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Buying or selling a home is a very exciting time. It’s a time of change and new beginnings. For most people, it’s also a new and novel experience. And like any new experience, it often comes along with a learning curve. Many individuals realize, very shortly into the process, that buying or selling a home involves many more details than they initially thought. While the home-buying or home-selling process definitely can get overwhelming, the good news is that you don’t have to go at it alone! Real estate agents specialize in everything involved in buying or selling a home and, should you choose to work with one, your agent will guide you through each and every step of that process.
If you are in the market for buying a home, an agent will first meet with you to discuss what’s on your ‘dream home’ wish list. They will then take you to showings, where you will get to view the available homes that match up well with your wish list as well as your budget. A good agent will present you with the good and the bad of each house and help you get a better sense of the neighborhood, including school districts, nearby amenities, transportation and any other relevant information you might want to know. They can guide you in the process of making an offer on a home, and in the process of home inspections, negotiations and the closing.
If you are selling your home, a real estate agent will not only handle the showing process for you, but will also try hard to get you the best price for your home. Working with a good real estate agent can help the process run smoothly, efficiently and quickly, with little to no work on your end.
No matter if you’re a buyer or a seller, working with a real estate agent can definitely give you a leg up on the housing market. But what’s more important than simply choosing to work with a real estate agent is making sure you’re working with the right real estate agent. Below are a few things to consider when choosing an agent.
Keep in mind that no matter if you’re a buyer or a seller, your agent works for you. You’re paying (or enabling the agent to get paid, even if the commission comes from the other side), so you should make sure you “get what you’re paying for!” Don’t feel bad about shopping around until you find what you’re looking for. There’s a lot at stake here, and it’s important to feel confident and secure in your choice.
A great starting point is with referrals. Have friends or family recommended a specific agent or real estate team more than once? If others told you they were happy with them, you very well might be too. Ask the people who used them any specific questions you may have; “Were they easy to work with?” “Were they honest about the pros and cons of the house or were they just pushing the sale on you?” “Did they really try to get you the best possible price for your home?” etc. If you hear overwhelmingly positive information from the people you speak to, you definitely want to find out more about the agent/team and see if they’re a good fit for you.
In today’s times, there is so much information available online. Why not take advantage of it? A great way to verify any positive (or negative) things you may have heard through word-of-mouth is by seeing what others have to say online. You can often find tens if not hundreds of helpful reviews or ratings for a specific agent or team that will help you make a more informed decision. On many websites, you can also view an agent’s track record. You can see how many homes they’ve closed successfully over a given time period and what those homes sold for.
Here’s an example with the popular real estate agency ReMax. Susana Costa is a ReMax agent in New Jersey. Suppose the name has been referred to you a few times and you’ve heard positive things about her. Someone sends you her personal website. On that site, you can learn that she serves the Jersey area and you can read through her bio at the bottom of the page. But you want to know more. So, you google her name. One of the first things that pops up is her profile page on Zillow. From that page, you can immediately see that she has 19 years of experience, has made 12 sales in the last 12 months and has an accumulative 5-star rating from 54 reviews. If I scroll down, I can view the details on her most recent closings. All in all, I get a very positive feeling. Everything checks out, so she’s definitely a top choice for me.
But there’s still one more important step to take before I decide to work with her, or any agent that checks out online.
No matter how well reviewed an agent might be - by others you know and by reviews online - you always need to make sure you two are the right fit for each other. Ultimately, as much as an agent-buyer relationship is business-centered, it is still a human relationship. You need to feel a level of comfort with your broker before you can work with them. Do you get the sense that your agent is an honest person with your best interests at heart? Do you feel comfortable being up-front with them? If you feel pressured, misled or in any way uncomfortable with your broker, you should move on. The relationship should feel like it’s a good fit, and remember, don’t feel bad about shopping around until you find just what you’re looking for!
