Dave Leutwyler, USMC Retired
Emerald Coast Homes Realty 850-781-8421

Q. What can a Realtor® do for me that I can't do for myself?

A. A great question and one that is often asked.  The short answer is it depends.  What is your experience?  What is your knowledge? How well trained are you in negotiating skills? What resources do you have? What happens if....? People often think, 'I have bought and sold several homes. I can do this myself'. Perhaps you can. The question is 'do you want to take a chance on the biggest investment of your life'?  

Real estate agents spend long hours and large sums of money to learn and understand the myriad facets of the real estate business. Ever changing laws, practices and trends mandate that agents must complete continuing education requirements to maintain their real estate license. All of that is to ensure that home buyers and sellers are adequately represented in the real estate transaction. A good real estate agent knows the market, the neighborhoods, the trends and has the network necessary to bring sellers and buyers together. It is easy to stick a sign in the yard and say 'For Sale'. It is another thing entirely to get it sold!   

Q. I want to buy a house. I know the property and the seller has an agent.  Do I need my own agent or can I negotiate a lower fee if I act as my own agent?

A. If this is a legitimate question for you, the answer is you absolutely need your own agent!

The first thing you are missing is that as a buyer, you don't pay for the real estate agent's services.  So why would you turn away professional services, take on the many hours of behind the scenes work that agents provide and do that work yourself?  Some would answer 'If I do it myself I can save the seller money and get a better price'.  No! The seller has already signed a contract with his or her agent which includes a set commission amount.  The listing agent will just retain more of the commission the seller pays and you will be negotiating with (against) an experienced professional who does not have your best interests at heart. If you are "lucky", the seller's agent may represent both you and the seller as a "dual agent" or just represent the seller. This means the agent either has divided loyalties or is working for the seller, not you.

Now here is a question for you.  Since you missed the fact that you are served free of charge, do you know what else you are missing?

Q. I have a family friend who is a Realtor. I like her and she is a help but she gives me one price to sell my home for and I think it is too low. So I called another agent who suggested a price more in line with my expectations. Who do I choose?

A. I suggest a careful review of the data provided that supports the price given.  If you weren't provided with any supporting data, you might want to consult another Realtor® to learn the market value of your home. 

It could be that your friend is being more honest with you about the value of your home and the other agent gave you a higher number because (s)he already knew you expected it. This is called "Buying a Listing" and typically ends up frustrating the seller when the price is later reduced to what the other agent told you originally.  

A good comparitive market analysis will show you, in writing, what similar homes in your neighborhood have sold for. You will be able to see competing home prices, conditions, upgrades, etc.  The "unrealistic" suggested price will become obvious.   

Q. Why do Realtors® insist they have the most current information on properties? I can see all properties on various national websites and sometimes see homes that a Realtor® doesn't see.

A. The answer is the source.  All listings on any website originate from a Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The instant a listing is published or updated, Realtors® with access to the MLS have that information. National sites obtain that information second-hand through syndication and updates the information periodically.  So a Realtor® will always have the info first. Additionally, through social media groups, networking and other connections, a Realtor® oftentimes knows of a coming soon opportunity or pocket listing well before the property hits the MLS and national syndication.

The lag time in syndication is typically the reason 'a Realtor® doesn't see' a listing a buyer may see on a national site.  It isn't that the Realtor® doesn't see it. On the contrary, they see it accurately.  If a Realtor® is searching for an active listing on your behalf, and it just went under contract, it won't show up on an active search.  It will, however, show up on your national site until the syndication is updated, leaving you frustrated over a home you saw but which is not available.

Q. I am considering buying a home.  Where do I start?

A. The first step is to obtain a mortgage pre-approval.  To avoid wasting your time searching properties and getting excited about a home you can't afford to buy, it is essential to know how much home you can buy. Additionally, many sellers require a pre-approval letter before showing a home and most will always require one when an offer is made. Being prepared makes you a more qualified buyer.

Always use a local lender.  They know the market best and know the laws that can impact financing on certain properties.  Always consider checking with more than one lender.  Find out which one will provide you the best financing options and lender fees.  For a list of local lenders I know and trust check out these local pros.

Once you have selected your mortgage lender and determined your purchase range, call me to begin defining your home needs and start your home search. I will provide a step-by-step walk-thru of the entire home buying process so you know what is going on all the way to the closing table and owning your first home.

Q. How do I go about finding the best neighborhood for my home?

A. Finding your new home is far more than just finding a building you like with features you want. It is critically important to be in an area that fits you and your family. When we sit down and talk about your new home, I ask about your family.  Do you have children or plan on having children?  If so, will you home school or use public/private schools? Do you have pets? Are HOAs favorable or unfavorable to you?  There are many more topics we will discuss in order to help you find the right place for your new home.

There is nothing worse than finding surprises after you move into a home. Imagine hearing a loud noise outside and finding a black bear outside your door when you didn't know bears lived in the area. Yes, we have black bears in NW Florida.  I suggest visiting your potential new home several times at different times. Find out what traffic is like during morning and afternoon school bus schedules.  See what the neighborhood looks like at night. Is it pitch black and scary? Visit during the day when people are gone to work.  Visit again in the evening when they are home.  Are there cars parked all along the street you didn't see during the day when you visited the home? Visit on the weekends when the children are out playing.

It is important for many home buyers to know about their neighbors, especially those that may pose a threat to their children and families.  The Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Sexual Offenders and Predators Search can be used to find registered offenders and predators.  Visiting or calling the local police and sherrifs department is also a great way to learn about your new home area. 

People often ask about crime and rightfully so.  I always suggest visiting the local law enforcement agencies to find information regarding crime stats.  In the Pensacola area, you can visit the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.  For Navarre and Santa Rosa County click Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office and in the Ft Walton Beach area visit Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office.

Also, talk to your potential future neighbors. Ask them about their likes and dislikes about the neighborhood. Talk to your Realtor® and find out about the area. The more you know, the happier you and your family will be.

Q. What is the best strategy to get my home sold?

A. Call Me!

Strategy is dynamic.  There is not a one-size-fits-all package.  Market conditions, seasonality, location and your specific home all dictate the best strategy to sell your home.

The first and most important piece is to price your home right! Initially, we will discuss your motivation to sell your home. That will be a key piece to finding the best price within a price range to meet the needs that are most important to you. Then I will provide you a detailed comparative market analysis that shows other homes in your neighborhood that have sold recently as well as those currently available for sale. We will compare your home with those to determine the best price for the current market conditions.

I have a number of tactics in my tool bag to market your home.  Obviously great staging and professional photography are a must.  My photographer knows the right lighting conditions, camera settings, placement and angles to get the best shots of your home.  Knocking on neighbor’s doors and letting them know about your home helps spread the word.  I have mailed a personal letter from the seller letting friends and neighbors know their home is on the market. Other strategies include national syndication to a multitude of websites, open houses, association tour of homes by real estate agents, social media campaigns and personal networking just to name a few.

Since there is far too much for establishing a price to list here, the best strategy is to CALL ME and we will get your home SOLD!