BUYING IN MOBILE’S REAL ESTATE MARKET
Business View – April 2020 / Business News
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
If you know anything about real estate, you know that location is important. But what else is important? How do you start the process of buying or selling a home? The Business View editorial team sat down with two residential real estate agents who have worked as ambassadors for the Mobile Area Chamber to try to cut through the confusion of buying and selling a home, and to find out what not to do.
Meet Emily Hatcher, a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty Mobile, and Tricia Graham, associate broker with Roberts Brothers. Both are members of the National Association of Realtors. Hatcher is new to real estate but has more than five years in sales. Graham is a graduate of the Graduate Realty Institute (GRI), Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource (SFR) certified and a member of the Senior Real Estate Service (SRES) and has 11 years of experience as an agent.
What is the main misconception about real estate agents?
Hatcher: Many people fail to understand the value brought to a real estate transaction by a licensed Realtor. For example, research provided could help ensure the buyer doesn’t pay too much for a property or a seller to sell for too little, leaving money on the table. Also, there are many issues related to securing proper title, insurance and financing that a Realtor can help educate buyers and sellers during a transaction.
How do agents get paid?
Hatcher: Depending on how many agents are involved in the sale, the commission is split between the various agents or brokers who are involved. Additionally, agents pay a monthly fee to their company for office space, training and marketing support from the percentage they earn. If you are the listing and selling agent, the split is with your company and not another agent.
What all is involved in the process of buying a home?
Graham: When I meet with a buyer to discuss purchasing a home, I explain the buying process and I listen to the buyer to find out what he/she would like in a house. Also, I ask if they want a short commute to work or school. Once I understand the needs, I show houses that fit their criteria. When the buyer finds the perfect house, I assist them with the offer process to purchase it.
What is involved in selling your home?
Hatcher: The first step in selling your home is making sure it is in good condition to be attractive to a buyer. Small “fix-up” items can pay off in a big way once we start to show the home. Then a market analysis of what has recently sold in your area and for how much and then agreeing on what the listing price should be. The next most important part is having a company that knows how to market your home. There are many things involved, from placing it in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so all Realtors have access to your listing, holding open houses and using social media and other forms of advertising to get the word out.
What other agencies are involved in a real estate transaction?
Both agree that most real estate transactions can have a host of people and companies involved in the process: title companies, insurance companies, mortgage lenders, contractors, appraisers, home inspectors and even other real estate agents.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to sell their own home?
Hatcher: Many people believe they can save money by selling their house on their own, and for a few people that is a successful strategy. However, according to the National Association of Realtors, data shows that a licensed Realtor can often net you 13 percent more in a shorter period of time than doing it yourself.
Graham: I always say to the seller to look at the house through a buyer’s eyes. I explain that a house should be neat and clean to show well. If they have to declutter the house, then it’s a good idea to categorize the items as keep, donate, discard.
What are some trends you are seeing that people are looking for in buying a home now?
Both Hatcher and Graham believe HGTV and other television shows about “doing it yourself” are extremely popular and influential in how homeowners are decorating their homes to sell. “Today’s color trends are white and light grey. Buyers like updated bathrooms and kitchens,” says Graham, adding that most buyers want a house in “move-in condition.” “Buyers are doing their research and using web-based tools like Zillow and others to shop before they call their agent,” says Hatcher.
How important is location?
Hatcher: Location relates back to lifestyle. For some people, it’s Midtown or downtown, but for others Saraland or out in the country may be what they are looking for. This is always a significant factor in the final decision.
What are the hot residential areas right now in the Mobile area?
Both agree Midtown, Spring Hill, Saraland and “pockets” in west Mobile, but it really depends on where people want to be located within the area.
What are some warning signs you see when you look at a house that would make it difficult to sell?
Hatcher: Visible repairs needed, landscaping, lack of curb appeal, extreme clutter on the interior of the home, stained carpets.
What is the main piece of advice you give someone buying or selling a home?
Hatcher: After all the considerations we have discussed above, I always recommend that a buyer or seller have an independent home inspection completed by a licensed inspector to ensure that there is never a misunderstanding between the buyer and seller.
Graham: Realtors help make the process of buying or selling a home to go smoothly.
To contact a Realtor, visit the Chamber’s website at mobilechamber.com/search and search “Real Estate” for a complete list of member real estate companies.
About the Mobile Chamber
The Mobile Chamber is a private business organization with more than 1,700 members and the economic developer for the City of Mobile and Mobile County. The Mobile Chamber’s focus is to provide members with networking, marketing and professional development opportunities, expand jobs in the area, develop the local workforce, advocate legislative priorities and offer resources to help small businesses grow. Additional information is on the Chamber’s website, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.