Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions 2015-04-10T01:38:17+00:00

General Questions

    • What is the MLS (Multiple Listing Service)
      • A multiple listing service is a suite of services that enables real estate brokers to establish contractual offers of compensation, facilitates cooperation with other broker participants, accumulates and disseminates information to enable appraisals and is a comprehensive, detailed list of homes for sale. Read More
    • What is a Flat Fee MLS Listing?
      • Flat Fee MLS generally refers to the practice in the real estate industry of a seller entering into a service agreement with a real estate broker who accepts a flat fee rather than 3% of the sale to a listing agent and another 3% to the buyer agent. Read More
    • What is Creekview’s success rate?
      • If the seller prices the property correctly and follows all the advice on our website, the success rate is over 99%. That percentage decreases as the number of mistakes the seller makes increases.Sellers normally have a contract in a week to 60 days. Rural properties, raw land, extremely unique properties, and properties over $1,000,000 tend to take longer to sell, but no property should take more than 6 months to sell.
    • How does the For Sale By Owner Flat Fee MLS Listing save you money?
      • House on top on moneyLet’s assume your house sells for $300,000. Here are the 3 cost scenarios:– If the seller prices the property correctly and follows all the advice on our website, the success rate is over 99%. That percentage decreases as the number of mistakes the seller makes increases.– Sellers normally have a contract in a week to 60 days. Rural properties, raw land, extremely unique properties, and properties over $1,000,000 tend to take longer to sell, but no property should take more than 6 months to sell.– If you listed with us and WE sent you the buyer: $495. Total savings is $17,505!
    • Why is a For Sale By Owner Flat Fee MLS Listing the best choice?
      • It’s the best of both worlds! You have the tremendous exposure of being listed on MLS, but with all the control and savings of selling “For Sale By Owner”.

        A. You choose the amount of commission you want to pay a Buying Agent
        B. If you work directly with a buyer then you don’t have to pay any commission.
        C. Your listing will be appear on your local MLS, Realtor.com & ALL public sites that display properties.

    • Why doesn’t everybody sell their house with a Flat Fee MLS Listing?
      • Only 3 reasons why:
        1. Because they don’t know this option exists
        2. They assume selling a home for sale by owner is more complicated than it is
        3. Some just believe it’s too good to be true or are too brainwashed by 6% real estate agents.

        Any informed, knowledgeable seller would never list with a 6% real estate agent. (We get this question all the time.)

  • What is the difference between a REALTOR and a Real Estate Agent?
    • REALTOR® identifies real estate professionals who “are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics”, which is the official definition from the National association of Realtors (NAR). Not every real estate agent is a REALTOR®. In more practical terms, a Realtor® is a real estate agent who signed some papers and paid his/her dues to belong to the local real estate board to have access to the MLS listings. The truth is that any state licensed real estate agent will be accepted by the real estate board and become a REALTOR® if they pay the fees. There is no additional background check, and  no reason for the public to believe a REALTOR® is any more ethical or honest than a regular real estate agent.
  • Why do you need the MLS?
    • MLS stands for “Multiple Listing Service”, and is what is generally referred to as “the real estate market”. Being listed in MLS means all the area real estate agents can find your home in their MLS database, and all the buyers can find your home when searching on Realtor.com and thousands of other websites that display MLS listings. That’s why MLS is responsible for over 90% of all home sales, and why MLS listed properties (for sale by owner or not) sell faster and for more money than non-listed “for sale by owner” properties.
  • How do I search for a home on the MLS?
    • Are you searching for property listings in the Dallas/Fort Worth area?Check out our easy to use search system. You can save your searches, set up email notifications to alert you of new listings, save your favorites for easy side-by-side comparison and conduct advanced searches with endless options.
      Integrated Google maps show the location of searches and enable you to see similar properties in the surrounding area. The North Texas Regional IDX also features a full-screen slideshow mode for easy viewing of listing images.
      Other Areas? Click Here

Why sellers get more activity on their homes when listed with us

  • If a buyer calls your typical 6% real estate company about your home listed with them, one of the following is likely to happen:
    1. Buyer leaves message. If anybody ever calls back, it takes longer than you would be happy about.
    2. Buyer reaches an agent, and the conversation quickly turns into the agent trying to talk the buyer into becoming a client, and your house is forgotten.

