Diamond Certified Companies are Rated Highest in Quality and Helpful Expertise.

  • Why this rating is the most accurate.
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Diamond certified companies are top rated and guaranteed

Why Trust Diamond Certified Real Estate Agents Rated Highest in Quality?

Photo: Kerr & Jones - Terra Firma Global Partners (2016)

You are the customer. If your goal is to choose a real estate agent that will deliver high customer satisfaction and quality, you’ll feel confident in choosing a Diamond Certified realtor. Each has been rated Highest in Quality in the most accurate ratings process anywhere. And you’re always backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. Here’s why the Diamond Certified ratings and certification process will help you find a top-rated real estate company and is unparalleled in its accuracy, rigor and usefulness:

1) Accuracy: All research is performed by live telephone interviews that verify only real customers are surveyed, so you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews.

2) Statistical Reliability: A large random sample of past customers is surveyed on an ongoing basis so the research results you see truly reflect a Diamond Certified company’s top-rated status.

3) Full Disclosure: By clicking the name of a company above you’ll see the exact rating results in charts and read verbatim survey responses as well as researched articles on each qualified company.

4) Guaranteed: Your purchase is backed up with mediation and the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee, so you can choose with confidence.

Click on the name of a Diamond Certified company above to read ratings results, researched articles and verbatim customer survey responses to help you make an informed decision.

More than 200,000 customers of local companies have been interviewed in live telephone calls, and only companies that score Highest in Quality in customer satisfaction–a 90+ on a 100 scale–as well as pass all of the credential-based ratings earn Diamond Certified. By requiring such a high score to qualify, the Diamond Certified program eliminates mediocre and poorly performing companies. Read detailed information about the ratings and certification process.

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Debby Benson-Miller is a Diamond Certified real estate agent with Prime Real Estate Services. She can be reached at (707) 999-7853 or by email.

Debby Benson-Miller

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Debby Benson-Miller: In Her Father’s Footsteps

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

ROHNERT PARK — When asked how she ended up in real estate, Debby Benson-Miller credits the influence of her father. “My father used to buy and sell properties and was a big believer in real estate as an investment,” she remembers. “He tried to get me into it right out of high school, but I didn’t feel like I was ready to be an agent. Instead, I went to work as an administrator for the Humboldt Association of Realtors, where I gained experience running the multiple listing service and got to know a lot of Realtors. After 10 years, I decided I was ready to become an agent, so I got my license, moved to Sonoma County and have been serving this area ever since.”

As a Sonoma County real estate agent, Debby says her favorite part of her job is interacting with clients. “I’ve always been a people-person, so that part of the job came naturally to me. Plus, it’s very rewarding to help someone sell their home or hand the keys to a first-time buyer. Basically, I really like making people happy.”

A resident of Rohnert Park (where she lives with her husband and business partner, Tom), Debby expresses her appreciation for her North Bay locale. “Living in Sonoma County, we’re surrounded by natural beauty and fun activities. Whether you want to drive out to the coast or watch a Giants game in the city, there’s no shortage of things to do.”

Outside of work, Debby lives up to her reputation as a people-person by partaking in a variety of social activities. “I’m in a bunco group, a book club, and Tom and I are part of an RV group that goes on little excursions once a month,” she lists. “I’m also a member of the local Rotary chapter, the Junior League of Napa-Sonoma and Non Stop Connections, which is an offshoot of BNI.” When she’s not rubbing elbows with friends and colleagues, Debby likes spending time with her stepchildren, grandchildren and two orange cats.

In regard to a professional philosophy, Debby espouses the importance of communication. “People like to know what’s going on, especially when they’re in the middle of a major transaction, so communication is crucial,” she explains. “However, everybody is different, and I’ve learned that you need to communicate in different ways to different people. Some people want to be texted, some prefer email, and others want you to pick up the phone and call them. So, I make it a point to be flexible and adjust my communication style based on the client’s needs.”

When asked the first thing she’d do if she were to retire tomorrow, Debby says she’d live to the fullest. “I recently had a kidney transplant and I feel extremely fortunate to have my health back. It has really changed my outlook on life and made me realize the importance of enjoying every day. With that in mind, if I were to retire, I would do some traveling. I’ve always wanted to go to the East Coast and see Boston and Washington D.C., and I’ve also been thinking about going to Italy. But maybe I’d start with a good, old-fashioned cruise.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Sweet T’s in Santa Rosa.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Put on some sweats, turn on the fire and read a book. Of course, it’s also a good time to go to a movie.

