Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Things To Know About Working With A Seller's Agent

Buying a MN home for the first time involves collaborating with a seller's agent or subagent. It is crucial that you understand how things will work between you and the subagent because these people act as representatives to the seller and are therefore expected to bring you to the deal. As a seller's agent, they are entitled to a commission and have certain duties and obligations.

Regulations vary from state to state, but there are certain things they cannot do according to national law. The author of '100 Questions Every Home Buyer Should Ask' encourages all buyers to review the agent's forms and disclosures thoroughly to understand exactly what types of services they will be offering; if you do not understand anything, do not sign the form. It's also important to understand the key things that a seller's agent can and cannot do for you:

The seller's agent cannot disclose the list of comparable home's prices in the area. Often referred to as 'comps', a compilation of similar homes in the area will be given to you. Comps usually consist of listing information and list prices. This is necessary to ensure that an unreasonable price is avoided once negotiation takes place.

The seller's agent cannot tell you which home to choose when you are still deciding. Even though it's the seller's agent's job to sell you the home they are commissioned to sell, they do not have a right to 'push' their home over another in question. If you like two homes and the broker is working with both sellers, they cannot persuade you to purchase one over the other; the decision is ultimately yours to make.

The seller's agent cannot discuss the home's defects or flaws. In purchasing a property, the seller broker has no right to mention anything that would have a bearing on your choice or decision. Any material flaws or defects can be discussed but you will still need to find out for yourself if the property is really the best option.

The best offer for the home cannot be hashed out in detail. Most first time homebuyers would normally ask for the actual price to be paid in getting the property. However, this information cannot be legally offered since the seller broker has duties to the seller and any such act can affect the partnership.

The seller's agent can ask you for referrals. Many seller's agents are independent business owners and always looking for new clients. They do have the right to ask you to refer them to friends or family members, and will do everything they can to make your home buying experience a good one.

When you are working with a seller's agent as a first time home buyer, it's important to remember that they are in the business to make the home buying process as easy as possible. This doesn't always mean that they have your best interests in mind, so it's important to do your own research about the property and work with a professional real estate agent in addition to the seller's agent.

About the Author: Alexandria P. Anderson is a St. Louis Park real estate agent that helps people to find and purchase St. Louis Park Homes and properties in the Twin Cities of Minnesota.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Protect Your Money With Real Estate

Do you have jitters about putting your money towards MN real estate? After-all, the media LOVES to talk about what tumultuous times we're in right now. Home prices falling! Buyers beware! Protect yourself!

Never believe anyone that tells you an investment is 100% safe and smart. EVERYTHING that you do with your money has a certain amount of risk involved with it, even if it's just putting bills under your mattress; speaking of which, let's talk about what happens if you do NOTHING with the money you save (e.g., putting it under your mattress). That wouldn't be very smart--fire, flood, theft, etc. could make your money disappear very quickly with no hope for return.

What if you are the type who'd rather keep your hard-earned money in a safety deposit bank? Well, consider the fact that inflation reduces your money's buying power. More concretely, this means that your bills are only worth the currency's present value. Over time, you will find out that you have wasted an opportunity to expand its value.

In the US, the annual rate of inflation is about 3 percent that translates to commodities increasing by almost 3 percent every year. In other words, your money is worth 3 percent less if it is being kept inside a safety box. Would you still perceive of it as "saving" when obviously your money's purchasing power is gradually vanishing?

Let us also look into savings account. Those with this mode of saving are lucky because the FDIC or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation protects them. The risk involved is minimal as far as losing money is concerned. However, there is such a thing called inflation that even the best savings account in the world will have a hard time counteracting. Inflation can also negatively affect your savings account interest earnings.

How about stocks? I like to think of investing in stocks as investing in an "idea". You don't hold claim to any tangible item. You only "own" the fact that you have contributed funds to the "idea" that the entity you contributed your money to will somehow add value to itself and subsequently add a gain to the money you started out with.

How much control do you have over this "idea"? ALMOST NONE! The only thing you can do is research the track record of the entity and the people close to it (e.g., the CEO, CFO, etc.) to guess whether or not the "idea" will work out in the way you hope it will, but it's very difficult to know ALL the factors that will come into play. My opinion is that unless you invest in the stock market as a profession or spend a great deal of your time researching companies, investing in stocks is very distant from your personal interests and can be of great risk. That is why I, and many others, have chosen the last option we'll talk about: real estate.

What primarily distinguishes real estate from the ones mentioned above is its being "tangible" (this presupposes that you can experience it with all your senses: you can see it, touch it, and even improve it.) Likewise, the risk involved as far as losing the physical asset is concerned seemed distant. If it does, there's a wonderful thing called insurance! Can you apply the same in the case of stocks? Your property's value also grows with inflation unlike paper currency so you do not have to worry about your investment losing its purchasing power every year.

The bottom line: real estate gives you surprising benefits in numerous ways that includes huge tax breaks, gained equity through renter-paid deduction, equity gained through improvements, and appreciation. As I have mentioned previously in this article, any investment is not 100 percent safe. But it is in real estate where I am sure that with some forethought, you will find the most satisfaction, security, and enjoyment with your money!