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I'm meeting with a Realtor for the first time - what questions should I ask her?

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LynneSin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 04:07 PM
Original message
I'm meeting with a Realtor for the first time - what questions should I ask her?
I keep procrastinating the house buying stuff but I know it needs to be done. I've met a few realtors from some of the open houses I've attended and all of them try to force me into something that is way too much for me (one idiot had the audacity to question when I get married and have kids I'll need the extra space :eyes: )

So this one seems pretty decent - we're just going to go over a few things and she has a few classes she's going to recommend to me for first time buyers (not through her realtor but through a local college and a few other organizations).

So what questions should I ask of her and what triggers could she do that should warn me to run out of there fast as I can
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irish.lambchop Donating Member (877 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 04:16 PM
Response to Original message
1. Get a list of
clients she has sold homes to and for recently. Call them - ask them if they were happy with the service, her knowledge of the area, what they did and didn't like about her. Find out how long she's been in the business. I, fortunately, had a good experience with my realtor. The fact that she's steering you toward classes not sponsored by her realty company for first-time buyers is a good sign. Make sure she is extremely familiar with the area you are looking to buy in. Hope this helps.
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Radio_Lady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 05:12 PM
Response to Reply #1
10. REFERENCES are the first thing! Then, shmoose with her and find out what you can about her life...
Edited on Tue Apr-24-07 05:16 PM by Radio_Lady
Of course, then you want to see if you can afford to pay her cut of the pie.

My husband and I are going to try to list the home ourselves, because hubby sold at least one house without a realtor. It's called FSBO (For Sale By Owner) and lots of people have figured out how to help you with this.

Otherwise, interview at least five people and get someone who you feel will earn his/her keep.

On edit: You're hiring a buyer's agent? Someone to help you FIND a place? That's a bit different. I don't have experience with that -- we worked directly through the builder of our home development. The former home was bought by my husband and his first wife, now deceased. My ex-husband and I also bought through a builder in Florida in 1970. However, many of the same things are operative.

How comfortable would you feel looking for a house by yourself with the help of an attorney for closing, etc.?

In peace,

Radio Lady in Oregon
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 04:26 PM
Response to Original message
2. Good advice from i.l. Also
If you do like her, tell her you'll work exclusively with her, if you're in an area with multiple list that works that way.
She can show you any house listed by any realtor who belongs.

Make sure she understands what you can afford. She shouldn't waste your time and hers with anything you can't.

If you give her a price range, don't be surprised if most of what you see is at the higher end of your range. She wants as big a commission as she can get.

Don't be afraid to look at houses 10% or so higher because price is negotiable and they rarely sell for listing price.

Former realtor here.
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Radio_Lady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 05:27 PM
Response to Reply #2
15. Excellent answer, Trof. Our former realtor here has been sending us print-outs of
comparable properties. She wants us to list with her, but we're happy to have only her (FREE) advice.

Just as an aside, this realtor took my husband to about 125 resales and worked with him for a couple of months (December 1997 -- March 1998). We placed bids on two properties, but they fell through.

Eventually, after putting a small refundable downpayment on an empty lot (!) in the rainiest, yuckiest January 1998, we purchased directly from a well-know builder. Technically, our realtor was not entitled to a commission. However, we wrote the agreement with the builder that her $5,000 fee would come out of their side, not ours.

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Esra Star Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 04:36 PM
Response to Original message
3. Ask her if she has posted on "Please Remove" yet. nt
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Radio_Lady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 05:18 PM
Response to Reply #3
11. Isn't that thread posted to by most of the WORLD's POPULATION by now?
I have it hidden.

Longest time to load since the dinosaur age...
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Esra Star Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 06:01 PM
Response to Reply #11
22. Yes, The trick is don't hit "view all" and then don't let it load.
As soon as the reply button is there hit it.
Guerilla reply and then leave fast.
See.....it's fun.
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OrangeCountyDemocrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 04:46 PM
Response to Original message
4. Stay Away From The Housing Market For Now
It is not a good time to be buying. Wait another year or two at least, and prices will be 10-20% or more lower.

