Why Hire a Real Estate Professional?
Buying a home is likely the biggest financial (and emotional) decision of your entire life! If you want to do it right, you need a Realtor®. Here's why.
Your home is where you’ll live and love, laugh and cry, huddle and snuggle - and you’ll go through a lot together. Now that you've decided that it’s time to take the plunge, you’re likely experiencing some hesitation, plus plenty of anxiety. If you’re a little overwhelmed, I don’t blame you. But there’s also good news: You don’t have to go it alone. I will have your back when it comes to the details, strategy and financials, like finding the perfect home for you, confirming sale price, suggesting negotiation techniques, establishing reasonable deadlines, working through the paperwork and legalities to guide you all the way to a successful closing. I can also help you navigate more personal issues, such as your timeline, and what you’re hoping to achieve with the purchase. For all of those reasons, it’s important to use an expert who is right for you and your specific situation, and who can help you accomplish what you want.
Buying a home can be a very complex transaction, dealing with a multitude of entities and issues, requiring a broad spectrum of knowledge and expertise. It makes sense to have an expert that is looking after your best interest. In order to avoid the inevitable pitfalls and mistakes, you need trusted experts and a support network to help you make critical decisions along the way. Sure you might get through it by yourself but it takes alot of work - and at what costs? I am in the business of helping others buy and sell homes. I will be your professional advocate in the transaction, the market expert and a negotiating tiger all wrapped up into one independent contractor. I will be your face, your voice, and your defense against all involved in the multi-layered home buying process.
You're probably wondering, what will it cost you to have a professional represent you? As a buyer, my services are provided to you at no additional charge in most cases if the home you are buying is listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) which were 93% of all homes sold in 2018. When a seller and a Listing Broker sign a Listing Agreement, the seller agrees to pay a Broker fee (commission) from the seller's proceeds of the sale for handling the transaction. When you are represented by your own Broker, the Listing Broker will share or split the fee with your Broker by virtue of their mutual agreement within their MLS rules. Brokerage fees are established in the marketplace (negotiated between the seller and the Listing Broker) and not set by law or regulation. If the home you are buying is not listed on the MLS or if the compensation offered by the Listing Broker does not meet my minimum fee, I will work hard on negotiating my full fee from the seller. I may ask you for all or part of my compensation to be paid at closing - but we will discuss that in advance of submitting an offer. Although it is not required, I may ask for you to sign a Buyer's Broker Agreement to confirm my representation, this agreement provides protections for both me and you.
87% of buyers purchased their home through a real estate professional - 6% purchased directly from a builder or builder’s agent - 91% of home sellers worked with a real estate professional to sell their home, in 2018 according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Keep in mind, not all real estate Brokers are Realtors®. A Realtor® is a Broker who is a member of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), one of the the largest and oldest professional trade groups in the country. What difference does it make? Realtors® like me adhere to a strict, higher code of ethics than non-members to treat their clients, customers and other Brokers honestly and fairly.
What should you expect when working with a Realtor®? Below are only a few of the services, skills and advantages I can provide:
Before you start interviewing me as your prospective Realtor®, you should have a clear sense of what you want during the buying process. When so much money is on the table, it’s crucial to know what your goals are, so you can determine if I am the right Realtor® for your situation. It will help you to understand what I do (other than help you buy your most valuable asset...).
- I will be an unbiased, professional voice of reason - offering an unemotional, informed, objective perspective during your transaction. Because I've gone through a multitude of home buying and selling transactions, I can anticipate and warn you of potential dangers and looming issues - providing advice and suggesting solutions for your consideration in order for you to make the best decision for your particular circumstances. I will see outside your personal, emotional connection to a property and can help you stay calm when faced with a multiple-offer situation, for example - and generally help you save money.
