Surprises are fun for birthday parties, scratch-offs, and finding an extra mint Milano at the bottom of a Pepperidge Farms bag. They’re quite the opposite when it comes to buying or selling a house. We’ve compiled the weird, the bizarre, and the generally misunderstood real estate facts to hopefully reduce any surprises the next time you’re on the market.
#1 “Selling” vs. “listing” agent terminology is misleading.
In layman’s terms, it’s a mess. Full disclosure, this writer has written for RealtyHive for more than a year and still struggles to keep the two separate (but thankfully has a real estate grandmaster for an editor).
The listing agent works with the person who posts the listing (in other words, the seller). The selling agent works with the buyer — this role is also sometimes referred to as the buyer’s agent. Ideally, that jargon would just make a permanent switch.
Oh, and did we mention that sometimes the listing and selling/buyer’s agent are sometimes the same person? This is called dual agency.
#2 You can’t fire your Realtor just because they haven’t sold your house.
You can work to fire a Realtor who is unethical or irresponsible but minor issues (or even the lack of a house sale) is usually not grounds to terminate your contract. Even if you stop working with your Realtor, there’s a chance that they could still take commission on your property.
If issues come up with your Realtor, talk to them first, then follow up with their broker if you don’t feel like things are working.
#3 Houses that have spent a long time on the market are often overpriced.
If you spot a house that seems overpriced and you can’t figure out why, chances are it’s been on the market for a while. This can serve as a good bargaining tool if you decide to make an offer — you can try going lower than the listing price.
Otherwise, keep an eye on listings consistently, specifically for ones that stay up for several weeks. Even if the price doesn’t change, you could still leverage a lower offer.
#4 Hope for a low assessed value.
While you want a high appraisal value (because that tells how much your home is worth and helps for selling), you want a low assessed value because that determines your property taxes.
#5 When you’re looking to buy a house, never call the listing number.
The “For Sale” sign might look enticing, but don’t call the phone number. That number belongs to the listing agent who, like we discussed earlier, works on behalf of the seller. Contact a selling/buyer’s agent when you see a property you like (and consider working through Cashifyd since you could get cashback at closing!).
#6 Real estate trusts and wills are different.
Wills are usually for smaller assets, trusts are typically for larger ones. Real estate trusts are also private and can eliminate court time while wills can lead to lengthy court stints to divvy things up.
Real estate is one of those areas in life where the more you learn, the less you know. Or at least, it can feel like that. But by researching, learning and staying up-to-date on real estate blogs, you’re actively closing the gap on any unintended surprises — and becoming a well-versed buyer or seller in the process.