ashley 25. September 2015 07:41

 

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If you have been following along on our family adventure, you already know that moving and buying our new home has faced some unique circumstances. My family and I are located in the US, the seller of our soon-to-be home is based in the United Arab Emirates. This meant that throughout the buying process our agent had to be knowledgeable on the longer than usual buying process. It meant that my family had to practice patience, because any communication with the seller resulted in a longer than usual response time.


My family and I had succeeded. We had a closing date! We set up utilities, changed our mailing addresses, and contracted various businesses to begin renovations (all for a closing date start date).  We should have closed and been happily nestled into our new home within 3 weeks of close. There was a bubble of excitement bobbing over all of our heads.


The night before the closing date, I carefully coordinated outfits for our family of five to pop against the purple front door of our new home. We would head from the attorney’s office and head straight to the house for a quick sweet family pic. As soon as the last sock was placed on the last set of clothing my husband and I received a text....a very disappointing text. Our agent needed to speak with us asap.


BAM! The happy bubble had burst. Closing would be pushed back a week. The sellers had not properly signed the deed. We are a pretty "roll-with-it" family, so after a few muffled curse words (the kids were all in bed) we accepted that life would happen and we would go on.


Cue closing date Number Two. This time I decided to save myself some laundry time and just go with our regular everyday clothes. Cue call Number Two. Again, the closing would be delayed. The deed, which we were now assured had been re-signed, had not arrived as promised. There was talk of the sellers being on holiday, taking a special trip to London because the legal process is smoother there, and long courier times. I really am not sure what the details were. All I knew was that once again I was going to have to call all of the contractors and reschedule. The I was going to have to tell three children under the age of 7 years that our day was not going to include going to the new house. I was crushed.


My husband and I stayed up late that night. We went through every possible scenario, and decided that if the house did not close on the next scheduled date we would have to walk. We were both paranoid that there was something bad going wrong, despite the assurance from our agent that this was not terribly uncommon when dealing with overseas sellers.


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The Door looks red here, but I assure you it is a very interesting shade of purple...


Closing date Three...YES! WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!! And the kicker, our awesome agent was able to negotiate our first full month of bills paid by the seller due to the long delay! Our family skipped the matching outfits. We drove to the house and played in the yard. We walked around and guessed at where Santa might leave Christmas gifts. We introduced ourselves to neighbors through the fence posts. We were a family who was finally home. Memories multiplied, and all was right with the world.


Tell us about your home-buying experiences! Did all go smoothly, or were there hurdles to jump along the way? You can join the conversation on our Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/seacoastrealty


Ready to jump into the home-buying adventures? You’ll need a rockstar agent, like my own, and you can find one here

http://www.seacoastrealty.com/



What to Expect When Buying a Home : You Are Under Contract, Now What?

by seacoast_ashley 31. August 2015 07:50

 

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As you know from previous blog posts, my family is finally under contract. After some negotiating and lots of luck we are able to start the final jog to the closing table. There is so much that happens after your realtor exclaims,  “Congratulations! Your offer has been accepted!”

 

No two real estate transactions are ever the same, and our situation has to be one of the most unique I have ever been a part of. My family (“the buyers”) are located in a hot market in North Carolina. The Sellers are located overseas...with a 12-hour time difference. This resulted in every required document, every question, and every interaction taking a full day longer to complete. To say that this has been a bit nerve-wracking would be a gross understatement.


As soon as we were informed that we were under contract, we began the process to secure our mortgage. Since the decline (or bust, if you will) of the Housing Market (beginning in 2007 and hitting lows in 2012), getting a loan has required more documentation, qualifications and time. We spent no less than one week just searching files, requesting documentation, and combing through bank statements to determine where every dollar had come from, and where it had gone. For the most part, I would say kids. Kids are where all the dollars go!


Every time that we thought we had absolutely everything the Underwriter would come back to us, requesting yet another document. Around midnight on a random Wednesday night, we swore (for the 1,000th time) that we would never lose track of a penny again! My advice? Do a quick Google search or contact a mortgage broker before you even intend to apply for a loan, start a list of everything that you may potentially need, and start finding that stuff stat! It will save you so much time and frustration.

