Author: Igor Nastaskin

property tax

What Homeowners Should Know About Calculating Property Tax

Most people know that homeownership requires a monthly mortgage payment. But did you know that you’ll also have to pay property taxes? If you already own a home, you can see how your tax is calculated on your most current property tax statement.  If you’re considering buying a home, look on the real estate listing for assessment and tax information, or go to the county website to find out the annual property tax.  Note: Property taxes can change. The assessed value of your house can increase or decrease, depending on the local real estate market. Your assessment also can rise or fall depending on changes you make to your house, like additions to your property. And the tax rate can change depending on your local government.  Although the government sends you a tax bill every year and tells you how much you owe in property taxes, it’s important to know how that tax is calculated. Numerous factors come into play when calculating property taxes, from your property’s assessed value to the mill levy (tax rate) in your area. Here’s how to determine what your property tax will be, so you don’t get blindsided by this large homeowner expense. What is a home’s fair market value? The market value of a home is basically the amount a knowledgeable buyer would pay a knowledgeable seller for a property, assuming an arms-length transaction and no pressure on either party to buy or sell. When a property sells to an unrelated party, the sales price usually is assumed to be the fair value of the property. What is a home’s assessed value? One factor that affects your property taxes is your property’s worth. You probably have a good understanding of your home’s market value—the amount of money a buyer would, hopefully, pay for your place. (You also could enter your address in a home value estimator to get a ballpark figure.) But tax municipalities use a slightly different number; it’s called your home’s assessed value. Tax assessors can calculate a home’s current assessed value as often as once per year. They also may adjust information when a property is sold, bought, built, or renovated by examining the permits and paperwork filed with the local municipality.  They will look at basic features of your home (like the acreage, square footage, and number of bedrooms and baths), the purchase price when it changes hands and comparisons with similar properties nearby.  A home’s assessed value sometimes will be strikingly similar to its fair market value, but that’s not always the case, particularly in heated markets. In general, you can expect your home’s assessed value to amount to about 80 percent to 90 percent of its market value.  You can check your local assessor or municipality’s website, or call the tax office for a more exact figure for your home. You also can search by state, county and ZIP code on If you believe the assessor has placed too high a value on your home, you can challenge the calculation of your home’s value for tax purposes.  You don’t need to hire someone to help you reduce your property tax bill. As a homeowner, you may be able to show how you determined that your assessed value is out of line. What is taxable value? The taxable value of your house is the value of the property according to your assessment, minus any adjustments such as exemption amounts. What’s a mill levy? In addition to knowing your home’s assessed value, you’ll need to know another number known as a mill levy. That’s the tax assessment rate for real estate in your area. The tax rate varies based on the public amenities offered and revenue required by local government. If you have a public school, police force, full-time fire department, desirable school districts, and plenty of playgrounds and parks, your property tax rates will be higher than a town without them.  Your area’s property tax levy can be found on your local tax assessor or municipality website, and it’s typically represented as a percentage—like 4 percent. To estimate your real estate taxes, you simply multiply your home’s assessed value by the levy. So, if your home is worth $200,000 and your property tax rate is 4 percent, you’ll pay about $8,000 in taxes per year. Where to find property taxes In many cases, you may not have to calculate your own property taxes. You can often find the exact amount (or a ballpark figure) you’ll pay on listings, or you can enter a home’s location and price into an online home affordability calculator that not only will estimate your yearly taxes, but also how much you can anticipate paying for your mortgage, home insurance, and other expenses.

