This post is inspired by (ripped from) a blog post from Coldwell Banker’s CEO, Jim Gillespie. He was inspired by Cindy Yoder of Coldwell Banker Vinson Chase in Modesto, California who passionately spoke of the need for integrity and honesty in real estate today.  Her reasoning was that her clients – and she rightfully believes most consumers – are nervous today about homeownership.  She believes real estate agents have an important responsibility to make certain they are providing sound counsel, advice and answers.  Today more than ever.  She said that agents who are only concerned with making the sale are doing themselves and their clients a disservice.  How true!

Trust is so important.  It always is.  But today it means even more to everyone when it comes to major financial decisions like homeownership.

Now IS the smartest time in at least 35 years to buy a home.  The reasons are fairly obvious.  Home prices have dropped and are beginning to stabilize, mortgage interest rates are at all-time lows, allowing homebuyers to potentially save hundreds of dollars a month and thousands over the length of a 30-year loan.  In most communities there is an abundance of homes to choose from and, of course, there are substantial tax advantages to homeownership.

But it is important to remember that these reasons ONLY apply to those who are financially secure and not concerned about the threat of job loss.  It doesn’t apply to those who don’t anticipate living in the home for several years to hopefully allow the market to correct and build some equity.  Homeownership is a long-term investment and not a “get rich quick” scheme.

Each person’s needs and situations are vastly different.  It is always important to get as much information as possible before making a big decision.  And for the sake of today’s discussion, that means talking with a  real estate agent.

When making the call, it is fair to expect the agent to be excited about the potential to gain a new client.  That is natural on their part.  But it will become obvious if the agent is right for the individual and trying to build a relationship by providing proper answers and advice.  Ask tough questions and probe.  Explain fears and concerns.

If the agent is good and wants to build his/her business by being a trusted resource, some great information and insight will be provided.  A valued advisor will have been found.  If the agent is only interested in making a sale, then that agent may not be the right choice.

Of course housing decisions should not be based on this blog, articles in the paper, segments on TV or even by watching interviews of real estate professionals.  Homework is necessary to make certain what is believed to be true about housing today is/isn’t true.  And rather than get information third-hand, go right to the source.  Find an agent who answers the hard questions and provides a solid path towards homeownership (even if it is a long road).