 

Our house was being sold “as is” but we still wanted to have a home inspection completed. I suggest that you ALWAYS have one. We needed to know that the bones of the house were good and that the house was safe for our family. We also didn’t want any $20,000 surprises after we move in.


If at all possible, go to the inspection with your Inspector! Our guy was great, and was one of about 4 recommended by our realtor, friends, and family. We spent almost 5 hours looking into every nook and cranny of the house. After finding all of the “issues” we walked away knowing exactly what kind of renovations and repairs we were facing.


This allowed for us to determine what we could afford to do before moving in. For us, new windows, kitchen floor, a small plumbing job, and a minor roof repair are the priorities. Not too bad for a home built in the 1960s. In addition to walking through explaining what the issues were, our inspector sent us an extremely detailed report (complete with pictures) of everything that he found and noted as an issue. This will come in handy as we check off the smaller issues over time. Our inspector charged us (The Buyer usually pays for the Inspection) around $1000. I think that this is the most important money that will be spent on our house.


As the mortgage documents rolled through the approval process, the Lender scheduled an appraisal. Most common loans will require an appraisal to determine that the house is, in fact, worth the loan amount. Our lender scheduled the appraisal and we were not present for it. An appraiser will pull comparable homes for sale (“comps”) or recently sold homes in the area. He/She will compare all aspects from the condition, square footage, number of rooms, use of space and will adjust the home value accordingly.

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We were cruising right on to the closing date...until we weren’t. Remember that fun little fact from the beginning of this post that the sellers lived overseas? With flexibility and patience it mattered very little...until now.


Find out how our closing has been effected by working with a seller so far away. And, find out if we even make it to the closing table. It will be a surprise for all of us, as we haven’t made it just yet!


What are some of the hurdles that you have jumped when closing on a home? Have you ever passed on an inspection? Join the conversation on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/seacoastrealty

What to Expect When Selling Your Home: Part Six - The Closing

by seacoast_ashley 13. July 2015 03:35

 

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I was not as smiley as this woman on the side of our UHaul


After packing every square inch of our home, minus the living room curtains (you can read more about this in last week’s blog) we were ready to scrub. My family and I had loved our home and we wanted the new buyers to walk in and love it too.

Luckily, I had the help of my super awesome parents. Everyday for the last week in my home, my mother and I would drop my kids off at a drop-in daycare. We would clean the inside of the house while my father worked on the outside. We had so much stuff crammed into every available space that no less than 10 trips were made to local charities to make donations.


The week was looooong. I had prepared myself to cry from sun up to sun down. I had previously imagined that each piece of artwork coming off the wall, and each memory inducing wall scrape touched up, and each totally empty room would result in an ocean of tears. This was not the case!  The massive amount of work that it took to get the house completely empty and clean made me ready to get out.


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Little things like this set the tears flowing!


The tear-free me lasted until the morning of closing. I woke up early and attempted to make a video of each room so that our kids would be able to remember what the house was like when they were small. This was when the floodgates opened. I could remember memories so clearly in that empty house. I remembered every holiday photo, every scraped knee, and every birthday party. I knew that the new owners would be walking into the house, their house, in just a few short hours. With a couple of deep breaths and spoken thank-yous to the house, I slipped a bottle of champagne into the fridge, and walked out for the last time.


Oftentimes (almost everytime) buyers have the chance to do one final walk-through of the home. This usually takes place on the morning of the closing. I was informed by my realtor that I could be there for the walk-through or not. I chose not to attend. I knew that I would be sad seeing someone critique or make plans of changing what had been mine for so many years. I also wanted the new buyers to be relaxed and excited. I wanted them to “bond” with their new home.


Driving out of our neighborhood was rough, but somewhere between the neighborhood and the lawyer’s office I had made peace with moving out. We did not see the buyers at the closing table. It is my understanding that in some cases the buyers and sellers are at the same table and literally hand over the keys after signing all of the legal paperwork. My appointment to sign was an hour before the buyers’ appointment. The actual closing was pretty anti-climatic.


