The process of buying or selling a home typically comes with its fair share of questions. Here is a list of real estate frequently asked questions to help provide some clarity. If you have questions not covered here, our knowledgable agents are always available.
Real Estate Frequently Asked Questions
Why use a real estate agent to find a home?
Realtors have access to all of the homes on the market. You can work with one agent under a Buyer Representation agreement and receive advice and opinions, usually at no cost to the buyer. In fact, with someone in your corner helping with negotiations, you can save thousands. They provide you with accurate information in an ever-changing market and help navigate the vast array of documents and legal procedures.
What is a REALTOR®?
A REALTOR® is a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. This means that he or she must uphold the standards of the association and its code of ethics. Realtors also have access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service).
What is a broker?
In Texas, all real estate agents are licensed as either a Broker or a Salesperson. All agents with a “Salesperson” license must be sponsored by a Broker who is responsible for all their authorized business activities. At Stovall, REALTORS®, the Broker does not compete against the agents, but works with them to achieve the goals of their clients.
Is there a difference between a “selling agent” and a “listing agent”?
A buyer’s agent works for the buyer and is able to give advice and opinions to the buyer, and assistance with negotiation.
A listing agent works for the seller and gives them advice, opinions, and assistance with negotiation.
Our agents can represent either buyers or sellers, or in some cases both as an “intermediary.”
Are older homes or newer homes better in value?
Value is not always determined by a dollar sign but is often determined by personal preference. Thus, both older and newer homes can be better in value depending on a person’s expectations for a home, lifestyle, etc.
Both older and newer homes will require work, but the work will likely fall into different categories. For example, an older home may require a new hot water heater or repairs, whereas a new home may require landscaping or finishing touches.
When it comes to resale value, newer homes typically take longer to appreciate, and your competition may be other new construction. An older home in a good neighborhood may be able to be improved and build equity.
What is a contingency?
This is usually a conditional clause in a sales contract requiring certain events to take place for the entire contract to be valid, such as the sale of another property.
What are closing costs?
Closing costs are expenses incurred by both buyers and sellers in the process of transferring ownership of properties.
What is an MLS (Multiple Listing Service)?
An MLS is an online, computerized listing of homes for sale in an area listed with a REALTOR®. Agents are granted access to the MLS to find houses based on search criteria. Our agents are a part of the NTREIS MLS.
What is an HOA (homeowners association)?
Homeowners associations are commonly found in subdivisions, gated communities and other types of planned developments such as townhouses and condominiums. They typically include a monthly or annual fee. HOAs are in charge of upkeep for communal areas in addition to enforcing set rules all residents are expected to follow.
For a loan, what is the difference between prequalification and preapproval?
Being prequalified means you may potentially receive a loan of the amount stated. This may happen assuming that all information you’ve provided the bank is accurate and truthful.
A preapproval means you’ve undergone an extensive financial background check. This check includes your credit history, tax returns and employment verification. It means the lender is willing to give you a loan.
What is title insurance?
Title insurance protects the lender and buyer against any potential losses incurred from disputes over the title of a property.
Why use a real estate agent to sell my home?
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Stovall, REALTORS® agents are trained to help you navigate the vast array of documents and legal procedures and give you advice and guidance in the sale of your home. They provide you with accurate information in an ever-changing market. They have the ability to get your home in front of more people than if you listed it as a FSBO.
How do I price my home?
The pricing decision is an important one. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Stovall, REALTORS®, we use the same data that the appraisers use. We look at homes that are comparable to yours that have recently sold. We make adjustments for variances in size, location and amenities. We also look at other homes that are currently on the market because these are your competition. We provide all of this data to you and assist you in determining the market value.
What are comparables/comps?
Comparables, otherwise known as comps, are recently sold properties that are similar to your house in size, location and amenities. They help the appraiser determine a fair market value.
What is the best time to put my house on the market?
The real estate market is typically very strong between March and September. However, selling a home is also influenced by a variety of other factors, not just time of year. Whatever the right time is for you, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Stovall, REALTORS® will assist you in obtaining the broadest possible market.
What is an appraisal?
An appraisal is a report created by a qualified individual giving an estimated value of your home. This term is interchangeable for both the report itself and the process by which the estimate is obtained.
Who is responsible for making repairs as a result of inspection reports?
If a buyer orders one or more home inspections, it does not obligate the seller to make repairs or changes. Rather, inspection reports are typically used to negotiate repairs of major issues, safety or environmental hazards that may be present. It depends on the contract and negotiations as to who will be responsible.
Do I have to sell to the highest offer?
No, you do not. For example, if you have a lower offer that has a better-qualified buyer or terms that you find more agreeable, you can accept that offer instead.
What is an escrow account?
An escrow account is a “savings account” set up by the mortgage company for taxes and insurance. Payments typically include principle, interest, taxes and insurance (that’s PITI). These payments are counted as part of your monthly mortgage. The mortgage company will use the balance of the “savings account” to pay your annual taxes and insurance.
Can I avoid private mortgage insurance?
You can avoid private mortgage insurance by paying at least 20 percent down payment at the purchase of your home.
Mortgage insurance is a small amount included with your payment to allow buyers with less than 20 percent down to get into a house with much less down payment.
How much time does it take to close my loan?
The actual explaining and signing of the documents takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Explanations of documents and questions along the way will mean more time, but it is recommended that you understand the process and details. Thus, the timeframe varies depending on you and the agent you’re working with.
Why is it best to go to a lender before I start looking at houses?
We highly recommend getting prequalification from a lender before you start the home search process so that you know what price range to look in. A letter from a lender with an offer will make your offer stronger.