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Working with an agent: 3 tips for buyers May 25, 2007

Posted by jackwoodrealty in First Time Buyers, For Buyers, Helpful Tips.
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Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that people see Realtors as salespeople.  And we all know in what esteem salespeople are held.  But a good Realtor is not a salesperson.

Our job isn’t to sell you a home; our job is to help you buy a home.  There is a difference.  Once you sign an employment contract with a Realtor, that Realtor is your agent, with a fiduciary responsibility to protect your interests and facilitate your home purchase.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your agent.

1) Work with one!  I’m always surprised by how many home buyers are reluctant to “hire” an agent to help in their home search.  The services of a good buyer’s agent are free.  Buyer’s agents are paid by the person who sells the home.  An agent will not only help you find your home, but coordinate the inspections and keep an eye on the deadlines.  There’s no reason not to work with an agent.

1)  Be honest with your agent.  A good agent listens to what you say and does that.  Many clients are afraid to tell their agents such basic information as how much they can afford to spend on a home.  Clients think “If I tell my agent I’m willing to go as high as $300K, I’ll only be shown $300K homes!”  If you have a bad Realtor, this may happen, but a good Realtor knows that the fastest way to a closing is to make the client happy.  A good agent will show you all listings available in your price range.  Make sure your agent knows what this is so you can see the homes you really want to see.

2) Be honest with yourself.  The clearer your vision, the tighter your focus, the more effective your home search will be.  Before you look at the first house, make a list of the features you can’t live without.  Make a list of the features you’d like, but don’t need.  And make a list of the features you absolutely don’t want under any circumstances.  Let these lists guide your search, but be flexible.  As you see more houses, you may need to revise your lists or chuck them all together.  But make sure you’re keeping your agent informed so he or she can show you only the homes you want to see.

3) Communicate.  Tell your agent what you like and what you don’t like about the homes you’re being shown.  This is not a time to “play it close to the vest.”  Keeping your agent in the dark isn’t savvy, it’s counterproductive.

In sales situations it’s the salesperson versus the buyer.  The salesperson is trying to get as much as possible, the buyer is trying to spend as little as possible.  This scenario does occur when buying a home, but it’s the buyer’s agent versus the seller’s agent.  Your agent is on your side, trying to save you money, trying to make you happy.  Help your agent help you.  Hiring a buyer’s agent will be the best money you never spent.


Secure your prescription drugs April 25, 2007

Posted by jackwoodrealty in For Sellers, FSBO.
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Everyone knows the importance of securing valuables before your Realtor shows your home to prospective buyers. It’s less common knowledge that prescription drugs are often targets for thieves. A fellow Realtor told me the following story:

Once when showing property, I had a client bring his two young sons with him. We viewed three homes, and in each home the client had to take one of his sons to the bathroom. I didn’t really think much of it until a few days later. One of the listing agents called me and claimed his client was missing a bottle of prescription pain killers. My client and I were the only ones to view the home recently. Well, I worked with the police to apprehend my “client;” turns out he had a little drug theft side line. It was apparently a family business. He frequently used his sons as unwitting accomplices.

Lock up your prescription drugs when getting your home into show quality condition.

Buyer’s market means opportunities abound April 10, 2007

Posted by jackwoodrealty in For Buyers, For Sellers, Trends.
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St. Louis Magazine online offered it’s take on the current market in St. Louis. They provided thumbnail sketches of a number of notable neighborhoods in the city and county.

Read the article

If you want to explore the values and bargains that are out there, it’s always a great idea to work with a good buyer’s agent. Call or e-mail Jeff (jeffrey.biship@gmail.com) at Jack Wood Realty to help you find the properties that you’re interested in. Give us an idea of what you’re looking for and we can send properties to you in your e-mail.  This service is free of charge.

Tips for selling your home without a Realtor March 26, 2007

Posted by jackwoodrealty in For Sellers, FSBO, Useful Links.
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Here’s an interesting article from Dow Jones’ MarketWatch website. It gives some standard tips for selling your home by yourself, but it really points up some of the reasons why selling a home without the services of a professional can be difficult, time consuming, and could cost you money.

The first point is the importance of setting a proper price. Overpriced homes languish unsold on the market. Underpriced homes eat up all the profit that selling by yourself is supposed to generate. So to avoid this trap, the author suggests you contact three licensed Realtors:

“[Piper] Nichole [author of “The For Sale By Owner Handbook”] also advises asking at least three agents for a free comparative market analysis before setting an asking price — as long as you’re prepared to hear their pitches on why you should enlist their help to sell the home. But [Colby] Sambrotto [CEO of ForSaleByOwner.com] cautions a seller not to be disingenuous to a real estate agent, and to bring one in only if he or she is considering hiring an agent to help in the process.”

I will give them credit for advising that you at least pretend to listen to the agent’s pitch. It is after all why we offer such valuable services for free. And both deserve credit for understanding that the best source of information on the current housing market is your local Realtor. So, why are you selling without an agent again? Oh yes, you want to save money. Who doesn’t?

So, what will you do with all this money you’re saving by selling your own home (assuming the time you spend researching, marketing, returning calls, running open houses, and showing your home has no monetary value)? Take a trip? Buy a new plasma screen T. V.? What does Steve Udelson, CEO of Owners.com a website devoted to FSBOs, suggest?

“‘Probably the best route for most people is an in-between approach — use part of the savings to attract a buyer faster and part of the savings as added profit,’ he said. The biggest mistake that sellers will make is trying to get top dollar for the property as well as a fast sale, he said.”

So, once again, at least some of that money you’re “saving” by going it alone will end up being negated by a lower sales price anyway. Of course we haven’t even talked about the costs of advertising and marketing your home; costs that are usually absorbed by your Realtor.