My agent sat beside me and a lawyer sat in front of me. It was so nice to have the experienced eyes of my agent reviewing everything that the lawyer slid across the table. It was important too, because we found a $200 mistake! Papers were re-done, resigned, and before I knew it my house was no longer mine. The “buyers” were no longer the buyers, but were the “owners.”


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New beginnings, here we come!


Every hardship and minute of work seemed to vanish. The memories stayed. And, in the second that I signed my name on the last of what felt like 1000 pages, my family and I became homeless! The relief of selling our home has morphed into panic again as we search for a new house to make a home. We are in a constant state of looking, number-crunching, racing to open houses! Stay tuned for the upcoming series “What to Expect When Buying a Home”.


Did you feel relief, sadness, pure joy when officially selling your home? Do you have advice for me on buying? Please do-tell!

https://www.facebook.com/seacoastrealty


If you are looking for guidance in the home buying/selling process:

http://www.seacoastrealty.com/

What to Expect When Listing Your House: The Offer

by seacoast_ashley 19. June 2015 10:31

 

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As soon as our home hit the market we starting showing the house. Four days after going active in our MLS (Multiple Listing Service), our Agent hosted our first open house. Two days later, we had an offer. As soon as the text message came through that our Agent had emailed us a copy of the offer, my husband and I commented that, “This is it! We need champagne for signing!” Ahhh, how that elation quickly deflated.


With shaky hands we opened the offer. It was for a whopping $25,000 less than our list price. For some houses, $25,000 isn’t a very big percentage. But for our house, listed right above $200,000, it was over 25%. There was no way that the offer could work. No matter how fast we needed to move we couldn’t come to the closing table with much cash. We could not afford to sell our house!


Our Realtor's job got pretty stressful pretty quick. He was tasked with calling the Buyer’s agent to let her know that we had a counter-offer. The counter was nowhere near the Buyer’s number. It was only a couple thousand dollars less than our list price. We decided (with our Realtor) when deciding on a list price that we would price aggressively but that it would leave us with little wiggle room in negotiations. We figured that it must just be the Buyer’s negotiating tactic, start super-low and hope that we would all end up somewhere in the middle. This did not work. We came as low as we could, and they came as high as they would. The buyers ended up walking away “to look at other properties.” That deal was dead.


My husband, my Realtor and I were all disappointed. We had our bottom-line number, and although our awesome Agent had gotten us very close, it just wasn’t close enough. No matter how close the number got to our bottom-line we still only had a certain amount of attainable cash to access. That would not change. I am pretty sure that we all had a sinking feeling in our stomachs that it might be a while before we got another offer. What if we could never get close enough to sell? Our family fell into a little depressive state.


Luckily, this “Flat Offer Depression” didn’t last long! Six days later our Realtor hosted another open house (2 open houses and 12 showings if you are keeping track). The next day we had another offer! The offer came in around 7pm. It was even lower than the first offer from the week before.


This was a huge blow. Panic set in. We would never be able to sell this house. We countered-- and then we started pricing the rental market for a 4-bedroom single family home. We were going to have to be landlords...ugh. Buzzz, a new text message. The buyers had countered our counter-offer. They came up a lot! Now the game was really heating up. We poured glasses of wine, and turned the couch into a negotiating command center. The timing of the offer meant that we could be negotiating until very late in the night.


Our Realtor was the voice of calm reason. He could never (by law) give us a number or tell us exactly what to do, but he did offer advice on different scenarios and how it might all play out. This was a huge help! There were things that we hadn’t thought about. By 11:00pm we had reached our bottom-line. We countered with that number, and the notice that this was our lowest number before we would have to walk. The buyer accepted. We were officially under contract!

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I am not a very confrontational person, so the whole process gave my stomach the wiggles. I am grateful that I was not the one on the phone during the negotiating process. The excitement that my husband and I initially felt, quickly shifted to frenzy(how will we get all the stuff packed, where will we go?), then to nostalgia for our our home (hey, we brought three newborn babies into those doors!), and finally to conclusion. We are ready for adventure...little did we know on that night that this house held a whole lot of adventure left for us!


Visit the blog next week to find out what happens after the offer is accepted! We should have saved that nice bottle of champagne for closing night!


