Frequently Asked Questions

Buying a Home

Q. Do I have to pay for the services of Realtor?
A. If you are buying a home, your Realtor’s services are paid for buy the seller of the home that you purchase. The exception to this might be if you decide you want to purchase a home that is ‘For Sale by Owner’. Talk to your Realtor up front about how they can help you in a FSBO situation. Many FSBO sellers will pay for the services of your Realtor, and they get a discount of about half of the normal costs they would have if listing with a broker.
Q. What is the MLS?
A. MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service. This is a database of all homes for sale that are listed with participating brokers at the local level. This allows each participating broker to have access to all the listings of the other participating brokers, and be compensated for selling the listing of another broker. Not all real estate brokers participate in the MLS, but most are members. You can search the entire Tulsa area MLS database on this website here.
Q. Are there other homes for sale that are not on MLS?
A. Yes. For Sale by Owner homes in the area will not usually be on the MLS system. In addition, some builders do not offer all of their home inventory on the MLS. Your Realtor should be knowledgeable about the local builders, but they may not know exactly what inventory a builder has available that are not on MLS without talking with the builder or their salesperson and getting a list of available current inventory. If you are interested in new construction homes, let your Realtor know and they will do the legwork for you.
Q. Shouldn't I just call the agent's name on the sign if I want to see a house?
A. Not if you want to have any negotiating power. Ideally, you should always have your own representation in any real estate transaction. If you call the listing Realtor, they are already representing the seller, and are working for the seller’s best interests. Although they can "represent" you as well, it is unlikely that they can represent you both equally, and their first loyalty is to the seller. It is best for you to have your own Realtor to make sure that your interests are protected in the transaction. Be aware that if you have a listing Realtor show you a home, they may have rights to the sales commission if you buy the home, so call your Realtor to show you any home that you are interested in. If you do go to an open house or look at any home without them, be sure to make it absolutely clear to the person showing the home that you already have your own representation before they show the home. Be sure to call your Realtor before proceeding any further. Do not show interest in the home or discuss your situation with anyone other than your chosen Realtor. If you had filed a lawsuit against someone, would you want your attorney defending the person you were suing? Why would you want to buy a home through the person who is working to get the seller the most money possible for their home?
Q. If I want to buy/build a new home, shouldn't I just deal directly with the builder?
A. Similarly to the answer above, it is always best practice to have your own representation. The builder's sales staff are working for the builder, and may not be looking out for your best interests. Almost all builders will gladly pay your Realtor for the services provided to you without affecting the price of the home, so it will not hurt you in any way to use your own representative. Having your own Realtor can actually help you quite a bit in negotiations, and to make sure that the home is constructed to your satisfaction and on schedule. As an individual, you represent one transaction to a builder, but a Realtor represents dozens or even hundreds of possible future transactions. For that reason, your chances of being treated fairly and honestly are increased when you use a Realtor to assist you in the process.
Q. Should I buy a ‘For Sale by Owner’ home?
A. If you think you've found your dream home and it is being sold without a licensed real estate broker, you shouldn't let that alone stop you from buying it. But, before looking at any FSBO home, you should first contact your Real Estate Professional and let them contact the owner to set up a showing and research some more information about the property. Your Realtor can likely work out an arrangement with the seller by which you may still be represented by them, and the seller will only pay about half of the normal commission paid when selling a home with a broker. This way, you have a professional that can assist you in the negotiations and purchase of the property to ensure that all required legal documentation, disclosures, title work, inspections, repairs, etc. are done properly so that there are no surprises. One thing to note about FSBO sales is that in Oklahoma, sellers who list with a broker are required to provide a signed Property Condition Disclosure to the buyer, which states their knowledge of the property and any known defects. FSBO sellers are not required to provide this. That doesn't mean that every FSBO home has hidden problems, but some sellers may be trying to use the FSBO loophole to avoid disclosing defects with the property. If you do buy a FSBO, insist that the seller fill out and sign an Oklahoma Residential Property Disclosure, even though they are not required by law to do so. If they aren't trying to hide something, they will certainly oblige. If the seller refuses to pay for the services of your Realtor, and you still want to purchase the home, you may choose to work out a payment agreement directly with your Realtor. It may be possible to roll this into the purchase price and financing. If you can’t afford to pay for their services, your Realtor may assist you as much as they can by answering questions, giving general advice, etc. However, they may not be able to help beyond that. This is because the liability they and their firm assume in a representing a client in a real estate transaction is too great to risk without compensation. If you want to buy a FSBO, don’t automatically ‘assume’ that the your Realtor can’t help you. Ask.
Q. How much home can I afford?
A. To get this information, you need to talk to a Mortgage Specialist. There are several determining factors such as your income, debt, credit score, length of employment, and payment history on monthly bills. You can use our Mortgage Calculator on the right hand side of the page for an payment estimate based on different home prices.
Q. How much money do I need for down payment, closing costs, etc. to buy a home?
A. You may need anywhere from nothing to several thousand dollars. USDA Rural Development loans are available in some outlying communities (and if you meet income guidelines) of the Tulsa area for zero down. The minimum down payment for FHA loans is currently 3.5% of the purchase price. For Conventional loans, the minimum down payment is 5%. If you have 20% to put down, you can avoid any type of mortgage insurance on the loan (protects the lender in case of default). Closing costs can be anywere from $2000 to $8000+ depending on purchase price, amount financed, and if you have escrow set up for taxes and insurance. The buyer's closing costs are allowed to be paid for by the seller (with limitations), so if you are short on cash, have your Realtor ask the seller to pay part or all of your closing costs in your offer to purchase. Talk to your Mortgage Company and Realtor for more info about the right type of mortgage program for your situation.
Q. What is PMI?
A. PMI stands for Private Mortgage Insurance. PMI is insurance required by lenders from most homebuyers who take out mortgage loans with less than a 20 percent down payment. There are some programs available from lenders that may not require PMI if you qualify, or you can discontinue paying PMI once you have attained 20% (sometimes slightly more) equity in your home. Talk to your lender for more details.
Q. Do I have to put up earnest money, and how much?
A. Technically, you do not have to put down earnest money in a transaction, although it is usually required by the seller. It is customary to put up an earnest deposit on a home when submitting an offer, to show the seller that you are a serious buyer. As far as the amount, a good rule of thumb is $500 on any property under $100,000, $1000 on any property $100,000 to $200,000, and usually around 1% on any amount over $200,000. The earnest deposit you put down will be applied to your closing costs, down payment, or in some cases comes back to you in the form of a check at closing.
Q. Do I really need to have inspections done on the home I'm buying?
A. Yes. Especially for older homes, but I even recommend them on new construction. Your lender will usually require a termite inspection, usually costing around $75- $125. Structural, environmental, roof, Whole-house, or EMP (Electrical, Mechanical, and Plumbing) are other types of inspections that you may want to do after contracting to purchse a home. You can also opt to inspect for environemental concerns like mold or Radon. The inspections may turn up nothing, but they are very inexpensive (usually $300 to $700 total) in relation to the price of a home, and if something is found, it may save you thousands of dollars and a major headache in the long run.
Q. Do I need a home warranty?
A. Maybe. A home warranty can protect you from many potentially costly repairs that may be needed within your first year of ownership, especially on an older home. They can also be renewed anually if you choose. Tell your Realtor to ask the sellers to purchase one (cost of around $400-$500) for you in your offer to purchase. If the sellers refuse, consider purchasing one for yourself. You may not need it, but if you do, you may be glad you spent the money. If you are buying new construction, most builders will include at least a 1 year warranty at no charge.
FAQ Accordion by OrangeDevDesign

