Tips on finding a competent real-estate agent

With a burst of U.S. housing bubble, affordable housing may finally come in a few years. I started to learn some knowledge on real estate investment a while ago. From what I learn, a competent real-estate agent is invaluable. Here is one interesting article from MSN titled Find a superstar real-estate agent.

Besides referral, the article listed eight questions to ask your candidate agents:

  1. May I see your resume? This is an interesting one. I have been interviewed by many people, and didn’t expect that I can interview agents this way. I’ll take this advice.
  2. What’s your commission? Only relevance to a seller?
  3. What makes you special?
  4. How often will I hear from you?
  5. What’s your plan for marketing my home? Seller only.
  6. How many transactions did you complete last year?
  7. What do you know about the neighborhoods where I want to live? I’m surprised that information on crime and school performance are not allowed to be disclosed by real estate agents. Again, asking for information sources such as Sperling’s Best Places may come in handy.
  8. Are you a solo agent or part of a team? This may impact how you evaluate the performance of this agent.

4 open houses in our complex of 80 units, just today!!!!!!

On our way back from grocery shopping today, we saw numerous open houses along the street outside a condo complex we are staying. Once we drove into the complex, there were another 2 open-house signs, and once we get into the parking areas in our small circle, there were again 2 open-house signs!!!

Yannick did an online research right after. Our landlord purchased this condo 1 year ago, for $400K. Its listing price was $420K, because of the messy condition; while a comparable unit in good condition was listing for $440k in the same complex. The dirty kitchen, bathrooms and walls took my landlord a month and lots of resources to rehab.

Now the condo on the other side of the road is listed for $370, 000, with exactly the same structure, size, age, neighborhood, view … And it has been on the market for over 7 months, still not sold.

Overall, Yannick’s conclusion: Good that we did not buy a house!

Since I started my new job, Yannick and I have been looking at the housing market, locally, nationally. To save for our down payment, we rented a tiny place in a condo. It is a nice condo, and all our roommates are nice. However, it’s really not that convenient to share the condo with the landlord couple and a single guy. We have to take turns to cook; we can only watch TV shows on computers; when both of us work, one of us has to sit on the bed; when there are grocery deals out there, I can’t buy because the fridge is full; when there is a deal with rebate, I have to ask whether my roommates have taken the deal… let me say, lightly, that this type of “sharing” is “not ideal“.

I wanted a space of my own, even a tiny one. Actually, I was very happy with my cozy room in the graduate housing of my school. I have to admit that at that time “having a house of my own” is not in my agenda, and I never had time to dream it. Now, it becomes a possibility … it also becomes pressure.

Despite my emotional attachment to a space of my own, Yannick is so “rational” that my “emotion” could not win. He predicted that the house price will come down even futher very soon (not really his prediction, who does not say this these days?), and he insisted that we hold the cash rather than putting it in some real estate.

We use majority rule in our family. Yannick controls 50% of the votes, I control 50% of the votes. However, in my 50%, 25% is controlled by my emotional attachment to a private, cozy space of our own, 25% is influenced by those warnings from the rational economists, those scaring housing statistics, and those who regret for their stumbling in the housing bubble … final votes: 75:25 — NOT buy.