    We almost always answer the phone, even after hours. If a call ever goes to voicemail, it is returned within a few hours at most. Then the buyer is referred directly to you, after we explain that we don’t charge a commission, and that the seller will save 3% if the buyer doesn’t have an agent. Once the buyer understands he can save you money and that you may pass some savings on to him, he is even more interested and deals directly with you. Result: The call doesn’t get diverted, and you have a buyer who is not going through an agent.

    Buyer’s Agent Commission

    • How much of the commission do real estate agents get in a typical transaction?
      • The typical 6% commission in a real estate transaction is usually split 4 ways. The listing broker and the buyer’s broker typically get 3% each. Most real estate agents are working under a broker, and split the 3% with that broker. That split typically ranges from 50% to 70% going to the agent, and 30% to 50% going to the broker.Assuming a sale of a $100,000 home at 6% commission, involving 2 agents who each work for a broker with a 60/40 split:Listing office gets $3,000, with $1,200 going to the broker and $1,800 going to the listing agent.Buyer’s agent’s office gets $3,000, with $1,200 going to the broker and $1,800 going to the buyer’s agent.Note that legally, commissions are negotiable between any client and their agent. This example merely illustrates a typical transaction.
    • Your listing agreement says we will pay 3% to buyer’s agents, but we only want to pay 2%. Can we change it?
      • Of course you can. But unless your home is worth over $1,000,000, it’s not a very good idea. You could get away with it if your house were in California or New York, where houses cost 3-4 times what they cost in Texas. In Texas, about 99% of all homes are listed with 3% being offered to buyer’s agents. The result of offering less is that you will get fewer showings.
        Of course agents are supposed to be ethical and put their clients’ best interests ahead of their own. So they should show your house regardless of the commission offered, shouldn’t they? The truth is that they care more about their commission than anything else, so they’d rather show another house with a 3% commission.
        The smartest thing to do is set your price to include a 3% commission for a buyer’s agent, and leave less room for negotiation. If a buyer comes along without an agent, there’s 3% room for negotiation. If you insist on only offering 2% anyway, here’s what will normally happen:

        1. Your house will get far fewer showings
        2. Some agents assume it’s 3% without looking, and write their offer to include a 3% commission anyway. Then there’s the problem of restructuring the offer, which usually ends up irritating the agent as well as the buyer. The result is you end up agreeing to pay the 3% anyway or they go buy something else.
        3. Most agents who do notice the lower commission offered and are still willing to show the house will have a written agreement with their buyers that guarantees the agent a 3% commission. The buyer then has to pay his agent the other 1%, so in the buyer’s mind your house is 1% more expensive. It’s the same deal to the buyer if the house were listed for 1% more with a 3% commission. It’s just more complicated and tends to annoy the buyer.
        4. Almost all sellers who start with 2% eventually increase the commission to 3% after the house doesn’t sell at 2%, and they miss out on the first 2-3 weeks when a listing is fresh and buyers are more anxious to make offers
    • Commission rates are supposed to be negotiable, so why can’t I negotiate the commission with an agent who makes us an offer?
      • 6 precent agent Commissions are only negotiable with your listing broker (that’s us) before your home is listed. Once it’s decided what commission is to be offered to the buyers’ agents for bringing their buyers, that commission amount is entered in the MLS by the listing broker. This creates a contractual obligation for the listing broker to guarantee that commission to any agent who produces a buyer.
        This can be confusing to some For Sale By Owner clients who assume our only role is to enter the listing in MLS, similar to placing an ad in the newspaper. Anybody can place an ad in a newspaper, but you need a real estate license and must sign a contract with a real estate board to be able list a home on MLS.
        It becomes clearer when you consider why the MLS was created in the first place. The concept is for agents to make their listings available to all the other agents to sell, and to be able to show their buyers all the other agents’ listings as well as their own. The traditional 6% commission is split in half, with 3% going to the buyer’s agent, and the other 3% to the listing broker. All the brokers contractually agree through the real estate board to guarantee buyer agents the posted commission. It is this guarantee that makes the multiple listing service, or MLS, function. This makes a lot more sense than listing your home with multiple agents, or having to deal with a different agent for every house you want to see.
        The difference is that we only charge a small fee to save the seller half of the 6% commission, and we refer buyers directly to sellers so they can save the other 3% as well. Such a “self-service” listing allows the seller to save money by doing some of the work on their own. But the listing broker is still ultimately liable for the commission offered to other agents by their contract with the MLS.
        The results of a seller trying to negotiate down the commission after receiving an offer will be any one or all of the following:

