Click here for a FREE MARKET ANALYSIS   Click here for a FREE HOME SEARCH

Louise Fleming

Home

Services

Testimonials

FAQs

Contact me

Useful links

Frequently Asked Questions

(NOTE: All information applies to real estate in Illinois and may not be applicable to other states. Information is deemed reliable but not warranted. You should contact an attorney for assistance with legal issues.)


  1. What are the steps involved in buying a home?
  2. What are the steps involved in selling a home?
  3. Why should I choose you as an agent?
  4. What is the difference between a short sale and a foreclosure?
  5. Do you handle short sales and foreclosures?
  6. Why do I need an agent to help me purchase real estate?
  7. Why do I need an agent to help me sell my property?
  8. What is a "pocket listing"?
  9. How are commissions determined?
  10. Why is a market analysis important?

What are the steps involved in buying a home?

The steps are:

  1. Loan preapproval: Unless you are paying cash for a property, you should contact a lender to obtain a prequalification to purchase before you start house-hunting. After obtaining certain information from you and running a credit report, your lender will provide you with a letter that states you have been prequalified for a specified purchase and loan amount. This letter will be included with any offer to purchase that you submit. Having the letter up front will save time and will also help you determine a target price range for your search
  2. Buyer consultation: To begin the search process, I will meet with you and find out your wants and needs. We will formulate a multiple listing search based on your criteria and begin reviewing appropriate listings. We will also discuss the purchase process and I will answer any questions you may have.
  3. Property search: Once we find listings that meet your criteria, I will make appointments and we will begin visiting the properties. I can set up an automatic notification system that informs you when any property that meets your criteria comes on the market so you will not have to worry about missing out on any opportunities.
  4. Offer and acceptance: When you find a property you wish to purchase, I will supply you with information about the home including what comparable properties in the same area have sold for so you do not overpay. Then we will discuss the elements that need to be specified in the offer, including an offer price and I will complete the document. You will then initial and sign the offer along with any required disclosure forms or addendums. If you prefer, you can initial and sign these documents electronically through a service I use called DocuSign. The signed documents are then submitted  to the listing agent, along with a copy of the prequalification letter from your lender. The listing agent presents your offer to the seller who then can accept the offer, reject it, or counter with an alternate price, closing date, or other change. If the seller counters, the buyer then has the choice to accept, reject or counter. These negotiations continue until both buyer and seller agree on all elements of the contract and both have signed the document, or until the offer is rejected or retracted. Sometimes, when there are multiple offers, the seller will request a highest and best offer from each buyer. If the seller accepts your offer, they will sign it and it will become a contract. You will then be asked to submit an earnest money check. Earnest money is an amount you provide up front to demonstrate that you are serious about the transaction. This amount is credited back to you as the buyer at closing.
  5. Attorney review/property inspection: After a contract has been signed, a time period (usually five business days) is allotted for the buyer to have a property inspection conducted and for attorneys to review the documents. Any issues that arise from the property inspection must be introduced during this period. The attorneys facilitate the resolution of such issues and also make any additional changes or additions to the contract that may be needed. If the contract specifies a timeframe for resolution of issues (such as 10 business days) and agreement has not been reached within that time, a request may be made for an extension of the review period.
  6. Mortgage and any other contingencies: Depending upon the terms of the contract there may be conditions that have to be met before closing. Unless the sale is a cash transaction, a sufficient loan amount must be obtained by the buyer. There may be other contingencies specified in the contract as well, such as the sale of the buyer's home prior to closing.
  7. Closing: On a specified date, a meeting takes place in which all necessary paperwork is signed, money distributed, and title transferred to the new owner. This meeting often takes place at a title company with the clients and their representatives (attorneys, real estate agents, buyer's loan officer). In most cases, the buyers will take possession of the property at closing and will be given the keys to their new home.

As your real estate agent, I will help you through each step of the buying process and follow up to make sure you are satisfied. Contact me and I can begin working for you immediately!

Back to Top

What are the steps in selling a home?

