It's a beer tasting and real estate investment seminar in one! Click here for full details.
UPDATE: It has come to our attention that some agents are charging potential buyers for the opportunity to see inside houses. This IS NOT the traditional model, and you should be wary of anyone who tries to charge you as a buyer just to take you to see properties. Of course, if you find a property and make an offer on it, there will be some costs that you are responsible for (such as the cost of an inspection). However, both the buyers' and the sellers' agents are paid their commissions from the proceeds of the sale of the property. Yes, that means that the seller pays a commission to both sides, and the logic for that is this: the seller's agent (AKA listing agent) did the work to get the property in front of buyers' eyes, and the buyer's agent did the work of bringing in a buyer and vetting them to ensure they can make it all the way through the transaction without the deal falling through (this is important to the seller for several obvious reasons, but one that might not be so obvious is all the lost marketing time--when you go under contract, the seller has to take the house off the market, so if you can't close the deal, they potentially missed out on other qualified buyers).
Bottom Line: A buyers' agent should not make their money directly from the buyer. The only possible reason we can think of that someone might be charging you to go look at houses is that maybe they're worried you'll waste their time or something. Buyers' agents do give over their time to potential buyers without a guarantee that you'll complete a transaction with them, although some agents will ask you to sign an exclusivity agreement. In our opinion, though, buyers should not sign an exclusivity agreement--we are confident enough in ourselves as agents that we're not afraid you're going to see a few houses and then jump ship. If you do, well, it probably wasn't a good fit anyway. We also believe that any agent who needs to charge you a fee to go look at houses is simply not confident in their own ability to get you all the way through a transaction; in short, DO NOT PAY SOMEONE TO TAKE YOU HOUSE SHOPPING!
*Originally published June 28, 2016
"Gah! How do I find somebody good?!" This is a question we all ask ourselves every time we're looking for a service professional, but finding an answer is especially trying when you're looking for a real estate agent. I mean, the first things you probably think of are blazers and cheesy photos with people posed back-to-back, and you're only slightly more excited to talk to one than you are to get one of those exams your doctor keeps nagging you about.
However, there's only so far Googling at 3:00 am can get you--at some point, you are going to have to talk to a real estate agent if you want to buy a house or sell the one you've got. Sure, as a seller, you can try the "For Sale By Owner" method, but it's not usually the best option for most sellers (we'll address that in a future article). So, yes, there are lots of things you can do these days without ever interacting with a real human, but for most people, buying/selling a home is the largest transaction they'll make in their lives, so you probably want some expert advice, yeah?
Have you ever stayed with an insurance provider simply because changing was a pain in the ass? Have you ever sat down with your computer and a cup of coffee, determined to find out if you're really getting the best rates on your insurance like an adult for once, dammit, only to emerge from the rabbit hole three hours later with no real answers and the vague sense that you may have donated $100 to a charity that makes sweaters for chickens? No? Uh, yeah. Us either. But, if you have ever wished for a more pleasant experience insuring your stuff, Margo wants to be the one to make it happen.
The Love Your Block crew recently met up with Taylor Burke and Cody Thompson of this Philly-based insurance start-up for a couple of reasons. First, we love promoting local businesses whenever we can, so we wanted to find out more about this award-winning start-up that is making waves in our own backyard. Second, we wanted to put them to the test to see how well they understood and catered to the insurance needs of Philadelphians because, let's face it, we're kind of self-centered.
There's some good information in their FAQ section, but the gist of it is this: Margo is similar to a mortgage broker, in that they partner with multiple insurance providers while maintaining their own independence. This means they can work with multiple companies, including many smaller or lesser-known ones, to find rates and policies that best suit your needs without any vested interest in which company you actually choose. But beyond that, your Margo insurance advocate stays with you even after you've purchased a policy, so if you have questions, need to make a change, or even file a claim, you can call them and they'll act as your concierge, so to speak. And, yes, it's totally free to the customer.
So how do they make money? Well, the insurance carriers pay a commission each time they are matched with a customer, but there is no markup for the customer. We wanted to know for sure, though, if Margo could ever be incentivized to promote one company over another, so we asked them flat out--their response was that the affiliate payouts are all within 1-2% of each other, and thus, there's no real benefit of pushing one over the other, especially at the risk of disappointing the customer. We can also logically deduce that insurance carriers are willing to take this hit to their profits because paying the small fee for access to Margo's growing pool of potential customers is a good deal easier and more cost-effective than the time and money it would take to reach those customers themselves.
Being a local company, it's also logical to assume that the folks at Margo have a good understanding of the factors that most affect homeowners insurance rates for Philadelphians, but for the sake of our readers, we politely said, "prove it." So, they made us this sweet infographic outlining the things that may raise or lower your homeowners insurance rates. Your individual situation will have the biggest impact on your rates, obviously, but this is a handy guide to have in mind as you're looking for properties and negotiating with sellers.
With that in mind, you're all set to go house hunting, and we're damn good at helping with that.
To contact Laura, the agent, call or text:
We're trying this new fad called blogging. I believe its "blogging" or "blowging," it might be a long "O," I'm not sure. But apparently you just write for an extended period of time.