Have you ever celebrated too soon? Let us know on our Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/seacoastrealty


Are you ready to sell and learn the process for yourself? Or, make an offer and send a seller into a frenzy? Find a Realtor here

http://www.seacoastrealty.com/






What to Expect When Listing Your House: Step 3 - Papers, Open Houses, and Showings..Oh My!

by seacoast_ashley 12. June 2015 10:02

The two most important decisions that we have made, thus far in our house-selling adventures, have been choosing our realtor and preparing our home for listing.  I am going to hit the three topics listed in the title above, and hopefully you will see why! Lets go in order, and if you are feeling a little lost it might be because you missed the first two blogs in this series. You can go back and read them here http://www.seacoastrealty.com/blog/.


Before, during, and after listing your home for sale there is a mountain of paperwork that must be read, checked over, filled in, and signed. I love words. I love writing. I love reading. However, there is nothing I dislike more than contracts. Every contract that I have ever received or signed immediately sends me into a full-stress overdrive. I worry that I missed something, or that I didn’t read the technical or legal language correctly. I worry that I have just signed my children away on accident!


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Pick a good one! These people will be your new best friend.


This contract/ legal-form dread has one antidote. That would be, a really great Realtor! My realtor has filled-out and read over hundreds of these contacts. He knows exactly what the form is saying in layman’s terms. I have texted, emailed, and called him so many times just to make sure that I am getting it right. To make the form-life even easier, my realtor utilizes a program that allows for me to sign all paperwork online. He can instantly see what I have done, and either congratulate me on finally understanding that “property” is referring to the house and land, or gently remind me that this is the year 2015 not 2014. DotLoop (the program that I am speaking of) also allows for my Husband and I to look back over anything that we have already signed. It lets us each sign individually, so even when we aren’t together we can sign and don’t have to meet and drive to a certain place. This is one of the major differences this time around from the last time we bought or sold a house.


These are just a few of the forms, contacts, etc that we have filled out or signed thus far (3 weeks in). I am sure that there are more, but these are the ones that are living in my DotLoop “Loop”.


Working With Real Estate Agents

Professional Services Disclosure

Exclusive Right to List

Lead Based Paint Disclosure Form

Mineral Oil/Gas/Rights Disclosure

Residential Property Disclosure


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Our realtor was on-point with advertising!


As soon as we crossed the mountain of paperwork, we were ready to go go go! Our agent knew the importance of a fast sell, so he immediately set up an open house within our first week on the market. This ended up being not quite as nerve wracking as I had expected. The house was already clean (due to our prepping to sell). Our only obligation was to make sure the house looked good, and to leave (yes leave, with 3 small kids and a dog) for 4 hours. The turnout was great, and he went ahead and scheduled another open house for the following weekend.


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What the days looked like.


It was hard to get ourselves and then keep ourselves (we have a dog that gets extremely car-sick) out of the house for a good chunk of the weekend, but it was well worth it. We got great feedback from agents. Requests for showings started pouring in. This told us two things. We were priced right, and people liked the house! All of the cleaning and housework, and our realtors hard work was paying off!


Because we were getting so many requests for showings, we needed to plan our “showing method”. After planning our showing method (how would we receive request, what lead time we required, what would need to be taken out of the house) life became a race. We were racing from work to home, home to the park, and back again. We really got to know our current city better, because we were forced to spend so much time out of the house.


Our agent set our phones up with an app called ShowingTime. This app was incredibly helpful. My husband and I would each receive a text message alerting us that there was a request to view our home. We were able to respond with a simple “Y” or “N” or suggest a different time. We loved that we were able to find out as soon as there was interest in seeing the home, as it gave us extra time to get the house cleaned-up and plan where we will take the kids and dog during the showing.I would suggest that you speak with your realtor about how he/she plans to notify you about your showing request.


No matter when the showing was requested we always made it work. This was not easy, but well worth the effort. We received an offer after only 6 days on the market! Next week’s blog will fill you in on the offer and negotiating process!


As always, I love hearing your listing stories! And, can easily direct you a person that might be able to answer your real estate questions and calm your listing fears!

