handshake sign busines

To Sign or Not to Sign: Who Works for You in Real Estate?

Most people know a little bit about the players in the real estate industry. Maybe they’ve heard of Brokers and Agents, but they’re not really sure what these people do. Some know a bit more and can tell you that there are Listing Agents and Buyer’s Agents and everyone gets paid commission, but that’s usually where common knowledge runs out. If you’re looking to buy or sell your home, it’s important to learn more about the very different roles these people play. One thing to note is that these roles are often flexible. A person who is a Listing Agent on one home or property could (and probably is!) the Buyer’s Agent on another property.

Listing Agent
This is the most commonly known Real Estate industry professional. They are the ones who have their names and signs in front of homes for sale and their job is to sell homes. Typically when a homeowner decides to sell their home they will contact a few Listing Agents who will then come to the property to meet with the seller to discuss the property, offer some pricing advice, and try to “sell” their services. In the United States, agreements known as “Exclusive Listing Agreements” are commonplace. These agreements state that only one agent may have the opportunity to sell the house while under the contract period. Once the property owners find an agent they like, they’ll sign this contract and the agent will get to work.

Listing Broker
In many cases, a seller will never interact with the Listing Broker. This person is essentially the Listing Agent’s boss (although real estate agents tend to be Independent Contractors). Brokers are typically active or former agents who received additional training and are responsible for the agents who work under them. In the event that a Listing Agent does something problematic (ethically, legally, etc) the broker is the go-to person for resolution.

Selling Agent
The Selling Agent is the person who sells the home. This can be someone from the same brokerage (company) as the Listing Agent or may be from a competing agency/company. In some cases, this is the same as the Listing Agent. This is known as Dual Agency. In any of these cases, the Buyer has not signed a contract with this person (they’re just helping them out) and this agent WORKS FOR THE SELLER. These agents can draft up purchase agreements or help with contingencies, but it’s important to remember that they are legally and ethically obligated to keep the Seller’s best interest in mind.

Buyer’s Agent
Similar to a Selling Agent, this is the person who sells a home to a Buyer. The difference here is that to be a Buyer’s Agent, the Real Estate Agent MUST have a contract with the Buyer. These are typically exclusive agreements, meaning that the Buyer must stick with the agent to purchase a home and can’t switch to another agent until after the contract period expires. Once the contract is signed, a Buyer’s Agent works for the Buyer and is required to prioritize the Buyer’s best interest when negotiating.

Selling/Buyer’s Broker
Like the Listing Broker, this is the boss of the person on the other side of the deal. In a dual agency situation, the Listing Broker and Selling/Buyer’s Broker would be the same person, but typically they are not. It is not common to have much contact with a Selling/Buyer’s Broker unless there are issues with the Selling/Buyer’s Agent.

Now we know the players, this is how they get paid

Listing Broker:When the Listing Agent signs the exclusive contract to list the home for sale, one of the parts of the contract stipulate what percent of the total sales price is to be paid to the Listing Brokerage. These vary widely across the industry, but it is important to keep in mind that really low percentages tend to mean low levels of service.

Listing Agent:As part of their employment arrangement with their Broker, Listing Agents receive a part of the money that the Broker receives from a home sale. The percentage varies based on the brokerage, region, and agent.

Selling/Buyer’s Broker: Selling/Buyer’s Brokers get a percentage of the total amount from the Listing Broker. This can be thought of as a reward for bringing the buyer to the table.

Selling/Buyer’s Agent: Although these are two different people (working for the Seller or Buyer, depending on if that important Buyer’s Agent contract was signed), they get paid the same way: as a part of the percent received by the Selling/Buyer’s Broker.

Learning about the different roles in real estate can be tricky, but this is a great starting point. The most important thing to remember is that the Buyer does not have to pay anyone (all money comes from the sale of property) and that everyone works for the best interest of the Seller UNLESS a Buyer’s Agent Agreement in signed.

listing, success, business

How to Set Your Listings Up for Success

In the olden days of real estate, only properties listed in the MLS, newspaper, or on busy roads were easily found. Thanks to the power of the Internet, this has all changed. A “For Sale By Owner” home located out in the middle of the woods can now easily be found thank to sites like Zillow, Realtor, and RealtyHive.

