Beginner's Information: February 2007 Archives


Once we figure out when we are going to be ready to buy, how early is too soon to get a buyer's agent and start looking.


You are ready for a Buyer's Agent when you are ready to act on it if your agent finds you something that meets enough of your criteria. By act, I mean put in an offer and consummate the purchase. If you're not ready to act, you are just wasting everyone's time. If you are ready and willing to act, then there's no reason to wait.

If you are not willing to act, you're engaging in mental onanism. Kind of like fantasy stock market traders. Doesn't matter how well you do, it's not real. As Sir Sidney Poitier once observed, it produces nothing. If you don't understand the difference between playing with real money and playing with meaningless number scores, get a guardian. It frustrates the agent and wastes the time that they might spend prospecting for you, and productive agents have to be jealous of their time. If you waste their best efforts when you aren't ready to act, don't be surprised if you're not their top priority when you are. You avoid this trap by not approaching them until you are at least willing to act.

It does no good to store up "prospects for later." Good stuff doesn't last for months. It probably won't last for weeks. It may not last to the end of the day. It only lasts until one person who is willing to act discovers it. If you're not willing to act right then, you are wasting your time.

Markets change over time. The market today where I am is a very different market than two months ago, which was different from two months before that, and also different from the market as it's going to be two months from now. This is one of the many reasons why attitude is worth more than experience in an agent, but it also means that market research you do now is worthless a few months from now. The markets vary not just with macroeconomic factors, but also with time of year. The upshot is that the market today is different than it will be in two months, different than it will be in late summer, and is already different than it was a few months ago. You try to look at your fifteen to twenty-five properties today with an eye towards buying in six months, you are doing worse than wasting your time. You are actually confusing yourself with data that is very likely to be outdated by the time you go to apply it.

Furthermore, there's a well-known comedy schtick routine in the industry: Q: How often does the deal of the century happen in real estate? A: About once a week. The point of the matter is that if you are looking for a property that's a real bargain, they aren't that hard to find. The more difficult skill is recognizing them when you see them. The average buyer is looking for something that is both perfect and a bargain - and the intersection of those two sets is pretty universally null. The reason the current owners spent all that time, effort, and money fixing them up is because they expect that effort to be handsomely rewarded by buyers who don't understand the economics involved.

You probably want to talk to someone who does loans before you talk to a buyer's agent. Find out from them what real rates are that can really be done for you. This, together with how much you make, gives you your budget. It may change, going down if rates rise or up if they fall, but this way you know how much you can afford to spend. I have said this many times, but it's a good idea to repeat it: Shop by purchase price, not by payment. If you shop by payment, you are laying yourself open to all kinds of games by unscrupulous lenders and agents looking for quick, easy sales. Of course, if you find somebody who does both, that's fine, as long as they pass the tests you'd administer to both. Among which, of course, are Questions You Should Ask Prospective Loan Providers and being willing to work on a non-exclusive buyer's agent basis.

Caveat Emptor

Hi Dan,

Your blogsite is great; I stumbled on it and find you very credible and knowledgeable.

I have two questions for you, if you are looking for things to write about:

1) What are your views on the DELETED area? That market is so high, and I wonder if it will follow the pattern that San Diego sets for price adjustments in the market this year. I'm looking to relocate there from San Diego, so I've started researching that market. And I thought San Diego was expensive... the DELETED area is unreal.

2) As a law student, I've had five professors mention that it's a good idea to get a broker's license in order to represent ourselves as our own buyer's agent when buying our homes (if we can ever afford to with those huge students loans to pay off!). The upside is getting back the buyer's agent commission as a sort of "rebate." To support this, a couple of professors framed the issue as roughly: "most agents you would work with only have a high school degree and a few real estate courses under their belt... and could know nothing about property law. Do it yourself, control your own contract, save a lot of money." What do you think about attorneys who get real estate licenses to represent themselves, having lots of knowledge about legal issues and contracts, but no practical experience and training?

Have a great weekend!


In theory, it's a really great idea.

In practice, unless you're out there in the market all of the time, learning all of the tricks that get played or attempted, learning what the market is actually like, etcetera, you will fall into that group of persons known by the technical description "sucker."