317 camino de las colinas, front, house, redondo beach, hollywood riviera

Historic Lower Riviera Home Hits the Market

The Hollywood Riviera exists thanks to the vision and tenacity of developer Clifford Reid, who in 1928 built the community’s first home — one specially designed for his family The majestic Italian Mediterranean mansion sits on three lots on lower Via Monte D’Oro, and to this day remains a beacon of elegance in our community. The original homes of the Riviera were required to have red tile roofs and a Mediterranean inspired design. Two years after building his own dream home, Clifford had constructed 16 additional homes nearby, including an early Spanish revival beauty at 317 Camino de las Colinas lovingly known for many years as the DeCamp house. Rosemary DeCamp was a popular stage, radio, film, and television actress who appeared in scores of productions, including the films Yankee Doodle Dandy and The Jungle Book and such television series as The Life of Reilly, The Rockford Files, St. Elsewhere and Murder She Wrote, among many others. She even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. DeCamp and her husband, Torrance Superior Court Judge John Shidler, bought the home at 317 Camino de Las Colinas in 1945. “We drove into an area called Hollywood Riviera – an almost-deserted real estate development from the 1920s,” said DeCamp, in her book, “Tigers in My Lap.” “On Camino de las Colinas (street of the little hills) there were only three widely separated houses…..We drove to the third house. It was white and beautiful – set down from the street and surrounded by big black pine trees and flowering succulents…..The house was remarkable. It had two-foot-thick walls, big windows with views of the sea and the pines, several fireplaces, and nothing between it and the beach but saltbush and sand. We gave the five bedrooms and baths a quick glance and bought it in 15 minutes for $22,500.” Despite a long commute to her work (60 miles round trip to Warner Brothers studio in the Valley at a time where there were no freeways), Rosemary spent many blissful decades living in the home. Rosemary and John raised four daughters in the house on Camino de las Colinas, and she was an involved member of the community, highly recognizable as she drove the streets in her white Rolls Royce, “Snowball.” John passed away in 1997, and Rosemary lived in the house until her death four years later. Today, the historic house at 317 Camino de las Colinas retains the same charm and elegance it exuded when it was built in 1930. One of eight original homes on Camino de las Colinas, the two-story house has 5 bedrooms and 5.5 baths in approximately 4,075 square feet and on a 7,801 square foot lot. A beautiful front courtyard with a fountain provides a calming and private entry. Inside, the home features wood beam ceilings, arched entryways, ornate fireplaces, Spanish tiled accents, and many other reminders of its historical pedigree. Sweeping ocean views can be enjoyed from the upstairs sun room and deck, as well as the master bedroom. There is also a gorgeous swimming pool and spa, both recently built. The beach, the Riviera Village and El Retiro Park are just a short stroll away. The home is priced at $2,895,000 and can be seen by appointment. Much has changed since Clifford Reid laid the groundwork for the wonderful Hollywood Riviera. From a couple of dozen homes, the Riviera has grown to more than 3,000, and even the smallest starter homes typically sell well over $1,000,000. But thankfully, the special community we call home still retains the charm, perfect climate, and seaside lifestyle that drew Clifford Reid and Rosemary DeCamp here all those years ago. And for that, we are grateful. For a virtual tour, visit

Four Ways to Find the Ideal Waterfront Property

Investing in a waterfront property in the Hollywood Riviera is a great way to ensure a maximum return, while also providing you with a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a luxurious and exclusive view. Thinking of purchasing waterfront property in one of our lovely coastal neighborhoods? Here are four tips to keep in mind to prevent overspending and to ensure you’re making a sound investment. 1. Set a budget You’ll always want to have a budget in place before you even start researching and comparing different waterfront properties. Without a set budget, you could find yourself wasting time or feeling let down after discovering a property you desire but aren’t able to afford. 2. Research property history Be sure to research the history of the waterfront properties you’re most interested in, as well as their previous owners. Compare listing and sale prices from previous owners and timeframes, as well as property taxes and fees, that were required from the homeowner at the time of sale or ownership. 3. Learn about different types of water Purchasing a waterfront property instantly gains you access to a body of water, which is why it’s wise to familiarize yourself with the different types of water adjacent to where your preferred properties are found. Saltwater and freshwater provide different environments and opportunities, which is why it is important to choose a property near the type of water that’s right for you and your family. 4. Research weather and the potential for natural disasters If you’re making a waterfront property investment near the ocean, it’s a good idea to research the area for potential natural disasters, as well as disaster history. While some waterfront locations may be more protected and secluded than others, many waterfront properties located on oceans pose an inherent risk and danger compared with waterfront properties on a freshwater source, such as a traditional beach or lake. 