I have turbocharged searching power. The Internet is awesome, you can find almost anything online—anything! You can find up-to-date home listings on your own with online real estate listing sites, any time you want - but I have access to even more listings. Sometimes properties are available but not actively advertised. I can help you find those hidden gems. Plus, as a local Realtor®, I am going to know the search area way better than you ever could. I can direct you toward a home in your price range that you may have overlooked. I can provide local information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. I also have objective information about each property. I can use that data to help you determine if the property has what you need.
I am a price expert! New Mexico is a non-disclosure state which means the sales price of a home is not public information, but I am a member of the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and all members share final sales price information with other members. This allows me to prepare a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to professionally estimate the value of properties. When you are buying, the CMA will help confirm the price structure for initial offers, negotiations and eventual purchase price to make sure you are getting a good deal.
Any time you buy a home, you're going to encounter negotiations - and in today's hot housing market, those negotiations are more likely than ever to get a little heated as well. You can expect lots of competition, cutthroat tactics, all-cash offers, and possibly bidding wars. When you have chosen a home and are ready to make an offer, I will negotiate with the seller on not only the sale price but also on what contingencies (aka special circumstances) are attached to the contract. There's a lot more to negotiate besides the price - in fact, virtually everything in a real estate transaction is negotiable - I will offer negotiating techniques that should benefit your situation. With any negotiation, there could be some stressful moments with the sellers, you’ll want a Realtor® like me who can step up for you, using a negotiation style that you’re comfortable with. I will look at every angle from your perspective, including crafting a purchase agreement or analyzing counter-offers that allow you the flexibility you need to take that next step. Don't you want a savvy and professional negotiator on your side to seal the best deal for you?
Once you’ve signed a purchase agreement with a seller (woo-hoo!), I will help you navigate the sale’s remaining steps, including dealing with a multitude of entities (Seller's Broker, your lender, inspectors, appraiser, title/escrow company and more), negotiating home repair requests after your inspections, helping you resolve any last-minute surprises, ensuring deadlines are met to close on time, keeping you informed at every turn and smoothly escorting you throughout the process all the way to closing.
Buying a home requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. I have the expertise to help you prepare the proper forms and agreements that represent what you want to accomplish, while avoiding delays or costly mistakes. Also, there’s a lot of jargon involved, so you want to work with a professional who can speak the language. Plus, it's not just about the sales price of the home, there are many other terms and conditions that determine how much money you end up spending. I will prepare a purchase agreement or analyze counter-offers that allow enough time for inspections, contingencies, documenting closing costs responsibilities and anything else that's crucial to your particular needs.
I stay on top of rapidly changing market dynamics and pass along my expertise to my clients. Most people buy only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between. Even if you’ve done it before, laws and regulations change. I track real estate trends and it's my job to be an expert on the properties in our community, as well as state, county, city and local rules and regulations. I have the experience and expertise to professionally guide you through the process.
I will be your advocate - I will be honest, loyal and will honor confidentiality as long as it does not violate any laws. I will put transactional details in writing & provide you with copies. I will avoid exaggerating, misrepresenting or concealing known material facts. I get along with other real estate professionals to ensure that your interests are protected. I avoid side deals for compensation without your informed consent, I disclose in writing if I own or have a personal interest in the property and I will not work on a deal where there could be a conflict of interest unless I have disclosed the conflict in writing.
I am connected to everyone! I might not know everything, but I make it my mission to know just about everyone who can possibly help in the process of buying a home. I am competent and knowledgeable at my job but if I am not experienced or qualified in a certain area (for instance, most Realtors® are not Attorneys), I will disclose that to you and help you seek the expert advice you need. Mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, contractors for repairs, movers—the list goes on—they're all in my network. Use them!
The thing about Realtors® - we wear a lot of different hats. We are your sage parent / data analyst / therapist - all rolled into one! We actually do a whole heck of a lot to earn our commission. On top of handling hundreds of details during the actual complex transaction, we're constantly driving around, checking out listings for you, learning about changes in neighborhoods. We're researching comps to make sure you're getting the best deal. And, of course, we're working for you at nearly all hours of the day and night—whether you need more information on a home or just someone to talk to in order to feel at ease about the offer you just put in. All in all, you will need a professional to help you through this emotionally and financially taxing process.
