DFW residential real estate » My services
My Realty Services
Looking for the best real estate agent to assist you in your move to the Dallas area? Here are some questions and answers that explain how I serve my clients.
Why should I pick you to be my real estate agent?
Providing superior client service is something I strive for every day. Before I became a real estate agent in 2001, I spent nearly 25 years as a CPA, first with Touche Ross (now Deloitte), then KPMG and Ernst & Young, providing financial and operations improvement consulting services to large multi-national and middle market domestic companies. When it came to expectations about service quality, the executives who were my clients, and with whom I worked on a daily basis, set the bar pretty high. Those expectations seemed to me to be a reasonable standard of professional performance that I've always tried to meet, then and now.
Unlike many of the other well-known agents in the area, I personally work with each of my clients. Based on what my clients say about working with me, this service approach seems to be well received. I sincerely believe the quality of services that I deliver, more than anything else, enabled me to become a partner at Ernst & Young and is the reason I have been named to the RE/MAX® Hall of Fame and recognized multiple times in D Magazine's annual survey of Best / Top Producer Real Estate Agents in Dallas.
What geographical area do you specialize in and how do you stay current on the real estate market conditions there?
Relatively soon after I got into the real estate business, I decided to focus exclusively on assisting home buyers with selecting and purchasing upscale personal residences. Since the north Dallas suburbs and park cities/north Dallas areas are where most of my clients found the combination of homes, neighborhoods, schools, location, etc. that best suited their needs, these two areas are where I have spent, and continue to spend, the majority of my time. More recently, some of my clients also have purchased homes in several northeast Dallas suburbs, including Allen, Prosper and McKinney.
To stay current on residential real estate market conditions, I spend a great deal of time seeing homes offered for sale in these areas. I also spend considerable time analyzing local residential real estate market data. And, of course, national and local real estate and economic news are daily reads.
Do you handle both sides of transactions or work exclusively for home buyers?
My business is all about helping people find the home that best meets their needs and those of their family. I do not want there ever to be any questions, either in my clients' minds or in my own mind, about what my fiduciary responsibilities are and to whom they are owed. It therefore is my policy to represent only buyers and to not accept listings from sellers.
A question for you: suppose you want to buy a business? Would you engage an attorney to represent you who also happens to represent an individual who owns one of the businesses you are considering buying? How about engaging an attorney who works for and has a fee splitting arrangement with the attorney who represents that business owner? Would this arrangement be acceptable to you?
Let's change this scenario slightly. Now you want to buy a house. Would you engage a real estate agent to assist you who also has contractual arrangements to list and sell homes that are similar to the one you want to buy. How about engaging a buyer's agent who works for and has a commission sharing arrangement with such a listing agent? Would this arrangement be acceptable to you?
How about when you call the number on a for sale sign in front of a house and as soon as the listing agent who answers your call begins to think you are not really interested in that particular house immediately begins selling you on how he/she can help you find a house that better meets your needs? What level of confidence would you have in that agent diligently protecting your best interests?
While Texas law does allow licensed real estate agents to simultaneously work with both buyers and sellers as an intermediary, and most agents routinely do so, I have seen more than a few situations where this has created genuine and very serious conflicts of interest.
You additionally should know that when acting in an intermediary role, Texas real estate agents cannot provide "advice and counsel" to their clients. Instead, the agent acting in an intermediary role is limited to providing the buyer and seller with whatever "facts" about the situation the agent deems pertinent.
Anyone who has sold a home and interviewed listing agents likely heard the stated goal of each those agents was to drive home prices in the area, albeit through one sale at a time, as high as possible. This, very properly, should be the objective of a listing agent. However, when you find yourself on the other side of the table and are buying a home, it seems logical to question whether any agent who spends a portion of his/her time representing sellers is the best person to protect your interest.
Do I need a buyer's agent to assist me when working with a builder?
This question always reminds me of an old Texas saying: "Don't take a knife to a gun fight."
When building or buying a newly constructed house you face a great number of decisions regarding a broad range of issues about which you probably are mostly unfamiliar, but with which the builder and/or builder's rep work on a daily basis. You also should remember that no matter how well-intentioned builders may be when dealing with their customers, they don't stay in business very long unless they first look out for their own best interests.
You should be especially cautious when a builder offers a price discount if you agree to not have real estate agent representation. Such an arrangement of course saves the builder the cost of the agent's commission, but it also raises your risk of making ill-considered decisions that ultimately can cost you much, much more than amount of the discount offered.
