***Disclaimer- All FAQ advice is specific to transactions in the state of Alaska.
First and foremost, it's important to understand that different offices and even different licensees within an organization offer different levels of representation. Your level of representation matters! During your very first meeting, your licensee should explain how/if they are currently representing you, what duties they owe you, and have you sign an Alaska Real Estate Disclosure. Throughout the buying process your degree of representation has potential to change, be sure to understand what duties are owed to you throughout the evolving real estate transaction.
1.Specific Assistance- YOU ARE NOT REPRESENTED
The beginning of each real estate encounter begins with Specific Assistance until you choose representation. This is typically the licensee responding to your request for information. Just like representation, there are important facts about Specific Assistance which are also outlined on the AREC Disclosure. A critical fact to remember is that information you provide the licensee is not confidential.
2.Neutral Licensee- YOU ARE NOT REPRESENTED
A neutral licensee is working for consumers on both sides of the transaction, but not representing either consumer. However, if the consumers authorize, the licensee may offer professional advice and assist both parties in reaching agreements.
In this situation, there are 10 specific duties the licensee owes the consumer. These duties are explained in detail on the AREC Disclosure, but be sure to note that #10 is the only duty that differs from the duties as a Representative.
3.Representation or Designated Licensee- YOU ARE REPRESENTED
In this situation, the licensee represents you and you alone in the transaction. You receive all duties owed through representation, as shown on the AREC Disclosure. Remember: There may be a licensee from the same office as your designated licensee assisting the other side of the transaction, but this may differ from office to office.
Refer to this helpful blog post to always understand your level of representation.
The simple answer: Real estate agents, called licensees in Alaska, are experts in all aspects of the housing market for the area. We speak the language of real estate, know the area, understand the contracts, and know the typical expenses associated with each transaction. Our knowledge could help you save money, not just in negotiation, but in all aspects of the transaction. Don’t pay for or stress over things unnecessarily, use a real estate licensee and be in the know!
If you’re looking to sell your home, a real estate licensee can help you find the right price point (hint: it’s not by looking at Zillow) by completing a market analysis. Not sure what that is? Learn more here. We also know the best ways to market your home in the area and have access to marketing platforms that you don’t. When it comes to negotiation, your real estate licensee will use their knowledge and experiences to get you the best deal possible for the situation. They are also contract experts, and will supply appropriate contracts to make sure the sale is completed with the guidelines of the locale in mind, because all states have different rules. This is a common area where many overpay, because they don’t understand the typical costs associated with the locale. You can also expect your licensee to guide you through all the road blocks along the way. Even if you’ve had success selling on your own in the past, each sale is different, and a great real estate licensee can use their experiences and expertise to guide you through.
Looking to buy a home? You’ll absolutely want to have a real estate licensee. In a typical Alaska transaction, you won’t pay for the services you receive. Your licensee can give you access to the MLS, so you’ll see information that others may not see, and get alerts when something new comes on the market. After you find the right fit, your licensee will help you write an offer and use their negotiation skills and area knowledge to get you the best deal possible for your situation. After you have an accepted offer, they can guide you through the next steps, and will work directly with your lender and the title company to get your new home closed. Our goal is to always make your home buying process as stress free as possible.
The MLS is short for “Multiple Listing Service”. A home on the MLS is listed with a real estate company, and often the best way to reach potential buyers. The MLS can be found nation-wide and offer thorough information about properties listed, including documents such as seller disclosures, which are not available on other sites. Only real estate licensees paying fees and participating in the MLS system have access to all property details, but they are often able to share limited access with interested individuals. If you have interest in searching the MLS for properties available in the state of Alaska, start here!
A listing licensee is the term given to the real estate licensee that has a home listed for sale. A selling licensee is the real estate licensee that procures a buyer for a home. In many transactions the real estate licensee will only be either the selling licensee or listing licensee, but in some cases, they can be both. It’s also important to remember that licensees can switch roles in each new transaction, so if they were the selling licensee for one, they may be the listing licensee for the next.
However, the most important point to remember is that a listing licensee and selling licensee are not the indicator in how you are being represented in the transaction. In the state of Alaska, you will be asked to sign a disclosure any time you are working with a real estate licensee, which discloses how you are being represented. Have questions about representation? Learn more here.