Q: If someone was making a movie about your life, what actress would you choose to play yourself?
A: Kate Hudson.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for dessert?
A: Key lime pie—Sweet T’s makes a great one.

Q: Do you have a favorite book?
A: I have a couple: “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls and “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons” by Lorna Landvik.

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Real Estate Tips for Buyers and Sellers


ROHNERT PARK — In real estate, there are typically two parties: a seller and a buyer. Regardless of what side you’re on, there are strategies that can help you improve your position. Consider the following tips: Tip for sellers Every seller wants… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Tips for Sellers and Buyers

Complete Video Transcription:

ROHNERT PARK — Host, Sarah Rutan: Whether you’re planning to buy or sell a home, you can improve your prospects by learning some basic strategies. Today, we’re in… Read more




Craftsman homes
Victorian homes
beach homes
A-frame homes
modular homes
split-level homes
chalet-style homes
commercial properties
high-end homes
green homes
vacation homes
luxury homes
rental properties

townhouse sales
condominium sales
undeveloped property sales / land for sale
luxury homes for sale
rent-to-own homes
new homes for sale
commercial property sales
bank-owned homes sales
mobile homes / manufactured homes for sale
foreclosed homes for sale
vacation home sales
investment properties
home listings
apartment sales

Agua Caliente
Alexander Valley
Bodega Bay
Boyes Hot Springs
Camp Meeker
Duncans Mills
El Verano
Fetters Hot Springs
Fort Ross
Glen Ellen
Mark West
Monte Rio
Rio Nido
Rohnert Park
Russian River
Russian River Meadows
Salmon Creek
Santa Rosa
Stewarts Point Rancheria
the Geysers
Sea Ranch
Two Rock
Valley Ford
Villa Grande


Know What You Want
Questions for Consideration Prior to Hiring a Real Estate Sales Agent in Sonoma County

Many factors should be considered before selecting a real estate sales agent in Sonoma County that will meet your needs the best. Write down everything that you’re searching for before you begin your research. Think about the following questions before making your final choice regarding a real estate sales agent.

1. Do I want a Diamond Certified company that is rated best in quality and backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee?
2. What is my budget?
3. What personal and professional characteristics would I like my Alameda commercial contractor to have? (These may include good communication skills, honesty, reliability, cleanliness, etc.)
4. What is the time frame that is best for me to purchase or sell my real estate property in Sonoma County, including the larger cities of Sonoma, Cloverdale, Sebastopol, Cotati, and Guerneville?

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What To Ask In Person
Ask These Questions While Speaking in Person with a Sonoma County Real Estate Sales Agent

The next step in the process of hiring a real estate sales agent in Sonoma County is to interview them. Consider asking the following questions.

1. Can I get references for your last five deals?
2. Can I list the house with you for 60 to 90 days?
3. Has a client ever filed a complaint against you?
4. Considering the current market, at what price do you think my home can sell?
5. Other than a CMA (comparative market analysis), what does your marketing package contain?
6. Do you represent buyers and sellers on the same house?
7. Can you give me a comparative market analysis of recent home that are on the market as well as recent sales in the area?
8. How many other sellers are you representing now? (Keep in mind that the busiest real estate sales agents are often the most efficient.)
9. What sets you apart from other real estate sales agents?
10. Do you offer a guarantee if I am dissatisfied with the service?

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  • What To Ask References
    Interview Previous Customers of a Sonoma County Real Estate Sales Agent

    It’s best to choose a Diamond Certified real estate sales agent in Sonoma County because all certified companies have passed an in-depth ratings process that most other companies can’t pass. If you want quality real estate work in Sonoma County and the greater Bay Area, you can have confidence choosing a Diamond Certified company. Diamond Certified reports are available online for all certified companies. And you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews. That’s because all research is performed in live telephone interviews of actual customers.

    If you can’t locate a Diamond Certified real estate sales agent within reach in Sonoma County, including the smaller cities of Agua Caliente, Geyserville, Glen Ellen, Salmon Creek, Two Rock, Villa Grande, and Vineburg, you’ll have to do some research on your own. If you do, it’s wise to call some references provided by your real estate sales agent.

    Keep in mind, though, that references provided to you by the real estate sales agent are not equal in value to the large random sample of customers surveyed during the Diamond Certified ratings process. That’s because references given to customers from companies are cherry-picked instead of randomly selected from all their customers. So the real estate agents will likely give you a few customers to call that they know are satisfied.

    If you do call references on your own, specifically ask for a list of the company’s 10 most recent customers. This will help avoid them giving you the names of only customers they know were satisfied.