For a great realtor(like mine) look here...

http://www.seacoastrealty.com/


To join in the selling conversation visit us here

 

https://www.facebook.com/seacoastrealty

What to Expect When Listing Your House: Step Two: Preparing Your Home for Listing

by seacoast_ashley 4. June 2015 16:18

 

 

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If you read last week’s blog post then you already know the first step. If you missed it then you might want to back up and read Step One: Finding a Realtor. Ok, caught up? Perfect.


In an attempt to inform our clients, I am blogging my personal experience listing (selling) my home. As I mentioned in the last blog post, this is not my first experience. However,  it does carry much more weight. I now have 3 small children, a dog, and house bursting with a “lived- in” feel.


We are moving due to a job change. We knew that we had to list our home for sale just 4 weeks before my husband’s out-of-town job start date. This makes it important to try to sell the house as quickly as possible, because I will be staying in our current home with the aforementioned three kids and a dog until the house sells and we can find a home in our new location.

Before we signed with our Realtor we started the deep clean. We tried to fix any glaring problems with the house, but due to financial and time constraints there are a few things that could still use attention.


We explained to our realtor that we needed a quick sell and we couldn’t afford or have the time to do large amounts of work. His recommendation was to price aggressively.  By doing so, we are hoping that we will have more interest. We know that we will not end up walking away with a profit, but that is okay with us. We are simply looking to free up the money that we are paying towards our mortgage so that we can put that into a new home. For lots of people this strategy does not work. Often times, people are looking to make profit or at least make back some of the money that they have paid towards renovations, etc. This is something that you and your realtor will need to determine. Know your end goal.


After pricing our house our realtor made a few suggestions for inexpensive ways that we could prepare the house to go on the market. I had a $500 limit set on the work that we could/would do. His first suggestion was to enhance the curb appeal. We decided that almost all of the $500 would go to drawing buyers into our home from the outside. Step one was to paint the front porch. The porch was not in terrible shape, but fresh white paint had a huge impact. It makes the house look shiney and new. After paying for paint and supplies, we had about $400 left to spruce the place up.


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See how crisp that white looksjQuery15207700262633152306_1433533719477


I spent $100 on new planters in crisp white, 3 hanging baskets bursting with flowers, and lots of new plants for the area around our walkway. There is nothing that makes you want to take your home off the market more than driving up to your home a feeling like it is the best that it has ever looked! Be prepared to wish you could stay.


With the remaining $300 we plan on fixing a piece of cracked molding around our front door, replacing a rotted board on our back deck (and repainting it), changing out all of our light bulbs to energy efficient bulbs, and possibly repainting all of the interior trim work the same crisp white that made such a huge impact on the front porch. If there is money left over, I will be hiring a cleaning service to come in and scrub all of the nooks and crannies that I have neglected.


Once the house was clean and fresh and looking like the home of my dreams, our Realtor hired a house photographer. This is something that never happened with our previous listings, but it has already had a huge impact on the level of interest that we have had by buyers. The photos show the very best of our home. I would recommend that you have a professional photograph your home. It was fairly inexpensive (my realtor even provides the service free to his sellers) and really does make a world of difference. Today, most buyers start their search online. They want great visuals.

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These pics have driven tons of traffic to my home’s online profile!


One of my biggest obstacles has been decluttering this house. After many years and many children we look like an exploded toy shop. The method that worked (is working) for me, is to keep 2 baskets in my laundry room.


The first basket is for the things that may be scattered about, but that we can’t do without. I load this basket at the first request for a showing. It holds dog items (food, leash, bed), personal items we don’t want to leave laying about, and anything else that has found it’s way to the floor that I don’t have time to put in its specific place. The second basket holds things that need to leave the house for good. It is our “out” basket. The items that most often find their fate in this basket are toys that I noticed aren’t played with anymore, clothes that are too small, or items that we haven’t used in the past six months.


When we have a showing request the first thing I do is load those baskets into the car. I usually try to donate the “out” stuff while driving around killing time during the showing. The basket method has worked well so far. In the end, it will result in less packing for me!

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More decluttering to do, but with 3 kids this is pretty clean!


