Interest Rates, Home Prices, and Agent Interview Questions

by | Feb 1, 2016 | Real Estate | 0 comments

Upcoming Free (& non-promotional) Home Buyer Classes:
Monday night, February 8th, 5pm-8pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)

Saturday, February 13th, 9am-12pm (ish)
Marshall Community Center, conference room
       1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA (kitty corner from Clark College)
If these class dates and/or times don’t work for you, please let us know.  We understand that you have lives, and families, and work.  We will work something out that works better with your schedule.  Just let us know….
….we also have home seller classes available too…link on left on website

Remember…with reservation…we will throw in lunch, or dinner!  😀
Hi there!

So, I guess my comedic picture last week about dry skin & lotion offended some people…  If you are one of those folks…well, I am sorry…it certainly wasn’t my intention to offend anyone.  I personally thought it was pretty funny as the dry winter air really messes with my skin….and again, I thought it was funny.  😀  My sense of humor is a bit warped sometimes.  😉

It’s another week, and we’re already in February.  I do have some client asking when we will start seeing more homes on the market, and I can tell you that new homes come on the market all the time.  We do usually start seeing an increase in homes for sale in the spring months as people prepare to sell when the flowers are in bloom (and their curb appeal increases) and with the plan of purchasing their next home(s) between school years.   Per the Vancouver Housing Authority, the vacancy rate in Clark County is 2%.  That is crazy…and explains the increase in your rental rates….it also explains the surge of homebuyers that we are seeing right now in the real estate market.  Due to the lack of homes for sale, builders are ramping up their building to compensate…but… it is currently cheaper to build an already existing home than it is to buy one brand new.  The demand for it is there, but it’s my opinion that many builders are exploiting that…  I have been told as well by some of my bank friends that the banks will start unloading some of their ‘shadow inventory’ in the next year or so…and that will help with housing inventory as well.

So, what about interest rates, and home prices?  It is an election year, and historically speaking, ‘they’ don’t like to ‘rock the boat’ too much during election years.  Historically speaking, election years stay pretty ‘status quo’.  What this means is that while we do expect ‘some’ fluctuation in interest rates it shouldn’t be too much.  Please remember though that I DO NOT have a crystal ball so this is all just speculation based on past experiences, market statistics, hearsay from others in the economic world, and a smattering of history.  I honestly don’t know what will happen….but like you, I am just along for the ride.  ‘We’ are expecting interest rates to increase though, but ‘think’ that we will start seeing some serious increases either after the election is over, or after the new president (whoever that is) come into office.
Home prices are expected to steadily rise due to the high demand and low supply.  I am hoping it won’t jump in increases as much as it did last year though.  We saw the highest increase in home values during 2013-2014,  as the bottom of the market was really 2012, and this past year, 2015.

This week I want to talk about hiring a real estate agent.  What many people fail to realize is that, as a home buyer, or a home seller, YOU are the boss.  You are hiring someone to help you with one of the most important stages of your life.  YOU ARE HIRING SOMEONE…. this is an interview.  What questions should you be asking?

HOW long have you been in the real estate business?  
Do they have experience, a network of people that they can contact to help?  Nothing wrong with a newbie, but do you know everything about a job when you first start out?  How do you learn?  In real estate, we are always learning, but do you want to be the transaction that an agent ‘cuts their teeth’ on?

HOW long have you been licensed?  
This ties into the last question.  Sometimes an agent worked with another licensed agent as an unlicensed assistant so they could have a couple of years in the real estate industry, but very few (or none) as a licensed agent.  Again, nothing wrong with a ‘newbie’ agent….often times they have more time to help you vs an experienced agent who has other clients we are working with as well.  An experienced agent usually has a pipeline of clients and closings so we’re not as concerned with ‘pushing’ a sale because we don’t need to.  Newer agents usually don’t have that pipeline so may be more concerned about getting you into (or out of) a home as fast as possible.

WHAT did you do prior to real estate?  What was your other careers?
Why is this important?  Buying, or selling a home is one of the largest financial decisions you will ever make.  You are hiring someone to assist you with this decision.  What qualifications does this person have to help you do so?  Did they working in marketing?  Office management?  Accounting?  Did they wait tables?  Work in a factory?  Were they a car salesperson?

