I think the “Ten Things (Someone) Won’t Tell You” series in Smart Money is great and some of them are available online for you to read (in case you don’t get a subscription). In this particular case, the (Someone) is a Real Estate broker/agent and some of the information included in the article  is a must read if you’re going to be buying or selling a home.
Here is a summary of the useful nuggets of info:
- Success rate of open houses are 2%, according to the National Association of Realtors. Smart Money warns that agents like open houses because it can get them some new clients.
- Agent fees are negotiable. There are a lot of agents and now that there’s been a bit of a slowdown (just like when things were heating up), there’s more competition. Lots of agents hit the market whenever the housing boom start and now they need work.
- Your agent might not be telling you about every offer. They’re supposed to but sometimes they don’t, which is illegal, but it still happens so demand that they bring every offer to you.
- Remember seller agents work for the seller and must divulge all information, don’t overplay your hand and reveal too much.
- Agents know nothing about zoning so don’t take their advice as to what you could do to your future home.
- Agents are also not lawyers, even if they pretend to act like one. Be careful when you enter into any agreements such as rent backs – your real estate agent isn’t a lawyer and you could get screwed if things aren’t worded properly.