The average Broker does all of the above, a great Realtor® like me does all of the above, while also inspiring your confidence — that I'm getting the best price for you, and that I'm representing your best interests and getting you what you want.
I am the right Realtor® for you?
I expect you to ask all of these questions! Go ahead, this is no time to be shy!
You should hire me as your very first step. I will be a valuable asset throughout the process: from helping you choose a mortgage professional - to setting up a pinpoint search - to helping you wade through the many possible pitfalls - all saving you time, effort and aggravation.
Are you a Realtor®? Not all real estate Brokers are Realtors®. A Realtor® is a Broker who is a member of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). What difference does it make? Realtors® like me adhere to a strict, higher code of ethics than non-members to treat their clients, customers and other Brokers honestly and fairly.
What services do you offer? Many Realtors® specialize in either representing sellers (Listing Brokers) or representing buyers (Selling or Buyer's Broker). The most experienced, professional Realtors® like me are very adept on either side of the transaction. I am experienced in representing sellers and buyers, or both.
How long have you been in real estate? You're looking for a seasoned Realtor®—and while they don't need decades of experience under their belt, less than a year or two of experience can be concerning. Like most professions, experience is no guarantee of skill, but much of real estate is learned on the job. I have owned and managed residential and commercial rental properties for 18 years, became a licensed NM Realtor® in 2015.
- How long have you lived in this area? One noteworthy exception to the previous question is if they've lived in the area for a long time. A newly licensed Realtor® shouldn't be automatically removed from consideration. If they've lived in the area their entire life, they likely know more about it than a Realtor® who has been in the business for years but only recently moved to the region. Weigh overall experience, including past professions, against local experience when making your decision. I have lived in NM my whole life, attended UNM in the late 70s, raised a family in eastern NM, moved back to Albuquerque in 2010.
- What experience do you have in my immediate area? Most Realtors® have extensive knowledge and experience with the majority of their metro area. You want someone who knows the local and hyper-local inventory. Depending on the specific location of the property, additional issues might need to be addressed such as disclosures and transfer certificates regarding HomeOwner's Associations, Public Improvement Districts, septic systems, private community water memberships and wells. I have helped clients buy and sell in almost every region of the metro area, from Rio Rancho to the east mountains and most areas in between.
- Is real estate your full-time job? What is your schedule? If they're not a full-time Broker, how dedicated to their profession are they? Plus, you need to know when they'll be available, if there are restrictions on when they are able to communicate with you. For instance, if the only time you can see houses is in direct conflict with times they have to be working their other jobs, you could miss out on a lot of properties. My occupation is 100% full-time Realtor®.
- Do you have a team, or do you work alone? The correct answer depends on you. Would you be more comfortable dealing with one or two known personalities that provide personalized, attentive, hands-on service and communication throughout the transaction? Or would you prefer to have multiple representatives available to assist you that could increase response time and availability if you're okay with not knowing for sure who or what type of personality you'll be dealing with? Many standalone Realtors® are excellent, lots of them have an assistant or a Transaction Coordinator to help with responsibilities like scheduling and communicating with the other Broker, the lender, title company, inspectors, appraisers and more. There is a chance that a standalone Realtor® might be double-booked when you want them but a great Realtor® is used to juggling multiple tasks and will make you a priority when needed by rescheduling the conflict or even asking another Realtor® in their Brokerage to provide occasional assistance. One important factor in choosing your Realtor® should be the ease of communication, that their personality is compatible with your own, someone you have rapport with. You may be tempted to choose a Broker that claims they sold hundreds of homes in the last year or two - while that amount of sales sounds impressive, there is a good chance you will be assigned to one of several less-experienced salespeople working for them on their team. Most people want personalized, attentive, hands-on service and communication from their Broker of choice, the ideal Realtor® for that quality of service will probably handle 8-12 transactions per year. I am a standalone Realtor but affiliated with a large brokerage so I believe I offer the best of both worlds. I make it a point to limit the number of clients I have at any given time in order to ensure I am providing personalized, attentive, 5-star service to my clients.
