Questions to ask a real estate agent

You have real estate questions, we have real estate answers.

CLICK ON A TITLE FOR THE ANSWER TO YOUR REAL ESTATE QUESTION

This is a list of questions to ask a real estate agent. You can always ask The Madrona Group questions directly via phone, text, email, Zoom, Messenger or any other form of communication.

A great source of accurate information about all things real estate is the Realtor Magazine.

Otherwise we hope that you find what you are looking for on this page.

Most people tend to call their real estate agent first... but it is actually your lender that should get the first call.

The first step to buying a home is getting pre-qualified.

You need to find out how much money you can borrow based on your credit score, income, debt and cash on hand.

Once we know how much you qualify for than we can meet and come up with a home buying strategy that meets your needs.

Not yet.... but coming soon.

John L. Scott offers the Instant Buyer Plus+ program.

We can take a quick application turn it into our buying department and get an instant cash offer within 2 working days.

(restrictions apply)

Yes.

John L. Scott offers the Market Ready Plus+ program.

We apply for an enhancement loan to make minor repairs to your house to get it ready for sale. Then you pay it back when the house closes.

(restrictions apply)

The answer to these questions to ask a real estate agent can vary significantly based on many different factors.

Once a home has been selected and an offer accepted the closing process takes between 20-45 days.

The short answer is add 20-45 days to the amount of time it takes us to get pre-approved, find a home you love and get an offer accepted.

We have helped a family buy a house in about 24 days and we have helped families that have taken many months.

Most people have heard the media talk about the best time to sell is in the Spring.

Big data shows that there are more houses that are available for sale in the spring, meaning that more people sell their house in the Spring.

That does not translate into the best scenario for you.

For example this year (2019) the media home price in the NWMLS in April was $504,201 and in November it was $506,464 according to NWMLS Infosparks.

The short answer is the best time to sell your home is when it makes the most sense to your situation.

A good home priced correctly and marketed heavily will sell at a good price not matter what time of year it is.

Have you heard the term "Seller's Market"?

A "Seller's Market" is when there is less than 3 months of housing inventory.

That is based off of the Law of Supply and Demand.

Generally, low supply and high demand increase price and vice versa.

For supply we use a term called Inventory, or how many houses are for sale.

Demand is impossible to pinpoint but we use some key indicators such as population size and growth,  job growth rate, access to capitol, interest rates and how quickly homes sell.

When we talk about inventory it is in terms of how many months of inventory we have to sell.

That is the number of active listings divided by sales and pending sales.

A neutral market once was considered 5-6 months of inventory.  Recently the economists have shifted it to 3-4 months of inventory.

Have you heard the term "Buyer's Market"?

A "Buyer's Market" is when there is more than 3 months of housing inventory.

That is based off of the Law of Supply and Demand.

Generally, low supply and high demand increase price and vice versa.

For supply we use a term called Inventory, or how many houses are for sale.

Demand is impossible to pinpoint but we use some key indicators such as population size and growth,  job growth rate, access to capitol, interest rates and how quickly homes sell.

When we talk about inventory it is in terms of how many months of inventory we have to sell.

That is the number of active listings divided by sales and pending sales.

A neutral market once was considered 5-6 months of inventory.  Recently the economists have shifted it to 3-4 months of inventory.

The answer to these questions to ask a real estate agent is that there are 3 phases to selling a house.

  1.  Getting it ready for sale
  2. Putting it on the market
  3. The Closing process

The fastest we have ever sold a house was 2 days to get ready for the sale.  3 days on the market.  21 days to close. For a total of 26 days.

That was a family that was ready to go with a good quality home, priced right, in a seller's market with a buyer who paid cash.

That result is not typical.

Getting it ready for sale

As your real estate agents we only need 2 days to get your home on the market.

The bigger factor is how long it takes you to get your home market ready day one.

Putting It On The Market

Once the listing is live it is our goal to get your home sold as quickly as possible for the most amount of money.

The Average Days on Market for our listings is 27 days.  But our Median Days on Market is 6.

