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10 Questions To Ask Your Real Estate Agent - Before It's Too Late

Dec 26, 2007
As millions of loans are now adjusting and as hundreds of thousands of those loans are in or headed for foreclosure, many homeowners are turning to real estate agents to help them in their hour of need.

Unfortunately, most real estate agents are not properly trained to handle the complexities of negotiating with a bank to successfully help the homeowner. The agents are at a complete disadvantage as many do not even realize that they are in a negotiation with a trained troubleshooter whose job is to mitigate losses for the lender.

Most agents seem to be much more worried about how to make sure they get their commission than helping the homeowner escape foreclosure. In the states with the highest rates of foreclosure, it takes less time to become a real estate agent than it does to become a head cashier at Disney World.

In California you can become a real estate agent and begin selling homes by taking an "open book" exam that only requires a 60% grade or better to pass. In Florida, you can become a real estate agent by taking a one week class where they give you a "simulation" of the answers in some courses, and in Nevada which has the strongest criteria, you can become an agent in as little as two weeks.

All three only require a high school diploma. Is this the person that should be handling the "negotiation" of your home in foreclosure? If this was not bad enough, now that we are in such a foreclosure crisis, most have had no experience in this type of market and are struggling to learn and complete what is called a "short sale".

A short sale is where the lender agrees to accept less than what they are owed in order to facilitate a sale of the defaulted homeowner's property. Most agents have had little, if any, prior experience in this regard and are using the homeowner's property as a form of on-the-job-training! All the while locking the homeowner into the most outrageous one-side listing agreement you could imagine.

This is absurd! So we feel it's important that the homeowner in foreclosure find out what they are getting into, or what they are into, if they have already tied their hopes to the newly dubbed "short sale expert" real estate agent.

"10 questions to ask your real estate agent ... before it's too late"

1. How many short sale transactions have you successfully completed? Do you have the MLS numbers of those that you have successfully completed? Remember they are licensed professionals and are not supposed to lie...but that's another story.

2. How many current listings of properties do you represent that are in foreclosure? Can I have those MLS numbers?

3. Are you a full-time real estate agent devoting all of your time to selling my home and the other homes you have listed in foreclosure?

4. How long have you been an agent / broker?

5. What formal training have you had in negotiating short sales? How much time did you spend in that training?

6. Please explain to me, in detail, what marketing you are performing in relation to the sale of my property? Can you please bring me over the ad sheets and invoices so I can see how much you are spending on marketing MY property?

7. I realize a short sale can not take place without a buyer. Do you have buyers lined up ready to go? You'll love the answer to that one!

8. As I am in foreclosure and I have special needs, and I have a definitive timeline in which to get my house sold...can I terminate my listing agreement at anytime in case I get an offer that does not come from you? I mean I have to..must..sell my home and I can't be burdened with a listing agreement that obligates me if I find my own buyer and I am able to get out of foreclosure. Will you release me if I find my own Buyer and can emerge from foreclosure?

9. How many of your foreclosure listings have ended being auctioned off despite your "efforts"? I would like to know how many times you take listings and have not been able to produce a buyer? Can I have those MLS numbers?

10. If I do get an offer, and it would allow me to get out of foreclosure, but it would mean there would be no funds left over for you to obtain a commission...would you first of all present it and second of all not stand in my way and chase me down for a commission? After all..I think you would agree, I am in somewhat of an urgent situation.

***by the way..we talked to the governing board here in Florida and an agent would have to forego commissions if it meant you were able to save your house from foreclosure! Here's a bonus question to ask....can you please give me your answers to the above questions in writing on company letterhead?

Let me save you the trouble Mr. Homeowner...your agent isn't spending any money on your listing, short sales are the "in thing" right now and your agent has had no experience in short sales, and he has no buyers or else the home would not be on the MLS.

You might want to start packing if you do not carefully and thoroughly interview the real estate agent that comes knocking on your door.
About the Author
Barry Cunningham is one half of the B&B Crew who are the hosts of Real Estate Radio USA. Real Estate Radio USA is an opinionated, provocative, informative and entertaining talk radio show about all that is real estate and how to promulgate wealth through real estate investing.

Real Estate Radio USA is broadcast daily at 4PM-6PM at http://www.realestateradiousa.com
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