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Hiring the right Realtor

Hiring the right realtor makes the buying and selling experience much more efficient and fulfilling.  It's surprising how lightly many of us think about such a decision.  A lot of us try to avoid the selecting a great realtor process by going ahead with using our friends, neighbors, hairdressers relative because they are a realtor on the side.  Then, we justify our decision by say it's  the “loyal” thing to do or “I can trust them to me my realtor.”  If you are considering a similar situation, but this person checks out after you've gone through the things I'm going to discuss, then I'm all for it. Hire them!!!   It takes a lot to be a great realtor and you deserve the benefits of hiring one.


A great realtor is a master at finding out what you want, knowing the area (inventory),  knowing what makes one property better over another (property values), and negotiates offers and closing effectively.  


A great realtor has two sides to them.  The first side is that they are interested in you.  You will know this fairly quickly. Are they pitching you or are they having a conversation. Are they in a rush to show you a house or do they want to talk about why you want to buy or sell, first.   A great realtor wants to learn about you and your needs.  When they show you a house and they say, “this location is really close to your work” or “this is the perfect room for Aunt Betty, when she stays,”  they understand you and are looking out for you.  


The second side of a great realtor requires they have a spine.  In other words, they are confident in negotiating the best scenario.  As a buyer you deserve a realtor that can confidently tell you that you shouldn't offer that low.  Or if you're selling, a great realtor will confidently be able to suggest the “right” price for your home or tell you to “take the offer.”  


Below are another handful of things I hope, might be helpful when considering who to hire as your realtor.  


  • This might seem like an obvious one, but you need to know that there are some qualifications that a person must fulfil to become a realtor.  

    -In the state of Idaho, it is required to take pre-licensing courses, totaling 90 hours.  -


    -Each must pass a state as well as a national exam


    -Every real estate agent is required to work under a broker.   A broker usually has more real estate experience to oversee the transaction and has mostly a fiduciary relationship with the client.  


    -Make sure they are licensed and they are current. In the state of Idaho, you can verify your realtor is legitimate by clicking this link.


  • How does this realtor know the people and the area you are considering?  Did they grow up or do they currently live in the area.  Have they done many transactions in the area you want to purchase in.  


  • Who are they socially.  If a realtor says they have a bunch of kids and pulls up in a minivan, they might be the right resource for you to have, if picking a home in a good school district is important.  


  • What did they do before being a realtor and what educational background do they have.  Maybe they are a new realtor, but shifted from being, for example, great in a customer service type profession with a degree in communications,  you might have someone who will at least understand what you're looking for because they have spent years developing their listening skills.


  • Why is this realtor working for this specific broker or brokerage.  Every brokerages has their strength.  Is this brokerage great at leveraging technology?  If you understand how the internet, social media, texts alerts, and electronic signing simplify and speed up the process tremendously, then you might want to make sure their brokerage is known for such an experience.


  • What credentials do they have.  Just like many other professions, realtors have education they can complete that allow them a few letters after their name.  For example, if your fifty years old or more, it might be a benefit to hire a realtor that has SRES credentials.  Below are a few examples of credentials or additional training a realtor may have:


    -SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist): Completed training aimed at helping buyers and sellers in the 50-plus age range.


    -CRS (Certified Residential Specialist): Completed additional training in handling residential real estate.


    -ABR (Accredited Buyer's Representative): Completed additional education in representing buyers in a transaction.




Hopefully, now you have enough info to help you know if you’ve found the right realtor.   That means it's time to get to work.



If you are looking at buying a property, the realtor will have you sign a “buyer representation agreement.”  This is common practice. By signing it you are only acknowledging that you and the realtor have discussed the way you will be represented. It also protects you and the agent.   


When you trust this realtor, and you are ok with them being your “exclusive” realtor, you hire them by signing a RE-14 Buyer Representation Agreement.  This Agreement can be for months, I've even seen a year.  It is displaying trust in the realtor and time it takes to find you the right property.  No matter who finds the property, this realtor is guaranteed commission on the purchase.  Great realtors will ask you to sign this because they are going to put a lot of effort on your behalf.   This agreement protects their efforts. This is what the agreement is intended for.    A slimy realtor will also ask you to sign a RE-14.  Then they let you go and do all the footwork and happily drop in only to pick up a commision check.  Don't ever sign this type of agreement in your first visit unless the realtor has been referred to you and is highly recommended of course.  At the end of the day,  if you have done the things discussed and checking them out before hand, it should be an easy decision whether or not you should sign a R-14 with them.



