Looking to Buy or Sell? Five Reasons Why Working with a Real Estate Agent is Important.

Regardless of whether you’re buying or selling your home, it is a major financial and emotional undertaking. In this day and age where social media and the Internet are part of our everyday lives, some people think the services of a professional real estate agent aren’t necessary because it’s a job they can take on themselves. But ask yourself this question, if you aren’t familiar with preparing a tax return would you chance filing your own taxes, or would you turn to an accountant for help?

Buying and selling is a time consuming and often stressful experience but working with a professional real estate agent can help alleviate some of the pressure and serve you in the long run. Navigating a real estate transaction, regardless of whether you are buying or selling can be tricky so having someone with experience besides you every step of the way is invaluable.

If you’re still thinking of flying solo, consider some of these important reasons why working with an agent can save you time and money in the long run.

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A few members of the Madison Estates team!

Better Access

Real estate agents have complete access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) database and regardless of which side of the sale you’re on this tool is your friend. If you’re selling your home a listing in the MLS will increase exposure of your house, opening it up to agents all across the area. If you’re trying to sell your home on your own this opportunity won’t be available to you.

If you’re on the buying side, your agent will be able to access listings that fit your search criteria, saving valuable time in looking at ones that don’t meet your requirements.

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Office Location: 2922 Avenue R, Marine Park

Real estate agents are also plugged into a network of other agents and through word of mouth can either share your listing or learn about homes for sale. When working on your own, your reach might not be as wide as theirs.

The Art of Negotiation

Negotiating is not for everyone so another benefit to hiring a real estate agent is that they’ll do it for you. Plus, an agent can take the emotional aspect out of the sale and provide objective advice on different aspects of the process.

Regardless of whether you’re buying or selling, your real estate agent is working in your best interest to negotiate the best deal possible. If you’re going at it alone and think the listing agent will be helpful if you should need assistance think again, they’re working in their client’s best interest and cannot provide you with that same loyalty.

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Creative Commons

Knowledge and Information

Whether you have questions about a particular neighborhood, comparable sales in the area, mortgage brokers, inspectors, lawyers, etc., real estate agents either have the answers or can point you in the right direction to find them. Because they work closely with many different people connected to the real estate process, there’s no need to worry if you don’t know any professionals in the field, they already do.

Price Guidance

Real estate agents are familiar with the current market climate and can ensure your home is priced right. While they cannot select prices for sellers to list at or buyers to offer, they can guide you in your choices. As a seller, your goal is to sell quickly and at the highest price. Homes that

are on the market too long are often reduced in price and can leave potential buyers wondering if there’s something wrong and they may not be willing to meet your asking price. As a buyer, the number you choose to offer is ultimately your decision but any good real estate agent will help guide you when it comes to determining an offer that will get you a great deal without turning off a seller. While nobody wants to overspend, having a realtor working for you will help in any back and forth counter negotiations.

Paperwork

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Office Location: 53 Douglass Street, Brownstone Brooklyn

With the sale or purchase of a home comes a volume of paperwork that will need to be filled out along the way, with some of these documents easier to complete than others. Working with an agent takes away the guesswork; they deal with the same contracts and conditions on a regular basis. Navigating a real estate sale or purchase can be tricky so it’s smarter to leave the work to a professional.

Although you might think doing this on your own can save you money, it might actually cost you more in the end, especially if you’re buying or selling a property for the first time. At Madison Estates we’re here to help guide you with all of your real estate needs.

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Tips for Making Your Home More Desirable Before You Sell

Once you’ve made the decision to sell your home there are a few things to consider before finding a realtor and putting that “For Sale” sign in the ground.

While the most important factor is to set your price for the right amount of money for the neighborhood you’re located in, the next step is setting the stage and making your home stand out to potential buyers.

Because first impressions count, especially in real estate, small changes and touches can make all the difference.

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Make a Good First Impression

Before potential buyers step foot inside, they’re going to be looking at the outside and making a mental note of its curb appeal. You want the most appealing look from the sidewalk to your front door.

