Why do I need a Realtor® or Real Estate agent if Im buying a home?

November 29, 2009

Everyone knows why a Realtor® or Real Estate salesperson, usually referred to as an agent, is vital to selling your home,  but most people do not understand the value of hiring a buyers agent. Additionally, most consumers do not realize there is a subtle but important difference between a Real Estate Salesperson and a Realtor®

What is the difference between a Realtor® and a Real Estate Salesperson?

While both Realtors® and Sales Agents are licensed in their state,  and are educated in real estate transactions and common real estate practices, the terms are not synonymous.

All Realtors® are Real Estate Agents, but all Real Estate Agents are not necessarily Realtors®. The difference is Realtors® are members of the National Association of Realtors® and are bound to a Code of Ethics.  The Realtor® Code of Ethics is enforceable and holds agents with the Realtor® designation next to their name, to a higher set of  ideals and professionalism than non Realtors®.

Why do I need a Realtor® or an agent to help me buy a home?

A very common scenario: The potential home buyer is driving through a neighborhood and sees a for sale sign out front and calls the number on the sign for information.  Consumers rarely realize that the name on the sign is representing the seller. They are representing the seller to the best of their ability, thats what good agents do. This means, they are using all our their skill and training to get the seller the best price with the least amount of problems and get the property sold. The listing agent is not going to do anything unethical when the potential buyer asks questions, BUT the agent is hired by the seller, has a duty to protect the sellers interests. The agent has no such obligation to a potential buyer.

Without getting into Dual Agency and other areas that are too complicated to explain now, let’s just say that the listing company, the listing agent ( names on the sign in the front yard ), are hired by the seller and have no obligation to any potential buyers, only to do what is in the best interest of their client, the seller.

Now this may not seem like such a big deal, but think about it.

 A potential buyer, who is not experienced in local market trends, who is not an expert in financing options, who does not know all the tests and inspections he is entitled to before buying a home, is not being represented in any negotiations and may not fully understand what he is doing. He is hurting his chances for getting the best possible price and the best possible conditions to ensure that he, the potential buyer, gets to the settlement table with the least amount of problems.  At this point there are so many potential problems I couldnt list them here.

The Solution:  The potential buyer should hire a Realtor® or Real Estate Agent to represent him as his Buyers Agent. 


Ask friends who have had a good experience with an agent. Check out websites, testimonials, etc. Call some agents and ask them over the phone why you should hire them. Meet with a few and interview them if you have to.

The bottom line is any potential buyer needs to have a professional real estate agent acting as his/her buyers agent.

A buyers agent will earn his commission ( which is typically paid by the sellers side of the transaction ) by looking out for the buyers best interest. The advice, experience and training a good agent possesses  is priceless in negotiations, steering clients around potential pitfalls in a property,  and advising on financing issues along with many, many, other situations. A good buyers agent will actually find himself in a fiduciary relationship with the client.

Buyer agents have duties to their clients. Ask an agent what services and duties they will provide upon being hired.

Every house listed for sale has hired the list company and agent to represent them and  have the benefit of all that agents experience,training and professionalism to help get them the best possible price and terms.

Every potential buyer should hire a Realtor® or a Professional Real Estate Agent to represent them and benefit from that agents experience, training and professionalism to get the buyer the best price and terms on the property they want.




Real Estate Questions Answered – Part 1

November 19, 2009

As a  licensed REALTOR  for over 10 years in the Harrisburg Area, it amazes me how many questions I field about the basics of buying a home or selling a home. Because I have been trained in the business and deal with real estate transactions daily, i sometimes forget how intimidating it can be to many homebuyers or sellers.  For example:

Question: How do we know how much our house is worth?

Answer:  We ‘ve all heard this, ‘ your house is worth whatever someone is willing to pay’. While that might be true, that does not really alleviate any fears a potential seller has. There are many factors that go into determining what a particular home is worth. Location, square footage, condition, number of bedrooms, number of baths and MARKET CONDITIONS to mention a few. 

In today’s economy and media inspired gloominess, market conditions are of major importance when determining a homes value.  Most sellers are emotionally tied to their home and therefore will propbably over value what the home is actually worth. ( Which is why For Sale By Owner homes are usually not priced correctly. Most homeowners do not have the skills and training to properly evaluate market conditions.)

Once a professional real estate agent, such as Cal Williams, has analyzed the local market, researched any comparable sales in the area, taken into account the condition and location of the property and thoroughly studied the subject property,  can he  make a determination on what  price range the property should be LISTED  FOR SALE . It is up to the homeowner to actually decide what to LIST the property for, however the expertise of a Licensed Real Estate Agent should be taken into account.

So, there is no easy answer to the question ‘what is my house worth’. The best we can do is find a professional Real Estate Agent, who has been trained to evaluate market conditions and who knows the local market. Take into account all the available information and LIST the property accordingly.

Even then, what the home is worth and what is could sell for are sometimes 2 totally different numbers.

My advice: find a Realtor and ask them for a free evaluation of your home. It should be a free service and any Realtor should be happy to provide that service to a potential seller.


Cal Williams




Harrisburg Area Homes Sales Rise in 3rd Quarter 2009

November 13, 2009

For the first time in a long time, optimism creeps back into our local housing market. The national picture is not looking so promising. While there have been signs nationally that might lead some to believe things are starting to turn around, the statistics are not overly reassuring.  The major markets are still predicting doom and gloom for the foreseeable future. Some areas such as Miami and L.A. will see 20% or more price drops in 2010. This according to a report released by the National Association of Realtors.

The local scene is what I would like to talk about. The Central Penn Multi-List released some interesting numbers at the end of the third quarter. For the first time in 10 quarters, the total number of homes sold increased. From the same period in 2008, the number of homes sold  increased by 2.5%.  While this is a good sign, it must be taken in context with some other numbers.

The median price of sold homes dropped from $ 168,000 to $ 165,000 over the same period. And  the average number of days on market is now 77, up from 70 in the third quarter of 2008. Again, these numbers come from the Central Penn Multilist.

If we look at the national numbers from the third quarter, released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), we find that sales increased 5% from the same period  in 2008 and the national median existing-home prices dropped 15% from the same period in July 2008 and 12.5% from August 2008.

What this all means is that the Harrisburg area Real estate market does not see the big ups and downs that the national market sees. Markets are localized and never more apparent than in this real estate market. It also means that no one can say when the real estate market is going to start turning around or if it already has started. Statistics show some positive signs locally and some negative signs locally. the same with the national picture.

As a local Real Estate agent, I see signs things are picking up. The homebuyer tax credit has helped. I also see signs that things may not change very much for a while.  I see a lot of good properties for sale that are sitting on the market a long time. This is somewhat disheartening. The reasons are many. One of which is that the banks and lenders are having their own problems and it makes things hard to get clients the proper financing.

But that is a subject for a whole other blog!

Riding the local Real estate Market

Riding the local Real estate Market

Camp Hill, Harrisburg Area First Time Home Buyers Cheer Tax Credit

November 5, 2009

Unless you live in a cave, most people have heard about the $ 8000.00 tax credit for first time buyers. You also have heard that it is set to expire at the end of Nov.

The National Association of Realtors has lobbied congress to extend the credit and expand it. Now it looks like congress is close to doing just that.

The senate has already passed the extension as well as passsing the expansion. the vote was 98-0!
The expansion part of the measure will allow current homeowners to get tax credits of up to $ 6500.00 when buying a new home. First timers would still get the $8000.00 max.

The House is set to vote today.

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