Serving West Michigan ph. 231.725.5050

Questions & Answers

After you determine that buying a home is right for you (reference:First Time Home Buyers), your first step is to meet with a lender to get a pre-approval letter. Talk with a trusted lender that can help you determine what is best for you and not necessarily the max that you can spend. You can check with your bank, credit union and other trusted local lenders. I recommend staying local and avoiding the national online lenders.The online lenders typically do not understand the local market, and I have seen many issues arisefor buyers because of this. It is to your advantage to check rates and fees with 3 different lenders. Also, it is very important to work with a lender who is good at communication. You need a lender who promptly replies to your emails and phone calls.

Is the school district important to your family? How many bedrooms do you need? My first suggestion is to determine what you absolutely need. If you prefer an attached garage but find the house of your dreams, would you compromise? I can help you walk through some questions to help determine how we should narrow down your search to best fit your primary criteria. Many clients find it helpful when I set up a personal search portal directly through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that narrows down the homes by sifting through the listing and sending matches closer to what they actually need or want. If you choose to have a personal search portal, I can set it up to automatically email you updates for any price changes, new listings or any status changes. Then you will be well informed and prepared when you see the right property you have been waiting for.

Talk with a trusted lender that can help you determine what is best for you and not necessarily the max that you can spend. You can check with your bank, credit union and other trusted local lenders.I recommend staying local and avoid the national online lenders. The online lenders typically do not understand the local market, and sometimes this can cause issues during the appraisal process.

It is in your best interest to have a realtor represent you as your buyer’s agent. Sometimes I will hear, “Can’t I get a better deal if I go directly through the listing agent?” The job of the listing agent is to represent their seller, look out for their best interest and try to get them the highest price. You need an agent that knows your market well and has experience in negotiating the best price for you and not the seller. Offers are highly dependent on several factors, such as: current inventory, how long the home has been on the market, history of the home, past comparable sales and other factors. A buyer’s agent can organize all these statistics and help you determine the best plan of action.

Negotiating can be a tricky business. Some people don’t like the hassle and stress of negotiating. Others feel that doing a real estate deal through an agent instead of directly with the seller is more transparent and will work out better for their interests. This could possibly be true if both the buyer and seller are reasonable people and get along well. Unfortunately, this best-case scenario is not usually the type of relationship that exists. The seller wants to get as much as possible and the buyer is looking for the best deal. Also, some people can get unpredictable about money or can get very emotional about selling their loved home that has many memories. An experienced realtor will handle the negotiations for you and recommend a best course of action for your particular situation. A realtor can remove themselves from the emotional aspects of the transaction.What would you do in a multiple offer situation? Multiple offers are more common now, and you must be prepared to present a desirable offer to compete and get you the home you want. Should you request help with closing costs or for the seller to leave appliances? What about inspections? Should you ask for a survey? A good realtor can help you navigate these questions and many more.

An agent can help smooth things over to help prevent any bad blood between buyers and sellers. There are multiple challenges that can come up during the buying process such as: inspections, appraisals, re-negotiations and other unforeseen issues. You need an agent that is prompt with communication and exhibits a positive, helpful, but resolute personality to help work effectively through the entire process. Is your agent abrasive or does he/she come across as pushy? Even if you “get the deal,” you may run into further issues before the closing if you do not work with an agent who gets along well with others and works hard to come to a best solution without being overly pushy or abrasive. The hard-nosed, pushy negotiator makes for an emotional drama tv show, but it does not usually produce the best results for the West Michigan area. : )

Contracts can be hard to navigate. An experienced agent deals with the same contracts and conditions on a regular basis and is familiar with the requirements and typical contingencies that should be requested or avoided. Your agent should know how to handle conditions that come up before and during the buying process, how the contract should protect you and how to accomplish this for your particular scenario.

Bottom Line. The buying process is not an easy as it first appears. When you get into a difficult situation, it can really pay off to have a professional by your side to help. If you had a $100k or $200k legal question, or perhaps an income tax problem, would you deal with it without the help of a professional? Purchasing a home is usually the largest financial transaction most people will make and it’s best to have a trusted professional by your side.

