Real Estate Agent/Mortgage Broker Recommendations?

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Real Estate Agent/Mortgage Broker Recommendations?

Postby Ben Klingston on Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:21 pm

Starting the process, focusing on the South Hills/Mon Valley/ East Suburbs area (I'm very open to areas, basically a 20-25 minute radius from W. Mifflin).

Don't know a lot of people who have been through the home buying process in this area recently.

I'd like to line up a visit/interview with a few different agents and brokers (agents probably can recommend brokers) - Anyone go through this somewhat recently and have any particular names/companies they do/don't recommend? You can PM me if you'd rather not post specific names.

Thanks for any advice!
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Re: Real Estate Agent/Mortgage Broker Recommendations?

Postby AlexPKeaton on Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:30 pm

Dunno if it is worth using a broker these days. Interest rates are so low, why pay the additional fee when it is a much higher percent of the total interest rate? I have no realtor recommendations, since I have never met a realtor I particularly liked. It is kind of a crap shoot. I am not sure I want to even use a buyer's agent next time. They are nothing but personal assistants as all they basically do is setup the appointments for you, which you can do yourself by simply calling the listing agent. In the age of the internet where you can paruse the database yourself, they are pretty obsolete imo.

Edit: I guess they would be useful if you are moving into a totally new area you are not familiar with, like moving to a different city or something.
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Re: Real Estate Agent/Mortgage Broker Recommendations?

Postby Ben Klingston on Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:48 pm

AlexPKeaton wrote:Dunno if it is worth using a broker these days. Interest rates are so low, why pay the additional fee when it is a much higher percent of the total interest rate? I have no realtor recommendations, since I have never met a realtor I particularly liked. It is kind of a crap shoot. I am not sure I want to even use a buyer's agent next time. They are nothing but personal assistants as all they basically do is setup the appointments for you, which you can do yourself by simply calling the listing agent. In the age of the internet where you can paruse the database yourself, they are pretty obsolete imo.

Edit: I guess they would be useful if you are moving into a totally new area you are not familiar with, like moving to a different city or something.


Yeah, I have the same question regarding the need for a broker. A few calls around to local banks would likely get me just as good of a rate, but I'm not sure what other services the broker gives other than finding the best rate. i.e. walking through the application paperwork, finding/acting as an escrow officer, etc. I'm willing to pay a few hundred or so for someone experienced to help with this, since I have zero experience. Maybe the bank themselves would do this... dunno.

As far as an agent, I hear you there, also. Perusing listings and contacting listing agents is pretty easy online now. However, I feel like I want that personal assistant and experienced advice going through the process that an agent will provide. With current market, most sellers are paying full closing costs, including buying agent commissions. I mean, I know a lot of the time that's baked into the agreed purchase price, but it's something I think I want to pay for, just for the comfort factor.
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Re: Real Estate Agent/Mortgage Broker Recommendations?

Postby mac5155 on Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:22 pm

My neighbor is an exec at Century 21 out of Belle Vernon. She's very good at what she does and has been in the biz forever. She worked for Wendell Grimm, then had her own realtor service for a while, then went with Century 21 within the past year since the market was so down.

http://www.century21.com/real-estate-ag ... h-10947079
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Re: Real Estate Agent/Mortgage Broker Recommendations?

Postby KennyTheKangaroo on Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:37 pm

not intended to hijack this thread, but a related question:

kenny the kangaroo is also starting to kick around the idea of becoming a homeowner. the question is this:

We all know that you are supposed to make a 20% down payment on a mortgage. Howeva, kenny the kangaroo would like to know how much of your total assets/total net assets you are supposed to use as a down payment (percentage wise)? kenny the kangaroo would ideally like to make a large downpayment as possible, but does not want to be too overleveraged.
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Re: Real Estate Agent/Mortgage Broker Recommendations?

Postby Ben Klingston on Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:31 pm

KennyTheKangaroo wrote:not intended to hijack this thread, but a related question:

kenny the kangaroo is also starting to kick around the idea of becoming a homeowner. the question is this:

We all know that you are supposed to make a 20% down payment on a mortgage. Howeva, kenny the kangaroo would like to know how much of your total assets/total net assets you are supposed to use as a down payment (percentage wise)? kenny the kangaroo would ideally like to make a large downpayment as possible, but does not want to be too overleveraged.


