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Buying or selling your home is a daunting task. Let's face it: you're making the largest purchase or largest sale of your life. Along with all that emotion and risk -- and dealing with agents, banks, movers, and wrapping up your current living situation -- you have to sort through all the industry lingo and half-truths that go along with any major investment. Buyers Are ...
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Buying or selling your home is a daunting task. Let's face it: you're making the largest purchase or largest sale of your life. Along with all that emotion and risk -- and dealing with agents, banks, movers, and wrapping up your current living situation -- you have to sort through all the industry lingo and half-truths that go along with any major investment. Buyers Are Liars & Sellers Are Too! translates the most common lies in real estate so readers know what is really being said as they negotiate buying or selling a home. Courtney provides proven money-saving and stress-reducing information, teaching readers how to hurdle all the obstacles that can arise. His tips, tools, and techniques instruct buyers and sellers on how to get the most out of their agents, make educated choices, and realize richer gains on both sides of the transaction.
Chapter One: The Realtor
No Place for Barney Fife
Remember Barney Fife, self-appointed hero of Mayberry, North Carolina? He was a man of great ambition, a man whose keen entrepreneurial mind was as finely tuned as his agile physique. Barney once saw a great opportunity to make quick bucks in the field of real estate. He saw real estate sales as one big game of dominoes.
Barney's plan was intricate and could have worked. He would sell Mr. and Mrs. Clark the home of Mr. and Mrs. Morton, who in turn would buy the house owned by the Simmses, who would then purchase the home of Sheriff Taylor, who would buy the residence of Mr. Williams. Easy enough. The deal soured, however, when young Opie Taylor disclosed some of his home's deficiencies to Mr. and Mrs. Simms.
At first Andy and Barney tried to discount Opie's observations and downplayed the home's leaks and cracks almost to the point of denial. Yes, it's sad to say. But when placed in the role of a seller, even Andy Taylor, Mayberry's finest, was tempted to lie. Andy later recanted his denial and cover-up, and was pardoned by Gerald Ford (I think). As for Barney, in his zeal to close the deal, he hadbreached his fiduciary duty to the Simmses and thereby proved that he was certainly not a Realtor.
Realtors are different from real estate agents. They have passed a course that teaches them ethics. They pay a bunch of money to their local Association of Realtors and to the National Association of Realtors. These memberships allow them to receive several trade magazines featuring articles concerning all the scuttlebutt in the real estate world. (Nowadays most real estate agents are certified Realtors.)
These masochists also attend luncheons and other events, and they devote their days (evenings and weekends included) to the pursuit of happiness and homefulness for their clients. Their cars are often the site of infantile vomitus explosions and other accidents. Their home phone rings at all hours of the day and night with callers wanting to know everything, such as why their interest rate is one figure and the APR (annual percentage rate) is another on a home that closed twelve years ago. Or they may even want to know the distance between the commode and the shower on their listing on Plum Street.
Or, "Why isn't the loan survey deductible? What if I deduct it? Would you write me a letter saying I can deduct it? By the way, a neighbor's tree fell in my yard and he won't remove it. Will the lawyer who closed the loan handle this for me? Free? He was a friend of yours, wasn't he?"
Some people feel Realtors are overpaid. If your Realtor doesn't earn every penny of his commission, it's your fault. Ask your Realtor questions and, more important, listen to his answers. Your Realtor knows what houses sell for in the area in which you want to buy. You must tell him where you want to buy. Make him show you comparable closed sales in the area. Ask him which lenders provide good service and good rates, because one without the other is useless.
Let your Realtor assist you in having a competent real estate attorney close your loan. Atticus Finch was a great killer of rabid dogs and protector of human and civil rights, and he led a wonderful crusade to save the mockingbird from extinction; however, he might not be able to prepare a deed of trust or a warranty deed or provide clear title to a property. By the same token, the lawyer who lost 600 straight lawsuits to Perry Mason might have been a wonderful real estate attorney. Unfortunately, there is not much glamour in this branch of the law.
Your Realtor will also know inspectors who know how to inspect a home rather than simply criticize it. (Of course, to optimize your home's selling potential, you may want your home critiqued, in which case that can be done, too. Your older sister is probably dying to tell you how she'd arrange the living room furniture to make the space look bigger, and your in-laws may be quite gifted when it comes to offering advice. I'll offer more constructive options for optimizing your home's selling potential in Chapter 3 "Street Appeal," and Chapter 5, "Open Houses.")