        1. Agent calls us to complain
        2. Agent refuses to conduct any further negotiations with the seller, and threatens to file a complaint with the real estate board
        3. Agent’s broker actually files a complaint with the real estate board
        4. Agent’s broker files a lawsuit against us for the commission
        5. Listing broker will cancel your listing!

        If you don’t want to pay a 3% commission to a buyer’s agent, then whatever you are willing to pay must be stated in your listing agreement and must be entered in the MLS.

      • Should I add an agent bonus, or say we will pay the buyer’s closing costs, or say we’ll give a carpet allowance?
        • No! Just lower the price.
  • What is Needed to be Listed
  • Pricing Questions
  • Showings Questions
    • What is a “Showing Service” and what do they do?
      • The showing service is CSS (Centralized Showing Service), and is available in Bryan/College Station, Central Texas, DFW, Houston, McAllen and San Antonio.
        Any time a property is listed on MLS, there must be one, and only one, phone number for agents to call to set up a time to show the property. Showings can be missed if a call to that phone number results in a voicemail, or even worse, a busy or no answer. The showing service answers all calls and sets up the showings; records the name of the showing agent and verifies the agent’s identity; gives the agent pertinent information such as keybox combinations, alarm codes, and any special showing instruction (i.e., don’t let the cat out, dog in back yard barks but won’t bite, etc.); and informs seller of the planned showing at any phone numbers designated. Other benefits are an email for each showing for your records, and a weekly showings report by email that shows the activity for the week in addition to agent comments and feedback.
        The showing service is only for agents to set up showings through MLS, and not for use by the general public, so the showing service telephone number should NOT be put on flyers, yard signs, or any other advertising materials intended for buyers. Read More
    • Do I really need a keybox to sell my house?
    • How do I set up my house for showings without an agent?
    • Should we leave the house when there is a showing?
      • Buyers and agents will be uncomfortable when you are home during a showing. Buyers tend to spend less than half the time on the showing when a seller is present, and buyers tend to remember those homes the most that they spent the most time in. Buyers are also inhibited about looking at everything as thoroughly as they otherwise would when a seller is on the premises. It is best for sellers not to be home during showings. The exception is when buyers don’t have agents, of course. Read More
    • How do I stage my house before I sell?
    • Is it better to market a house furnished or vacant?
      • Vacant, but it doesn’t make a huge difference. Don’t go through extra trouble of moving out so it can be vacant, but don’t make any effort to furnish a vacant house because somebody told you it will show better that way. If you have tenants, it’s better to get them out, clean it up, and show it vacant (unless it’s being marketed as investment property). Tenants almost always cause showing problems. NEVER let somebody move into your vacant house because they will “help with showings” or any other reason. You don’t need them – you only need a keybox.There are “home staging” companies that make a living furnishing houses to make them “show better”. The house will sell much faster if a seller reduces the price by whatever such a staging company would charge. Nobody buys an over-priced house no matter what furniture is in it. Builders furnish model homes when the home is also their office, but you won’t see them moving furniture in and out of their spec homes or inventory homes.
    • Advantages of a vacant house
      • The advantages of a showing with a vacant house:
        • Easier to show
        • Easier to keep clean and in showing condition
        • It looks bigger
        • Buyers can visualize their furniture in the house better
        • Buyers feel more comfortable looking at vacant homes
        • Buyers who need a quick closing may choose to only view vacant homes because they know most sellers expect to have a month to move out.
    • Disadvantages of an occupied home
      • The disadvantages of a showing with a occupied home:
        • Showing problems with pets, tenants, or other occupants
        • Annoyance of people trudging through your home and having to leave for showings (assuming you are, which is best)