Realtors will do everything they can to sucker you in right now. They only care about their commissions, not whether you're getting a good deal on a home you can afford.

I would wait. The economy is going downward, and you'll get a better deal once things settle.
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LynneSin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 04:51 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. It's not like I'm buying today
But there are a few neighborhoods I'd consider if the right property came along at the right price.
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Radio_Lady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 05:38 PM
Response to Reply #5
17. Lynnesin, do you have time to attend open houses by yourself on Sundays? They are listed
Edited on Tue Apr-24-07 05:38 PM by Radio_Lady
in the newspaper, on-line, on cable TV. Spring in Delaware is a pretty good bet if you aren't getting unseasonable weather. If you know the neighborhoods you want to look in, there are so many options. Do a lot of looking and don't sign anything.

We got a buyer and the initial agreement was written in January in Boston, with almost an acre of bare trees, gray slushy snow, and a backyard swimming pool with a cover on it, and under the snow in the backyard, of all things.



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irish.lambchop Donating Member (877 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 04:56 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. This I happen to agree with
If you can wait, do. Wait until we've a Dem in the White House - economy seems to always do better under a Dem. I do take issue, though, that realtors will try to "sucker" you in - not all of them only care about their commissions. I say that based on the fact that I had a good experience with my realtor because I did my homework and that is all - I'm certainly not well-versed in the world of real estate agents - only on the buying end.
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OrangeCountyDemocrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 05:02 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. OK...Perhaps "All" Is An Exaggeration
But I've heard and seen enough shenanigans involving realtors, to know that many of them are deceptive. I suppose so long as you know what you're doing, you won't get "taken."
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matcom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 05:10 PM
Response to Reply #4
9. rediculous
its a buyers market now. don't bet that it will be better in 2 years. :eyes:

she lives (close) to the Northeast. 2 years?

try about 6-8 months
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Radio_Lady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 05:20 PM
Response to Reply #9
13. Yes, it does seem to be a buyer's market now in Portland.
At least the time on the market of resales has increased by a few percentage points. As far as new properties, it does look like things have slowed down a bit. We bought our house in 1998, and it has been appraised way up (in 2002) and quite a bit down (in 2006).

But there are so many other considerations.
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matcom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 05:25 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. I know Lynne. I'm sure she has good credit
now (within 6 months) is the time to buy. People give HORRIBLE advice on here regarding "housing bubbles", etc..

people don't even realize sub-prime hasn't gone away. it is still there, just at higher interest rates. if you ARE a sub-prime borrower, it doesn't automatically mean you are getting into a shitty program. you can get loans with questionable credit if you are careful. it doesn't automatically mean its predatory lending. your credit could have been whacked due to job loss and now you have steady employment.

so, you buy a house with sub-prime credit, rebuild your credit and refinance out of the higher rate in as little as even 4 months.

again. there is HORRIBLE advice (in a lot of cases) given on this web site.
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Radio_Lady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 05:33 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. Hi, matcom. My husband is pretty sharp with this stuff, and we're in just
an "information gathering" mode.

You're right, much of the information on the Internet is questionable. Hubby and I need to sell this house in order to buy another (you know the drill). However, we are not in any credit crunch.

Hubby is trying to find out if the builder will write a "contingency" contract -- pending sale of our house. There are pros and cons on both sides of the fence. We are going quite slowly but things could pick up if we ultimately come to some conclusion.

I don't know anything about sub-prime credit, but feel terribly sorry for people who got caught in the financial crunch with property swirling and people buying high -- many of them now in foreclosure.
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matcom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 05:41 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. well, not familiar with the Oregon market
or what you paid, how much you owe, etc...

if you are moving up, now may not be the right time but it depends on your values. go out to www.Zillow.com to get an idea of comps in your area. that will give you SOME idea of your current value (keep in mind it may or may not be accurate but it will give you an IDEA).

Houses are tough sells in SOME parts of the country. if you are building from scratch, now really may not be the right time. It COULD take months to sell your place depending on conditions and builders are likely to sit on their properties without penalties.

But the 2 year wait mentioned above is completely wrong. I work in the mortgage biz and here in the Northeast, all indications are things are already starting to turn a bit.

