Common Questions We Hear About Real Estate
HOW DO REAL ESTATE COMMISSIONS WORK?
Some might tell you there is no industry standard. To some degree that is true. Each brokerage and agent could charge additional fees along with commissions, such as transaction fees of several hundred dollars. You will want to ask your agent about those fees before you hire them. However, the generally accepted amount a seller is expected to pay is 6%. Half to the listing agent and half to the buyer's agent. Lumina does not charge extra fees.
A buyer will not pay anything to their agent. Some buyers might think they can negotiate a reduced price from a seller without an agent. Studies show time and again that agents negotiate a lower price and are worth their fees. Additionally, most sellers will just end up paying the listing agent that fee that could have gone to a personal advocate for YOU - a buyer's agent.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there is a LOT of risk in a real estate transaction. It might seem like something you could do yourself. BUT something always goes wrong during real estate transactions, no matter how simple it may appear. Do you want to be liable for thousands in damages because you didn't know how to protect yourself in a transaction? Wouldn't you rather save money AND protect yourself?
This is all, of course, dependent on whether or not you hire the RIGHT agent. I'll answer that question below in what to look for in an agent.
WHAT IF I BUY AT THE HEIGHT OF THE MARKET? SHOULD I WAIT AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS INSTEAD?
The answer to when you should buy depends on your home buying plan, which we can help you create. Market fluctuations happen (like having an investment fund) and if it's your plan to keep your home long term, you'll generally not only be able to preserve your equity but grow it significantly no matter when you buy.
If you plan to keep your home a shorter amount of time, say 3-5 years, we might create a different strategy for you. More affordable homes for example will always be in demand. While luxury homes require slightly different planning, like more time to sell and amenities that appeal in this market like a light, open floor plan and updates.
HOW MANY HOMES SHOULD I LOOK AT BEFORE I MAKE A PURCHASING DECISION?
This all depends on your level of preparation. We always recommend you speak with a lender, no matter if you plan to buy now or in 10 years, so that you can determine as much as possible how much of a downpayment you will need to buy what you want. If you are a local and know the area, you likely know where you want to live and then we help you make the investment in a home that will pay off long term. If you are not local, we recommend an area tour, which we offer for free at Lumina, a $250 value.
At Lumina we don't have a scheduled start or end date. It takes the time it takes. However, we are good at helping you be prepared so that you are able to identify the right home as quickly as you want. If you are competing in multiple offer situations, we guarantee the offers we structure will include negotiating points not many think to include, which place you in the best possible place to succeed.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN AN AGENT?
Most people have a family member or friend they don't want to offend by NOT using them in their real estate transaction. You're trying to help them get started, you reason. They're family. Maybe they only do it part-time or could really use the work. Maybe they seem like they would be great at real estate even if they just got their license.
None of that is necessarily flawed thinking. However, here are a few points to consider:
*Experience is hands down, always the best asset in an agent. If they've closed millions of dollars of business, they've seen a LOT. They know what could potentially go wrong and they know how to protect you. Because, again, SOMETHING WILL GO WRONG. It's not if, it's when. But with an experienced agent on your side, it will mean minimal stress for you. They will have structured the deal with a maximum chance of protecting you. Also, over 90% of agent burn out or drop out within the first few years. If they've lasted, they're generally smart and tough - the longer in the industry, the better.
For example. You have a listing you're selling and you receive 25 offers. An experienced agent will know what kind of offers have the best chance of going through because they have seen what works. And how to negotiate the least amount of risk. They may require hard earnest money (nonrefundable) up front. They may ask for tighter deadlines. They should definitely have a thorough chat with the buyer's lender and make sure the buyer has submitted all required documents for full pre-approval. They will want to make sure there are no contingencies (another house to sell), etc.
Another example. You're a buyer wanting to negotiate a good offer in a now buyer's market. An experienced agent has been through the ups and downs and knows what you could ask for. Closing costs and other concessions, which could give you the chance to buy down your rate to what it might have been a year ago before the rate hikes. They'll know how to dialogue with the other side to ask for things you might not have thought of. Like cleaning post move-out. Or money for a carpet replacement. Or repairs on potentially major items.
A brand new or part-time agent could still be a good advocate for you if they have a senior mentor reviewing all their offers/counters or if they are part of a real estate team.