If you are listing your property, Realtors have the resources to price it, the network to market it, the expertise to aid in the negotiations, and the persistence to make it happen. And they don't make a penny until the deal is done. Make them work for it. They asked for it when they got into this crazy business.
Now, to be fair, all Realtors are not equally good. Some are mediocre...yes, perhaps even terrible. But most are conscientious, professional, and effective. Choose one, and choose carefully. Your selection can mean the difference between a great experience or your worst nightmare come true. You are going to eat with this person, ride in her car, have him in your home, call her at odd hours, and meet at his office. Check them out, and when you find one you like, take the plunge and stick with her. Your loyalty will motivate your Realtor to do a better job for you.
Many first-time buyers or sellers, or people who are moving into a new area, may wonder how to find a reputable Realtor. First of all, check the local papers and do some driving through the neighborhoods high on your shortlist to determine what Realtors are active in the area. Established real estate agencies are familiar with the marketplace and the quirks of a particular area, from the quality of the schools to the local shopping districts. However, by the same token, beware of the hand-off. Let's say you find an established and highly popular Realtor whom you meet and like, but then you are handed off (because this person is so popular and busy) to a subordinate in his or her office and you don't click with the subordinate. You don't need to stick with someone who gives you a bad vibe. This is an important relationship, so pay attention to your gut reactions. Remember, you will be spending a lot of time with this individual. Through the commission he will earn, you will pay for his time and insight.
If you attend open houses, tell the attending agent that you have an agent and name the agent. The open house agent won't hate you and throw you out. As a matter of fact, he will appreciate having the information, because he will know that he can call your Realtor, whom he invariably will know, and so can learn all about you without having to be nice to you.
Now we'll move into the actual selling and buying of a home, from the listing to the closing. No matter what side of the process you are on, the following chapters will better explain each aspect of the sales process.
I hope you will gain some insight as to how you would perform in your role as buyer or seller or agent, and that you'll come to understand why one skinny deputy in North Carolina had his real estate career nipped in the bud by a freckle-faced kid.
-- REALTY CHECK --
The Top Things Some Real Estate Agents Say and Do That Drive Me Crazy
Uh, okay, who died and left the agent in charge? If the client wants the house, the agent should help. An agent should negotiate the transaction to the best of his ability and make the sale contingent upon an appraisal. Many agents do a disservice to their clients by keeping them from buying houses that eventually double in value and serve all the buyers' needs, because on that particular day that particular agent felt the price was too high.
One homeowner told me that her house had doubled in value in only five years, and that she had fought with her agent to buy it, because the agent felt the price was too high. Only days before we spoke, that same agent had forbidden her client to make an offer on a certain listing until the price was reduced. It sold the first day on the market for asking price. The client lost because her agent flexed some muscle; no one gained. For the client's sake, I hope she eventually found a new agent.
It must sound good when the selling agent boasts that he or she will be present at all showings. Doesn't it imply a greater commitment to the listing? Well, what it really means is that the listing will be shown fewer times. Why? Because the property will be shown only at the whim of the listing agent, not when the buyer and his agent need to see it.
There are instances when a buyer -- perhaps someone who is relocating and needs to find housing immediately -- must make a decision on a home purchase within twenty-four to forty-eight hours. The only homes he can choose from are, obviously, those that are available within that time frame. And there's another kicker in this situation. The buyer's agent may learn, after having shown her client two or three properties, that the remainder of the houses she'd scheduled for that day's showings are not what the client actually wants to purchase (the old "Buyers are liars" syndrome; see Chapter 6, "Buyers"). The buyer and agent were not in sync when originally discussing the buyer's needs. Now the buyer's agent must start from square one, and attempt to schedule several showings over the next few hours. In those scenarios, there is no worse response to a showing request than "You have to talk to the agent directly to set up that showing, and the agent must be present." By the time the listing agent returns the call, finds the seller, and schedules the showing, the buyer has moved on to the next house on the list -- one where he can actually gain entry.
The other problem with the listing agent being present is that she is, indeed, present. If the buyer feels uncomfortable being honest in front of the listing agent, frank conversation between the buyer and his agent will be stifled. Such awkwardness can lead to less time being spent in the home.