Communication: Do you get frustrated when your emails, texts or phone calls are not returned?! Me too! Do you hate when you feel a salesperson is pushing you to make a decision that you are not ready for, or even worse…trying to sell you something you don’t want?! Me too! Look at my feedback from clients, and you will see that I work very hard to communicate effectively and timely with all my clients. This means that if you attempt to contact me and I cannot answer, I will get back with you promptly and no more than 24 hours. Though I work with multiple clients at one time, my goal is to have every client of mine feel like they are my primary purpose and that I am there for them when they need me. I want what is best for my clients, and I work to help do what is best for them and not myself. I do take one day off and that day is Sunday. Though I am known as a Realtor, my primary focus and reason for living is my Lord Jesus Christ. My Lord comes first, then family, and then serving others with respect and humility.This is why “The Golden Rule Realtor” is not just a slogan. I will still help on Sundays with any time sensitive issues such as offers.

Technology: I love technology! For example, contact with my Sellers for showings has never been more convenient and organized. You can now download an app to your tablet, iPhone or Android to keep you updated anytime a buyer would like to schedule a showing for your home, leave feedback, or receive notices of other scheduled appointments such as inspections or appraisals.This app will also allow you to add appointments directly to your calendar that you may already use. I keep up with the latest technology trends and implement them when I find the process to be effective. My primary mode of marketing will be utilizing online strategies that will reach the most buyers for the money. Keep in mind that over 90% of buyers now begin their search online. Also, buyers are increasingly shifting from computers to mobile search.If you are a buyer, I have a very cool option to save you a lot of time sifting through the buying options.

Career: Real Estate is my full-time career. It can be tough to make it in Real Estate, so some Realtors can only contribute part-time. My total focus is to help my clients. When you choose to allow me to serve you, I will be your main point of contact. I will not send you off to an admin or assistant throughout the process. You will not need to jumble through multiple emails, phone #’s and texts to work through what can already be a cumbersome emotional process of selling your home, moving, researching new homes, etc. My goal is to be there for you to help make this very important, sometimes difficult and emotional process as smooth as possible. You will be informed throughout the process, and I am a phone call/text/email away for any questions or concerns.

Negotiating: If you are looking for a pushy salesman, then I am not the Realtor for you. Strong negotiations do not need to be in your face and abrasive. Negotiations are more strategic than just being hard-nosed. The stern, pushy negotiator makes for an emotional TV drama, but it does not usually produce the best results for the West Michigan area. There are multiple factors that affect how the offer should be presented or received. No one can predict how a particular buyer or seller will react, but I will be there to help you navigate through this tricky process.

Selling a house can be a complex process. A Realtor can help you at every stage, from setting a price to marketing the property to closing the sale.

Setting the Price
The selling process generally begins with a determination of a reasonable asking price. Your real estate agent or Realtor can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in your local marketplace, as well as the price, financing, terms and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in marketing your home and selling it at the best price. Often, your agent can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of the property.

The next step is a marketing plan. Marketing exposes your property to the public as well as to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service, other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, and so on. In many markets, a substantial portion of real estate sales are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer. The Realtor Code of Ethics requires Realtors to use these cooperative relationships when they benefit clients.
An agent will also know when, where and how to advertise — which medium, format and frequency will work best for your home and your market.

Providing Security
When a property is marketed with an agent’s help, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Agents will generally pre-screen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.

Your agent can help you objectively evaluate every buyer’s proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing — a lot of possible pitfalls. Your agent can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.

Monitoring, Renegotiating and Closing
Between the initial sales agreement and the closing (or settlement), questions may arise. For example, there are unexpected repairs that require the buyer to obtain financing, or a cloud in the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your agent is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing.

Getting the Realtor Guarantee
All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors are called Realtors. They proudly display the Realtor logo on their business card, website, and marketing. Realtors subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. Realtors are committed to treating all parties to a transaction honestly. An independent survey reports that almost 85 percent of home buyers would use the same Realtor again.

Getting Expert Assistance
Finally, consider the scale of your transaction. Selling your home is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make. Transactions today usually exceed $100,000. If you had a $100,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to solve it without the help of a CPA? If you had a $100,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering the relatively small cost of hiring a Realtor and the large potential risk of not hiring one, it’s smart to find a professional to sell your home.

Ron Schmeadick, contributor to, wrote this article.