  • Landscaping –Clean up both the front and backyard (if you have one) to make sure it looks spotless. Trim any bushes or shrubs so they are well manicured. If you have a deck, you might want to consider pressure washing for a clean look.
  • Dress up your front door – If your door is old and worn, touch it up with a fresh coat of paint as opposed to replacing the door completely. Consider hanging a wreath that shows some of your personal style.
  • Swap outdated fixtures – Take a look at your door knobs, house numbers, mailbox, and outdoor light fixtures to make sure they’re all in good condition.

Create a Welcoming Environment

Once a potential buyer steps inside you’re going to want them to feel like they’ve just walked into their new home. The goal here is for them to visualize themselves living in your property and with a few touches you’ll be able to pull it off. Don’t go overboard though, less is always more!

  • Plants and Flowers – Fresh or not, quality plants and flowers are attractive to the eye when scattered throughout the home. Choose ones with a fresh, clean scent, nothing too over powering. Décor magazines are a great source of inspiration to help in choosing and placing the best greenery.
  • Fresh coat of paint – By giving walls a once over you’re breathing new life back into those rooms. Experts recommend neutral colors (think grays and beiges) because they’re not distracting. Plus, they make the space appear lighter and brighter which can be a big plus for a room that does not receive a lot of natural light.
  • Clean Up – Before each showing it’s important to make sure your home, both inside and outside, is spotless. It’s a common mistake people make when selling.

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Eliminate Clutter

By decluttering, buyers are able to visualize much easier than in a home that’s filled with tons of stuff. You want to showcase the amount of potential space the new owners will have, not the other way around so take a look and see what you can let go of.

  • Closets – Empty by at least half (rent a storage unit if you have to); this will give the buyer an idea of how much storage they’ll have. On the flip side, it’s a good opportunity to go through what you don’t want; that way you won’t have to pack up and move items that you no longer have a use for.
  • Den/Office area – Any bills, mail, papers that you absolutely do not need get rid of and for the rest of the things you do need, find an out of sight spot where they won’t be seen.
  • Play area – Children’s toys shouldn’t be visible; plus it’s a good time to go through everything and donate the ones they no longer play with.

Let There Be Light

The bigger your home feels the more it will appeal to buyers. While you can’t do anything to increase the size, you can make sure it’s as bright as possible.

  • Open your curtains – This will bring in as much natural light as possible.
  • Darker rooms – For those spaces that do not receive as much natural light as others, invest in some light fixtures and strategically place them around to illuminate even the darkest of spots.

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Take Advantage of Space

Sticking with the theme of creating a space that appears larger, lightening is not the only way to achieve that feel.

  • Rearrange and remove furniture – Removing bulky pieces of furniture is another way to open up a room. Those larger pieces make a space feel smaller so if you can eliminate a few it will give off a more open feeling.

Remember, you don’t have to spend a ton amount of money when creating a warm and inviting space that perspective homeowners can envision themselves living in, you just need to make some improvements that will help showcase the beauty of your home.

Be Sure to Insure

There are so many things to organize when purchasing a new home, that home insurance probably isn’t the first thing you’ll think of. Your mortgage lender however, will probably require you to have homeowners insurance. Especially for first time buyers, you should take the time to research and be sure that you’re choosing a policy that will give you peace of mind and protect your investment. Here are some things to consider.

 

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You worked hard to find the perfect home, now you have to work hard to find the right insurance. Each provider has a different algorithm for determining customer premiums so the price of home insurance varies widely from carrier to carrier. It pays to shop around, compare and contrast rates. A U.S. consumer financial services company recently conducted a survey of home insurance costs from four companies. The survey, based on addresses in 15 cities nationwide, revealed home insurance rates ranged by as much as 188 percent depending on the location. Contact several companies to compare coverage but shop for value, not necessarily the cheapest price. Since you’ll mainly deal with insurance companies during times of disaster, be sure to find a company that is financially stable and has a high customer satisfaction rating and reviews.