If a buyer can only afford to offer $200,000, what in heck is the agent doing showing him a property listed for $300,000?
One reason a client hires a particular agent in the first place is that he believes that agent is better qualified than others to guide him. But when the agent starts making unreasonable demands and getting argumentative during the contract process -- all in the name of representing the client -- she is doing her clients a disservice. It's part of an agent's job to tell her clients when their demands are outrageous, ignorant, or irrelevant -- particularly when those demands may frustrate and anger the other parties enough to scuttle a deal. Representing a client's wishes is admirable, but any true professional will tactfully let her clients know when they are out of line.
Copyright 2005, 2006 by Richard Courtney
Excerpted from Buyers Are Liars & Sellers Are Too! by Richard Courtney Copyright © 2006 by Richard Courtney. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Foreword by Dave Ramsey
Preface by Terry Watson
The Realtor: No Place for Barney Fife
The Listing: The Greatest Show on Earth
Street Appeal: The Grass Is Always Greener...on the Lawn of the House That Sells
Non-Agent Listings: For Sale by Ogre (I Mean, Owner)
Open Houses: Where Woodward and Bernstein Lurk, While Ida Dunn Offers Commentary
Buyers: It's a Good Buy or It's Goodbye
The Parent Trap: Ma and Pa Meddle
The Offer: The Greedledees Meet the Greedledums
The Sale: The Sacrificial Lamb
The Inspection: The Dealslayer
The Mortgage: Little House on the Variable
The Closing: It Ain't Over Till It's Over
Foreclosures: Fool's Gold
The Deal of a Lifetime: Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus (and His Name Is Spelled A-G-E-N-T)
Living Happily Ever After
Posted March 25, 2006
The real estate sale is one of the most important financial transaction of every person. This book - for buyers and sellers of homes -gives you the perspective of the other side so that you can be strategic every step of the way through the transaction. Plus, it's funny and a good read. I laughed out loud and I learned how to be a more savvy home buyer and make the most of the purchase.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 8, 2006
Whether you¿re buying or selling your first house or your 10th, this is book to read before you begin! My husband and I have bought and sold several homes and a couple of investment properties over the years. We¿ve read a number of real estate guides, but this one is the best. Well-organized, thorough without getting into the minutiae, and best of all, laugh-out-loud funny. I swear we¿ve lived some of the anecdotes in this book, especially those in the chapter on closings ¿ the author is right, ¿it ain¿t over till it¿s over.¿ This book provided the reality check we needed before putting our house on the market.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 30, 2006
estate agent. Horrible book. It is too self promoting. Author makes no mentions of many growing number of avenues of listing houses on MLS for a flat fee. Some even have an agent to help on the closing paperwork. Since these services allow more money to be channeled to the buyers agent whom brings the prospect to the table, the conflict of interest is minimized. The author made no mention of conflict of interest in the profession. The author made no mention of agents often trying to find houses which are about to be listed before the actual listing. I already had a few of those soliciting me. Instead of offering their listing service, they often simply try to low ball an offer to buy it while it is being renovated. They quickly say there will be no commission when in fact, the price they will buy at is far below what it would close for in a simply auction. They do not want to buy a house at fair market value no matter what they claim--they look at houses everyday--why should they pay as much as the open market without commission? My suggestion--never reveal your true lowest price you will accept for a sale or the highest price you will pay for a house especially the agent. It compromises the negotiation. I did that to my neighbor about a year before the sale. I Neighbor referred me to an agent. I interviewed this agent and discovered he took 5 comparables which were nowhere near what would be comparable to the house we had and used that as a means to justify his lower suggested listing price. The price was so low that it would easily catch that on an auction. Obviously ready to take advantage of anyone whom is less suspecting. The author mentioned agent market analysis is more accurate than a professional appraiser because it uses more comparables. I drove to each of my comparables--the agents lie all the time. They are NOT licensed to do market analysis. Appraisers belonging to well known appraisal groups have certain standards which must be followed--plus they have no conflict of interest--they are only there to do an appraisal--not to close on a house. Do your own research. Know your conflict of interest. Play dumb with the agent during an interview and see if he or she will reveal their true nature. Skip those with obvious intent to fish for cheap property.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 25, 2006
This book gives interesting insight so that you can be prepared for the complex real estate sale. I just sold a home and found understanding the psychology of the other side very helpful. This helped me to not be too greedy and be more rational. Great book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.