Which Brokerage are you affiliated with? How could they be an asset? Smaller "boutique" brokerages usually specialize in certain, sometimes narrow, areas of real estate (rental property management, investors, high-end properties, specific commercial clients, etc.) The smaller brokerages can be a good source of hands-on, personalized service if your situation fits their specialty. Even if your Realtor® is not on a team, if they are with a medium to large brokerage can be a great networking resource to tap into for marketing, service provider recommendations and advisory support from other Realtors®. I am affiliated with Realty One of New Mexico, the largest brokerage in the state, with over 800 Brokers which is a tremendous networking asset to match up buyers and sellers, and share lender, contractor, inspector and other service provider contacts.
What type of representation do you provide? There are various forms of representation in different states. In New Mexico, Realtors® have the option of working with their clients/customers as "Agents" or as "Transaction Brokers" - most will choose to act as a Transaction Broker. Generally, Agents have the power to bind or obligate their principals (client/customer) when the Agent is acting within the scope of their agency. For example, an Agent can accept, reject, or counter offers on behalf of their client/customer without additional express, written consent. Transaction Brokers do not have the authority to bind or obligate their client/customer, any general or specific actions on your behalf must be expressly authorized in writing and signed by you. In New Mexico, all Brokers are obligated to perform specified "Broker Duties" to the general public and other Brokers. Brokers owe additional "Broker Duties" to their clients/customers when they are providing real estate services. In addition, Brokers are required to disclose any ownership interest, personal relationship or any other conflicts of interest regarding the property or any entity involved in the process. Your Broker of choice should review these duties and disclosures with you in detail and address any questions or concerns you may have, usually at the first sit-down meeting with an owner or buyer. I work as a transaction Broker, any actions on your behalf will be expressly authorized in writing and signed by you. We will review "Broker Duties" and I will answer all of your questions before you sign any contracts. I will disclose any conflict of interest to you in writing in advance of the transaction.
- Will you represent me exclusively, or might you choose to represent the other party as well? While it’s usually legal to represent both parties in a transaction, your Realtor® should be able to explain his or her philosophy on client obligations and agency relationships. It is possible for a Broker to facilitate a transaction as a neutral party to the seller and buyer in the same transaction, and in some cases different Brokers in a single Brokerge may represent different parties within a transaction. Brokers are required to obtain your written consent in these situations. Be wary of a Listing Broker that also wants to "represent" you as a buyer so he can "double-end" the transaction (earn the total commission offered by the seller). The Listing Broker may entice you by claiming they can get you a better deal from the seller, but you need to know, the Listing Broker has a written contract (Listing Agreement) with the seller obligating the Listing Broker to sell the property for as high a price as possible. The Listing Broker may be able to handle the paperwork and assist you as a buyer with many parts of the transaction but they will not be able to advise you with negotiations on price, for example, because of their prior obligation to the seller - It is sort of like letting a prosecuting attorney also be your defense attorney. On occasion, usually with investors, I have represented both parties in a transaction but only if it benefits both buyer and seller and with full disclosure and written consent.
- What is the average variation between your initial offers / asking price and final sales price? This is one indication of a Realtor®’s pricing and negotiating skills. I am a fierce negotiator and work hard to get my clients the best terms possible. I have never had a buyer pay over list price and I am usually able to secure seller closing costs concessions. On average, my listings sell at 99% of list price with few concessions.