        There are no advantages of an occupied home or disadvantages of a vacant one. It is a common misconception that a home will sell faster or for more money if it’s occupied or furnished.

    • Why am I not getting many showings?
      • Because your price is too high. (Assuming you have good photos and easy access for showings.)
    • Why are we getting lots of showings, but no offers?
      • There is something about your house that buyers don’t like, that they don’t know about until they see the inside.Typical issues:
        • Bad floor plan
        • Bad pet or smoke odors
        • Need for significant renovation or improvements
        • Poorly done remodeling jobs
        • Lack of privacy
    • Why are we getting lots of scheduled showings, but then they don’t bother to come in and look at the house?
      • There is something about your house that buyers don’t like, that can be seen from the outside, which they don’t know about before they scheduled the showing.Typical issues:
        • Busy street
        • Big power lines
        • Backing up to something undesirable such as retail or a freeway
        • A FSBO sign.
  • Inspection Questions
    • What is a home inspection?
      • There are numerous types of inspections. An inspection is meant to evaluate, at minimum, the structural and mechanical condition of a property. It is not the same as an appraisal which evaluates the market value of a property. Persons involved in real estate transactions need unbiased information about the physical condition of property they plan to buy or sell. As a buyer, your contract should include an option period during which time you can cancel the contract and get your earnest money back if the inspection report is unsatisfactory or if the seller is unwilling to correct defects the report uncovers. Click here to see a sample inspection. Please note that the format of inspection reports vary, and they don’t always include pictures or as much detail as this sample report. Read More
    • What does a home inspection include?
      • Every inspection should include, but not be limited to, an evaluation of at least the following:
        • Foundations
        • Plumbing and electrical systems
        • Doors
        • Ceiling, walls and floors
        • Roof
        • Hazardous materials concerns
        • Heating and air conditioning systems
        • Common areas (in condominiums)
        • Insulation
        • Ventilation

