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Old 05-02-2006, 08:03 PM
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Post Learn The Real Estate 'Tricks Of The Trade'

SEATTLE - We all want the best deal we can get, especially when we buy or sell a house or condo. So you need to know some of the secrets your real estate agent might not tell you.

You already the bottom line in real estate is money. If you're buying, you want the most house for your money -- a new kitchen, extra bedroom, a room with a view, etc.

Sellers of course, want the most money for the house.

And in the middle, are the people who make money off the deal. Since real estate agents don't get paid until a house is sold, the last thing they want it what's called a "deal killer: -- financing falling through, a wishy-washy buyer or seller, or a home inspector who's just a little too good with that inspection.

So, many agents steer clients to home inspectors they know are honest but easy, and "deal friendly."

"I've heard that it happens," said real estate agent Gini Johnson. "It's not a wise thing to do and it's not going to be the agent that continues to work."

Her advice? Talk to friends, and get the best inspector you can find.

We asked Johnson: "Is it fair to say, don't use the inspector that's referred to you by your realtor?"

She replied: "Sure! Find your own? That's fine. That would not offend me at all as an agent."

Negotiate The Commission

Here's another trick of the trade: When you sell your house, tell the agent you want to negotiate their commission.

Bill McCabe listed his house with a 4 percent commission instead of the traditional 6 percent -- getting the listing agent to drop their commission by 1.5 percent, and the buyer's agent to drop their commission by a half percent.

That saved McCabe $10,000.

Thanks to a glut of agents and discount listing sites on the Internet, broker Johh Hama told me agents are taking cuts -- even if they don't like to talk about it.

In times when the seller is also purchasing a property as well as selling a property, where there's two transactions -- that's when you're in a prime position to negotiate. But don't expect your agent to volunteer.

And be warned, buyer's agents may retaliate by not showing your house to potential buyers.

"I've had agents say to me, 'if you don't offer the full amount, we won't show your house,' " Hama said.

Computer Staging

Another big trend is staging -- presenting the home so the potential buyer can imagine themselves actually living there. And here's the newest trick of the trade that you'll start seeing this more and more on the Internet. It can show what the room looks like empty, or furnished.

As long as the computer picture doesn't lie about what you will get, it's legal.

After months searching, Erica McKelvey knows all about another trick of the trade.

We've looked at condos, we've looked at 3 bedroom houses. We've looked at 4 bedroom houses," she said.

And that's what certain adjectives really mean.

For instance:

"Cute, adorable, charming" means "it's small"

"Lots of potential" means "Lots of work" or "Sweat Equity"

"A bustling, energetic neighborhood" means count on traffic and most likely, noise.

So buying or selling, do your homework.

Check online to learn about neighborhoods and recent sales activity. Shop around for a good independent home inspector. And negotiate commissions.

Remember the bottom line in real estate is it's all about money.

Have you learned any tricks of the trade on your own? We'd like to hear from you. E-mail us at

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