The 'slump' won't last all that long and there is even talk of gov't support. I wouldn't sell outright right now on my home but we have the luxery of being here a good number of years yet.
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Radio_Lady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 05:47 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. Zillow.com is an interesting site, and our neighbors, who just moved from
Oregon to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, used the information to sell their house directly to the buyer with NO REALTOR. At least, zillow.com gave them a "ballpark figure" and they worked it out from there.

We are getting monthly comps from our former realtor, who is really tenacious (she sends us all kinds of cards and advertising specialties).

Last year, I referred a neighbor to her and she came over with a gift for me when the house sold. It was on the market for several more months than the owner anticipated.



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pink-o Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 08:58 PM
Response to Reply #9
26. Hey...OT, but I heard you on Malloy last night!!!
...You sound very cool, Matcom, I like your laugh!
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bullwinkle428 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-25-07 07:59 PM
Response to Reply #9
38. It's a BIG TIME BUYER'S MARKET in the Midwest also -
tons of properties on the market, and lots of "price reduced" signs seen on many of these as well. I would suggest anyone jump at any opportunity right now, assuming it's just what they're looking for...
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lizerdbits Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-25-07 08:15 PM
Response to Reply #38
39. That's what I'm seeing i my part of MD-
Montgomery County. There's 4 on my street for sale that I've seen (2-3 BR TH condos). Two I pass every day on my way out have had signs up for at least a month, one now says reduced.

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LSK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 06:02 PM
Response to Reply #4
23. prices have already come down
And interest rates are still relatively low.

Prices might get lower, but its hardly a bad time to buy anything.
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sbj405 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-25-07 07:13 PM
Response to Reply #4
36. No, stay away from the housing market if you're looking for a short term investment
If you're looking for a. a place to live and/or b. a long term investment, you still can't go wrong with real estate. In some parts of the country, owning can be cheaper than renting (when factor in tax advantages, etc.).
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judaspriestess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 05:08 PM
Response to Original message
8. I've been a real estate agent for the past ten years
ask her if she'll contribute part of her commission towards your closing cost. You will have cost to pay when you get a loan. Also keep in mind that she works for you not vice versa, so many stupid realtors out there just care about lining their pockets and not give a crap about their clients. Also make sure she is PAYING attention to YOUR needs, not what she thinks will work for you. Its not about her its about you!! Good luck
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 05:19 PM
Response to Reply #8
12. From OP I think she's a buyer, not a seller.
The realtor works for the seller, period.
Unless you hire one, at a fee, to represent only you as a buyer.
A good realtor will combine their obligation to the seller with help for the buyer too.
But as the seller's legal agent they are ethically obligated to get the highest price possible for the seller.
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Radio_Lady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 05:42 PM
Response to Reply #12
19. Yes, I've figured that out, and edited my post. All the more reason to
look by yourself until you see a home that really sings out. Buyer's agents are frequently used by executives who are moving into a new area -- moving and closing costs paid by their new employer.

At least, that's the way I understand it.
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 05:53 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. How do you "look by yourself"?
For good or ill, realtors control the market (except for FSBOs) in most areas. How do you see the inside of a house without setting up an appointment with the realtor?

Unless you mean drive-bys.

When we moved here I knew what I wanted and how much I could spend.
The first house we called about introduced us to the realtor.
I liked her and explained that I had been a realtor at one time and knew the drill.
I would work only with her and in two weeks we planned to return home with a signed contract and call the movers.
The state of NH had taken our current home by imminent domain.
That's a whole 'nuther story.

She was very cooperative. She had a lock on the commission.
There was a big local multi-list book, free at grocery stores, etc.
I marked all the ones I was interested in.
She got me the addresses.
We eliminated 99% with a drive by.
Narrowed it down to 3 we wanted to see inside.
And here we are, since 1993, in our first choice.
;-)
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Radio_Lady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 09:15 PM
Response to Reply #19
27. Entangled in verbiage and under medication, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about...
For what it's worth, my realtor in Boston ended up representing both seller (us) and buyer and it worked out fine. She also represented the buyer as a seller, when he was reassigned and had to re-sell the property less than a year later.