DO you have any college education or degrees?
Again, see above…this is your largest financial decision….how is this person qualified to help you with that?  What background do they have that will assist you?

WILL I be working with you, or an assistant?
Sometimes you hire an agent to help you, but then you never see them….you’ve been handed off to an assistant who may not have the qualifications you had asked about to that other agent that you ‘thought’ you had hired.  Sometimes you hired the assistant because they had the qualities and the qualifications you were looking for, and you are surprised that they are actually part of a team.

WHAT days/times are you available?
This is pretty important as you need to know if the times you are available are going to work with the times that your agent is available.  Are they there for you when you need them?  Or can you never get a hold of him/her?

HOW many homes to you sell (on average) per year?
Why does this matter?  Most people think that a ‘full time’ agent sells about 12 homes a year…but really that is a part time agent.  It’s a ‘gross’ check vs ‘net’ check kind of thing…and in real estate there are a lot of expenses, dues, fees, and taxes.  Being self employed has some great things, but they come with expensive costs and overheads.  For example, in my family my husband works for health insurance only… I am the main source of income, and to ‘break even’ I have to sell, at least, 2 homes a month.  Of course, a lot of that depends on the types/values of the homes an agent sells.  I work mainly with first time and move up buyers/sellers vs some agent friends of mine who sell luxury homes.  They don’t help as many people as I do, but make more.  You know… like that supervisor at work who makes more than you, but does less work?  LOL

WHAT is the average price of the homes you help people buy/sell?
This does tie into the last question….  If someone works mainly with luxury homes, do they understand the market for the type of home you are buying or selling?  Not too long ago, I had a call from someone who wanted to sell their 4000 sq ft home in a very swanky Portland neighborhood.  I actually referred them to a different agent for 2 reasons…one reason being that I don’t work in the Portland area and I believe that agents should stick to the areas they know.  Not all markets are the same, and I am not helping someone if I am taking on an unfamiliar market, am I?  …and that’s also kind of the second reason…they have a luxury home and that is a different selling, and buying market.  Honestly, they are better serviced by the agent I referred them to as that agent specializes in Portland, and in that high price range.  I’m always too busy wondering how long it would take to clean it!!

DO you have another job besides real estate?  
This kind of ties into the question about how many homes does an agent sell per year as many part time agents have other jobs to supplement their income.  This also ties into when that agent is going to be available to help you.  Real estate isn’t just about showing homes…there is SO much more to it.  Phone calls, marketing, searching for homes on the internet, calling about that home, calling other agents, other vendors, paperwork, more paperwork, talking, phone calls, texting, emails, title companies, inspections, appraisals, lenders, etc… it’s an 80 hour a week job some weeks.  There are no ‘real’ vacations as you are always ‘on duty’.

HOW do you feel about Dual Agency?
This is an interesting question as you don’t know what I’m talking about…so let me explain as quickly as I can…  When a seller hires an agent that ‘sellers agent’ should be working for THAT seller.  They will be marketing the home, and ‘selling’ that home to buyers, and buyer agents…in a nut shell the sellers agent is selling that home for the seller for the highest possible price and lowest amount of money out of the sellers pocket book (ie buyer closing costs and repairs).  A buyer hires an agent to help them find that ‘perfect’ home.  To work with them with the lender, to negotiate the offer trying to get that home for them in a multiple offer situation (and maybe for less?), to negotiate closing costs, repairs, to be with the buyers for the home inspection, to help understand appraisal, paperwork, the process…and to support the buyers from contract to keys…and beyond.  Real estate is a relationship business, and we LIVE for referrals.  You should always feel comfortable talking to, and contacting your agent ANYTIME with ANY questions…before, during, and even years after you get keys.

As you can see, the sellers agent and the buyers agent kind of have two different agendas.  So, if you call the sellers agent to help you buy the home, and that agent works for the sellers, and the buyers on the SAME home…that is a dual agent.  Who is that agent really representing?  Dual agency isn’t illegal in the state of Washington, it’s just my opinion that each side should always have their own representation.
Builders agents are dual agents which is why you should always bring your buyers agent with you when looking at have a new home built.  Teams are dual agents.
Who is working for, and looking out for you?

