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Hire a good real estate agent!

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis June 8, 2012 07:07 AM

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It's tough out there for buyers in Greater Boston, separating the wheat from the chaff.

There are too many fixer-uppers, with bidding wars on the small minority of homes that are well priced and well maintained.

So what's a poor buyer to do?

Well maybe hire a good real estate agent for starters.

This is heresy to the regulars on the comment board of this blog, who have made a sport of ridiculing their personal Great Satan, the National Association of Realtors and affiliate organizations.

Of course there is a lot to poke fun at, but let's get real here.

If you and your significant other are churning out 60 hour work weeks and hustling to take care of young children as well, there's a finite amount of time for anything beyond the work/family treadmill.

Yes, there is a fair amount of info to be found online, but the Boston-area is one of the trickiest real estate markets in the country to navigate. We have one of the oldest and arguably ill-maintained housing stocks of any major metro market, combined with still-inflated prices that have yet to feel the brunt of our crazy, half depressed economy.

I am not going to get into the debate over whether to hire a traditional buyer's agent, who can shift back and forth representing the buyer one minute, the seller the next, as opposed to an exclusive buyer's agent.

But there is value in seeking out someone with expertise you don't have, whether it's a carpenter or someone who has spent years immersed in the real estate market.

The key is finding someone who will work with you rather than trying to shove their own sales agenda down your throat.

That's easier said than done, as the comment below from MichGrBos shows. But, as Mich notes, if you can find the right one, he or she can be "worth their weight in gold."

As a buyer, we had a maximum amount we would spend. But, we also had a bottom. The range was extremely wide specifically to account for the "garbage" out there that needed reno or decorative updating (not the same thing FTHBs!) Even going through listings ourselves, realtors would bring homes to our attention that were at budget or just over. When we wanted to see houses that were well under budget, realtors were aghast and provided negative showings. So, I think there is often more to the buyer challenge than just price and inventory - you need a good realtor. If you desire the move in ready $450K house but they are far and few between, then find the house that is $300K - $350K and look for a house that has minor renovations for infrastructure and is waiting for new paint, flooring, cabinets, etc. Ignore you realtor steering you to high priced garbage. Or, be up front that you need good bones and have a finite amount to spend on decorating. Good realtors will help and they will get workmen in to walk the house with you prior to an offer helping to set you straight on what needs and can be done and what it could cost. I had one like this and they were worth their weight in gold.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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