That means we get an occasional listing that is overpriced or is difficult to sell that takes a while, but generally we sell your home in the first week on the market.

The Closing Process

Typically the closing process takes between 21 and 45 days.  If it is a cash buyer it generally goes quicker and if it is a FHA or VA buyer it can take a little longer.

The internet is flooded with AVM tools or Automated Valuation Model tools, like Zillow.

They use an algorithm to determine the value of your home based off of location, size, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.

They are usually only accurate within a 50K range.  Meaning they are generally either to high or to low.  And sometimes, they miss the mark completely.  Every once in a while we actually sell a home the same price as the Zestimate.

These Instant Home Valuation Tools are good for getting a general idea of the value of your home but not the last word.

The real estate industry uses a method called, Comparable Market Analysis.  We use the 5-10 most comparable homes for sale, pending sale and sold to get a value.  Then we adjust slightly for condition, neighborhood, view, season, market conditions, updates, etc.

Your best bet is to give us a call and schedule a no obligation quick home tour with us and we will provide you a complete Comparable Market Analysis in a hard bound binder.

Technically you do not pay an agent anything to help you buy a house, the seller does.

When a home gets listed on the MLS the seller agrees to pay a commission to the buyer's agent. That percentage gets paid at closing.

Some agents may require you to sign what is called a Buyer's Agreement.  This is a contract that states that if you buy a house you agree to give your buyer's agent an agreed upon commission.  It is possible that if you agree to pay your agent a commission that is higher than the amount that the seller has agreed to pay that you would pay the difference.

Absolutely.  Everything is negotiable.

The price of the home, the earnest money deposit, the down payment amount, the time to close, what stays with the house, what goes, if work needs to be done, whether or not there will be an inspection, how long you have to get the inspection done, if the sellers would like to rent the home after closing or just need to stay a little longer.

We have negotiated chairs staying to foundations being rebuilt and everything in between.

This is why it is super important to choose a real estate agent that studies and practices strong negotiation techniques to ensure the best possible outcome.

580 minimum for FHA.

620 minimum for Conventional.

There are some programs that will let you go lower than that but the terms will not be as favorable.

The higher your score the more favorable your loan terms become including less fees and lower interest rates.

There are still plenty of 0% down loans available for conventional loans.

There are good 3.5% and 5% down loans available for FHA loans.

Often times people think that you need 20% down to buy a home.  However, that is actually less common than 0%, 3.5%, 5% and 10% loans.

The reason most people assume you need 20% is that is the amount you need to avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI). 

The insurance is a percentage of the loan amount annually, paid monthly with your mortgage payment.

PMI is nothing to be afraid of. PMI simply protects the lender in the case of foreclosure, and its cost is generally well worth the gains in home equity associated with purchasing sooner and making a smaller down payment.

It is best to talk to a professional mortgage broker about what would be best for you.

Not necessarily.  It will really depend on your financial situation and the reason and urgency of your move.

You can buy a new home contingent on the sale of your current home.  It is a bit more challenging to do, but is a part of our normal business.

If you can afford to purchase your new home without the capitol from your current home that is probably the best case scenario.

When you are buying contingent it takes away some of our bargaining power.  This is because the seller will be taking a risk by accepting your offer.

The risk is that your home may not sell quickly, or for as much as you had listed it for, or at all.

In addition, you are also in a position to be bumped. The bump clause allows the seller to continue receiving offers and if an offer comes that is not contingent they can bump your offer for the better offer.

You the buyer would have an agreed upon number of days to either get your home in contract, waive the contingency (which would put your earnest money in risk if you were not able to close in time), or get bumped for the new buyer.

You can put yourself in a stronger buying position by selling your home first and once your home sale is in pending status, then start your home search.

At that point you are upgraded from buying contingent to buying Pending Sale.  It is a stronger position, although still a weaker position than just buying without the need to sell a house.

These are all great questions to ask a real estate agent.