  1. Market analysis: To begin, I will meet with you and gather information about your home. Then I will produce a market analysis that will tell you what similar properties in your neighborhood have sold for, as well as what properties are currently for sale or under contract. This information will be used to determine a selling price and marketing strategy. Setting an effective selling price is extremely important to maximize the seller's profit and minimize market time. My research will also be used to identify a target audience and develop marketing materials including a glossy brochure for potential buyers. As part of my market analysis, I will make suggestions on what you should or should not do to prepare your home for the market and will even help with staging suggestions.
  2. Listing agreement: When you are ready to put your home on the market, we will discuss the listing process and then I will write up a contract for our listing agreement. You will also fill out state-required disclosure forms. Once the paperwork is signed, I can begin to market your home immediately.
  3. Marketing of your home: I will add information about your home to the multiple listing service. This listing will include a virtual tour, multiple photos, and effective remarks as well as detailed information. Your home will also be advertised on a tremendous number of other Web sites. And all my listings are "showcased" on REALTOR.com . I will also place marketing literature, including glossy brochures, in your home for potential buyers and their agents. As appropriate, I will host broker tours and open houses.
  4. Showings and Feedback: When agents want to show your home, they will make appointments with Century 21 Roberts & Andrews. Our experienced and helpful secretarial staff will notify you of all showings, following the instructions you requested when we drew up the listing paperwork. There will also be follow up to obtain feedback after your home was shown. This feedback is important to ensure that our marketing plan is working, and allows us to make adjustments as needed. I will update and improve your listing continually. You won't have a "tired" listing with outdated copy or photos with me as your listing agent!
  5. Offers: Any offer to purchase your home will come to me first. Before I present it to you I will make sure the paperwork is complete and that it includes a prequalification letter for a sufficient loan amount or documentation of the buyer's ability to make a cash purchase. We will then review all the elements of the offer and your possible response. Your options are to accept the offer, reject it, or counter it with an alternate price, closing date, etc. The buyer then has the same options. Negotiations continue until both buyer and seller agree on all elements of the contract or until the offer is rejected or withdrawn. In the case of multiple offers you also have the option of asking all interested parties to come back with their highest and best offer within a given time limit. Once agreement has been reached, you will initial and sign the offer and it will become a contract. If you prefer, you can initial and sign these documents electronically through a service I use called DocuSign.
  6. Attorney review/property inspection: After a contract has been signed, a time period (usually five business days) is allotted for the buyer to have a property inspection conducted and for attorneys to review the documents. Any issues that arise from the property inspection must be introduced during this period. The attorneys facilitate the resolution of such issues and also make any additional changes or additions to the contract that may be needed. If the contract specifies a timeframe for resolution of issues (such as 10 business days) and agreement has not been reached within that time, a request may be made for an extension of the review period.
  7. Mortgage and any other contingencies: Depending upon the terms of the contract there may be conditions that have to be met before closing. Unless the sale is a cash transaction, a sufficient loan amount must be obtained by the buyer. There may be other contingencies specified in the contract as well, such as the sale of the buyer's home prior to closing.
  8. Closing: On a specified date, a meeting takes place in which all necessary paperwork is signed, money distributed, and title transferred to the new owner. This meeting often takes place at a title company with the clients and their representatives (attorneys, real estate agents, buyer's loan officer). In most cases, the buyers will take possession of the property at closing and will be given the keys to their new home. As your agent, I will work to coordinate the selling of your current home with the purchase of your new one, and to help ensure that the two closings are scheduled to provide a smooth transition for you.

Contact me and I will be happy to meet with you and answer all your questions. You can provide information about your home in advance if you like by filling out a brief Market Analysis form.

Back to Top

Why should I choose you as an agent?

My strengths include quality service, extensive experience, responsiveness, and effective problem-solving skills. 

Quality service: My work philosophy is to provide the best service possible. Almost all of my business comes from referrals and repeat clients. Your satisfaction is truly the best investment I can make in my business! Because I am confident that you will be satisfied with my work, my listing agreements allow sellers to cancel at any time with no penalty. And I do not require buyers to sign an exclusive agency agreement, which is a contract that commits you to work with an agent exclusively for a period of time. My clients stay with me because they are satisfied. You can read some of their comments on my Testimonials page.

Extensive experience: I have a great deal of experience with both buyers and sellers. That experience makes me more effective at my job. For sellers, I use my experience with buyers to provide advice on everything from preparing your home for the market, to pricing it correctly and successfully negotiating offers. For buyers, my experience dealing with owners as a listing agent allows me to anticipate seller reaction and negotiate more effectively. And my extensive experience assisting clients in purchasing and selling many different types of properties in a wide variety of price ranges means I have useful knowledge that will make the transaction go more smoothly. It also gives me a good understanding of the marketplace which allows me to give you better advice about a purchase or selling price.

