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Jim Valentine: Consulting your agent

Jim Valentine

A seasoned real estate agent can help you in many ways other than showing you a house. Anybody can walk in the front door, open the first closet door and proclaim, “This is the coat closet.” The true worth of a professional agent goes far beyond that. The buying and selling process of real estate has many components and nuances. You don’t need to know them all if you have a good agent.

Understanding the real estate transaction is similar to going to your auto mechanic. When he listens to your car and diagnoses the cause of the noises you are hearing, it all makes sense. From his description, you know what causes it, what needs to be done, what it will cost and how long it will take. You don’t know the process, the complications involved, or anything else, just what it is, what it costs and how long it will take. Sounds good and you do it. If it doesn’t, you make alternative decisions.

The same goes for real estate. Your agent can show you pricing, talk about financing in general terms, “kick the foundation” with you, etc. He also can talk about tax consequences in general terms, discuss inspections and the resulting reports with you, zoning and uses of the property, flood zone classifications, water rights and much, much more. While the mechanic will focus on one or two problem areas of your car, your agent has to look at the overall picture every time so you know and understand all contributing value and emotional factors.

You don’t always need to be buying or selling to consult your agent. It is a good idea to stay up on your property value. Call your agent once in a while and chat about the market and your property value. You never know when you might want to sell or buy, moving up or down or having to move due to work or family needs. If you are reasonably current on your home’s value, you can make a quicker decision with better confidence.

You might wish to call your agent to discuss estate and title matters. If something happens to you, will your property be wrapped up in a probate situation? Is there cash available for your heirs to keep things going, i.e. house payment, taxes and insurance, while things get straightened out? Should you consider creating a trust to help your heirs on your demise? Should you go into title with your children on a property? Whoa, Nelly! Should you co-sign for a loan? Should you gift them money to buy a home with? If they are married, do you trust their spouse with your money? These are common family situations that can have major consequences, both good and bad depending on the parties and the circumstance. Talk candidly to a third party, your agent.

Your agent probably pays attention to the local, state and national economies as they all have a direct impact on real estate values, sales volume and development decisions by the developers. You, too, can monitor all that or check in with your agent once in a while to see what is going on that you should know about. It helps keep your agent on her toes as well knowing that you and others will be calling. It is part of their total services.

Our advice: Be sure to get the most out of your agent by understanding what she can offer you. Occasionally, engage your agent in general conversation about the area, housing, business and industry. Maybe catch a lunch, a few minutes in his office or a phone call. You might be surprised at the true level of interest he has in your family and their personal growth since the time he helped you buy your home. It keeps you both in touch with one another and maintains your professional relationship. This can be beneficial to both of you along the way as you progress through life making investments and caring for you and yours.

Protect your investment by staying up with things. Your agent got you into your property, chat with your agent about things before you have a true need; the knowledge gleaned will give you peace of mind.

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… experience is priceless! Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-3704. dpwtigers@hotmail.com