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Buying, selling easier when you have the help of a professional

Selling a home in today’ market can be challenging. And even though it is a buyers’ market, purchasing a home can be a complex and stressful process. Having a real estate professional help can make it easier and safer for both buyer and seller.

“For most people, a home is the largest investment they every make,” says Jorge García, president of the Realtors Association of Miami-Dade County. “You wouldn’t have an operation, have dental work done or make car repairs without a professional, yet many people try to handle this single largest investment on their own.”

Today’s market is complex and challenging. “Buyers need a professional to identify where the values are,” says Philip Spiegelman, chairman of International Sales Group in Aventura.

“The first 30 days that a property is on the market are crucial,” says Fritz Hawkins, vice president and general manager of Keyes Company. “After that, the home becomes less desirable. A real estate professional will help the seller set a realistic price, and will have access to a variety of different markets and marketing tools. He or she will take the phone calls, make the appointments and handle all the details.”

A professional will look at the home with detachment. “The Realtor brings objectivity, and will help the seller see it as a buyer sees it,” says Terri Bersach, residential president of the Realtor Association of Greater Miami and the Beaches.

With a large number of homes on the market, one of the important jobs of a real estate professional is to identify properties that match the needs and desires, as well as the price range, of each buyer. “A professional narrows the market to properties that are suitable to the buyer, and will have access to those properties,” Hawkins says.

The culling process is good for the seller as well. “A professional will qualify buyers and identify those who are serious, which can avoid a lot of wasted time,” Spiegelman says.

A professional will help the seller set a realistic asking price. “Pricing today is extremely crucial,” García says. “With so much competition out there, if the pricing isn’t right, people won’t bother to see the home.”

A Realtor has access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a comprehensive compilation of properties being offered for sale by Realtors nationwide. The MLS also tells the real estate professional which properties are traditional sales, which are foreclosures and which are “short sales,” or homes that the mortgage lender is discounting to sell for less than the loan balance.

“In a short sale, banks may bargain on a debt to avoid a foreclosure,” Bersach says. “But the paper work can be cumbersome, and a Realtor will take care of it for you. It can be a lengthy process to engage in a short sale. The lender has the right to approve or disapprove the sale.”

A local real estate professional is likely to be familiar with the area in which a property is located, which can have a major impact on value. “We make it our business to know what’s going on in the neighborhood,” Bersach says. “We can also find out what properties have closed recently and for what prices. In today’s market, that information changes daily.”

Spiegelman notes, “You don’t want to find yourself in a neighborhood where you’re surrounded by foreclosures.”

After a buyer finds the right home, the real estate professional may help with writing the offer. “A Realtor will know what things are likely to be deal breakers, and what might be negotiable,” Bersach says.

A professional will help guide sellers in taking action on offers they receive. “We can tell them why they should accept, or how to best counteroffer,” García says.

The professional may help the buyer find a lender in a market where credit is much tighter than a couple of years ago. “Loans are still out there, and interest rates are very attractive,” Spiegelman says.

A professional can also take care of details that make the closing go more smoothly. But perhaps most importantly, a professional brings knowledge and expertise to a complex process so that buyers and sellers can have more peace of mind. “There’s a minefield of misinformation out there about the market now,” Spiegelman says. “A professional can help you through it.”