investement property

The Difference Between a Second Home and an Investment Property

You’ve probably heard the terms second home, investment property, vacation home and rental property. But is there any real difference among them?  And does it even matter what you call it? Turns out there are some very big differences between second homes and investment properties, especially if you are seeking to finance them.  Both are great ways to build wealth over time by capturing the appreciation of a real asset. However, they both come with risks and expenses that should be carefully considered when making a purchase.  As with any real estate transaction, you’ll want to do your due diligence and make a smart choice for your wallet, no matter which path you choose. Here, the scoop on how a second home and investment property differ. What is a second home? A second home is a second property where you and your family spend time away from your primary home. You might also hear a second home referred to as a vacation property. You may rent it out for a few days a year on Airbnb or VRBO, but you primarily use it yourself.  Buying a second home makes financial sense if there’s one particular vacation spot you visit regularly. Why spend a fortune on hotels or Airbnb when you can own your own piece of paradise that will hopefully appreciate in value over time? What is an investment property? An investment property, meanwhile, is one that you purchase with the main intention of generating income. The investment property could be next door to your own home or it could be in another state—it doesn’t really matter. You’ll be playing the role of landlord, with long-term or short-term renters paying cash to stay in the home.  Before making an offer on an investment property, you’ll want to crunch the numbers to make sure it’s a solid investment. Similarly, consider what factors will be important to prospective tenants (like access to public transportation, good schools, parking and low crime rates). How to finance a second home or investment property If you need to secure a mortgage to purchase your new property, you should know that financing a second home or investment property is different from financing a primary residence. While mortgages on second homes and investment properties have some similarities, there also are some key differences. Interest rate: You can expect to see a higher interest rate for both second homes or investment properties than for primary homes. That’s because lenders view those transactions as riskier. If you get into a tight spot with money, you’re far more likely to stop paying the mortgage for your second/investment property than for your primary home. Qualifying: Whether you’re buying a second home or an investment property, you might need to do some extra legwork to qualify for that second loan. Your bank may require you to prove that you have healthy cash reserves (so it knows you can afford both mortgages). It’ll take a long, hard look at your overall financial situation, so be sure everything is in top order before you apply. Down payment: Depending on your situation and the lender, you also might need to bring a larger down payment to the table for an investment property or second home, typically 15 percent to 25 percent. Again, this is because the bank wants a bigger cushion to fall back on in case you default. Rental income: If you’re buying an investment property, your lender might allow you to show that anticipated rental income will help cover the mortgage payments. Proving how much rental income the home will generate can be complicated. Prepare to pay for a specialized appraisal that takes into account comparable rents in your area. Location: Your lender may require a second home to be 50 to 100 miles away from your primary home. An investment property, however, can be anywhere in comparison with your primary home, even next door. Taxes: Federal income tax rules are different for vacation homes and investment properties. You typically will treat your second home just as you would your first home when it comes to taxes—if you itemize, you can deduct the mortgage interest you paid up to a certain limit.  (The rules vary if you rent out your second home for part of the year.) If you own an investment property, you can deduct the mortgage interest, plus many of the expenses that come with operating a rental business, but you also have to report your rental income. Why it’s important to not confuse the two It’s important not to use the terms “second home” and “investment property” interchangeably. Some people try to pass off their investment property as a second home to get more favorable financing, but you should never do this. If you misrepresent yourself on your loan application, you could be committing mortgage fraud, which is a federal offense. Your lender’s underwriting team is aware of this possibility, and they’ll take the big picture into account when deciding what loan terms to offer you. Bottom line: Keep everything aboveboard, and you won’t have to worry about a thing.