Some lawyers apply for their broker's license and use it constantly. Those folks do fine. They know that being an agent is not just about that subset of lawyer functions that agents are allowed to perform, and if they learn about the rest of the business and keep their finger on the pulse, they are formidable.

Those who just use it to do their own occasional transactions, on the other hand... Let's just say I've had to explain to lawyers who took that kind of professorial advice exactly how they got "taken" more than once. Loans are also the same license, but there probably isn't enough money in the average loan to interest the kind of lawyer that does well in the real estate market, and what clue do they have who are likely to be the best lenders who give the best rate for a given client if they won't spend the time learning the loan market? Truth be told, they can make more money with the same time representing those who've been raked over the coals than they can working their own transactions.

The lawyers that the good agents know about and go to when there's a question or a problem? They strongly tend to use agents and brokers for their own transactions. My last boss did half a dozen transactions in the year I worked for him, for one of the best regarded real estate lawyers in town.

Your professor appears to me to be making a "does not follow" error. By the logic of "not much education", he'd be fixing a car himself, rather than using a professional mechanic. Once upon a time I was a pretty fair amateur mechanic. I haven't done more than an oil change in twenty years. I know better.

The real problem here is confusing general education and specific expertise.

In order to be a good agent, you have to spend time constantly keeping up with the state of the market. If you think a given property is worth less than it is, no transaction. If you think it's worth more, your client is wasting money. The questions I keep asking myself have to do with the utility of this one specific property for one specific client, and at what point, in my estimation, they're better off just walking away from the negotiations.

It's true that some agents are just barely high school graduates. Others have MBAs. More important than level of education, more important than how much business they do, more important even than experience, is attitude. Just as important as attitude is market knowledge. And right up there with both of them is negotiating skill in the context of real estate. None of these three skills is certified by a law degree, passing the bar, or anything else.

The result? Lawyers who work at real estate make formidable agents and brokers. Lawyers who get their broker's license because they think they're going to save themselves money by doing their own transaction are lawyers who represent themselves. And we've all heard about lawyers who represent themselves having a fool for a client. The amounts at stake in real estate are large enough that items which are small differences relative to the size of the entire transaction are nonetheless, significant amounts of money. Getting paid all of a three percent cooperating broker's concession can end up costing you ten percent easily. And that is in addition to the costs of doing real estate (MLS access, agent keys, licensing fees, etcetera) and the economic costs of the other money you could be making if you were doing what you're really trained for.

Caveat Emptor
Copyright 2005-2014 Dan Melson. All Rights Reserved

 



Buy My Science Fiction Novels!
Dan Melson Author Page

The Man From Empire
Man From Empire Cover

A Guardian From Earth
Guardian From Earth Cover

Empire and Earth
Empire and Earth Cover

Dan Melson's San Diego Real Estate and Mortgage Website

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Beginner's Information category from February 2007.

Beginner's Information: August 2006 is the previous archive.

Beginner's Information: March 2007 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



What I Do

Read My Promise To All My Clients

My Office Contact Information

There are no better agents in San Diego County!

There are no better loan officers in California!

Ask for your free consultation today!

**********
Favorite Loans Available Now

My Listings

Hot Properties!
Email me! danmelson(at)danmelson(dot)com
**********
I want your business!
Unhappy with your loan?
Can't afford your payments?
I can help!
---
Want to buy smart?
Want to sell smart?
I can do it!
---
Bankruptcy?
Foreclosure?
In Default?
Let Me Help!
---
Want to buy properties in distress?
(defaults, foreclosures and REOs)
Ask Me How!
---
Bad Credit?
No Down Payment?
Ask Me What I Can Do!
---
1031 Exchanges
Forward, Reverse, or Partial
I Get It Done!
---
Should I Buy Now?
Should I Sell Now?
Would It Help Me to Refinance?
I'll tell you if the answer is "No"
I'll help you if the answer is "Yes"
---
Contact me:
My Office

Want San Diego MLS?

Here's my office's link to San Diego MLS

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Subscribe with Bloglines Add to Technorati Favorites

Not in San Diego?

My other site is here
Powered by Movable Type 4.21-en