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  What is the first step to take in finding the right home?

Probably the first step you should take to find the right home is first to find the right agent. The relationship that develops between a homebuyer and their real estate agent should be built on a foundation of trust, sustained by good communication, and earned by hard work and performance. You should expect your real estate agent to do more for you than to provide information about homes for sale and then to write an offer. Homebuyers should interview several agents, ask for references and, after carefully making a choice, stick with that agent throughout the home buying process.

When is the best time to buy or sell a home?

The best time to buy or sell a home is when you have all the information necessary to make a good decision. But remember the old adage, "Waiting doesn't make the mountain you need to climb, flatter." Buying or selling a home is really a series of many decisions, not just one big one. There are always cycles to the market, seasonal modifications and economic changes. But "good buys" can be found in any market at any time if you and your agent look hard enough, and strong buyers are usually always present in the marketplace.

Are foreclosures always "good buys"?

Foreclosures can be good buys but aren't necessarily always are good buys. Sometimes when a property is advertised as a foreclosure it creates the same stimulation to buyers as the 'New and Improved' labels we sometimes see on a box of soap. The label catches our attention but doesn't necessarily mean that what we're buying is a good product. Most foreclosure properties are sold in "as is" condition when no repairs or improvements are paid for by the seller--nor are they responsible for providing any disclosure information or to be responsible for any deficiencies of the property. Many foreclosure sellers will not pay the normal closing costs most sellers pay nor will they pay for any buyer closing costs. Also, they are in the business of getting the absolute highest dollar possible for the property in order to minimize any loss they may have incurred. Most foreclosure sellers are not charitable institutions willing to "give properties away" at any price. Rather, they are shrewd sellers who have the patience and financial backing to wait for the "right" buyer to come along who's willing to buy at their price and on their terms.

Is buying real estate still a good investment decision?

Absolutely! Many times it seems that real estate ownership is a major contribution factor in the lives of people who've retired early, had money for their children's education, and were able to have more material things during their lifetimes. But the best return that most people experience is the joy and happiness that comes from owning their own home and being able to provide the stability to their family that home ownership provides.

Aren't all real estate agents the same?

Only by virtue of the fact that they all must meet the same licensing requirements of the state. Just as no two homes are the same, and no two people are the same, then no two real estate agents are the same. Experience and knowledge can undoubtedly be major differences. But most of the time, it's the level of service that an individual agent provides and the trust and confidence that an agent earns from their clients and customers that make the biggest difference.

Shouldn't a good real estate agent be able to answer all my questions?

Some good real estate agents seem to be much like good movie directors or inspirational orchestra conductors. They aren't necessarily "experts" is every aspect of the many components of the real estate sale or purchase that is being performed, construction standards, legal affairs, escrow procedures, and lending practices, to name a few. But good agents know when and how to direct their clients to where and who may be most able to help their customers obtain the best information or advice for the many complex decisions that need to be performed in the course of a "normal" transaction.

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