buying a home

What to Ask When Buying a House

Before you make an offer on a house, you want to be absolutely sure that it’s the right one. But with so many options out there, how do you find your perfect match? Finding the ideal home involves research, so you’ll need to ask the right questions. That way you know you’re making a competitive offer on a home that you can afford—and that meets your long-term needs. To weed out the duds from the diamonds, here are 15 questions to ask when buying a house. 1. What’s my total budget? You could waste time looking at houses if you don’t understand how much home you can afford. There are added expenses to consider other than the sales price, such as property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, homeowner’s association dues, ongoing home maintenance and repairs. Showing a seller that you have the financial means to buy their house is important if you want your offer to be accepted. This means getting preapproved for a mortgage. Not only does this give the buyer an idea of what you can afford, but it also assures the real estate agent that you’re a qualified buyer and not wasting the seller’s time. 2. Is the home in a flood zone or prone to other natural disasters? A property that’s in a flood zone or other natural disaster area may require additional insurance coverage. Homes that are situated in a federally-designated, high-risk flood zone, for example, require flood insurance. (Find out whether a property is in a high-risk flood zone using FEMA’s Flood Map Service.) Likewise, if you’re buying a home in California where earthquakes are common, you might need to get earthquake insurance. Another tip: Make sure you purchase enough homeowner’s insurance to cover the cost of completely rebuilding your home if it’s destroyed. If you’re underinsured, you could be left footing a massive bill to repair or rebuild your home if a major disaster occurs. 3. Why is the seller leaving? Understanding why the seller is moving—whether it’s due to downsizing, a job relocation or major life event—could help you determine how motivated they are when negotiating. Your agent will try to find out this information for you and gauge how flexible or not the seller might be during negotiations. A motivated seller who needs to move quickly or whose home has been on the market for a while is more likely to work with you than someone who isn’t in a rush to move. 4. What’s included in the sale? Anything that’s considered a fixture is typically included when purchasing a house—like cabinets, faucets and window blinds. However, there could be items that you think are included with the home, but actually aren’t. This depends on your state’s laws. Although the listing description should spell out any exclusions that the seller is not including, that’s not always the case. Be sure and ask what is and isn’t included with the home when you make your offer. Do you really want the washer and dryer, or that stainless-steel refrigerator? Ask if the seller will include these items in the deal. 5. Were there any additions or major renovations? In some cases, property records and listing descriptions don’t always match. A home might be advertised as having four bedrooms, but one of those rooms may be a non-conforming addition that doesn’t follow local building codes. Find out what major repairs or renovations the seller has done since owning the home, and request the original manufacturer warranties on any appliances or systems that have been replaced. Knowing a home’s improvement history can help you better determine its condition and understand the seller’s asking price. 6. How old is the roof? If a home’s roof is at the end of its lifespan, and you wind up having to replace it shortly after move-in, you’ll be spending thousands of dollars. If the roof has existing damage, your lender may require that it be repaired before approving your loan. In other words, if the listing description doesn’t list the roof’s age, make sure to find out as soon as possible to avoid a costly headache later. 7. How old are the appliances and major systems? Understanding the anticipated lifespan of essential systems and appliances—such as the air conditioner, furnace, water heater, washer, dryer and stove—can help you anticipate major repair or replacement expenses. If these items are already near or at the end of their life, ask the seller to purchase a home warranty. This can help cover the replacement costs in certain instances. 8. How long has the house been on the market? The longer a house has been on the market, the more motivated the seller will be to make a deal. That means you might find flexibility to negotiate the price, contingencies, terms and credits for replacing outdated carpet or other noticeable issues. Sometimes a home that was priced to high at the outset will languish on the market, resulting in the need for multiple price reductions. A listing that shows numerous price cuts and has been sitting on the market too long may give buyers the impression that something is wrong with it, and that gives you a prime opportunity to negotiate a deal. 9. How much have homes sold for in the neighborhood? Understanding the current local market will help you determine if a seller’s asking price is on target or way too high. Your agent can pull the comparable listing data for similar homes that are currently on the market and have sold in the past six months or so as a basis for comparison. If conditions support further negotiating, you might consider making a lower offer or even concessions like asking the seller to pay for some closing costs. 10. Are there any health or safety hazards? Items like lead paint, radon, mold or other major hazards can be costly to address and delay your loan approval. Ask the seller to provide documentation noting if there have been past issues, and then find out exactly what was done to resolve those problems. If you suspect hazardous problems, or a home inspector suggests additional testing, you might need to pay extra for those specialized services. 11. What’s the history of past insurance claims? Obtain a copy of the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (or CLUE) report from the seller to see if there have been any homeowner’s insurance claims filed in the past seven years. This report can give you an insight into what, if any, damage the home has sustained from a weather event or vandalism that a home inspection doesn’t catch or a seller fails to mention. 12. What are the neighbors like? Getting the true feel of a neighborhood can be difficult before moving in, but this aspect shouldn’t be overlooked. Ask the seller what the neighbors are like. Noisy or quiet? Is it a pet-friendly place or are there few pets around? Are the existing neighbors friendly, or more likely to keep to themselves? Don’t rely solely on the seller to reveal these details because you might not get the full story. Drive around the neighborhood and stop and speak with neighbors; they are an excellent way to get information about the community that a seller might not want to share. 13. How is the neighborhood? You always can change a house and fix things you don’t like, but the neighborhood is there to stay. So, it’s important that you like the environs you’ll be living in for the next 10 to 30 years. Your agent can help you find out key information, such as community amenities, crime statistics, school ratings and how busy traffic is where you’ll be living. The Internet also is a great resource for researching schools, homeowner’s association rules, nearby parks, other amenities and your commute to work. 14. Are there any problems with the house? Sellers are required to provide a disclosure form listing any known defects. What they don’t disclose and you don’t know, however, can lead to major issues later. That’s why it’s critical to get a home inspection done by a professional home inspector as soon as a purchase agreement is signed. The inspection report outlines the home’s overall condition and can help you negotiate future concessions, such as repairs or seller-paid credits, before closing the deal. If a home has too many problems and you included a home inspection contingency, you’ll be able to back out of the deal without penalty and, in most cases, have your earnest deposit returned. 15. How much will I pay in closing costs? The down payment isn’t the only cash you’ll be handing over on closing day. You also will be responsible for closing costs, which typically include loan origination fees and third-party fees for title research, processing of paperwork, an appraisal and other administrative tasks. Expect to pay around 2 percent to 5 percent of the home’s purchase price in closing costs, but that can vary depending on your area. The closing disclosure—which a lender is required to provide you three business days before closing—will spell out all of your loan fees and how much cash you’ll need to close. Once the closing documents are signed by both parties, and the escrow company sends it to the lender, the lender will fund the loan and you’re a homeowner.