A good realtor is going to spend time explaining to you how to get the best asking price.  They will have lists of properties similar that are on the market now, pending, and sold recently.  If they are a good realtor they will also have a great understanding of the area and trends that may affect what your asking price is.  A great realtor will also discuss their marketing strategy for your property. This might include strategies for an open house, home modifications, listing signs, and flyers to name a few.   You will be asked to sign a listing agreement.  This agreement will outline commissions, length of time of listing, and representation just to name a few.  A great realtor is going to communicate with you often.    You should feel like they have no other listing but yours.  


Im sure there are many more strategies one can use to find a great realtor.  Hopefully this can get you going in the right direction.


Happy buying and selling!!!






The Top 5 Mortgage Calculators on the Web and the Pros and Cons of Each


If you're shopping for a great mortgage, you'll want to use a mortgage calculator. Mortgage calculators keep getting more accurate and more complex, allowing you to explore the various details involved in a mortgage. Try one of these mortgage calculators to learn what you can expect.


ML Calc: A Simple, Straightforward Calculator With Current Rates


ML Calc ( is a simple mortgage calculator powered by mortgage software company Arsidian. And just one click, you can open up a new window that shows you the current mortgage and refinancing rates in your city. However, the user interface is outdated and simplistic, making it difficult to assess data if you're a visual learner.


The Zillow Calculator: Beautiful Graphics For Visual Learners


Zillow's intuitive mortgage calculator is fantastic for those who learn best through graphics. Upon inputting your details, Zillow will generate a graphical breakdown of your mortgage payment. You can also view a payment schedule graph that shows you when your loan will be paid off. 


The only problem? It doesn't allow you to compare different mortgages.


Mortgage Professor: A Full-Service Suite of Powerful Calculators


Mortgage Professor is a full suite of 53 unique calculators that investigate everything from refinancing to APR to down payments to mortgage insurance to consolidation. The site can give you data like when your mortgage point payments will break even, whether it's less expensive to piggyback a second mortgage, and what your best option for a reverse mortgage is.


Mortgage Professor offers a lot of flexibility and options, but the struggle many users face is not knowing where to start – the calculator doesn't indicate which calculation is the best one to begin with.


BankRate: Get Real-Time Estimates From Actual Lenders


BankRate's mortgage calculator offers much of the same standard features you'd expect to find, but the one unique feature is its listing of lenders. By inputting details like your mortgage term and amount, your down payment size, and your credit score, you can see real-time quotes from lenders – and immediately contact them.


Bankrate doesn't include taxes, though, and understanding its specialized symbols can be a challenge given the poor user interface. Location Options And VA Mortgage Options For Military Families's mortgage calculator is a great tool for those who want a variety of unique options like location-specific home prices and VA benefits. It also uses easy-to-understand visuals, and even shows nearby homes in your price range – plus a variety of articles about mortgages. However, the calculator 

A Quick and Easy Guide to Using an Online Mortgage Calculator



If you're in the market for a new mortgage, using an online mortgage calculator is a great way to determine what kind of terms you can expect to see and how they'll affect your home purchase. Visualizing what a 3.9% interest rate looks like can be difficult, which is why a mortgage calculator is so useful – it shows you exactly what a certain mortgage will do to your finances. Here are just a few ways that you can use an online mortgage calculator to learn more about your mortgage needs and find the mortgage that is best for you.


Start With A Solid Set of Sample Data


In order for your mortgage calculator to be of any use, you'll need to start the calculations with a set of sample data that is a fairly accurate representation of what you can expect to find in the market. For example, if your gross annual salary is $30,000, you won't want to look at mortgages for $1 million homes (unless you're doing so out of idle curiosity). Instead, try to represent your actual take-home earnings and interest rates available to someone with your credit as faithfully as possible.


Try Adjusting The Settings And Terms


Once you have your sample data and have done a quick initial calculation, you'll want to play around with some of the settings and terms to see how minor changes in your mortgage arrangement can affect your finances.