- What is your fee? As a buyer, your Broker's services are provided to you at no additional charge in most cases if the home you are buying is listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). When a seller and a Listing Broker sign a Listing Agreement, the seller agrees to pay a Broker fee (commission) from the seller's proceeds of the sale for handling the transaction. When you are represented by your own Broker, the Listing Broker will share or split the fee with your Broker by virtue of their mutual agreement within their MLS rules. Brokerage fees are established in the marketplace (negotiated between the seller and the Listing Broker) and not set by law or regulation. If the home you are buying is not listed on the MLS or if the compensation offered by the Listing Broker does not meet my minimum fee, I may ask you for all or part of my compensation to be paid at closing - but we will discuss that in advance of submitting an offer. Although it is not required, I may ask for you to sign a Buyer's Broker Agreement to confirm my representation, this agreement provides protections for both of us.
- What disclosures should I expect to receive? Depending on the location and details of the property, many disclosures are required including, but not limited to, a Seller's Property Disclosure, property tax estimate, available inspections, previous inspections, others related to property use history, possibly lead-based paint, Kitec/Poly plumbing, septic and well, and if the property is located in a HomeOwner's Association or Public Improvement District. In New Mexico, all Brokers are obligated to disclose and perform specified "Broker Duties" to the general public and other Brokers, plus additional "Broker Duties" to their clients/customers. Brokers are also required to disclose any conflicts of interest. You can also expect many other disclosures from your lender and the title company. I will provide all necessary disclosures and will help you understand the repercussions of any other disclosures you may receive.
How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction? The best answer here is a question your Realtor® should ask you. A Realtor® who pays close attention to the way you prefer to communicate and responds accordingly will make for the smoothest transaction. Some clients prefer emails while others only want to be called or have in-person meetings. If you like to communicate via text message, let your Realtor® know. Whatever your preference, it is best to outline those expectations upfront so everyone is working with clearly-defined objectives. Because buyers are frequently meeting with their Realtor® to see properties, giving feedback on the properties they’ve already seen, receiving notification and analysis of counter-offers, communicating negotiations, advising on deadlines and contingency resolutions throughout the process - effective communication is essential. Make sure you have a Realtor® who communicates with you in a way you find acceptable. I am very adept at all forms of communication and will provide effective communication that works best for you.
- Can you recommend service providers who can help me obtain a mortgage, conduct inspections, make home repairs, provide legal advice, movers, and so on? Realtors® should be able to recommend a choice of providers for you to interview and the Realtor® will let you know if they have any special relationship or conflict of interest with any of the providers. I have an extensive list of service providers at your disposal. The network of over 800 brokers with Realty One of New Mexico can also be a tremendous resource if we encounter any additional needs.
Could you please give me the contact information of your three most recent clients? Ask the Realtor®'s former clients if they would use the Realtor® again in the future. If they will discuss their transaction you can determine if their circumstances match with yours. I will gladly provide contact information from previous clients upon request.
The bottom-line: It’s in your best interest to pick a Realtor® who understands your goals, fits your personality, and can professionally help you find and buy your new home. When we meet and you discover I offer all of the above, congratulations — you’ve found your Realtor®.
One thing you might notice while trying to find help is all the different titles: Agent, Broker, Realtor®, etc. Are they all the same thing? Not exactly. In New Mexico, all licensed real estate professionals are Brokers - either Associate Brokers (AB) or Qualifying Brokers (QB). All Brokers are self-employed individuals who hold a valid license issued by the NM Real Estate Commission, which requires initially passing an extensive state exam, undergoing a background check, paying application and renewal fees, maintaining errors & ommissions insurance and perpetually fulfilling Continuing Education requirements. Brokers also pay MLS membership fees, national and local association dues and Brokerage fees. As self-employed contractors, they also have a wide variety of additional expenses such as secretarial and Transaction Coordinator services, office space expenses, office supplies, transportation, marketing for themselves or clients - plus any other expenses associated with conducting their business such as paying their own federal and state income taxes, social security tax and health insurance.
Realtor® is a Broker who can only call themselves a Realtor® if they belong to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), one of the the largest and oldest profession trade groups in the US. When they join NAR, the Realtor® commits to being held to a higher ethical standard and must adhere to a strict Code of Ethics. Not all Brokers are Realtors®. What difference does it make? Realtors® higher code of ethics means they agree to treat their clients, customers and other Brokers honestly and fairly. Consider it added insurance that they're more professional and committed to your cause.
