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Shopping for a home? Find the right pros

Whether you want in or out of a home, the right professional can make the process cheaper and smoother.

By Stacy Johnson Aug 22, 2012 4:42PM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyHomebuyers' satisfaction with the nation's largest real-estate companies has reached a five-year low.

 

J.D. Power and Associates' 2012 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study says, "Overall satisfaction among homebuyers (using large national real-estate companies) is at its lowest level in the (five-year) history of the study, averaging 789 on a 1,000-point scale, compared with 797 in 2011."


Home seller satisfaction was even lower, at 768.

 

How can you make sure you get the right pros? Stacy Johnson offers some advice in the video below. Then read on for more.

The mortgage pro

The first person buyers need -- unless they're flush with cash -- is a mortgage expert. A pro will help you figure out what kind of mortgage you can get based on your credit and offer advice if your credit needs help. They'll also help you decide which type of mortgage best suits your needs -- 15-year versus 30-year, adjustable rate or fixed rate. They will walk you through the preapproval process so you'll be ready to nab that perfect home before someone else does.

 

A mortgage expert's job is to provide three numbers: the size of the loan you can qualify for, the cash you'll need to close, and the monthly payments you'll have to make. 

 

How do you pick a mortgage pro? Here's mortgage pro Rob Hurst's advice:

  • Talk to several. "I would get three good-faith estimates from three different reliable lenders and compare and shop in terms of rates and fees."
  • Be wary. "I would ask if there are any upfront fees." Hurst adds that the company he works for doesn't collect anything until the buyer has a contract, and that "anybody who wants a higher-than-normal application fee or upfront fee, I would stay away from them."
  • Ask questions. While interest rates and fees are obviously important, so is working with someone who has experience. Ask about that. The paperwork involved in closing a mortgage loan can be daunting. Someone who's done 1,000 transactions is better than someone who's done 10.
  • Get recommendations. Ask your real-estate agent to recommend a mortgage pro. Your agent should know who does a good job. "Let's say there are two that are identical," Hurst says. "If one of those two has a relationship with my agent, that's the one I'd pick."

The real-estate agent

Image: Real estate agent giving keys to couple in new home © Mark Scott/Photodisc/Getty ImagesA real-estate agent isn't essential for a buyer or a seller. Owners can deal directly with buyers, and they often do. Many buyers prefer it because that saves them thousands on commissions.

 

But a good real-estate agent can be very helpful. Agent Denny Grimes says, "A lot can go wrong, from an appraisal issue to a negotiation issue, to an inspection issue." A good real-estate agent can help buyers find the right house at the right price, or help sellers price and market their homes effectively. Here is Grimes' advice for picking an agent:

  • Ask open-ended questions. Ask about experience and recent transactions, but also quiz the agent with open-ended questions. "I would ask, 'Please give me your evaluation of the market.' If they start to spout headlines versus local data, or they're a little bit uncomfortable with that question, that suggests to me they have not adapted to local market dynamics."
  • Focus on qualifications, not personality. Everyone wants to deal with someone they feel comfortable with. But take comfort from winning credentials, not a winning smile. "For a lot of people, it's relationship-based instead of professionally based," Grimes says. "The best agent for you may not be your best friend."
  • Request referrals. Get in touch with past customers. The personal feedback, along with the sheer number of referrals an agent offers, will say something about the agent's experience. Grimes says, "If you ask for a satisfied customer and they only have one on their list -- and it happens to be their mom -- you might want to look elsewhere."

More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:

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