Responsiveness: Communication with clients is very important in a service field such as real estate. I pride myself on being extremely responsive. If you call, text, or email me, I will respond quickly -- and you will communicate directly with me, not with an assistant. Contact me and see for yourself!

Effective problem-solving: I believe in handling issues in a positive manner, using common sense and experience to arrive at a workable solution. Sometimes you have to be creative, and it always helps to anticipate possible outcomes. I will be a thoughtful advocate for you throughout the entire process!

Please contact me and I will be happy to answer any questions you have about my qualifications and services.

Back to Top

What is the difference between a short sale and a foreclosure?

In a short sale, a property is in a pre-foreclosure situation and is listed at a price that is too low to offset the amount the seller currently owes on the mortgage. Any sale of the property must be approved by the bank holding the loan. If there is more than one loan, all banks must approve the sale. The length of the process varies greatly depending on a number of factors, and there is no guarantee that the transaction will be approved. If the property does not sell as a short sale, it will progress through the foreclosure process and unless sold for cash at a county sheriff's auction, will eventually become the property of the bank. The bank will then list the home for sale. Such properties are sometimes called REOs, which stands for "Real Estate Owned". These foreclosed homes vary in condition and price range but are typically listed below market value. Unlike a short sale, a transaction involving a foreclosed home can close quickly.

Back to Top

Do you handle short sales and foreclosures?

I have helped many buyers purchase short sales and foreclosures and am very familiar with the process and what buyers need to know. As part of my service, I will explain in detail what you can expect and how the transaction will differ from a regular sale. I have also helped owners successfully sell their homes in a short sales situation, including properties with more than one mortgage. Again, I will share my knowledge with you and provide support throughout the process.

Back to Top

Why do I need an agent to help me purchase real estate?

An agent can save you time and money! Without an agent, you end up spending your time searching online (where you will encounter incomplete and frequently, outdated information), scanning ads, driving around, and attending open houses. An agent can set up a search for you directly through the multiple listing service and use his/her expertise to find you the best prospects. When you are ready to submit an offer, an agent can advise you and provide information on selling prices of comparable properties so you don't overpay. The agent will also negotiate for you during the offer and acceptance process. Exception: If you, as a buyer, are working directly with the listing agent (dual agency), under Illinois law the dual agent is limited in the information he/she can provide during negotiations. That is an important reason why you should have your own agent representing your interests. As your agent, I will also coordinate and attend your property inspection, and will follow-up on the progress of your financing and closing paperwork. I will also attend your closing. When you work with me to locate and purchase real estate, there is no charge to you for my services -- the seller pays the commission. Why wouldn't you want to work with someone who will do the searching for you, advise you, negotiate for you, and help coordinate the steps to closing? I subscribe to a multiple listing service that provides maximum coverage of the Chicago area as well as the most current information on listed properties. I can set up an automated notification system that will send you an email message when a new property comes on the market that meets your requirements. Contact me and I can begin working for you immediately!

Back to Top

Why do I need an agent to help me sell my property?

An agent can provide you with the essential elements you need to sell your home:

  1. The right price: The listing price of your home is extremely important. Over-pricing of a property usually results in a longer market time and often, price reductions or a selling price that is farther from the asking price. Why would you want to have your home listed for a longer period for potentially no gain? Even if you have a buyer willing to pay an inflated price, you can run into trouble if the buyer is financing the home. The buyer's lender will have a professional appraisal done and if the home's value is determined to be less than the contract price, your buyer may not qualify for the loan unless the price is lowered or the buyer increases the down payment. Under-pricing may result in a quick sale, but lower profit for the seller. An agent can provide you with a market analysis based on sales history of similar properties that can be used to arrive at an effective selling price. I will be happy to provide you with a free market analysis to tell you what your home is worth and to discuss the best way to sell it.
  2. Exposure and Marketing:. Most people buy homes with the assistance of a real estate agent. And most agents use the multiple listings to locate homes for their buyers. Your home  will be listed in the multiple listing service as well as a tremendous number of Web sites. This widespread exposure is a key element in successful marketing. An agent also provides marketing expertise. I will also develop effective literature and MLS/Internet copy to effectively reach potential buyers. My marketing also includes glossy brochures, virtual tours, broker tours, and open houses.
  3. Accessibility: If you try to sell your home on your own, you need to be there to show it to potential buyers. When you list with me, I will set up a secure system that will allow buyer's agents and their clients to view your home when you are not there. (In fact, since many buyers feel inhibited and rushed when sellers are present, it is better that you are not there.) Real estate agents are very busy people and if a home is not readily accessible, they may show their clients something else.
  4. Pre-approved buyers: Real estate agents will bring you buyers who are pre-approved for loans. Agents do not want to waste their time showing properties to buyers who cannot afford them. I always make sure my buyers are pre-approved and explain to them that a pre-approval letter for a sufficient loan amount is a standard inclusion in any offer submitted to purchase a home.