FSBO stands for “For Sale By Owner”. These are home owners attempting to sell their home without a real estate licensee or REALTOR® (this term refers to a licensee who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS). It is important to note that some sellers are willing to work with a REALTOR® in some capacity. Typically, we see this when a buyer wishes to be represented in a FSBO transaction. However, from time to time, a FSBO seller will find a buyer and then ask a REALTOR® to step in and facilitate the transaction.
Don’t worry, there is a simple explanation for this, and no, it’s not that the licensee is lying to you. Some licensees work with Zillow to find clients interested in properties; these are called Premier Agents. Sometimes the properties you find on Zillow or Trulia are not listed by real estate companies but are FSBOs instead. Zillow will typically first list the contact information for the listing company (if there is one), then the Premier Agents are listed next. In cases where there is no listing company, just the licensee(s) working with Zillow are listed, followed by the seller’s information. The contact information for the owners will be less conspicuous. Licensees may still be able to help you when they are not the listing licensee, so don’t be afraid to contact them!
The simple answer is that pre-qualification is the prediction that buyers can take out a mortgage. A pre-approval requires much more documentation given to the mortgage company. The additional information will include tax information, paystubs, and other pertinent financial information. That information is then used to perform a credit check. All information together is then used to estimate the amount that the buyer is likely to be approved when applying for a mortgage.
Many sellers and/or REALTOR®s will require a pre-approval before showing a house, there are a few reasons for this:
As you can see from the answer regarding pre-approval and pre-qualification, it may be a good idea to discuss your options with your lender before hiring your REALTOR®. HOWEVER, if you need help from a REALTOR® to offer suggestions on which lenders may offer you the best options, or how to get started in the home buying process, contact a REALTOR® first!
Typically, a transaction in the Kodiak area, requiring a home loan, will take around two months from start to finish. The negotiation process can be expected to take anywhere from a day or two to a week, depending on how available all parties are with communication. After negotiation, the inspection process typically lasts a week or two. Next, the appraisal process depends on the time of year, but can be as quick as a couple of weeks. Because we live in a remote area, the appraisers must come to us from the mainland, so the process can take extra time. Following the appraisal, the process continues with the lender. The lender will then take the time they need to finalize all details of the loan which will take the remainder of the time until closing.
No home and no individual purchase is the same. There is no minimum credit score required in order to get a home mortgage, but your lender will have their own specific requirements. Down payments may also not be required. Some mortgages will require a percentage of the sale price down at closing, but others will require less, or perhaps nothing down. It’s important to discuss all options with your lender to find out exactly what programs you qualify for, and what money you should expect to pay for your home purchase and closing costs.
Closing costs can vary from transaction to transaction, loan to loan, and lender to lender. Your REALTOR® can give you a general idea of what costs will be incurred for most types of transactions. Your lender will give you a specific cost estimate for your loan type, which you can share with your REALTOR® as you strategize negotiations of your offer and terms.
Your final walk-through will typically be the day, or a few days, before the closing of your home. The final walk-through should be completed with your REALTOR®. In the walk-through, you will be looking to verify the property is in the condition expected per the offer contract. This can be anything from verifying repairs and the removal of personal items to making sure pipes haven’t frozen, and everything is still in working order. If you find the property is not as agreed, there may be a delay in closing while the issues are remedied.
A home inspection is the process of having a licensed home inspector inspect the property you are interested in purchasing and evaluate possible shortcomings. Different inspectors present their findings in different ways, but they will typically advise and offer corrections and/or safety concerns that should be addressed. After an inspection, your real estate licensee will help you to evaluate the importance of certain repairs and to negotiate repair requests.
While your real estate licensee is an expert in the local housing market, negotiation, contracts, and the home selling/purchasing process, they are not an expert in home maintenance and repairs. You can expect your licensee to recommend that you get a home inspection, and they may even offer you choices of other inspections to consider. You should always have the property inspected, because many costly issues can be difficult to detect, and your inspector is more likely to find them than others. It’s better to know about foreseeable issues in a property and walk away, than to live in ignorant bliss until a significant and preventable issue happens.
Disclaimer- All FAQ advice is specific to transactions in the state of Alaska and subject to change without notice.