    1. Did the real estate agent help you devise a selling/buying plan and help you stick with it?
    2. If you sold real estate with this real estate agent in Sonoma County, including the larger cities of Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Windsor, and Healdsburg, did they do a good job of showcasing and showing your property both in person and on the listing sheet?
    3. If you need a real estate sales agent in the future, will you consider hiring this real estate agent?
    4. Was this real estate agent respectful of your time and property? Were there any issues of theft or damage during showings?
    5. Was the real estate agent helpful in guiding you during the offer process?
    6. Was the real estate agent helpful in guiding you during negotiations?
    7. Do you feel that the real estate agent was pushy when it came to selling or buying?
    8. Was the deal was complete, were you satisfied with the real estate agent?
    9. Was the real estate agent knowledgeable about the community, town, and market you were interested in?
    10. Do you believe that the real estate sales agent was working with your best interest in mind? Or did you feel like the real estate agent was influenced by other motivations or agents?
    11. Would you recommend this real estate sales agent to your family and friends?

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  • Review Your Options
    When You Find a Real Estate Sales Agent in Sonoma County

    The Diamond Certified symbol has been awarded to companies that scored Highest in Quality in an accurate ratings process.

    Your choice of real estate sales agent is important to you and your family. So before making the final decision on the best real estate sales agent in Sonoma County, you may want to consider the following questions:

    1. Is my real estate sales agent of choice applying pressure or sales tactics in order to get me to sign a contract before I am ready?
    2. Do I trust my real estate agent of choice?
    3. Does my real estate agent have good references that I have checked?
    4. Is my real estate agent flexible regarding the commission rate?Does my real estate agent have a good record for selling real estate property in a timely fashion by using successful marketing strategies?
    5. Is my real estate sales agent well-respected in the community?

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  • How To Work With
    Factors to Think About Before Signing the Buyer’s Agent Agreement

    If you are purchasing real estate in Sonoma County, including the larger cities of Sonoma, Cloverdale, Sebastopol, Cotati, and Guerneville, your real estate sales agent my ask you to sign a “buyer’s agent agreement.” This agreement protects the real estate agent if you, the client, choose to switch to a different real estate agent at the moment of signing a contract for real estate property for the purpose of saving money, etc.

    This contract ensures that the real estate agent will be compensated for their work. It specifies rights and duties of the buyer as well as how and when the agent will be compensated. If your real estate agent wants you to sign a buyer’s agent agreement, here are a list of issues you should carefully consider:

    • Term. You can always renew later, so determine a logical time period for working with the real estate agent. Remember that if you purchase a property that the real estate agent showed you a few months after the contract has expired, the agent is still entitled to a commission.
    • Compensation. Be sure that total compensation is covered in the buyer’s agreement. Any commission that is paid by the seller to the buyer’s agent will reduce any commission owed by the buyer. Avoid paying a retainer fee. Also check to see how to cancel the contract if you are unhappy with the real estate agent’s performance.
    • Geographic area. Make sure the real estate agent is experienced in your area. If it is possible that you will venture outside of the comfort zone of the real estate agent, make a provision in the contract that the real estate agent will refer you to another agent and collect a referral fee. Or that, in this type of case, the contract will be invalid.
    • FSBOs. If you don’t want to pay a commission on For Sale by Owner properties, make sure to put that in the contract. Keep in mind, however, that the real estate agent may be able to save you money by determining a fair purchase price and negotiating the deal.

    The contract should clearly define both the duties of the agent and the buyer. These duties should include:

    Tasks of a Sonoma County Real Estate Sales Agent:
    • Negotiate contracts
    • Unless requested to do so in writing, the real estate agent is not obligated to show properties that are not available in the Multiple Listing Service.
    • Continued, reliable effort to identify properties that meet the needs of the buyer
    • Arrange for properties to be inspected
    • Assists with obtaining financing
    • Discloses any information that would affect the buyer’s decision to purchase
    Tasks of a Sonoma County Purchaser:
    • Cooperates with the agent in order to fulfill the terms of the agreement
    • Be available to view potential properties
    • Work exclusively with the agent to find real estate property while the agreement is valid
    • Pays compensation
    • Provide the agent with adequate financial information to research appropriate properties

    A Listing Contract
    A listing contract is the contract between a real estate agent (if the agent is acting in a broker’s name) and a seller of real estate property that gives the agent the right to offer the property for sale. The listing contract must include the following:

    • A beginning date and a termination date
    • The list price which the property will be offered for sale
    • The amount of compensation offered to the real estate agent. This can be in the form of a percentage of the sales price or a flat fee.
    • The terms and conditions under which the brokerage fee will be paid by the seller
    • Authorizes the agent to cooperate with other agents as sub-agents and also details the compensation that will be offered to those agents in the event they secure a buyer.
    • Authorizes the real estate agent to disclose or not to disclose the existence of offers formerly received.