DO I have to sign a contract to work with you?
If you are selling a home, there is a sellers contract that you will need to sign.  This contract gives your agent the right to represent you for marketing, offers, and negotiations.  But what about if you are buying a home?  There is a form called a Buyers Agency Form, that is a contract between the buyer and the buyers agent.  As a buyer you do not have to sign this form.  As a buyer, I probably wouldn’t sign this paper, no matter how good an agent makes it sound.  Real estate and lending is all about verbiage and there are a ton of ‘scripts’ that can make any form sound reasonable….and good for you, when it may not actually be so.  In real estate, the buyers agency form is a pretty hotly contested piece of paper…there are agents who won’t work with you if you don’t sign it, and there are others (like me) who think it’s awful.  Customer loyalty is built with good customer service…not a piece of paper…but this is only MY opinion.  🙂  If you, as a buyer, choose to sign a buyers agency form, you are now legally in contract with that agent to buy a home with them.  Technically you always have the right to fire someone, but that is a legal contract for a period of time for a specific purpose.  The first question that, as an agent, I always ask a potential client is if they have signed a contract with a previous agent.  This protects everyone involved….it protects the other agent as I don’t want to step on another agents toes, it protects the potentials clients since if they are in a contract with a previous agent then they need to either let that contract expire, or deal with it in another way before hand, and it protects me because getting that call from another agent that they have a contract with one of your clients is not a good one.  So what happens if one of my clients then talks to another agent and signs a contract with that other agent?  Well, then they’re not my client anymore….they’re now they other agents client.

I’m not going to lie to you…. I know that this blog is going to ruffle some feathers, and while I debated actually sending it out…  I decided to do it anyway.  I want to say that I am not knocking anyone in my industry here.  Everyone has to choose to work the way that their ethics and morals dictate.  As a buyer, or seller, YOU need to ask the questions that mean most to you when hiring an agent.  What questions, and qualifications mean most to you?  Are you looking for someone professional looking, or someone more laid back?  Someone with a warped sense of humor, or someone more ‘traditional’?  There are a LOT of great agents out there, and there are also some agents whose names I see and well, I wonder how they are still around.  I had an agent call me last week about a home I have listed to tell me that my lockbox was broken.  The lockbox wasn’t broken…it was simply timed out and she just needed to put her card back in to activate it again.

I want you to have a good home buying (or selling) adventure.  KNOW who you are hiring and make sure that it fits with what you are looking for.  For good, or bad, YOU hire the team to help you buy, or sell, your home.  YOU’RE the boss, and we all work for you.  Please remember that….  we are not here to ‘sell’ you on anything.  We are here to assist you with your goals, and dreams… and have fun while doing it!  Have a great week!  😀

Information is power, and I hope that I am able to help you.  Good luck, and as always…May the odds be ever in your favor out there….  AND If you are looking for a real estate agent, I would love to be able to help you.  
As always….this is just a quick overview…. please remember that your agent, and your lender work for YOU.  You drive the bus…we are merely GPS to help you get to your goals.  Like the classes, this weekly blog email is to help you with your home adventure.  The goal is to be informative and non-promotional.  🙂  We are, however, hoping you will call and want us to help with your adventure.  

If you have any questions about this, or something you have heard…or if you would like me to help you with your home adventure, please call, email,  text, or facebook me anytime.  I am, as always, happy to help!
Thank you again for your business and your referrals!!  …and thank you for referring these classes to your friends, family, and co-workers. 
 .   ..disclaimer…if you have already purchased a home, or would no longer like to receive these emails, please let me know and I will be happy to remove you from any further mailings… 
 Upcoming Topics:  Septic vs Sewer? 
                  Interview Questions to Ask Your Realtor?
                         Where do I go online to find homes, and what does those statuses mean?  

Last Week:   5 mistakes that buyers make that cost them $$$                 
Have a great day, and I will talk to you soon,

Tracie DeMars / Realtor

ReMax Equity Group
License# 81289
Vancouver, WA

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