 

More is More
Of course you’re looking to save money on insurance and don’t want to pay more than you need, however you need to be sure that you’re getting enough coverage. Standard home insurance policies offer protection from a variety of potential risks, ranging from liability to damage from weather-related perils. However, you may want to adjust or add coverage depending on your needs. Pay close attention to the part of your policy that protects the structure of your home – you should have enough dwelling coverage to rebuild completely in case the house is destroyed. That amount, however, is often different from the purchase price. Many homeowners buy only enough insurance to cover the amount of their mortgage, which may only be 80 or 90 percent of the value of the house, depending on the original down payment. Some homeowners insure an amount equal to the current value of their home but this figure may be less than the actual cost of rebuilding (including labor and supplies, which may rise sharply after a storm when there’s big demand and short supply). Be sure to notify your insurance agent whenever you make significant improvements to your property, which will affect your home’s replacement cost. To avoid calculating your home’s value every year, ask your insurer about an automatic inflation provision.

 

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It is so important that you read the fine print of your policy and fully understand it, so that there are no surprises later and you’re home free. Understand the terminology, like deductibles, liability, premium, sub-limits and riders. Study the exclusions section of the policy and know what isn’t covered so that you can purchase additional coverage. For example, flood insurance is not part of a standard homeowners contract, and if you live near a river, the ocean, or area affected by hurricanes, you may need to buy additional flood protection. Consider additional living expenses if ever forced from the dwelling. If a house becomes uninhabitable due to a flood, fire or other disaster, you will need to pay for living accommodations and may need additional money for food and transportation, etc. This coverage is “additional living expenses” (ALE) and is a benefit that is usually worth about 20 percent of the home’s replacement value. Be aware of the benefits, limitations and exclusion. A mistake homeowners often make is believing they are covered for mold or sewage backup – many policies don’t offer this protection or have claim limits. Another is thinking that they have one, flat deductible – ask your agent if your policy has different deductibles depending on the cause of damage.

 

Where Credit is Due
Give yourself credit! You know that it matters when getting a favorable interest rate on your mortgage, but it also matters for home insurance. Providers use your credit report as part of the formula for assessing the risk you pose as a policyholder. Their models show that consumers with good credit are much less likely to file claims. Studies have found that people with poor credit may pay at least twice as much as people with excellent credit when it comes to homeowners insurance. So before you get too far into the buying process, assess your credit and take steps to improve your score. At the very least, make sure to correct any errors. There are many simple ways to improve your credit score, including paying your bills on time and keeping low balances on your credit cards. Improving your credit score can result in big savings on your mortgage and your home insurance premiums.

 

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Bundling your policies and sticking with one insurance company can help you save on your home insurance costs. Some providers offer discounts that commonly range between 5 to 15 percent off your premium of you obtain your home and auto insurance for them. You may save even more if you purchase multiple policies from them, for example if you have multiple vehicles or a boat. See if you can bundle all items with one carrier to save money. Some insurance companies also offer special discounts for long-term policyholders. You may be able to lower your home insurance premium by up to 10 percent if you stay with certain providers for six years or more.

Selling on your Own

Like pacing up and down the platform of the C train for another 20 minutes versus giving up and hailing a cab in peak hour traffic, there are pros and cons to every decision. Selling your own home can be a slippery slope you don’t want to climb, so before you open up a can of worms and make the big decision – here’s our decision-making cheat sheet.

Time and dime again
When are you looking to move? Are you planning to stay in the New York area? Do you need to sell before you buy? Weeding out all your priorities and obligations early will ensure your journey ahead is more like a well mowed lawn rather than an untamed forest. Understanding the window of time you have to sell will maximize your potential show off your home’s best qualities.

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Home (Selling) Alone – not always a comedy
If you want to do it without real estate agents or brokers, in typical New York style, there are a bunch of FSBO (For Sale By Owner) services that are popping up faster than Starbucks in Williamsburg. If you’re not the GPS type and prefer the no frills hardcopy maps, these services will give you the essential tips you need to promote your property, determine a real estate lawyer is required and guide you towards the necessary paperwork. Don’t believe Hollywood – it’s not as easy as hammering a sign onto your lawn (of New York City fire escape) and expecting the buyers to appear. You have to do the work and invest the time in a self-made crash course to become your own real estate expert.

There are ways to get the word out about your property when going alone, but why whisper when you can roar?