For instance, what happens if you keep your monthly payment the same but increase your interest rate? What happens if you change your 15% down payment to 20% and you suddenly don't have to pay mortgage insurance? When you understand how all of the different variables impact both each other and your monthly payments, you're in a better position to judge what kind of mortgage is a good fit for you.


Survey Multiple Lenders And Input Their Terms


When you use your mortgage calculator, you'll want to avoid simply using one mortgage plan from one lender. Different lenders can vary in their mortgages available and can offer you different terms, which will impact your monthly payments and possibly even what kind of home you can afford. So shop around and use different terms from different lenders – this has the dual effect of both helping you understand how mortgages work and saving you some rate shopping time later.


Online mortgage calculators are an easy way to learn how mortgages work, but you'll want to enlist the help of a professional mortgage advisor when it comes time to choose a mortgage and a lender. Contact your local mortgage 


If you haven't noticed- many are buying, and selling, and moving these days.  Its getting more and more of us to think about maybe doing the same. But, we hesitate.  I want to debunk a few of the voices that we hear talking in our heads that cause hesitation and most times regret later on.



It's a buyers market, so better wait it out.

Can be a true statement, especially in this last real estate low.  But, maybe consider some things before deciding to “wait it out.” Every home has its reasons others would want to buy it.  Think about what got you to buy it?  There are more reasons than just price that got you to buy your current home.  Here are a few reasons to consider.

  • Location

  • Layout

  • Charm

  • Size

Once you locate these reasons, your home breaks free of just being another home.   This is where the marketing needs to be focused.  Have you ever seen that listing with a picture of the property and way over in the corner is this little house.  The home is going to sell because it has land, right?  My favorite are close up pictures on trim work and finishes that highlight a home's uniqueness.   Focusing this way sells homes.    Locate your home's strengths and you will get more for your home even in a “buyers market.”


Its a sellers market, so I better wait it out.  

Also Can be a true statement. But consider, if you sell your home for more than you thought and you buy a home for more than you wanted to pay, its all relative, right? In other words, you really pay the same.

If you don't have a sell and buy situation, there is always a deal out there. You'll always find someone needing to get out from under their home for some reason.   I have seen some of the best deals purchased in a “seller's market.”   It requires proficiency in the area.  Sometimes buyers are lucky too.  There are many ways to find such properties and most real estate agents should be able to assist you if you need it.   


I cant afford to move

Maybe you can!!!  Your first step might be talking to a lender and see what programs are available. There are many programs for home loans and grants not being utilized.   A great lender will offer a consult like this at no cost to you.  Give them a chance to earn your business, right?


What if you move closer to work?  We all know, less time in the car is more money out of your pocket. Maybe if your home had a home office, you wouldn't even need a car at all.  Or maybe you wouldn't need to lease office space any more.  If you your moving because of work, the IRS will pay you for doing such a thing.  IRS Publication 521, Moving Expenses  


Rents are comparable to paying for a home every month.  Owning gets you tax breaks on your home and can make a difference if you're considering moving into a place of your own.

Maybe if you woke up every day in a home with more “charm” you would be more positive and productive.  Mental health always equals more dollars in your pocket.

Moving forces us to go through everything.  Maybe this going through everything gets us decluttered and eliminates the need for the storage unit we are paying for every month.     

Have you considered co-ownership with a friend or family member?  Could be worth it.


A simple investment property might be the answer.  I have a friend that is living in a nice home with a separate home on the same lot.  Before he purchased it, it was on the market for a long time.  Both of us chuckle when he talks about how his rents from the second home pay for the both of them and he really lives in his home for nothing out of his pocket every month.  I guess my friend was the first to think that through when he was the one to finally purchase the property.


My credit is bad

Maybe you're right.  But do something about it.  A lender is more than willing to strategize with you and at no cost.


Maybe you're wrong.  Many misunderstand credit and what it takes to purchase a home.  Get properly informed before you buy into this myth.


Its not worth selling my home

With so many ways to find out what your home might be worth,  many are still not getting to the truth.  Talk with a Realtor and get a comparative market analysis on your property.  Its free. Realtors have access to sold, pending and active properties similar to yours and can be real.  This information has been shocking for many.  Your home might be worth more than you thought.


Maybe Ill move but where do I start?