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  • Be a Good Customer
    How to Be a Trustworthy Sonoma County Real Estate Sales Agent Customer

    It’s the real estate sales agent’s responsibility to work for you according to your needs. But you play a big part in the success of your real estate sales agent, too. Here are a few simple steps you can take to be a good customer when hiring a Sonoma County real estate sales agent.

    • Before hiring a real estate sales agent in Sonoma County, including the larger cities of Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Windsor, and Healdsburg, restate your expectations and goals, and reiterate to the real estate sales agent your understanding of the agreement. Most problems with local real estate sales agents occur because of a breakdown in communication. By being clear about your expectations and theirs, you can avoid most conflicts.
    • Be sure your real estate sales agent has a phone number where they can reach you at all times while they’re helping you look for real estate. The real estate project will move along more smoothly if your real estate sales agent can reach you for any necessary updates or questions.
    • Ask your real estate sales agent if you should call to check on the progress or if he will call you with updates.
    • Be honest and upfront with the real estate sales agent. Let them know what you want from your real estate sales agent, the long-term outcome you’re expecting and specific ways they can satisfy your expectations.
    • When your real estate sales agent contacts you, return calls quickly to keep the real estate project on schedule.
    • Remember, a friendly smile goes a long way!

    Why would you want to be a good client? Real estate sales agents in Sonoma County appreciate clients who are straightforward, honest and easy to work with. Your good customer behavior sets the tone from your end and creates an environment conducive to a good relationship. Things may very well go smoother and any problems may be more easily resolved.

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Check The Work
Making the Sonoma County Real Estate Contract Official

In order for your real estate purchase or sell to be official in Sonoma County, including the smaller cities of Occidental, Valley Ford, Forestville, Freestone, Glen Ellen, Guernewood, Jenner, and Rio Nido, you must sign a written contract. It must include the following:

• Identification of parties involved: both the seller(s) and the buyer(s) of the real estate
• Identification of the real estate property
• Identification of the purchase price
• Signatures by all parties involved
• A legal purpose
• Consideration: This is something of value that is bargained for in exchange of the real estate. Usually the form of consideration used is money, but, for example, other property could be used in the exchange.
• Contingencies (conditions) that must be met if the contract is to be performed. Certain types of contingencies include inspection, appraisal, another sale contingency, etc.

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Written Warranties
The Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee

Diamond Certified companies are backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. If the company you’ve hired is Diamond Certified and you can’t resolve the issue by talking with the owner, contact the mediation department at [email protected] or call 800-738-1138.

Resolving Conflict with Sonoma County Real Estate Sales Agents
The truth is most real estate sales agents in Sonoma County, including the larger cities of Sonoma, Cloverdale, Sebastopol, Cotati, and Guerneville, are honest and really do look out for their customers’ best interests. Still, you should know what to do if you are ever dissatisfied with your local real estate sales agent’s service or work.

If you have a complaint or concern about the service you received from your real estate sales agent, immediately speak with the real estate agent or the real estate company manager. It is often best to resolve problems directly with the real estate sales agent, minimizing conflict and getting your real estate project finalized on time.

When talking about the issue with the real estate sales agent, keep these tips in mind:

• If you do not get a suitable response, consider sending a letter that outlines the problem and how you would like it resolved. Send the letter by certified mail and request a return receipt. If the problem continues, it may be time for outside intervention.
• Remain calm and polite.
• Let your real estate sales agent know that you’re willing to compromise or negotiate a mutually-beneficial agreement.
• Try discussing the problem with a trusted family member or a friend. If that doesn’t help, you may need to seek legal advice from an attorney.
• Review the contract specifications with your real estate agent and attempt to verbally resolve any problems in person.
• You may legally withhold payment until the dispute is resolved to your liking.
• Make a deadline for resolution, and tell the real estate sales agent that you are willing to agree on a mutually-beneficial solution.
Document your concerns in writing with the real estate sales agent. Write down the real estate sales agent’s response to your complaints in case you need records for future arbitration.

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Top 10 Requests
Top Service Requests from Real Estate Sales Agents

There are many types of real estate sales agents in Sonoma County that provide all types of real estate services. Following is a list of the most popular real estate agents.