If you’re a seller in the housing market, working with a real estate agent will also mean coordinating on how to best show your home. Your agent will discuss the different types of showings he/she can arrange for your home. Depending on the market as well as your preference, you may be more inclined to one method over another. Here are the two most popular showing arrangements:
In all showing arrangements, it is preferable that you, as the homeowner, are not home during the showings. Your presence can make potential buyers feel hesitant or uncomfortable looking around as much as they want and then they might leave feeling like they don’t really have a sense for your home. (Don’t worry - your real estate agent will always be present when others are viewing your home!) Therefore, it’s best to not be present when a potential buyer comes along. If clearing your schedule is a big deal, you will likely want to opt for weekend open houses exclusively. During these open houses, all interested buyers come view your home over the course of a 3-to-4 hour period. If the market is hot enough in your area, the open house will attract all, if not most, interested buyers and you won’t need to be concerned about missing out on potential buyers by only opening your house for this short time window. Another perk to an open-house arrangement is that it can spur competition among buyers who may want to rush to get in an offer when they see that others are interested as well.
The opposite of the open-house format is the private tour arrangement. This is when your real estate agent takes the interested buyers on a personal tour of your home. This allows more one-on-one time for your agent to discuss your home with seriously interested buyers, answering their questions, pointing out features they may have missed or not seen and allowing them to get more of a feel for your home.
Some sellers/agents prefer to arrange for private tours only after open houses, so that the private tour can serve as the next step for those who remain seriously interested. (Of course, since further showings will require you to leave your house as well as make it presentable, some sellers choose not to offer private tours at all.)
Even though your agent will be handling the showings themselves, there are still some things you can and should do to help with the process. First impressions are important and you want to make your home as appealing as possible to the potential buyers that will be coming through your door.
First impressions matter! When a potential buyer pulls up to your home, you want them to get the best impression possible. Tidy up the outside of your home before any showing. Depending on the season, that may include shoveling snow, mowing your grass and if you have kids, cleaning up any outdoor toys from the front lawn.
Clutter can be a huge distraction. No matter how nice your hardwood floors or granite countertops are, if a buyer can’t see them, they can’t appreciate them. Put away anything you can so that buyers can get a better idea for the space you have in your home. Sometimes, that can even mean removing excess furniture! Nothing can make a room feel smaller like too much furniture. If you can’t remove it from the room, try rearranging it in a way that makes the room seem larger.
Once you’ve removed any excess items, it’s time to clean. Don’t worry, your home doesn’t need a deep scrubbing, but you do want to make sure it looks (and smells!) appealing. Pay special attention to floors, windows and countertops, since these are generally what people first see when they enter a home. Steam carpets, sweep and mop your hard-wood floors and clean your windows. You also want to make sure your bathrooms are scrubbed well, since many buyers tend to inspect bathrooms closely. After you’ve finished cleaning, set up a subtle scent diffuser in your home or brew some fresh coffee. You want it to smell nice and homey, but don’t overdo it. Too many scented candles or too much air freshener can make people think you’ve got something to hide!
You know best what your home’s most impressive features are. Now is the time to put them on full display. If you’ve got beautiful entryway tiles, make sure they’re spotless. If you’ve got a top-of-the-line oven, remove any dish towels, magnets or other items from it so that it can be on full display.
Additionally, if your home has great features that can’t be on noticeable display (like a sprinkler or water filtration system) tell your agent to make sure to point it out during every showing.
It might sound like a lot of work, but remember that it may very well pay off - literally! The more appealing your home appears, the more someone may be willing to pay. A few hours of cleaning might yield a few thousand dollars more in the purchase price.
After you’ve wrapped up your showings, the offers will hopefully start coming in! Your agent will guide you through the process of selecting the best one. Good luck!
Once you’ve successfully bought or sold your home, you’ll then have a few months to pack up and move to your new home. While packing up an entire home and relocating might seem overwhelming, partnering with the right moving company can make that process simple, stress-free and very manageable. As New Jersey’s top movers and as the recipients of numerous awards in the moving industry, All Jersey Moving & Storage is your number one choice for the job.
With decades of experience with all kinds of moves, All Jersey Moving & Storage will handle your local, long-distance, residential or commercial move from A to Z.
Some of our professional moving and storage services include:
All Jersey Moving & Storage is truly your one stop shop for all your moving needs. Not only do we offer every service you will need for a smooth and efficient move, we do it all with expertise, professionalism and courtesy. Just listen to what our numerous satisfied customers have to say about us and when you’re ready, give us a call for your complimentary, no-obligation consultation! We’re here to make sure that buying or selling your home was the hard part; moving with us will be easy, simple and stress-free - guaranteed!