riviera home owners association, hollywood riviera, jewel of the south bay, south bay, los angeles

The Riviera Homeowners Association: Serving Our Community for 75 Years

Ninety-two years ago, developer Clifford Reid established our special community, the Hollywood Riviera. Inspired by the beauty of its seaside location and surrounding hills, he coined the name due to its resemblance to the French Riviera and to attract celebrities from the movie industry. Sales initially boomed but soon diminished, first due to the Great Depression in 1929 and later as a result of World War II. By 1941, only 42 Mediterranean style, red-tile roof homes, and one apartment house had been built. Ultimately, it was the aerospace industry rather than Hollywood that contributed to the neighborhood’s growth. The postwar housing boom in 1945 spurred new construction and the Hollywood Riviera’s borders expanded over time, eventually including approximately 3,100 homes. During the 1945 boom, a group of local residents intent on preserving and enhancing the many attributes of our special community created the Riviera Homeowners Association (RHA). Through the past 75 years, the RHA has diligently served the Riviera by communicating important developments to residents, advocating local issues to our city’s governing bodies, presenting landscape awards, providing scholarships to local graduating high schoolers, and donating funds to area schools for special projects. One of the key ways the RHA communicates with its members is through its Riviera Reporter newsletter, and looking back at some of those newsletters (go to is truly a blast to the past for those who have lived here for many years. The January 1969 issue, for example, mentions donations to the annual community Christmas Party made by Riviera establishments long gone but not forgotten, including Howard’s Market (where Trader Joe’s in the Village is now located), Toy Circus (where Yogurtland sits), and Morgan Moore’s Stationers (now Rolling Hills Flower Mart). A subsequent 1969 newsletter updates residents on work planned to connect Anza Boulevard with Vista Montana: “Anza will cross Pacific Coast Highway just west of Sambo’s Restaurant, run west of Walteria Post Office, through Kissel Field and connect with Montana at Newton Street.” That same edition had a small article about a celebrity sighting: “John Wayne, the ‘True Grit’ western movie star, visited the Riviera Village recently. The star of some of the greatest cowboy films ever made stopped off, not because he wanted to, but because of circumstances. Driving, with a companion from Palos Verdes, one of the tires on his car went flat and while the gas station attendant fixed the flat, Wayne walked down Catalina Boulevard to the Velvet Turtle and had lunch. Many people on the street did not recognize him. Reason…he wore yachting clothes, not western.” (Note: The Velvet Turtle was a popular steak and seafood restaurant on the south/west corner of Avenue I, where H.T. Grill now sits). Recent editions of the Riviera Reporter have covered such timely matters as the Butcher-Solana project, traffic issues, airport noise, and COVID resource updates. Special topics are also covered at the RHA’s general meetings, which are now held via zoom. You can support the RHA and its important work on behalf of our community by becoming a member. Membership dues are $25 per year or $45 for 2 years. Visit for more information.