I'm one of those people who try to understand 100% of what I'm getting into before I dip my toes in, so I've read a few books recently. None of them really answer the question you ask, so maybe someone else on here may know, but in general, my understanding is yes, try to get at least 20% to get the best possible interest rate available. However, even with < 20% down, if you have a good credit score, you can get pretty close to rock bottom rates right now. My understanding is the real key to at least 20% is to avoid PMI, private mortgage insurance, which can be ~ $100/month, depending on the price of your house. You pay PMI until you get at least 20% equity in your home, I believe (though it will probably cost you $ to pay for an assessment to get rid of the PMI).

As far as paying > 20% down, I would think general budgeting would lead you to an answer - obviously the more you pay up-front, the less interest you're paying on a mortgage, and ultimately, the lower overall house cost. That said, I don't think it's smart to throw all of your savings into a downpayment if you don't have to - I personally want to have at least a few months worth of salary in my coffers, plus some cash to outfit the new place, left after downpayment.
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Re: Real Estate Agent/Mortgage Broker Recommendations?

Postby bhaw on Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:16 pm

KennyTheKangaroo wrote:not intended to hijack this thread, but a related question:

kenny the kangaroo is also starting to kick around the idea of becoming a homeowner. the question is this:

We all know that you are supposed to make a 20% down payment on a mortgage. Howeva, kenny the kangaroo would like to know how much of your total assets/total net assets you are supposed to use as a down payment (percentage wise)? kenny the kangaroo would ideally like to make a large downpayment as possible, but does not want to be too overleveraged.


This is totally up to the buyer. The only thing the bank will require is the down payment you agree on and possibly proof of reserves (x number of months times your total mortgage payment including any escrows, PMI, and HOA dues). Beyond that, it is your preference as far as equity and payment vs security in liquid funds. The more you put down, the more your rate will go down as well in most cases, so if you can afford to put 40% down, ask the bank to quote you out payments at 20% and 40% down.
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Re: Real Estate Agent/Mortgage Broker Recommendations?

Postby Willie Kool on Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:04 pm

I would suggest that finding a trustworthy, experienced, independent home inspector is more important than any particular agent or broker.
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Re: Real Estate Agent/Mortgage Broker Recommendations?

Postby PghSkins on Mon Jul 30, 2012 9:51 pm

We used Re-Max when we recently tried to sell our home. We liked the realtors but they neither found buyers for our home nor came up with any homes we liked.

As far as a mortgage, recommendation there is same as when someone asks about a bank: credit union.
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Re: Real Estate Agent/Mortgage Broker Recommendations?

Postby 60sixx on Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:07 am

I am currently in the home buying process. My agent is Betsy Smith at Northwood Realty in the North Hills. She came highly recommended from several friends of mine and she has been wonderful. Very patient, and goes the extra mile.

We just entered into an agreement on a house--I am calling to set up the inspection today. I can report back on that experience. (I'm calling an independent inspector that I researched.)
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Re: Real Estate Agent/Mortgage Broker Recommendations?

Postby KennyTheKangaroo on Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:11 am

bhaw wrote:This is totally up to the buyer. The only thing the bank will require is the down payment you agree on and possibly proof of reserves (x number of months times your total mortgage payment including any escrows, PMI, and HOA dues). Beyond that, it is your preference as far as equity and payment vs security in liquid funds. The more you put down, the more your rate will go down as well in most cases, so if you can afford to put 40% down, ask the bank to quote you out payments at 20% and 40% down.


ok, so it seems like there really is no right or wrong percentage of assets to allocate to a down payment. so kenny the kangaroo's next question is this: does anyone know how much they put down (in terms of percentage of your assets)
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Re: Real Estate Agent/Mortgage Broker Recommendations?

Postby Ben Klingston on Sun Oct 14, 2012 5:00 pm

Reviving this thread - and not wanting to start a new one. So I've found a house I'm interested in making an offer on. My agent tells me that, for the lender appraisal, the new rules state that 'comparable' properties have to be within 1 mile and sold in the last 6 months. There is only 1 comp with those criteria, and the same size, where I am looking. I'm told that the appraisals can go back up to 1 year if needed to get enough data, but that only pulls another 5 or 6 comps. I'm the kind of person who likes to crunch the #s myself, and while I expect my agent to do work and come up with comps and a good opening offer, I'd like to come up with my own estimate (to check my agent's findings). Any advice on coming up with initial offers? Is $/sq. footage a good place to start? This place has a lot of recent updates - kitchen, both baths, driveway and walkway concrete. I'm not sure how to figure those into an opening offer, since many places don't have that many updates.
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