Buyer/Seller Beware

Choosing the right home
Buying a Home in Hampton Roads
Prepare Your Home for Sale
Buyer Beware
Home Value
Sellers Market
13 Questions to Ask a Realtor
Title Insurance FAQ
Flood Zones
MLS Abbreviations


"Let the buyer (seller) beware"  That really sounds ominous doesn't it?  Well, it's not really all that bad, but it should make you think about what you're doing when it comes time to buy or sell a home.  Most real estate protection laws are enacted because someone has been taken advantage of by an individual out to make a quick buck.  The laws are designed to protect you, but they can't do the job alone.  A real good helping of common sense and skepticism is also a very good tool to have available.  Here are a few hints for you:
  • The Agent - Make sure that you work with a reputable agent.   Get references from your agent.  Ask friends and neighbors about agents they know.  Don't be swept away by titles, awards, or years in the business.  Some of the best agents are new and innovative with both the skill and a strong desire to develop a good reputation in the business.  Don't be taken in by the fast talker who will promise much but deliver little.  Make sure they can back up their claims with facts and figures.  Pick someone with whom you feel comfortable.  You need to be able to trust this individual with what is likely your greatest financial asset. 
  •  The Company -  It is important to have an agent who is familiar with the area in which you live so he/she can better market or find a home for you.  More important is working with an agency that has the means and exposure to market in the wider buying area.  William E. Wood and Associates has been and continues to be the “Number One” real estate agency in southeastern Virginia.  With today’s mobile market, you do not want to limit your potential buyer base to just one small area of Hampton Roads.  William E. Wood and Associates, with over 450 full time agents, brings all of southeastern Virginia, along with their military and relocation teams, to your doorstep.
  • "I have your home sold already" - Remember, agents earn their salary not only by listing and successfully selling your home, but also by bringing a buyer to your home and completing a sale.  Be wary of any real estate agent who promises you the sale of your home, but only on the condition that he/she must first list the property.  An honest agent will show the home regardless of who the listing agent may be.  If they are not being truthful, do you really want to have them represent you?
  • Always list your home with the “Listing Leader” - What do you really want?  The agent that lists the most houses or the agent that sells the houses they list?  Listing and selling a home is a time consuming task, if done properly.  Contact must be made with each seller weekly, if not daily, depending on circumstances.  Ads must be written and marketing must be done.  There is the follow-up after every showing and the seemingly endless pile of paperwork that must be sorted though once a contract is written.  Details seem to multiply as closing approaches.  Each time a new listing is taken on by an agent, the level of detail that can be attended to for any given client must by necessity diminish.  Before you go with the “Listing Leader” consider the amount of personal service they can allot to you.  Don’t be fooled by the large numbers.  Sometimes bigger is not better.
  • "Quick, sign the papers" - Never let an agent rush you into signing a listing or purchasing contract.  Remember, this is an important decision that should not be rushed.  If you are selling and need a week or two to get your home ready for showing, take the time.  A good agent will encourage you to prepare your home well before putting it on the market.  You get only one chance to make a good first impression. Whether buying or selling, always take the time to understand what it is you're signing.  Don't be afraid to ask questions.  If the agent doesn't want to take the time to explain, get a new agent.
  • Not all teams are created equal - Don't be mislead by the term "team".  Some real estate teams exist in name only.  There are agents who will join their names in order to advertise the fact that they are a team and that you will be getting two or more people working for you.  Before you buy that story ask a few questions about how their team works.  Do they both truly work for you?  Do they take each other's calls so you don't have to wait for a response when you page or call?  Do they share tasks associated with your business?  Can you call either team member when you have a question or problem?  Can you always count on one or the other of them to be available when they are needed?  Do they share an equal risk in the possibility of failure so that each has an equal desire in succeeding?  A true team  should be able to answer yes to all of these questions. (We can!) If you are in doubt about them being a team, they most likely are not.
  • Just a sign and an ad -  The primary function of the listing agent is to market your home aggressively.  Make sure you select an agent who has access to and knows how to use the best marketing tools for you.  All agents can put a sign in your yard and an ad in the local paper.  Some can put your home on the Internet, do mailing campaigns, or generate colorful fliers.  Others can generate marketing material to put your home in the buyer's eye.  We are one of the few who can put all the pieces together into a meaningful marketing campaign that attracts buyers to your home.  Not only do we use the latest technology, we understand the consequence of it's proper use.  For us, technology is a tool, not a master.
  • "Show me the money" - It's always flattering to have someone tell you that you can sell your home for more than it may be worth.  Some people will pick an agent based on who will list for the highest price.  Don't be mislead by that tactic.  You must make the final decision:  Do you want to sell your home quickly based on the true market value or do you want to wait and hope someone may come along and offer you an inflated price?  Pricing of a home is not easy.  A good agent can give you many guidelines concerning the present market conditions, but in the end the decision always remains with you.  If you're not sure, get a professional appraiser to review your home and give you an idea of where your home should be priced.  The higher price may look good but until you put that money in your pocket, you can't spend it.
  • Talk to me - It may be last on the list, but without question the most important item to consider is communication.  You need to have an agent you can count on to be available when you need him or her, someone who is not too busy to answer your questions or attend to your concerns.  You want someone who will keep you informed as each step or milestone is reached.  You want an agent who cares as much about marketing your home as he cares about marketing himself. You want someone who is not only a good communicator but a responsive communicator.  Being a husband and wife team, we give you two agents who will work together to help you sell or buy that special home or property. 


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JoAnn & Dennis Olson, Realtors ®
William E. Wood & Assoc.
Smithfield, VA 23430
Licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia
(See Contact page for additional information)

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Copyright © 1999-2013 by Dennis Olson
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Last modified: November 19, 2013