Profession-now support
If “overtime”, “conference call” or “school pick-up” are words that appear daily in yourschedule – selling your home on your own might not work. You have job! Being hands-on with your Christmas family feast may be a good thing, but when it comes to potential buyers inspecting your home – they might not want anything to do with you! It sounds harsh, but buyers want to be able to envision themselves owning this new space and feel comfortable having a candid conversation about price, responsibilities and deadlines. Speaking directly to owners can be unnerving. Switch the emotion for profession. It’s real estate agents’ full-time job!

People power
What’s on the top of real estate agents’ list to Santa? More lists! Some would say an agent is only as valuable as his or her list is updated – and it’s hard to argue. Agents have a huge list of reliable contacts to reach out to ranging first-home buyers, investors and corporate relocations. Let a qualified real estate agent power up your sale through and conserve your own energy for a burden-less and rewarding transition.

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Know can-do!
On top if the real estate jargon and the housing market, real estate agents inter-borough experts and know how to effectively advertise your home to potential buyers who are looking to move into your almost-old neighborhood. An agent will help you hit that sweet spot that won’t be jarring to see online amongst a collage of other listings and won’t immediately turn buyers off. Instead, they’re trained to peak their interest with the right numbers and words.

Buyers use brokers too
As much as you don’t want to deal with flakey or inconsistent enquiries from independent buyers, time-poor buyers also want to get cut to the chase with a broker whose full-time job it is to respond to their every need. A serious buyer is going to use a reputable broker because they have sound advice, trust, and legal responsibility. Brokers remove the security risk of a novice, but determined, buyer and you can win them over too – if you’re working with the right team.

Keeping it Real in Real Estate

Finding an honest real estate agent doesn’t have to feel like climbing Mount Everest – if you do your homework. From reality-defying resumes to half-hearted guarantees, these are our top tips to catching the real estate Pinocchio.

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The liar’s language

If you’re a buyer, make sure the facts aren’t for sale as well. Commonplace listings jargon includes “BATVAI,” meaning “buyer’s agent to verify all information,” and “IDRBNG,” which means “information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.” In these cases, the onus is on you or your agent to confirm the accuracy of the listing information. Agents may also pad their sentences with qualifiers such as “To tell you the truth”, “To be honest” and “I swear to God.” If your agent is naturally a trustworthy person, do they really need the linguistic buffers?

Inflation situation

For real estate agents, property sales put dinner on the table so it’s easy to see why they can be optimistic when it comes to sale price estimates. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, check out other homes in the same neighborhood or get an appraisal by a third party to verify the selling agent’s prediction. But not all high prices are tall tales. If you feel like an agent is giving you an inflated price, put them on the spot to explain how and why they are so confident (there may be legitimate reasons!).

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Spot the difference

Speaking of putting agents on the spot, take note of any hesitation and changes in body language when you probe for more details, especially when they proclaim to know a list of potential buyers for your property. Who are they? What are they looking for? How long have they been looking to buy? Put on your NYPD hat and if you’ve spent sufficient time with the agent beforehand, you should notice changes in speaking pace, mannerisms and fidgeting as well as exaggerated smiles or laughing if they’re stressed. Following these anxious exchanges, keep an eye out for a sigh of relief which can be seen in sudden relaxed body language and posture as well as a change in facial expression. This may suggest they just faked their way through their testimony on the stand.
You can handle the truth!

Ask for a copy of your agent’s production record. Request your agent print a copy from the MLS or you can ask another real estate agent to do it. You can find out about your agent’s number of sales, the price of sales and the properties’ locations. Within the industry it’s typical for ‘top sellers’ to sell one property each month or 12 a year. How does your agent stack up?

‘Testimoanials’

Is your agent relaxed about sharing more information about their previous clients or do they begrudge it as an inconvenience? Agencies scream and shout when it comes to testimonials on fliers and websites so double check they’re real. Check for full names and whether the agent is happy for you to call their clients as a reference – just like any other job interview.

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Keep them honest and on it

Have the confidence to know the customer comes first. You have the power and their reputation is in your hands. Find ways to make it obvious that you could potentially spread the word to your network of either a very pleasant or damaging real estate experience. You could also name-drop people you know or even the names of their co-workers or supervisors that you’ve been in touch with to keep them on their toes.