You also need to know that an ever widening gap in the levels of construction quality and customer service being delivered by the best and worst builders in the area has accompanied the dramatic increase in demand for new DFW homes we have experienced over the last several years. Now, more than ever, it is critical for homebuyers to know what behavior they likely can expect from builders both during the construction process and after they have closed on their new homes. This is just some of the information I provide my clients who are considering buying new construction homes.
In which neighborhoods will I most likely find the home that best meets my requirements?
Identifying the right neighborhoods is not a particularly difficult task, provided one has the appropriate market knowledge and approaches it logically. The first thing I do with my clients is ensure we have identified, fairly precisely, what they are looking for in a home, neighborhood and community. We also discuss things like acceptable commute distances and times, school requirements, and desired neighborhood amenities.
I then use my knowledge of the area and the proprietary databases I've built to identify which, and to what extent, various neighborhoods match my clients' requirements. The neighborhoods that best match their requirements are where we look first.
What information will you provide me about the homes we look at and the neighborhoods in which they are located?
When I take my clients on a home tour, they are, of course, provided with MLS listing sheets that disclose specific information about the homes they visit. In most cases I am able to identify the builders of the homes we tour and we discuss what I know about these builders.
I additionally provide my clients extensive information about each of the neighborhoods within my market area where homes we visit are located. This information includes Student Achievement Indexes and STAAR scores for local schools; list prices and summary descriptions of homes available for sale; and sale prices, costs per square foot, and other similar information about recently sold MLS-listed homes.
If I am not pleased with the services you provide, what is required to terminate our Buyer Representation Agreement?
Just let me know that you not longer want me to represent you as your buyer's agent.
The purpose of a Buyer Representation Agreement, in my opinion, is to ensure my clients and I are on the same page about how we work together. It definitely is not to hinder them from switching to another agent.
I want my clients to continue working with me solely because they feel I am doing a superior job for them. This is why I include the following language in the Buyer Representation Agreement that my clients sign: "Client or Broker may terminate this Agreement, without cause and at any time, by providing written notice to other Party."
Can you get me a really great deal on a home?
The residential real estate market, no matter its current condition, is really quite transparent. Generally speaking, every buyer and every seller, and anyone else for that matter, has the opportunity to know the prices for which most homes are sold. Such market transparency makes it possible for me to produce a comparative market analysis (CMA) for almost every property on which my clients decide to make an offer. I also am able to determine the supply of homes (months of inventory) available for sale, the average discount from list price for which homes are selling in the price ranges and areas where my clients are looking, the rates at which homes have appreciated during the past several years, and other similar information.
Because I usually am better informed about current market trends and conditions than the homeowners and real estate agents with whom my home buyer clients and I negotiate, we are well-positioned to negotiate favorable terms. In some cases, my clients and I were able to negotiate better deals than they expected, or even hoped for.
As much as I would like to be able to say that I can get you a really great deal on the purchase of your home, the truth is it is very unlikely that either I or any other buyers' agent will be able to do so. Whenever a home owner or builder is willing to sell a property for less than other seemingly similar properties are selling, it almost always is because there is something about the property that truly reduces its current and, most probably, its future market value.
Will I be charged any commission or fees for your services?
The commissions I receive are paid by the listing agent when the home being purchased has been listed on the MLS, by the home owner in for sale by owner (FSBO) situation, or by the builder when a home is built to order. This is the only way I am compensated for the services I provide my clients.
That being said, if recent stories circulating in the local real estate community are to be believed, this is a question you may be especially well-advised to ask.
Some agents working in the area reportedly are substituting their own "special" form for the Residential Buyer/Tenant Representation Agreement that has been developed by the Texas Association of Realtors (TAR) and is used by most buyers' agents. These "special" forms contain terms, which are quite easy to overlook unless you are specifically looking for them, that obligate home buyers to pay commissions and/or fees not typically charged by other agents.
When agents present their own form for you to sign, you probably first should ask why they are not using the TAR promulgated form. Regardless of the form used, but especially when it is not a standard TAR form, it also is important to read the entire agreement carefully. Finally, you will want to be sure that the terms of agreement entered onto the form by the agent are both complete and consistent with your understanding of your agreement.
By the way, it is fairly easy to identify the TAR promulgated form. It has a copyright notice just under its title and an identification number of the bottom left of each page, currently (TAR-1501) 1-1-14.
Looking for the best real estate agent to assist you in buying a home in the Dallas suburbs?
If you are looking for a professional, business-savvy buyers agent, please call 972 355-3511 or send me an email and let's talk about how I can assist you. If you will be traveling from outside the DFW area and want me to show you houses while you are here, please call me before finalizing your plans.