EVERYDAY (yes, all caps) we clean. Floors are vacuumed or swept (or mopped on a good day), all surfaces are wiped down, smudges are cleaned, dust is banished.The lawn is mowed on any pretty day. There are no toilets left opened, and no recycling items left on the counters.  It is an exhausting process, but at the end of the day we know that this will speed up the selling process. It will help us reach our end goal (and rest) so much faster!


What are the projects that you feel are most important to complete when listing your home? If you have sold a home before, did the cleaning and home improvements drive you batty? Share your methods!!


Watch out for Step Three of the home-selling process next week!


To share your ideas (and to help me sell!) join the conversation on our Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/seacoastrealty


To find an agent to guide you in the process visit

http://www.seacoastrealty.com/

What to Expect When Listing Your House to Sell: Step One: Picking Your Realtor

by seacoast_ashley 26. May 2015 05:07

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Listing one’s house for sale can be a taxing situation, or it can be a pretty easy one. Hopefully by educating yourself on what to expect you can take the stress out of one of the most important decisions that you will make in your life.


Step One: FIND A GOOD REALTOR. I can not stress enough the importance of this first step. After buying and selling quite a few homes in my life, this step has played the most important role in keeping the process rolling smoothly. There are many many factors that need to be considered when finding the right agent for you.


The last home that I listed created the most stressful situation that I had ever experienced. I made the age-old mistake of hiring my realtor based solely on the fact that this person was a close personal friend. There are a few major problems that can arise in a situation like mine. My realtor was not located in my city. This resulted in problems with her availability, and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by questioning her lack of commitment or knowledge of our area. In the end, we ended up letting the listing expire, and basically messing up what was a perfectly good friendship.


From now on, I will be sticking with the, “no business with family or friends” rule. If you happen to have a really great friend or family member that is the world’s best realtor be sure to think long and hard about the various situations that could occur. Ask yourself is it worth it? If you really want to use your friend but don’t want to risk your friendship, you might ask for a referral to another agent. Most realtors love to give and receive referrals. There is usually some sort of compensation to the referring agent, so it is a nice way for you to help your friend without hurting your relationship.


That being said, many people love to work with someone that they already know. For some, it turns out to be an enjoyable situation that deepens a relationship, and can often result in a lifelong realtor. One of my close family members always uses her close friend in real estate transactions. They are able to be 100% honest with one another without feeling like either party is going to hurt the feelings of the other. Every friendship as well as every realtor/client relationship is different. Think about what works for you, and do not feel pressure to use a friend’s service just because they are a friend.


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After you have decided not to use a friend/family realtor, there are a couple of ways to find someone with whom you can work. In the age of the Internet, the easiest route is to begin your search online. I picked the realty company before I picked an actual agent. After poring over reviews of different agencies, I settled on the largest in my area. By doing so, I have access to more potential buyers. Word of mouth is a powerful thing, and I loved the idea that my realtor may be around (and talking on a daily basis in the office) hundreds of different agents.


When the company was picked, I moved on to the actual realtor. I would suggest that you speak with a few different agents before settling on one. I spoke with three and found someone that I liked as person and that I also felt really was excited about my house. He presented me with his plan for “attack,” and it was just what I was looking for. I needed to move quickly and have someone that could be aggressive on the marketing front. Myself, being deeply involved in social media, had been witness to the power of social advertising. I knew I wanted someone who had a knack for giving properties a presence on the social scene.


There are many many more questions that you might consider asking your potential agent. You might like to know what his/her success rate is? What types of listings does he/she generally list? How well do they know the area? How and how often will they communicate with you? This list could go on and on. Depending on what type of person you are, it might be a short list of questions or it might be really long. Googling “What to ask a potential realtor,” gave me a good starting point.


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After signing the “Working with Realtors” and the “Exclusive Right to List” paperwork our official Realtor/Client relationship was born! There are so many more steps to listing your house. Please check back next week to find out Step Two! In the meantime, let me know how you chose your Realtor. Did you end up working with a friend or family member? Did you love it? Spill it - The good, the bad, and the ugly!


Share with me on Facebook

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Find a great Realtor to work with here!

www.seacoastrealty.com

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