Working with a Realtor
Your Toolkit to prepare for homeownership
Thanks to a sound economy, San Antonio continues to welcome families relocating from the U.S. and around the world. As one of the healthiest real estate markets, San Antonio home prices remain affordable, especially for families moving from either coast. According to the National Association of Realtors, home buyers paid a median price of $148,300 for a house in the San Antonio metropolitan area in the first quarter of 2009, a decrease of 1 percent from the same period in 2008.

As a newcomer to the San Antonio region, you may not be new to the home-buying process. Even so, it’s helpful to review all the steps involved, as well as San Antonio-area resources and conditions. With many neighborhoods in the greater San Antonio area, it’s important to decide where you’d like to live. That decision can be based on where you work, the schools you choose for your children and lifestyle choices – do you want to live in an urban setting or would you prefer a master-planned community with amenities, such as a golf course? Since there is abundant land available in the San Antonio area, you may want to consider building a custom home with a great view to watch Hill Country sunsets.

Selecting an Agent
Before you relocate to the area, a good idea is to find an agent who is a relocation specialist or a buyer’s agent. A relocation specialist specializes in helping people move to a new area, and many are available through nationwide real estate brokerages. If you’re unfamiliar with real estate companies in the San Antonio region, you can ask a real estate agent you know in your current city for a company recommendation or affiliation. You can go online and search for companies that meet your needs and geographic location. You can also contact the advertisers included in this relocation guide.

Selecting the right real estate agent is important as you will be working closely with that professional on one of the most important financial transactions in your life – the purchase of your home. When interviewing real estate agents, include these questions to ask:
  1. Is the real estate agent a certified Realtor®?
  2. Does the Realtor have any additional training or designations? Does the agent’s business card and website information reflect this?
  3. How long has the agent been in the business?
  4. How well does the agent know the San Antonio real estate market?
  5. How many transactions was the agent involved with last year?
  6. Does the agent work full time or part time?
  7. Is the agent a good communicator and present himself professionally? *Ask which tools the agent uses to communicate – by phone and e-mail?
  8. Ask how accessible this person is during the work week and the weekend.
  9. Does the agent know the community you may be interested in?
  10. Is the Realtor® a buyer’s agent, a seller’s agent or a dual agent?
  11. Does he or she have recent client references?

After deciding on the right agent, it’s important to remember to keep communication lines open, sharing any thoughts, concerns or reservations at any point along the way to ensure the best home buying experience.

Why Work with a Realtor®?
The National Association of Realtors® provides this list of important differences to consider when selecting a real estate professional to represent your homebuying interests.

All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) are properly called Realtors®. When you begin your home search, consider using a member of the San Antonio Board of Realtors (SABOR).
  • Your Realtor® can help you determine your buying power – that is, your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. If you give a REALTOR® some basic information about your available savings, income and current debt, he or she can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you. Most lenders – banks and mortgage companies – offer limited choices.
  • Your Realtor® has many resources to assist you in your home search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your agent to find all available properties.
  • Your Realtor® can assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property. Agents who are Realtors® have access to a variety of informational resources. Realtors® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning and schools. There are two things you’ll want to know. First, will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
  • Your Realtor® can help you negotiate. There are myriad negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings or equipment. The purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to what is recommended or required.
  • Your Realtor® provides due diligence during the evaluation of the property. Depending on the area and property, this could include inspections for termites, dry rot, asbestos, faulty structure, roof condition, septic tank and well tests, just to name a few.Your Realtor® can assist you in finding qualified, responsible professionals to do most of these investigations and provide you with written reports. You will also want to see a preliminary report on the title of the property. Title indicates ownership of property and can be mired in confusing status of past owners or rights of access. The title to most properties will have some limitations; for example, easements (access rights) for utilities. Your Realtor’s title company or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.
  • Your Realtor® can help you in understanding different financing options and identify qualified lenders.
  • Your Realtor® can guide you through the closing process and make sure everything flows smoothly.
  • Your Realtor® can give you up-to-date selling information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.
  • Your Realtor® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. Often, your Realtor® can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of your property. Your Realtor® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. In many markets across the country, over 50 percent of real estate sales are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer. Your Realtor® acts as the marketing coordinator, disbursing information about your property to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service or other cooperative marketing networks or open houses for agents, etc. The Realtor® Code of Ethics requires a Realtor® to utilize these cooperative relationships when they benefit their clients.
  • Your Realtor® will know when, where and how to advertise your property. There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate. The National Association Of Realtors® studies show that 82 percent of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts. When a property is marketed with the help of your Realtor®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your Realtor® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
  • Your Realtor® can help you objectively evaluate every buyer’s proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing – a lot of possible pitfalls. Your Realtor® can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.
  • Your Realtor® can help close the sale of your home. Between the initial sales agreement and closing (or settlement), questions may arise. For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a problem with the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your Realtor® is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing (or settlement).

Specialty Real Estate Professionals
As you interview and speak with real estate agents and Realtors®, you’ll start noticing acronyms such as CRS and ABR on these professionals’ business cards. What exactly do these designations mean to you and the home buying process? Once you’re aware these specialties exist, it may influence your selection process.

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