Top Tips for House Hunting Online

Hunting for a new home online a is a great place to start your search but
keep in mind that you don’t see everything. Real estate agents are great at
highlighting the features of a house listing online but to make the most of
your time, keep these three things in mind:

Identify your Housing Needs
Preferences are important when house searching. A house may not have
everything you want but it will have most of the things. Be realistic about
pricing and keep in mind the must-have items that will definitely be needed because this will help narrow your search.

Stay up to Date
When you start your search, make sure you go to sites with up-to-date
listings directly from the multiple listing service. Realtors post their most
current homes for sale through this. Many sites fail to remove listings that
are already off the market, and this can lead to you trying to sort through
them and find the recent ones.

Pictures can be Deceiving
Photographers capture listings at their best. They use different strategies
and tools to boost the appeal of the home like creative editing and
expensive camera equipment known for its effects. What they don’t show is unappealing parts, like an undone bathroom or small closet.

Go See The Listing After
After you have chosen a house that’s appealing to you, schedule a showing
with your real estate agent. This is the opportunity to see every part of the
house in person and see if it’s a good fit.

Searching online is a great way to learn more about the house you’re
looking for. Even if you’re still unsure about moving, house hunting online
gives potential sellers the basic information.

The A Team

What is Dual Agency and When is it Ok?

What is Dual Agency?

Dual agency is a situation to describe when a real estate agent works with both the buyer and the seller. Most people familiar with the housing market know that a buyer’s agent works for the buyer, a listing agent for the seller, but there’s a third category that’s much more mysterious: the dual agent.

Dual agents, also known as transaction brokers, work for both the buyer and the seller, combining both roles into one. Buyers might stumble across this scenario when they fall in love with a home where the agent they’ve hired to represent them also happens to represent the seller. It’s rare, but it happens, especially in smaller markets where there aren’t a whole lot of properties to go around.

Dual agency can also mean that the buyer and seller have separate agents at the same real estate firm, which most often happens with large brokerages with lots of listings. This is better known as Designated Dual Agency.

Certain states (but not all) permit dual agency as long as it’s disclosed to both buyers and sellers. But is dual agency a good idea? Well, yes and no. There are both advantages and disadvantages to buying a house through dual agency. Here are the pros and cons.

Benefits of dual agency

Dual agency can certainly streamline the home-buying process. Think about it: If both buyer and seller have their own separate agents, there will be four people’s schedules that must be consulted before the property can be shown. Cut one agent out, and it makes scheduling 25% easier. Or thereabouts.

Another potential perk of a dual agent is it can save you on the commission—the money home sellers pay their agent for all their hard work (typically 6% of the sales price of a home), which is then split with the corresponding buyer’s agent for all their hard work. A dual agent, however, keeps the whole kit and caboodle. (Good for them!) As a result, dual agents may be more open than usual to lowering that commission a bit.

Downsides of dual agency

A dual agent is supposed to be neutral, helping clients on both sides of the deal equally. But staying truly neutral can be difficult. For instance, since an agent’s commission is a percentage of a home’s sales price, it’s inherently in an agent’s best interest to get a high selling price, because he’ll make more money. That’s good for the seller, but not so much for the buyer.

Also, since a dual agent works for both buyer and seller, he must tread carefully not to betray the confidence of either party. So, he might stay mum about juicy tidbits that you might have more easily learned if you’d had your own agent in your corner.

For instance: A listing agent might know his clients are desperate to sell. If the buyer’s agent finds that out, he can inform his clients of their added negotiation power. A dual agent, on the other hand, might be compelled to keep mum about all personal matters.

When to use a dual agent

In states that allow this practice, agents are required by law to inform clients if they’re facing a dual agency scenario—and they can’t move forward without all parties’ informed consent. What’s more, both buyers and sellers have the right to opt out and use another agent so both parties have their own representation.

There are situations where using a dual agent makes sense. An example would be if you and your neighbor struck up a deal to sell your home and have already negotiated the terms, price, etc. You might want to use a transactional Realtor (dual agent) to assist both parties toward the closing. (This is also a case where you may want to ask for a lower commission, since so much of the deal is already ironed out.)

The A Team