How to Not Ruin Your Relationship with Your Realtor

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a home or a commercial property, “fun” or “easy” probably aren’t the words you think of when it comes to findng or working with a real estate broker. But working with a broker doesn’t have to be boring, stiff, or confusing. Here’s some ideas to keep your realtor relationship from falling flat and getting the most from your real estate transaction.

1. Buyers, be opened minded

Your realtor is an expert. They’ve seen TONS of properties. That’s why you’re working with them! And while every good real estate agent will take all of your must-haves during your search very seriously, you can also trust them to suggest things you might not have considered. Maybe you’re set on hardwood kitchen floors, but your realtor knows you could save a bundle by considering laminate. Maybe you’ve been dreaming about living in one neigborhood, but your realtor might point you in the direction of a quiet subdivision didn’t even know existed. By keeping an open mind and trusting some of your realtor’s suggestions, you might find you dream location where you never expected it – maybe even faster or at a better price.

2. Sellers, be good listeners

Real estate broker can be a seller’s best friend. Whether you’re listing your house for sale or working to get tenants into your office space, a realtor can bring the right people to your door, creating more opportunities for closing a deal. It’s important to listen to their advice – whether it’s staging your living room in a different way, hosting an open house, or rethinking the list price, your real estate broker wants to help you close the deal.

3. Above all, be realistic

A good realtor is going to go above and beyond. They’re going to listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and be good communicators. But most real estate brokers are balancing family with continuing real estate education and multiple clients. Brokers work with all kinds of people, including first time buyers, people moving in from out of state, and property investors, and brokers know they all have different schedules and questions. One of the best things to remember about working with a realtor is to remember that they’re not going to forget about you. You are their job. To keep the lines of communication open, remember to respect their office hours and give them time to return you phone calls.

Having a good working relationship with your realtor can make the difference between a  truly great or uncomfortably tense buying or selling experience. Focus on abiding by these easy ideas to keep a balanced, flexible, and productive relationship.


How to Not Ruin Your Relationship with Your Realtor

Confessions of a First Time Home Buyer

The marketing coordinator at our Brummel Properties office was a first.-time home owner last year. Here’s her account of making the leap into home ownership. 

I bought my first house (with my life partner) in May of 2014. This one, in fact.

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It was both exhausting and exhilarating.

After renting 4 places in 5 years, I thought, finally, a place where I can settle in and not have to worry about repainting in a year, my rent shooting into the stratosphere, or those ominous crashing noises from upstairs neighbors.

For the average home buyer, it can be overwhelming. While I’m very glad we bought a house, there were a few things I wish I knew when I started. Here’s what I learned along the way.

1. You will look at a lot of houses

This seems like a no-brainer, but house hunting becomes a sort of part-time job. You scour the internet, sort through emails from your broker, drive around neighborhoods looking for “for sale” signs. Often, we loved something and hated something about all of them. Some we knew right away we couldn’t see ourselves living in, others it was a matter of deciding if the pros outweighed the cons.

1 (b). You should have your own broker

Anyone can find a house and call or email the agent who is listing it. Doing this fifty times, with fifty differnt people, though, is exhausting. Hiring a broker means they can do that – and you don’t have to pay them. They split the commission on the property at the time of sale with the listing agent. This is the smartest thing we did – asking someone knowledgeable, capable, friendly, and with lots of experience to facilitate all of the conversations and scheduling. They have the time (it’s their job, whereas I had another job to do 40 hours a week while trying to find a home) and usually already have relationships with lots of brokers.

2. The buying is just the beginning

I have lived in my house for about 18 months. It was not a fixer upper – the sellers had taken great care of it. They even kept a log of every bit of maintenance and repairs that they left with the house (this is both super rare and really awesome). But just because it was in a great shape didn’t mean we didn’t have a lot of work to do; we haven’t stopped doing work, really. The yard is constant upkeep, the garage needed more insulation, the bathroom and basement needed to be repainted, the roof suffered major hail damage right after we moved in. It’s estimated that home owners save $700,000 in their lifetime vs. their renting peers, but you make up for it in non-stop care and upkeep.

This is a fair trade, but it’s worth knowing up front – your relationship with your house, like any good relationship – will require lots of attention. Forever.

3. The paperwork will try to kill you

The amount of things I signed, faxed, emailed, over the six months between starting our home search and our closing date was more than I’ve worked with in my whole life, before or since. Between the mortgage company, two brokers, and a lawyer, there were weeks we were signing and sending back paperwork on a daily basis. Also, handing over your financial history to a mortgage company to ask them to find you worthy of homeownership is an anxiety-riddled process. This is another reason is pays to have a broker – ours had great contacts with mortgage companies and real estate lawyers.

4. Research the neighborhood

Sometimes it’s easy to know when a neighborhood isn’t for you. Sometimes you won’t know that the guy behind you likes to race his RC car at 6 AM every Saturday in the summer. It’s worth trying to talk to some of the neighbors before making an offer to get a vibe for the street.