Speaking of marketing your home, what does FSBO expert Nichole believe to be the most effective marketing tool?

“‘The MLS sells more homes than any other method,’ Nichole said.”

To get on the MLS you need to pay a fee to a FSBO site, whittling away at all that money you’re “saving.” Of course you could just hire an agent. Listing your home in the MLS is just part of the many services a good agent will provide.

Another service a good agent will provide is qualifying potential buyers for your home. This is standard operating procedure. Do you have the time and the experience to make sure your buyer can actually buy your home?

“Nichole said that one of the most common problems that a for sale by owner will run into is getting to closing only to find out that the buyer couldn’t afford the house –‘causing them to start the selling process all over again.'”

Your time is an asset that should be protected as closely as your home and your money. The simple act of moving, let alone trying to sell a house yourself, is a huge investment in time and money. Add to that the time you spend at work and with your family. If you have the ability to learn about your market and the local real estate laws; if you can be available during the weekday hours when clients might want to call for information or visit your house; if you’re willing to be realistic about the fact that the money you “save” may end up going to the buyer, to an MLS listing service, and advertising, then selling your own home may be right for you.

Jack Wood Realty can potentially save you thousands of dollars when you buy and sell with us. We work as a team to provide you prompt, attentive service.  If you’re thinking about going the FSBO route, call us and give us a chance to change your mind.  Or at least get that free market analysis.

Read FSBO 101 at marketwatch.com

Do Realtors & agents sometimes seem evasive on certian subjects? March 19, 2007

Posted by jackwoodrealty in For Buyers, For Sellers, Useful Links.
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It’s not that we don’t want to help you, and it’s not even that we don’t know the answer (usually).  When you ask your agent about the quality of the school district or the local crime statistics, you’re inadvertently putting your agent in a tough spot.

Fair housing laws prohibit an agent from “steering,” providing potentially prejudicial information (usually demographic information) that may lead a client toward or away from a neighborhood.  Crime statistics, especially information on sex offenders, also have the potential to cause legal complications that agents prefer to avoid.  A good agent should be able to provide sources for your questions, though, and this article from the Wall Street Journal offers some.

Read the article.

This link takes you to the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department sexual offender and non-sexual family offense list.

Is it time to go from renter to owner? March 19, 2007

Posted by jackwoodrealty in First Time Buyers, For Buyers.
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MSNBC offers advice for people who are thinking of buying their first home.


“Usually first-time buyers are not thinking about how their credit histories impact their home buying options,” says James Raysbrook, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Bain Associates in Seattle, who works with many young home buyers. Recent applications for multiple credit cards, a spotty record of late payments or even a lack of credit history can all hurt a mortgage application by lowering credit scores. “We also have them check their credit reports to see if any corrections are required.”

Read the article

Price Reduction on Hempstead March 14, 2007

Posted by jackwoodrealty in Current Listings, For Buyers, New Homes, New Town, Price Reduction.
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Jack Wood Realty has just announced a price reduction on 3491 Hempstead; St. Charles, MO 63301. This beautiful home sits on a premium lot in the hot new planned community of New Town, St. Charles. The price is $296,900 . This represents a substantial savings on the same home if built today. Come visit our open house on Saturday and Sunday, March 17 & 18 for a special walk-through price.

Condo Storage: Would you pay $100K for a garage? March 9, 2007

Posted by jackwoodrealty in Trends.
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from STLToday:

Your luxury cars, recreational vehicles and boats might soon have a posh place to park.

A vehicle-friendly concept called condo storage, which has been popular on the coasts, is making its way to the Midwest.

Read the article

Shake-ups in the subprime market March 9, 2007

Posted by jackwoodrealty in Credit & Lending, For Buyers.
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It looks like the subprime market is undergoing a bit of a shake-up. At the height of the so-called housing boom of a few years ago, lenders were relaxing their requirements for people with “less than perfect” credit. This has lead to an upsurge in foreclosures, and now policy changes for subprime lenders that may affect you.


Freddie Mac plans to stop buying some high-risk mortgages in roiled subprime market (from STLToday.com)

Lender Stops Accepting Mortgage Applications (from nytimes.com–free account may be required to view article)

If you’re thinking of purchasing a new home but are worried about your credit, Jack Wood Realty has some suggestions for improving your credit score.

The first thing to do is to find out what lenders will see when they run your credit. Once a year you may obtain your credit report, free of charge, from each of the three major credit bureaus (links to their websites are below). Maybe your credit’s not as bad as you thought. Maybe your report contains errors that are dragging down your credit score. You can dispute and possibly remove any dings against your record that you feel are in error.

Next, focus on your credit cards. Try to keep balances under 50% of your credit limit. Pay early, and pay more than your minimum payment, even if it’s just $5. This shows lenders that you are conscientious and a good investment. As you pay off your credit cards, don’t automatically close your accounts. Lenders like to see three or four open accounts on your report.

If you have any questions or concerns, call Jack Wood Realty. We work with all kinds of buyers, regardless of credit score. We can help you obtain the financing that’s right for you.




A picture may be worth a thousand words, but one word could be worth thousands March 9, 2007

Posted by jackwoodrealty in For Sellers.
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from MSN Real Estate:

In real estate listings, what’s the difference between describing your home as “beautiful” versus “move-in condition”? About $12,500 on a $250,000 home.

Professor Paul Anglin, a real estate economist in Guelph, Ontario, says that homes described as “beautiful” in real estate listings sell for 5% more while “move-in condition” has no effect on sale price.

Anglin and his colleagues from the University of Windsor and researchers from Canada Mortgage and Housing examined about 20,000 real estate listings and sales data in Windsor and Essex counties, Ontario, from between 1997 and early 2000. Among other things, they studied how listings’ phrasing affected sale prices and the length of time it took for the listings to close.

Read the article