Selling a Home

Q. What does it cost me to sell my home with a Realtor?
A. The amount is negotiable and can vary from broker to broker, depending on the services provided. With McGraw, as with all reputable brokers, you do not pay anything unless and until your home sells. Scott has a proven marketing plan that will give your home optimum exposure to the market, giving it the best chance possible for a quick and profitable sale. Remember that when selling the amount you pay does not all go to your listing Realtor. The fee is shared (usually half) with the Realtor representing the buyer, and then your Realtor splits the remainder with his/her firm. They must also pay for taxes, insurance, etc. as well as paying up front out of their own pocket for all of the marketing involved in selling your home such as virtual tours, signage, keybox, newspaper and magazine ads, flyers, TV spots, etc. NAR studies have shown that FSBO homes sell for 16% less on average than homes sold through a broker, and 16% is far more than you would pay any broker to sell your home.
Q. Why shouldn't I just sell my home ‘By Owner’?
A. Many people try to sell their home without representation, but the majority of home owners who try to sell ‘by owner’ end up costing themselves more in the long run. Many times (over 70%) the home doesn’t sell, and the seller ends up enlisting the help of a Realtor to get it sold. National Association of Realtors statistics (2005) show that homes sold without representation sold for an average of 16% LESS than homes sold with the help of a Real Estate Professional. Why? Many reasons, such as incorrect pricing, getting ‘desperate’ because so few people are interested (due to ineffective marketing or overpricing), not knowing how to maximize the home’s appeal, poor negotiating, etc. Many sellers think “I’ll sell it myself and save the commission”, but buyers who are looking at the property know that, and in turn, usually offer much less than asking price. In fact, of the homes sold by owner in 2005, 39% were sold to someone the seller already knew. So, unless you personally know someone who wants to buy your home and you’re absolutely sure of its value, it is generally not a good idea to try to sell without representation. But if you're determined to give it a shot, Scott will be glad to answer any questions you may have and give you some advice about the process. Request your free "FSBO Toolkit" from Scott. The toolkit has a lot of good information that can help you in the FSBO process. He can also provide you with a no-cost, no-obligation CMA, to help you price your home correctly to increase your chances of success.
Q. What is my home worth?
A. Get an estimate by requesting your free CMA. I can email this to you within hours, and it will give you a good indication of your home’s Fair Market Value, by comparing your home to the homes currently offered for sale, but more importantly, homes that have recently sold. To get a more definitive value, including a recommended list price and probable sales price, schedule an appointment so I can view the home in person. In rare instances with highly unique properties an appraisal from a licensed local appraiser is advised, but in most cases that is not necessary.
Q. What is a CMA?
A. CMA stands for Comparative Market Analysis. A CMA is a study of the sales history of homes in a specific area. A Realtor uses this information to compare a seller’s home (or a home that a buyer is interested in) to the homes that are currently on the market, and those sold recently to come up with a ‘Fair Market Value’ of what the home is worth.
Q. How long will it take to sell my home?
A. There are many factors that can determine the length of time a home stays on the market, such as time of year the home goes up for sale, the price, the condition of home, supply and demand in the current market, mortgage rates, etc. Your Realtor should be able to give you an estimate, based on the Comparitive Market Analysis (CMA), which shows the average ‘Days on Market’ (DOM) of the homes in your neighborhood or area. The normal listing period agreement is six months. Most homes sell much quicker than that, but some do not, and are re-listed for an additional period of time before selling. Usually if a home has not sold within 45-90 days (or whatever the average DOM is in the area), the listing Realtor will consult with the seller about the factors they feel are contributing to the home not selling, and may make some recommendations about a price reduction or further changes to improve the home’s appeal.
FAQ Accordion by OrangeDevDesign