By Katherine Adams
Real estate agents have seen it all—the good, the bad, and the ugly. They’ve tried to sell houses with everything from fabulous swimming pools and patios to nasty, pet-stained carpets and oh-no-they-didn’t décor. Experienced Realtors know why some houses sit on the market for months and why even some pre-approved buyers walk away from the closing table without the keys to their new house.
The professional movers at A Better Tripp Moving and Storage, Inc., work regularly with a number of Houston’s top-performing Realtors who have the expertise to give their clients the best advice about buying and selling their homes.
We talked with Ron Nevill, a Houston-based Realtor with Re/Max Westside Realtors, who explained that when his clients understand their role and their Realtor’s role in the process of buying or selling a house, things move forward quickly and with ease. “I think I’ve got some good advice to give my clients about how they can buy or sell their house and make sure it’s a win-win situation for everyone,” he said.
It’s important for buyers and sellers to understand how prices are set.
“Realtors don’t establish the prices,” Nevill said. “Neither do the sellers. People will talk to different Realtors and then hire the one who promises to list the house for the highest dollar amount.” Nevill said this tactic gets lots of attention from sellers, but is not likely to result in a sale.
Although the promise and that high listing price sound great to the seller, the house can end up lingering on the market for months. “The sale price of a house is determined by conducting a competitive market analysis (COMPS) that will compare that house to other houses in that neighborhood and indicate a range of how much money the house can sell for per square foot,” he explained. “That analysis will determine if the market can support that price, or if it’s too high. A house is unlikely to sell outside that range.”
Then, when a house has remained unsold on the market for an extended period, prospective buyers start to wonder what’s wrong with it, or if it’s undesirable for some reason. “Conducting the COMPS tells the seller exactly what they need to know so they can price it appropriately and attract a buyer quickly,” Nevill said.
Don’t shop for a home on the Internet thinking it will save in Realtor’s fees.
“I always tell buyers that the seller pays the Realtor’s fees—the Realtor is ‘free’ to the buyer,” Nevill said. “Buyers rely on the Internet to find a house, and it actually ends up costing them more money.” When clients “shortchange” the process, they lose the valuable information an experienced Realtor can bring to the table. “Why not make use of their expertise?” Nevill said.
After finding a Realtor, a buyer’s immediate next step should be to get pre-approval for the loan. “This is so important, because sellers don’t view buyers as serious unless they have secured their pre-approval,” Nevill said. “It’s what proves that a buyer has the resources to purchase that house.”
Nevill said that buyers without pre-approval could find the house of their dreams, only to watch it slip away. “I get clients who come to me not realizing the importance of the pre-approval,” he said. “Some clients look on a site like Zillow, and believe it’s as simple as looking at the house and buying it. Then, while they’re getting pre-approved for the loan, a pre-approved buyer buys the house and they’ve lost it.”
Another Hint: After those all-important loan pre-approval papers are in hand, Nevill warned against a common trap: Avoid making a big purchase before closing on the house. “People get excited about their new house and buy new furniture or a new car without realizing it affects their credit status,” he said. “Then, when we get to the closing table, the loan doesn’t go through, and everyone walks away empty-handed. That is a terrible scenario, but a knowledgeable Realtor will give a client this guidance beforehand. Mistakes cost money—maybe even the house.”
Buying a house isn’t about the house—it’s about the neighborhood. “If you find a great house, but it’s in a neighborhood you hate, then you’ll never be happy,” Nevill said. “That’s why I always begin by asking clients which neighborhoods they like. If you find a house you don’t like that much, but it’s in a great neighborhood, you can always change the house. You can’t change the neighborhood.” When clients realize that, Nevill said it eliminates the frustration of finding the perfect house in the wrong area.
People spend a lot of time choosing a doctor, dentist, or lawyer. You’ll spend more money at the advice of a Realtor than any of them—so interview your Realtor carefully.
There are 40,000 licensed Realtors in Houston. Only 5,000 of them sell more than one property in a year. “Buying or selling a house it a major transaction,” Nevill said. “You’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. You and your Realtor should be very clear on your expectations of each other through this process.”
Nevill said he gives his clients a list of what they can expect from him as they purchase a new home:
- Frequent, open communication
- Respect for client’s needs, time, and finances
- Represent the client’s best interests in all negotiations
- Show only the homes that meet clients’ criteria
- Consult with clients throughout the buying process to an informed, intelligent decision based upon clients’ needs
And since clarity in expectations works both ways, Nevill said he lets his clients know what their role will be until they close on their new home:
- Be on time to all meetings, or call to cancel in a timely manner.
- Meet with the loan consultant, and discuss new purchases with the loan consultant before making them.
- Respect the seller’s property.
- Make an informed, intelligent offer immediately after finding the perfect home.
- Respond immediately to calls from mortgage, title, inspection, and other services connected to the process.
To contact Ron Nevill, visit www.remax.com. or e mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org