Associate Brokers (AB) are by far the most common professionals providing real estate services in New Mexico. Many ABs specialize in either representing sellers (Listing Brokers) or representing buyers (Selling or Buyer's Broker). The most experienced, professional Brokers are very adept on either side of the transaction, representing sellers or buyers, or both. While Brokers have the option of working with their clients/customers as Agents or as Transaction Brokers, most will choose to act as a Transaction Broker.
Agent is a Broker who chooses to work with clients by entering into an agency relationship agreement. In this instance, a Broker acting as an Agent owes fiduciary duties (in its simplest form: obedience, loyalty, disclosure, confidentiality, accounting, reasonable care). Generally, Agents have the power to bind or obligate their principals (client/customer) when the Agent is acting within the scope of their agency. As an example, an Agent can accept, reject, or counter offers on behalf of their client/customer without additional express, written consent.
Transaction Brokers owe 'Broker Duties' to their clients, customers and other Brokers, as defined by the NM Real Estate Commission, which in most instances, are better defined than fiduciary duties. Transaction Brokers do not have the authority to bind or obligate their client/customer. Any general or specific actions on your behalf must be expressly authorized in writing and signed by you.
Qualifying Broker (QB) (sometimes referred to as a Designated Broker) is someone with a minimum number of years, transactions and additional hours of Continuing Education, plus they pay additional fees to maintain their license. QBs are usually managers, they run a Brokerage and have Associate Brokers working under them. Most QBs only work a limited number of transactions personally, the bulk of their efforts are directed toward Brokerage management and supervising ABs.
Brokerage is an organization (either a company or an individual) that contracts with Brokers to provide real estate services to the public. The brokerage provides support, training and some marketing. They usually charge the Broker a percentage of the sales price or a flat fee upon successful completion of a transaction.
About the typical Realtor®
First, we need to dispel stereotypes perpetuated by REALITY TV:
- Realtors® only work a few hours a day to make millions a year.
- Buyers find the perfect house after visiting just three homes—and write an offer that is accepted immediately and move in within a day or two.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
- Realtors® typically help their buyers search for about 12 weeks and look at about 10 properties before selecting a home, according to the National Association of Realtors®. The average house sale takes about 30 to 45 days to close. The Realtor® is only paid once the sale has closed, so they can work five to six months before they are compensated. And that’s only true if the buyer finds a home. If the buyer decides not to buy, or to switch Brokers, a Realtor® could work for several months for no pay. The same is true of listings. If the house listing does not sell, or if the seller cancels the contract to select another Broker, a Realtor® is not compensated.
- The reality is that the average Realtor® in the US earned $47,700 in 2013, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Selling real estate is a commission-only business. Realtors® can work with a buyer or seller for months without ever making a commission. Deals fall though and not every listing sells. It’s a business run on trust and faith.
- When you see the commission on the closing statement, your Realtor® doesn’t walk away with all of it. The commission you see is split. Associate Brokers work for Qualifying Brokers. The commission check is made payable to the Brokerage which then cuts a check to the Listing Broker and the Buyer's Broker. Both Associate Brokers also must pay a fee or percentage of their earnings to their Qualifying Broker. If you’re working with a Qualifying Broker, they may also have to split commission with their team that helped on the back end.
- Since they are self-employed independent contractors, both Qualifying Brokers and Associate Brokers also have a wide variety of additional expenses such as license and MLS fees, membership dues, professional/office/auto insurance, Continuing Education expenses, secretarial/Transaction Coordinator services, office space expenses, office supplies, transportation, marketing for themselves or clients - plus any other expenses associated with conducting their business such as paying their own federal and state income taxes, social security tax and health insurance.
So, for a typical real estate transaction, the commission is divided four ways, then business expenses are subtracted and the government gets their due. Rather than making millions, most Realtors® work very hard to just earn a decent, middle-class living.