Most go straight to the computer and start looking at homes.  Its great to take action but there are other steps that need to be taken to ensure success.  The first step is to talk with a lender.  Figure out what you can afford.  

Next,  figure out what your needs and wants are.  This sounds silly but, really, decide why you want to move, and what is important for you to have in your next home.  Start this by thinking about where your favorite spot in your current home.  Also, point out the parts of your current home you don't like or need any more.  Lastly,  Put it all together with a list of the things your home will have to have and what would be nice to have.

Last,  just call a realtor.  Tell them about your list.  If they seem in a hurry to show you property, then call another realtor.  Your success will be best with a realtor that is interested in knowing about your list before showing you a bunch of homes because they are in your price range.

Moving to a home that fits you is very exciting.   I have seen peoples move become life changing for them.   Don't let these myths rob you of such an experience.   

Dealing with an Empty Nest? 5 Great Reasons to Downsize into a New Condo

There's a good chance if your children have recently moved out that your home is feeling a lot larger than it used to, and perhaps you're re-considering the extra space. If downsizing to a condo is on your mind and you're weighing the benefits of this kind of move, here are some that might make it worth the switch in size.


A Little Extra Money

With the additional money you should be making off the sale of your home, there's a good chance that downsizing may provide you with extra assets to sock away for retirement, travel or whatever your heart fancies. If you don't need the money, it might not matter, but in the retirement years a little extra can be of benefit for many.


Minimize Your Costs

Usually, there are many utility and heating costs that go along with home ownership, but by moving into a condo you can alleviate many monthly payments instantly. Instead of paying for every utility, condo living can help to simplify and minimize the amount you owe each month.


Free Up Your Retirement

Often times it may seem like home ownership is the dream, but many people approaching retirement would rather have the flexibility of renting. Because there are limited responsibilities with a rental, it means you can spend the winter months in Mexico without having to worry about who will take care of your home.


A Condominium Community

The great thing about many condo buildings is that they are built close to amenities like grocery stores, drycleaners and restaurants, so you don't have to worry about venturing far out. It might not seem important if you're used to driving to the store to make your purchases, but being able to walk might make you a convert to a different way of life.


Forget About The Maintenance

If you've gotten used to all of the maintenance that goes into a home, downsizing can be a great relief in terms of the time you'll be saving. Instead of a lawn to cut or a multi-level home you're responsible for, you'll be able to rely on the building manager to do this for you.



It can be comforting to have a home you've bought and paid for that belongs to you, but by downsizing you may be able to save on time and significantly lower your living costs. If you're considering purchasing a condo and would like to learn more about your options, you may want to contact one of our local real estate agents for more information.

Did You Know Alarms Are Just One Way to Secure a Home Here Are Four Other Options

The home is a private space that most people want to protect and keep secure, but the cost of a security system can come with a considerable price tag. If you're interested in keeping your home safe without contacting the security companies, here are a few ways you can ensure its sanctity.


Keep Your Property Maintained

Straight from a burglar's mouth, the exterior appearance of a home can say a lot about whether or not a house is a sure bet for a break in. A house where there is clutter and overgrown trees may equate to an unaware owner, but if the home's exterior is well-maintained and the grass is cut, there's a good chance a burglar may move on to a more obvious target.


Purchase Some Long Rods

While it might seem like a long rod is something you use on someone who has already breached your property, these devices can actually be used for securing the access points of your home. If you have sliding doors or windows, insert the long rod into their track to prevent a possible intruder from tampering with them and gaining access from outside


Use A Lighting Timer

The use of a lighting timer to scare away a potential thief might seem like the oldest trick in the book, but most intruders who want to get into a home will look for the easiest option so it can actually do the trick. By using a timer that will turn your exterior lights on and off at different times of the day, they can easily safeguard your home when you're not there to do so.


Get A Guard Dog

A furry friend is enough of a treat on its own, but a barking dog can also serve as one of the biggest detractors when it comes to a criminal who's casing a home. There are few things that will alarm an otherwise quiet community like a barking dog, so an animal that can protect your turf may be an ideal security system without any required installation.



A security system can be pricy to install and a burden to maintain, but there are some simple solutions to keeping your home secure, from purchasing a family pet to property maintenance. If you're considering the costs of a home and are looking into a purchasing one in the near future, you may want to contact our local real estate professionals for more information.

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