        Read More

    • What are the hazards of lead-based paint?
      • All sellers are required by law to supply buyers with a Lead Paint Disclosure regarding their knowledge of any lead-based paint hazards for homes built before 1978. Read More
    • What is a wood-destroying organism inspection report?
      • Also referred to simply as a termite inspection, a wood-destroying organism inspection report is a written opinion by a qualified state licensed structural pest control inspector based upon what was visible and evident at the time of inspection. The inspection report does not represent or guarantee the structure to be free from wood-destroying organisms or their damage, nor does it represent or guarantee that the total damage or infestation is limited to that disclosed in the report. Wood-destroying organisms include subterranean termites, damp-wood termites, carpenter ants, wood boring beetles and wood decay fungus.
  • Contract Questions
  • Title Questions
    • What is a Certificate of Title?
    • What does cloud on title mean?
    • What is earnest money?
      • When you make an offer, you will need to put up an earnest money deposit as a sign of good faith that you are seriously interested in buying a home. That deposit becomes a part of the purchase price and is held in a trust account with the title company until either the contract gets canceled or the deal closes. Typically, earnest money is 1/2-1% of the offer amount. Read More
    • What is title insurance?
      • Title insurance protects the named insured against loss because of defects, liens, encumbrances, adverse claims or other matters not shown or disclosed to the new owner that attach before date of policy. All lenders will require title insurance to cover the loan amount, and buyers usually pay a little extra to cover them for the full purchase price.
    • How much are closing costs?
      • Closing costs are an accumulation of charges paid to different entities associated with the buying and selling of real estate.For buyers, it is typically 2-5%, and the bulk of this is lender charges. Some of the closing costs buyers might encounter are: loan application and origination fees, appraisal fee, survey, county taxes, credit report, discount points, documentation fee, escrow fees, homeowners’ association fees, loan fees, mortgage insurance, tax registration and buyers title insurance premium. Other buyer expenses are property inspection, termite report, septic inspection, and other inspections.For sellers, a good rule of thumb is 1% for title insurance and miscellaneous charges, plus $500 for escrow and related fees from the title company, plus property tax pro-rations. Anything else such as home warranty, survey, or buyer’s closing costs that the seller agrees to pay on behalf of the buyer needs to be added as well. You can call any title company to find out exactly what the title insurance will cost.Property taxes are paid in arrears, so a tax bill that needs to be paid by 1/31/10 is actually for 2009 taxes, and isn’t usually even received until September of 2009. That means that if a house closed on 6/30/09, the buyer would get a credit for half the taxes, because he is accepting the tax burden for the period the seller had the house and didn’t pay any taxes. The seller has to pay the taxes for the first half of the year, which gets deducted from the seller’s proceeds. (The title company figures all this stuff out.)Whenever taxes and insurance are “escrowed” (included as part of the monthly mortgage payment), the buyer needs to pay an additional amount at closing of about 3 months worth of taxes plus insurance. This can vary with the lender and the time of the year. If the seller escrowed their taxes and insurance, they get a credit for whatever is in the escrow account when the house sells. Read More
    • How do I read a land survey?
    • How to read a HUD
  • Lending Questions
    • What is the difference between being Pre-Qualified, Pre-Approved or Approved for a loan?
      • “Pre-qualified” generally means a borrower had a conversation with a mortgage company, and told a loan officer what their debts and income are. “Pre-Approved” generally means the borrower made a complete application with a mortgage company, and has provided paycheck stubs, bank statements, W-2s, and when applicable, tax returns. Technically, the term “Approved” means the loan has gone through underwriting, which can only be done after the property is identified and appraised and all conditions are met.
        The problem is that various mortgage companies may use these terms loosely, and what is Pre-Approved to one company means Pre-qualified to another. The important thing is what the letter from the mortgage company says.
        The mortgage company’s letter should state that the borrower has completed and signed a loan application, has provided documentation showing income and assets, and that the mortgage company has evaluated the borrower’s credit, and based on these items, the loan should get approved. The only significant conditions remaining should be that the property is acceptable to the mortgage company (title and value), and that there is no material change in the borrower’s credit or situation such as loss of a job.
        Whether you are the seller evaluating a buyer, or a buyer who wants to make an offer on a property, the only kind of letter you should consider is one that states a complete application with supporting documents and credit report has been made, and that these items meet underwriting requirements, or words to that effect. Read More
    • What is an appraisal?
    • Do I need an appraisal to sell my house?
    • What are lender required repairs?
    • What are FHA loan requirements?