We recently switched our mobile phone service back to Verizon from the discount service that we had switched to last year.  It is true that the bill was less, but we are dependent on our phones and experienced spotty service.  We feel like we may have missed important phone calls that lost us money.  In the end the small savings was not worth the potential of loosing significantly more money.

I love saving money as much as the next guy.  There are places that you cut and places that you don't.

The bare minimum for listing a home for sale is entering it in the MLS and putting a cell phone picture of the house in the MLS.

Here is what we do when we list a home.

Maybe even more important than that is your agents level of engagement in the negotiation portion of the transaction.  If your agent is not fully committed to your transaction they might not feel as obligated to fiercely negotiating on your behalf.

The bottom line is that if you go with a discount broker it might end up costing you more money in the long run.

It is a deposit that you pay to the seller to show good faith toward buying the home.

When you submit an offer you will agree with your agent on an earnest money amount.  Typically between 1-3% of the purchase price.

When your offer is accepted you will have 2 business days to provide a check or money order to your agent or the escrow office.

This sum of money will be held by the escrow company and when the transaction closes will be applied to the down payment and cost of the home.

If the transaction does not close the earnest money is refundable as long as the buyer does not terminate the sale for contingencies not listed in the contract, or miss timelines as agreed upon in the contract, or if they simply decide to walk away for no reason.

Your real estate agent should keep you informed of any situations that puts you in danger of loosing your earnest money.

One of the things that you will agree on with your agent is an offer expiration date.

It is a required field on a Residential Purchase and Sale Agreement with the NWMLS.

A high quality buyer's agent will explain the strategy behind picking an expiration date.

For example if the listing is an estate sale and they set an offer date and state that the attorneys will need 3 days to determine which offer they will accept then you would set the offer expiration date to 3 days after the offer review date.

However, if a listing had an offer review date of Tuesday and we wanted to try to negotiate the sale on Friday and were making a strong offer we might make the offer expire that night.

If the seller does not respond by the offer expiration date then the offer is voidable.

That being said if the seller responded the next day by signing the offer the buyer could still choose to move forward with the contract, but would not be legally responsible to.

These are good questions to ask a real estate agent.

This is really up to you and depends on what condition it is in, your urgency for moving, how much you hope to profit and how much capital you have.

As a general rule of thumb you should make sure that everything is in good working order, your yard is landscaped, you have new/clean floors, freshly painted walls and the home is clean and decluttered.

If the home is going to be vacant then we do recommend staging it.  This help potential clients imagine what it will be like living in your house.

Most of the time it is not advisable to make major updates to sell the home, as this does not generally produce a positive return on investment.

For a more thorough list of things you can do to increase your curb appeal CLICK HERE.

Every month I create a detailed Snohomish County Housing Market Report.  You can find it here:

https://www.themadronagroup.com/snohomish-county-real-estate-market-trends-monthly/

If you buy a new construction home you should make sure that it comes with a warranty.  Most new construction will come with a 1 year builder warranty.

There are differences in warranties from builder to builder, generally, they cover all of a home’s materials and workmanship.

There is also home warranty that you can add to any home purchase.  The home warranty is purchased by the buyer.

A home warranty can cover systems like; Heating, Plumbing and Electrical.  Appliances such as; Washer, Dryer, Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Range & Garbage Disposal.  Additional items like; Ceiling Fans, Garage Door Openers & Doorbells.

We are licensed by the NWMLS and technically can work anywhere in the state.

We have our office in Lynnwood, WA and prefer to work in Snohomish County and King County.

You can learn more about our areas of expertise here:  https://www.themadronagroup.com/puget-sound-community-guides/

Yes.  Although it may not be without consequences.

Generally when you make an offer to purchase a property you offer what is called Earnest Money, or a small deposit on the property.

If the transaction does not close the earnest money is refundable as long as the buyer does not terminate the sale for contingencies not listed in the contract, or miss timelines as agreed upon in the contract, or if they simply decide to walk away for no reason.

If you decide to walk away for no reason then your earnest money will be at risk.