5. It’s okay for things to fall through

There were times it genuinely felt like we would never find a house. There were things we couldn’t agree on, and sometimes all the houses we looked at were nightmares. It was frustrating. Sometimes we fell in love with a place online only to find it had already sold before we could even look at it.

It helped to take a break on some weekends from endless showings. And eventually, we found a house that was really perfect for us. It was good that we didn’t go with things we were lukewarm on and totally okay that some things fell through.

Your house is out there! It’s a process, but enjoy finding the place you will call home.

Confessions of a First Time Home Buyer

Top 3 projects to get you looking forward to Spring

Happy Saturday!

We’re enjoying a rare (and much appreciated) spring weather day in Chicagoland. Since we’re thinking Spring, here are three home improvement projects to get excited about doing when Spring finally shows up for good.

1. Decks and porches

Spring is a great time to think about installing a new deck – not too hot, so the work is bearable and the wood won’t warp, and lots of people have just received their tax refund and are ready to reinvest it into their house. Start it in spring and have it done for a 4th of July bbq! If you already have a deck or a porch, consider cleaning, sanding, and re-painting or staining it to maintain its life and usefulness.

2. Lawn and garden

Spring is the time to really invest time into your yard. Winter – with the freezing temperatures, shorter days, and salt spread on every surface to keep people from slipping- probably took a toll on your yard. When it starts to warm up and dry out, plan on spending a weekend or two fertilizing your lawn, spreading mulch in your flower beds, and planting summer and fall vegetables. Consider adding a raised garden bed, like this one from This Old House – instant curb appeal, as well as easier access! Scratching this off your list in spring means you can enjoy your flowers and garden all summer with only minor upkeep.

3. Clean up

We spend a lot of time bringing in salt, snow, sand, and the rest of the elements in during the winter. Or binging on Netflix and staying warm on the couch, ignoring the dust piling up, because who’s having guests when there’s a snow storm raging outside? Spring cleaning is an often dreaded and put off ritual of the season, but once it’s done, it sets the tone for a fun, fresh summer. Pick a week in early spring and knock one cleaning project off your list a night. Try this schedule to get it done fast, or try this room by room list.

Monday: Dusting the tops of cabinets, shelves and the fridge
Tuesday: Vacuum all the places you can’t see- behind the couch, the appliances, under the bed
Wednesday – Clean out the vents with a vacuum
Thursday – Deep clean the oven – it probably worked a lot this winter – and clean the grill to get ready for summer
Friday – Organize the attic or the basement. It might be time to store the winter coats or put the holiday decorations in a clearly marked tubs. Or clean out the closets to get ready for a summer yard sale!
Saturday – Clean the gutters and around the AC.
Sunday – Don’t forget the car! Treat your hard working vehicle to a vacuum and a wash, so you can enjoy and look forward to summers drives with the window down.

Well, that’s our list. I’m definitely looking forward to the end of winter so I can get back out in the yard! What’s on your Spring to do list?

photo credit:
photo credit:
Top 3 projects to get you looking forward to Spring

Top 10 Things to Consider as a First Time Real Estate Investor

If you’re considering investing in real estate in the new year, we’ve compiled a simple and straighforward list of things to consider during the planning process.

1. Decide what kind of investment is right for you. Do you want to be a landlord, with the potential for steady income month after month? Or do you want to purchase and resell properties at a profit? Both have significant benefits and drawbacks. Landlords have potential for unlimited income over the length of property ownership, but also have to manage and keep up the property, as well as take care of emergencies and tenant questions. Flipping a house often means a larger initial profit, but in one shot.

2. If you’re leaning towards having renters, first time investors might consider buying a single-family home. Single-family units are widely available, but also highly in demand among renters. They are also some of the easiest properties to manage and much easier to manage than multi-family properties.

3. Consider location and condition. Getting an amazing price on a property that’s across town or in a less-than-desirable neighborhood might in mean losing time and money in traveling to the property or not finding a renter or buyer in a reasonable amount of time. A fixer-upper might save you money  up front but will cost you in repairs, permit fees and labor. Consider the whole cost when deciding on a property.

4. Consider hiring a property manager. Whether you own a residential or commercial space, a property management offers a valuable service. Property managers advertise rental units, interview and screen potentional tenants, help you determine how much rent to charge and can also collect rent and deposits. Some property managers even help arrange minor repairs and maintenence.

5.  New investors should check out some real estate reading. Even investing pros can benefit from reading sound, expert advice. Some books to consider are the ABCs of Real Estate Investing by Ken McElroy and Building Wealth One House At a Time by John Schaub.

6. Remember that your real estate broker is a resource. Your broker should be an expert in investments, commercial and residential rentals, and flipping houses. Work with someone who can answer all your questions and offer advice and guidance.

7. Be patient. Real estate investing always carries risk and the rewards can take time. Lots of articles and books will claim you can make a million dollars in 60 days – while people some might, most won’t. It’s important to do your research and trust the process.

If you have investing questions or are looking for an investment property, make sure to contact us in the coming year!

Happy investing!
Top 10 Things to Consider as a First Time Real Estate Investor