    • What are VA loan requirements?
    • What are lender non-allowables?
    • If we sign a contract, how do we know the buyer can qualify for a loan?
      • As a seller, you want to be very wary of entering into a contract with a buyer who has not gotten a pre-approval for a loan. When you enter into a contract, you are effectively taking your house off the market. If you find out a month later that your buyer can’t get a loan, you’ve wasted a month and missed other potential buyers. It’s not wise to enter into a contact without obtaining a strong pre-approval letter from a reputable lender.WARNING: There are unscrupulous lenders who routinely give pre-approval or pre-qualification letters to borrowers who they know will never get the loan. Why? Because they charge the borrower all kinds of nonrefundable fees, often thousands of dollars. They play the game, tell the unsuspecting borrower they’ll get them the loan, string everybody along, and charge their outrageous fees. Then the day before the closing, the crooked loan officer tells the borrower how sorry he is that the underwriter didn’t approve the loan, and how he (the crooked loan officer) did everything he could to fight to get an approval.This happens most often with homes in the lower price ranges with first-time home buyers (under $130,000) and is most common in lower income areas and homes under $80,000. Low income borrowers, unsophisticated buyers, minorities, and people who have difficulty obtaining financing are the most common victims. The likelihood of it happening reduces as the price of the home and the income and education level of the buyer increases.As the seller, you want to get a Pre-Approval letter from a reputable lender whose name you recognize.
    • What is the difference between a Mortgage Broker and a Mortgage Banker?
      • The state of Texas differentiates between a mortgage banker and mortgage broker. A mortgage banker requires a larger net worth ($250,000) because it has the ability to engage in the entire loan process from origination through funding. A broker originates the loan and then relies on outside sources to handle the rest of the process. Most brokers cannot meet the financial requirements to originate FHA loans, whereas all mortgage bankers are able to originate FHA loans. In Texas, a broker and loan officers working under the broker must be state licensed. Loan officers working for mortgage bankers don’t need to be licensed because they are employees, and the mortgage company is federally licensed.
    • What is a “point” in a loan?
      • One point is equal to 1% of the new loan amount. Lenders often charge an “origination fee”, which is normally 1 point, in addition to points. The greater the points, the lower the interest rate; the lower the points, the higher the interest rate.
    • Is VA or FHA financing unfair to sellers?
      • FHA and VA loans provide purchasers the opportunity to buy homes with minimal cash investment and at lower interest rates. There are some fees a seller must pay on behalf of the buyer that aren’t required for conventional loans. The fees normally range from $600 to $1,000. Sellers should verify what these charges are so they don’t get a surprise at closing.
      • Buyer Questions
        • How do I get a rebate when I buy a house in Texas?
        • Is the Rebate always 2%?
          • Our fee is always a minimum of $1500 or 1% of the transaction, whichever is greater. So for homes selling for under $150,000, the rebate will be less. When less than 3% is offered as a commission, the rebate would be less accordingly. The commission is often 2.5% for bank owned properties and short sales, so in those instances the rebate would be 1.5%. The terms of the rebate are spelled out in our Buyer Representation Agreement. Read More
        • Are home buyer rebates a scam?
        • If we deal directly with the listing agent, wouldn’t they be willing to give us 2%?
          • 99% of the time, the buyer’s agent’s share of the commission is 3%. If you buy a house directly through the listing agent, all of that 3% will go into their pocket, along with the other 3% they are probably getting for listing the property (total of 6%). Even if you deal directly with the seller, the standard 6% listing contract states the listing agent still gets the full commission. No discounts for the seller finding the buyer, even if the buyer is his brother and the agent did absolutely nothing other than sign the listing agreement. To see the terms of 99% of all listing agreements, see the standard Exclusive Right to Sell Listing Agreement. The other factor is that almost all the big brokers don’t allow their agents to do the kind of discounting we do. And even if they were allowed, it still wouldn’t work because after the agent split the 3% with their broker, there wouldn’t even be enough left to give you 2% anyway, even if they agreed to work for free! For a better understanding about how commissions are shared between brokers and agents, see How commissions are divided between brokers and agents. Read More
        • Can we get the rebate with one of your listings?
          • Almost all of our listings provide that the sellers can avoid any commissions if they find a buyer on their own. As a service to our sellers, we refer buyer inquiries directly to the sellers if the buyer does not have an agent. If they make a deal, we don’t charge any commission. This allows the sellers to drop their price by the amount of what the commission would have been. The result is that you don’t get a rebate from us, but will very likely get at least that amount of a price reduction from the seller. Read More
        • What should I look for during my final walk through?
        • Will my home buyer rebate be taxed by the IRS?