bedroom, virtual tour, home sellers,

Potential Problems in a Bedroom Virtual Tour

If you’re using a video tour to get a closer look at the house you are interested in purchasing, you’ll want to be sure and give the bedrooms more than a passing glance. After all, a bedroom isn’t just a place to sleep, it also tends to function as a retreat, quiet workspace, and for kids, a room to play, do homework and host sleepovers. So, while a bedroom’s size and closet space are important, those aren’t the only things you should ask to see during a video tour. Here are some potential issues you might find hiding in the boudoir. 1. It might not actually be a bedroom Some listings will refer to a bonus room as a bedroom even if it does not have a closet and a window. So, while taking the video tour, you should verify that bedrooms have a door and a window as two means of escape in an emergency. The ceiling also should be high enough for a person to comfortably stand, and the square footage ample enough to accommodate a bed. Be sure to ask your agent if the room is legally considered a bedroom. 2. There’s no privacy Have your agent scan the windows and sills to check their condition. Take note of features, such as triple-pane or tilt-and-turn windows. Finally, check the view. You’ll want to know if a large, beautiful window in the master bedroom lacks privacy and looks right into a neighbor’s yard. 3. The fixtures and outlets are dated or in bad shape When it comes to the bedroom, buyers’ eyes tend to veer toward a beautifully made bed with lots of accent pillows and art on the walls. But it’s important to remember to look at the more permanent features of the room that you’ll have to live with daily. Ask your agent to zoom in on things like the flooring, ceiling fan, light fixtures, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and heating and cooling vents. Also note if there’s a radiator hiding behind the headboard, an air conditioner in the window and how many outlets are in the room. Older homes often have fewer outlets, and they might be the outdated, two-prong variety that isn’t grounded. 4. The early morning sun will wake you up An abundance of natural light is a coveted feature, unless the morning sunlight wakes you up hours before your alarm goes off. Many real estate agents and home buyers who visit a property at varying times throughout the day unintentionally fail to consider what the exposure is like at 5:30 a.m. with the sunrise. While curtains and blinds are obvious solutions, you might not want to cover windows that showcase a beautiful view or are placed high in a vaulted ceiling. 5. Your furniture won’t fit Always pay attention to how much furniture is in the bedroom and how it’s arranged. Staging can declutter and depersonalize a space, so buyers should consider how their belongings will fit or whether they’ll have to purchase brand-new furnishings. Ask your agent for the dimensions of the bed and dresser for comparison. If the dresser is missing, it could mean the bedroom has a large closet with organizational options. Ask to see inside all of the closets, and note the size, shelves and other organizational components. 6. The bedrooms are in an inconvenient spot When taking a live video tour, don’t forget to pay attention to where bedrooms are situated in the house. Then, ask yourself how the locations of the bedroom will suit your lifestyle. Will you be more comfortable with the kid’s bedrooms on the same floor? Is the master suite adjacent to a busy living room or kitchen? Where are the baths in reference to the bedrooms? 7. The master bath doesn’t offer separation A spacious master retreat not only is where you’ll want to rest your weary head at night, but it’s also the place where you can relax in a soothing bath or luxuriate in a rainfall shower. If you want a bit of privacy, however, be mindful of the layout of the master. For instance, many people overlook the fact that there is not a door between the bedroom and the bath. Many floor plans now have a water closet—a small toilet room with a door—but don’t have a door separating the bedroom from the rest of the bath. 8. There might be potential safety hazards If you’re looking at a multilevel home or a house with a bedroom in the basement, be sure and verify the fire escape routes. Consider potential safety hazards, such as how difficult it might be to drop a fire escape ladder out of an upstairs bedroom window or a ladder up from a basement bedroom. Basement bedrooms should have an egress window, and upper-floor windows should be clear of obstructions like trees or sections of the house that would hamper an emergency exit.