Can't take on any more thinking tonight. 7:15 AM appt. Wednesday for root canal treatment.

LynneSin, I hope you find something to your liking.
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judaspriestess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 07:52 PM
Response to Reply #12
24. what are you referring too?
Edited on Tue Apr-24-07 07:54 PM by judaspriestess
Realtors are either sellers agents or buyers agents or they can even be a dual agency which is a slippery slope to go down but if proper forms are signed then so be it. Buyers don't pay agents to represent them, that cost is incrued by the seller in their listing. Typically its six percent. three to the sellers agent and three to the buyers agent.

where did you get that information from?


on edit: thats why a FSBO is exactly that, they do not enlist the help of any agent typically.

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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-25-07 05:53 PM
Response to Reply #24
34. Info is from basic real estate course and law.
Sorry, but if you're a realtor you should know this.

When a seller lists a house with a realtor, they engage the listing broker and their sales staff as their legal agents.
To represent them ONLY, and not a buyer.

The seller pays the commission to the broker, and the broker, et al, are employed by them.

Yes, you CAN hire a realtor to work on your behalf as a buyer.
But it's not common.

Commissions are split between agencies if the selling agent is not with the same company as the listing agent.

You didn't know this?
It's the basic stuff.
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Sabriel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 08:02 PM
Response to Original message
25. Ask why she capitalizes the R.
I've always wondered that.

Seriously, watch out for code words about neighborhood ethnicity. As one perky "r"ealtor said to us once, "And there's lots of normal grocery stores in the area. You know, none of those oriental places!"

Needless to say, we bought a FSBO with the help of a lawyer.
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Radio_Lady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 09:19 PM
Response to Reply #25
28. Good one, Sabriel!
Edited on Tue Apr-24-07 09:23 PM by Radio_Lady
My husband tells stories of "red lining" in Baltimore in the 1960s -- I know it was meant to separate the "Negroes" from the whites.

http://syracusethenandnow.org/Redlining/Redlining.htm

I grew up in the segregated South -- Miami, Florida --, although my parents were born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

There were no other races except white in the schools I attended. Black people were miles away and went to their own schools.

Deplorable... disgusting... degrading.

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Blue-Jay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-25-07 07:22 PM
Response to Reply #25
37. Realtor is a title.
It means that they are a member of NAR (National Association of Realtors).

According to the rules of good grammar, titles should be capitalized.
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LynneSin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 09:24 PM
Response to Original message
29. Thank you all for your advice!
Actually, I really liked this agent - she's really the first one that didn't insist I need to buy more but that I'm single woman doing this on my own and we looked through all the listings in the area & price that I wanted to be and discussed my prefernce.

I really think I'm leaning towards a condo - I'm a low maintenence person who barely vacuums her carpetting once a week (that's for you matcom). We're actually going to look at a few properties this weekend so I can get an idea of what I like and don't like.

As for mortgage, I have to start all that pre-qualification stuff which shouldn't be too much of a hassle. My company offers great loans available for their employees. With my credit (good but not great) it could probably be a great way to go.

As for waiting 2 years - it's all a game of chance. But I really don't want to be in an apartment all my life - this might be the last place where I will ever live outside the nursing home where my nieces & nephews dump me when I get too old & nasty to care for :eyes:

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Digit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 09:46 PM
Response to Reply #29
32. I am a Realtor in another state, and prefer working with buyers
I like to think of myself as a "housing counselor" and as such, I show my clients what to look for, I point out the good and the bad in each property.

When you are representing a buyer, you owe a fiduciary responsibility to look out for the best interests of the buyer. They are your CLIENT, aferall.

I used to write into the agreement that they could cancel their contract with me for any reason at no cost to them if they were unhappy with my services.

Now, for condos:
I don't know the laws in your state, but consider checking of the financial health of the condo association. Get a copy of the covenants and restrictions. ie: pets, what kind of window blinds you can have (really!), parking restrictions, guest parking, any special assessments pending, what IS the condo fee and what does it include....etc, etc. You won't be able to get the documents until a certain point in the process, but you might be able to find of some of the info before you make an offer.