This same mass exposure has also changed the way agents need to think about positioning their listings for success. Sure, some homes seem to sell themselves thanks to a hot real estate market, but others sit and wait for their next owners. While many agents will simply carry on as they’ve always done (and wonder why it’s not working like it used to), you know that times are changing and to keep your competitive advantage you need to step your game up. This poses the question, in today’s digital world, how do you position your listings for success?
Perfect the Art of Listing Descriptions
Enough cannot be said about the importance of having a strong, well-written listing description. Nearly all the major real estate sites work based off keywords so if you’re not putting it in the description, you’re missing out. Photos might be worth a thousand words, but search engines like Google still rely on text when deciding what a web page is about and simply showing a picture of a lush, fenced-in backyard with a pool and spa will not get your listing found by someone searching for any of those terms.
Take Quality Photos (or Hire a Pro!)
Second only to a rich description are excellent photos. Photos with good lighting and a strong sense of composition can help move a listing from “nice” to “MUST SEE”. While professional photos are preferred, there are some tricks to making even a cell phone camera look high quality. Using the HDR feature (available on most smartphones) will help you have richer colors and more leeway when editing and using the grid overlay will help you make sure your photos are nicely positioned and not off-kilter. If possible, remove clutter and personal items from the rooms before taking the picture.
Get Your Facts Right
Thanks to the Internet, buyers and sellers are more informed than ever before. While this is generally positive, there are some drawbacks, especially when the information they’re getting is questionable. One of the most popular gripes among the real estate crowd is the wide variance in Zillow’s popular Zestimate tool. This tool shows an estimated home value, and while they can be very close to true value, they can also vary wildly. If a home you’re trying to sell has a Zestimate over your list price, it makes the home look like a deal and can be even more attractive to buyers, but if the Zestimate is less than the list price, buyers may view the property as overpriced, even if that’s not the case. As Zillow is one of the most popular real estate websites in the United State, it makes sense to find out what the Zestimate is. If the price is substantially different than your list price, it is worth your efforts to contact Zillow on behalf of the property owner and attempt to rectify the issue.
Marketing is Magic
There’s something to be said for a strong marketing strategy, but it can be costly. Many agents don’t have the time or resources to be confident in rolling out a marketing plan for each of their listings so having a partner can be extremely valuable. In addition to time-limited events, RealtyHive can also market properties for traditional or auction sellers. To learn more about how RealtyHive partners with agents to market their properties with no upfront costs, click here.

tropical vacation house

House Away from Home: Pros and Cons to Owning a Vacation Home

Summer is the best time for a little getaway. Whether you’re packing up the family for a cross-country road trip or heading out to the lake with friends, it’s always nice to kick back, relax, and get away for a little while. While you’re laying out by the pool, sitting around the campfire, or otherwise enjoying the peace of vacation life, you may start to think about how great it would be to own this slice of vacation paradise.

Vacation homes come in many shapes, sizes, and locations, and the idea of having a home-away-from-home can be quite tempting, but there are some things to consider. After all, purchasing real estate can be an expensive investment and you want to be sure you’re making the right choice.

Why You Shouldn’t Consider Owning a Vacation Home
You Have Wanderlust
Wanderlust is loosely defined as a desire to continually roam and seek out new places. If the thought of returning to the same place year after year sounds boring or undesirable to you, owning a vacation home may not be the best choice. Unless you have a plan to rent out your home, it typically doesn’t make sense to own a vacation property if you’d rather visit new locations.
You Don’t Vacation Often
If you’re planning to use your vacation home as a seasonal residence- a place to spend summers or winters away from your regular home- it might be a great choice, but if you’ll only use it for a week a year, you may want to simply rent and save yourself money and hassle.
You’re Not Financially Ready
Owning any home is expensive. There’s maintenance, upkeep, taxes, and sometimes Homeowners or Condo Association (HOA or COA) dues. The burden gets even harder to bear with a vacation home as you’ll most likely need to hire someone for things you may take for granted in your standard home. From lawns that need to be mowed to inspecting for damage after a storm, you’ll need to have boots-on-the-ground which likely means you’ll need to pay someone for this service if you can’t do it yourself.
Why You Should Consider Owning a Vacation Home
You Enjoy Consistent Vacations
Maybe you like knowing your neighbors well or maybe you want your kids to have the same “up north” experiences you had while growing up. If you’re planning to use the property many times a year, owning can be more affordable than renting and can build equity for the future.
You Have a Plan to Rent It Out
Depending where you’re planning on buying, you may be able to recoup the cost or even make a profit by renting out your home to other vacationers. Properties on the water or near big-name attractions can command impressive nightly or weekly rates and sites like AirBnB make it easy to find people interested in renting. Make sure you find out any rules about renting or subletting before purchasing a property and have a plan as to who will handle any cleaning or maintenance.
You Want Another Citizenship
Buying a vacation home over a certain dollar value can fast-track your path to citizenship in some countries. This can be useful for those who are worried about the political climate in their home country, are interested in staying in another country for many years, or whose travel can be limited by their country’s passport restrictions. Learn more about Citizenship by Investment here!