good relationship agent

How To Build a Good Relationship with Your Real Estate Agent

When you purchase a home, your agent will essentially serve as a business partner because you’re both working toward the same goal: closing a real estate deal. That’s why it’s in your best interest not only to know how to hire a real estate agent, but also how to build a good relationship with them. The better ally you are, the better an ally your agent will be. Here’s how to choose a real estate agent and work well with them. 1. Know what you want Many buyers enter into the house-hunting process with no idea what they want. So, the first and best way to be a good client is to know exactly what you’re seeking in a house. Ask yourself a couple of basic questions, like what your budget is and what type of house you want. For example, single-family or townhome. Also, are you looking for a certain design style or a specific neighborhood? Knowing these specifics—and telling them to your agent—will be important when it comes to finding local homes that match your criteria. After all, neither you or your agent wants to spend time looking at dozens of houses that aren’t even close to what you have in mind. In fact, it’s a good idea to even over-communicate your intentions and goals. Knowing exactly what you want also can help you choose the right agent, as some specialize in certain neighborhoods, as well as old houses and particular architectural styles. 2. Meet agents in person It’s OK to begin your relationship with an agent via email, text or phone, but before you hire an agent to work with you, set up a meeting and conduct a face-to-face interview. Some things you’ll want to know include how long they’ve they been an agent; the neighborhoods they specialize in; how many clients they’re currently working with; and how many homes they’ve helped people buy in the past year. Meeting in person can help both sides determine compatibility and establish trust. To the agent, meeting them in person also shows them you’re serious about buying.   3. Set up expectations for communication Let your agent how you’d like to stay in touch during the buying process. For instance, do you do prefer texts, Facebook messenger or phone calls? You’ll also want to let them how often you expect to hear from them (daily or weekly) and the best times of day to reach you.   4. Be Respectful Always be courteous of your agent’s time by being at showings on time. If you disagree with your agent, respectfully tell them why. And don’t get upset if your agent doesn’t immediately respond to a text or phone call.   5. Get organized Communicate your wants by writing them down. Then provide your agent with a copy. That will help your agent find homes that match your criteria. You also should have your financial records in order, which includes getting pre-approved for a loan. Pre-approval for a mortgage says you’re serious about buying a house and not just window shopping.   6. Admit what you don’t know Real estate transactions are complicated. So, don’t be embarrassed if you don’t understand all of the terms or know what to expect from each step of the process. If you don’t know what escrow means, ask. If you’re confused about the terms of an offer, say so. It’s totally normal to ask an agent for a little hand-holding; that’s their job. Part of knowing how to hire a real estate agent is finding one you trust enough to tell you things you don’t know.   7. Don’t play the field with other agents If you’re working with an agent who is doing their best for you, don’t engage with another agent. That’s an unacceptable practice, and it can backfire by damaging your relationship with your agent. If your agent finds out you have other agents showing you houses, they may prioritize other clients. So, a big part of knowing how to pick a real estate agent is knowing that you need to stand by your agent once you hire them. In fact, it’s in your and the agent’s interest to sign a buyer’s broker agreement for a set time. The agreements spell out the rights and duties of both parties, including exclusivity.