This should start you thinking, huh?

Gotta get some sleep, good luck!
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lizerdbits Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-25-07 08:26 PM
Response to Reply #29
40. Condos are great but find out what's your responsibility to repair
You do have the condo fee but it's worth it for me to not worry about lawns, etc. One piece of advice for condos is see what is your responsibility to repair before buying. I just had all my pipes replaced (polybutylene) and while I knew when buying they were my financial responsibility it's been a royal pain in the ass not to mention expensive. Mine is TH style but I think it's probably a little trickier with apartment style to determine which unit is responsible for what pipes so the building owner might just have it be their responsibility. Something to check into before signing anything.
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salin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 09:26 PM
Response to Original message
30. I had a great realitor.
I spoke to a couple - and told them the tale - i was looking to buy urban and inexpensive - I was looking to start aggressively investing/saving - and not via a mortgage (as I have spent most of my adult life as a student or working at nonprofits, that I hadn't yet had much opportunity to have enough money to begin investing towards retirement.) I said the price that I wanted to pay (outright with no work, or lower cost with that much left over for renovation.) I said this outright so that they would know that I wasn't going to bring in much money for the realitor. Wanted that outfront.

Got a couple of periodic calls from one guy - and another person had great follow up. His firm specialized in foreclosures at all price levels. He was also a local policeman - which was great since I was looking at some transitional neighborhoods - and not knowing the area could lead to more and less safe areas of such communities. I paid and rennovated for about a third of what I would have paid in one of the older (not as expensive) suburbs. Mine is a former HUD home as well as one in foreclosure.

Find someone who consistently brings you info on homes that meet *Your* criteria. Find someone who seems (by their actions) to understand *your* financial goals (esp price range) and find someone who responds positively to that (my guy thought it was great that I was buying low - so that I could save aggressively rather than buy as much as my current monthly paycheck could bare.) And when you get that groundwork set up - stay with the person keeps following up rather than only very episodically checks in. There are some realitors that really like matching folks up to their wants/needs rather than are just interested in making as large as a check as possible (and thus push more expensive properties than the buyer initially wants or expresses an interest in.)
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Midlodemocrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 09:29 PM
Response to Original message
31. You need to buy in an area where there's a Cracker Barrel
for the Chicken Pot Pie. Anything else is unacceptable.

:bounce:


(I can get some comp stuff for you that is non realtor related, so PM me if you want)

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Digit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-24-07 09:47 PM
Response to Original message
33. Check out craigslist.org for homes!
Now, seriously, I am going to bed!
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-25-07 05:56 PM
Response to Original message
35. Have You Ever Sold A House?
would be the one I'd want to know and how many and how long it averages her in that market?
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Major Hogwash Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-26-07 01:46 AM
Response to Original message
41. Ask about water damage and if there has ever been a house fire at that house.
My sister's friend bought a house a few years ago that suffered from spring runoff, not from rivers overflowing, but from the water table rising.
The entire subdivision was built near an area where the water table was very close to the surface of the ground and heavy rains would cause the water table to top out and flood the entire area, and the water wouldn't recede like in other normally irrigated areas. The entire subdivision was miles from any river, so no one even thought to ask about water damage possibilities in that area.
The subdivision was built during a decade-long drought, so the problem didn't surface for many years.
The owners of the subdivision had to build an underground water drainage system themselves because the developers had long since moved on.

My sister bought a house that had suffered a small house fire. But the realtor didn't tell her that, and she didn't ask before she bought the house. The damage from the fire had been fixed, but the water damage caused by putting out the fire wasn't evident until later. I crawled up into the attic space and found odd water marks on a lot of the roof beams and a few burnt places on some other rafters. The insulation had been replaced and wasn't nearly as thick there as it was for the rest of the house. The fire had apparently burned through the roof in one specific area and they only fixed the section of the roof that had been burned. She's in the process of repairing the entire roof now.

And check to see how old the furnace and air conditioning system is for any house you are looking at buying. No matter what they tell you, most furnaces that are over 10 years old are not nearly as efficient as the ones they make today.
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