However, if you find that the home was not what you expected after conducting a home inspection or the appraisal comes in low or you have a financing addendum and your funding falls through, and you walk away, your earnest money is not at risk.

Worst case scenario you walk away and lose your earnest money.

The assessed value of your home might be different than the current market value because house prices change constantly, but tax assessors usually only update their values annually.

"State law requires that county assessors appraise all property at 100 percent of its true and fair market value in money, according to the highest and best use of the property. Fair market value or true value is the amount that a willing and unobligated buyer is willing to pay a willing and unobligated seller. The county assessor values real property using one or more of three professional appraisal methods." (DOR)

While it is a general rule it is not required.

Generally when a real estate broker is going to do less work to sell your home they will charge less than 6%.

3% of the total generally goes to the selling agent or the buyer's agent.  This is the amount that incentivises agents to show and sell your home.

The other 3% goes to the listing firm, in our case John L. Scott.  With that they pay for our insurance and brokerage fees and give us the rest.  We then use that to pay for our personal insurance, taxes, licensing fees, office fees and marketing fees.

These are good questions to ask a real estate agent.

This really depends on the buyer.  We have had clients that fell in love with the first home we showed them and clients that have viewed 10 or more before they found the one.

What helps is completing a wants/needs analysis with all parties involved in the buying process.

If you have a good idea of what is important to you and your agent has done a good job of informing you of what is possible in your particular price range then you should feel pretty confident while doing your home search.

Whether it is 1 or 10 usually you will walk into a house and just know that this is the one.

The amount of the sales price that the seller receives is called the Net Proceeds.

The Net Proceeds are calculated by subtracting all the expenses of selling from the Home Sales Price.

The expenses include:

  • Real Estate Commission
  • Staging and Prep Work
  • Seller Concessions
  • Home Transition and Overlap Costs
  • Title, Escrow, Notary, and Transfer Tax
  • Repairs Needed to Sell Home
  • Mortgage Payoff Amount

A general rule-of-thumb, but by no means official, is subtract 9% of your sales price less your mortgage payoff.

Even with the very best Lynnwood Real Estate Agents this can happen from time to time.

You find a house that you fall in love with and we submit an offer only to be beat by another party that loves the house.

If your offer is rejected by the seller than nothing happens.  There is no money trading places, or contracts being made.

Simply, you just start your home search again.  This time a little more experienced.

If you find that this is happening consistently, more than 2 times, you should consider finding a different real estate broker.

If you are going to buy your new house with all cash you do not need a mortgage first.  Otherwise, you need to get your financing secured before you start your home search.

No matter how much of a financial wizard you are without approval from a mortgage company we will not know how much money they will lend you.

Knowing how much mortgage you are approved for helps us navigate your home buying journey.

In addition, at this time (January 2020) we are in a Sellers Market.  That means that there is less than 3 months of inventory.  What that also means is that when trying to purchase a quality home that is priced well the seller will want to know that a bank has pre-approved your purchase price before they accept your offer.

Escrow – Ticor Title

"Wire fraud typically involves a hacker gaining access to an email account and posing as a trusted party involved in your real estate transaction. This could be someone pretending to be your real estate agent, loan officer, title agent, or even an attorney. Once the hacker has access to a trusted email account, the hacker sends an email from that account or from a similar account that looks “almost” the same as one of the parties in the transaction – with information related to your transaction, including wire instructions for your closing funds" (Ticor Title)

What Is Title Insurance? Ticor Title - FNF

"When you buy or refinance a home, title insurance confirms there are no disputes over who has rights to the property." (Ticor Title)

5 Biggest Deciding Factors For Buying a Condo Vs. House

1. Price

2. Maintenance and Upkeep

3. Privacy

4. Risk

5. Resale

Read the complete answer here: Condo Vs. House


We hope that we have answered any questions to ask a real estate agent that you may have had.

If we have not yet touched on a question that you have please use the form below and ask us.


Contact JASON FOX


Jason Fox

JASON FOX

425.299.8454

[email protected]

Contact Us
reCAPTCHA