In addition, it is likely that your house will sell for a higher price through a real estate agent than selling on your own. A recent study found that the median price of homes sold directly by owner is 15.4 percent less than agent-assisted transactions. That is a much larger percentage than a real estate commission! You may lose money as well as time selling on your own -- you will pay for your own advertising and then may very well end up with a lower selling price. An agent will also help facilitate the steps to closing;. If you are purchasing a new home, an agent can help coordinate the closing dates so that your move from one property to another goes smoothly.

Back to Top

What is a "pocket listing"?

A pocket listing refers to a home that is listed with an agency but not marketed on the MLS. Often this approach is used at the beginning of a listing period with the idea that it can be offered to select buyers before it hits the market, potentially leading to a quick sale. I do not believe pocket listings are in a seller's best interest and never use this approach as a listing agent. I think maximum exposure to the widest pool of buyers is the best way to sell quickly and at the highest price. Multiple offers and quick sales have become commonplace lately. Why would you want to exclude any potential buyers from the process? If a buyer knows your home isn't listed on the MLS, they might act quickly, but they also know there is not the same competition there would be if your home was fully marketed and they may not offer as much as they might otherwise. One advantage to the listing agency is that they are more likely to pick up both sides of the transaction (buyer as well as seller) in a pocket listing, but that does not help you as an owner.

Back to Top

How are commissions determined?

The commission percentage is agreed upon by the seller and real estate agent during the listing process and written into the listing agreement. It is important to understand how this money is distributed. Typically, the total commission you pay as a seller will be divided between the company listing the property and the company representing the buyer. Each of the two companies' commissions will then be divided between the broker/owner of the agency and the real estate agent who worked directly with the client, minus any fees (franchise fees, etc.). So the agent who lists your home or brings in the buyer receives only a percentage of the total commission amount you pay. Your commission is compensation for the time and services of the listing agent and buyer's agents, their brokers who have agency overhead, the advertising of your home, any brochures and marketing materials, the sign that was placed in front of your property, the exposure on the multiple listing services, and any other expenses related to the marketing and sale of your home. My commission rates are very competitive and I can offer discounted rates for special situations (contact me for details). And if I do discount my rate, I make sure that the entire discount amount comes out of the listing side NOT the selling side of the commission. I will never lower the rate to the agents who are bringing in buyers! I want to make your home as attractive to buyer's agents as possible. You should always verify what your listing agent is paying as a cooperating commission to the buyer's agent -- both the commission percentage and any administration fees they are subtracting.

Back to Top

Back to Top

Why is a market analysis important?

A market analysis sets the stage for successfully selling your home. The information your agent gathers is used to help you choose a listing price and will assist the agent in developing a marketing plan. The correct listing price is essential to avoid over- or underpricing. Overpricing limits the number of interested buyers and often leads to a longer market time and a "tired" listing. If a property is overpriced, sellers frequently end up lowering the price or taking an offer that is farther from the asking price. Underpricing means lower profit for the seller. A market analysis will include a study of comparable sold properties, with necessary adjustments, to arrive at an effective price. When I present a market analysis, I also discuss my vision for marketing your home and a detailed plan to reach your target audience. I will outline the steps necessary to sell your home for a good price and I will make your satisfaction a top priority! Contact me for a free market analysis.

Back to Top

 

Looking for the best in real estate service?  It's a breeze when you call LOUISE!  847-946-2311

 

Copyright 2013, Louise Fleming, CENTURY 21 Roberts & Andrews

Licensed real estate broker with CENTURY 21 Roberts & Andrews, McHenry, IL