Broker associate
This is a real estate broker who works for another real estate broker. Though they could choose to work independently, many real estate brokers choose to join a larger real estate network.

Transaction agent
A transaction agent writes an offer for the buyer. They do not represent either party but, rather, facilitate the transaction.

Buyer’s agent
A buyer’s agent is also known as a selling agent. Though a buyer’s agent may work with both sellers and buyers, it is not usually in the same transaction.

This is a title that simply means the individual belongs to the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). A realtor can be either a real estate broker or a real estate agent. Members of NAR also belong to state and local trade associations.

Dual agent
A dual agent represents both the seller and the buyer.

Real estate agent
This is a licensed salesperson. Unlike a real estate broker, a real estate agent must work for an employing real estate broker rather than independently. Requirements for a real estate agent vary from state to state.

Real estate broker
A real estate broker usually has more education than a real estate agent. A real estate broker typically has a four year degree as well as the completion of eight college-level real estate courses that qualify them to take the broker’s real estate exam. However, if the real estate broker does not have a four year degree, two years of real estate sales experience will qualify them to be able to take the eight college-level real estate courses. Thirdly, lawyers who belong to the bar can qualify to be a real estate broker if they pass the exam.

There are also many different types of listing agreements. The best choice for you will depend on your ability and willingness to undertake some of the home selling requirements. It also depends on the climate of the real estate market in your area.

Selling commission
This determines the total percentage of commission that will be paid to the selling agent versus the listing broker. By determining a larger amount to the selling office, it can motivate a real estate agent to worker harder to sell your property.

Cancellation of contract
This type of listing allows you as a client of the real estate agent to be released from a contract if you are unhappy or dissatisfied with the service.

Exception to the contract
This type of listing allows the seller a certain number of days to sell the property without owing a commission.

Length of listing
This listing agreement negotiates the duration of the listing. Common terms include 30 days, 90 days, six months, one year, or more.

Exclusive right to sell listing
This type of listing gives the exclusive right to earn a commission. The broker represents the owner and is responsible for bringing a buyer either directly or through another brokerage. The owner is responsible for paying both the selling broker fees and the listing. If you as the owner sells the property in your own, you must pay a commission to the broker.

Exclusive agency listing
In this type of listing, the broker represents the owner; however, the owner still has the right to sell the property without paying a commission.

Open listing
This lets owners sell the home by themselves; however, they must pay a broker to represent the buyer if a real estate agent finds a buyer to purchase the real estate property. If, on the other hand, they find a buyer themselves, they won’t owe anybody a commission.

Expiration of contract
This type of listing means that, if the owner and broker do not renew a contract, the owner must still pay a commission to the broker if the property is purchased by a prospective buyer (whose name is given to the owner by the broker) within a specified time period.

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Glossary Of Terms
Glossary of Terms for Clients of Real Estate Sales Agents

Below are key terms and their descriptions used by real estate sales agents. These will help you navigate your way through the real estate sales process.

a-frame homes
A-frame houses feature steeply-angled sides that usually begin at or near the foundation line and meet at the top, creating a home that looks like the letter A.

Also known as: a frame houses, timber frame house plans, steel frame house, a frame house designs, timber frame house, a frame house plans, timber frame house kits, a frame house kits, timber frame houses, how to frame a house, framing a house, timber framed houses

annual percentage rate (APR)
This is a value created according to a government formula. Its purpose is to reflect the true annual cost of borrowing in the form of a percentage.

Also known as: annual percentage rate credit card, apr calculator, annual percentage yield calculator, mortgage rates today, apr rates, effective annual rate formula, what are interest rates

This is the form used to apply for a mortgage loan. In contains information regarding a borrower’s income, assets, debts, savings, etc.

Also known as: application manager, application form, application software, common application, printable applications, online applications

This is a written justification regarding the price paid for a piece of property. It is mainly based on an analysis of similar pieces of property that are nearby.

Also known as: home appraisal, appraiser, property appraisal, appraisal management companies, free home appraisal, home appraisal cost, house appraisal estimate, home appraisal calculator, appraisal management company

beach homes
A beach home is a home designed for the beach. Typically beach homes are a form of a vacation home rather than a permanent residence.

Also known as: beach homes for rent, beach home rentals, beach homes for sale, beach rental homes, luxury beach homes

bill of sale
This is a written document that transfers the title to personal property.

Most realtors are agents who work under a broker. However, some agents are brokers as well. A broker is a person who acts as an agent by bringing together two parties for any type of transaction. The broker earns a fee for doing so.

Also known as: mortgage broker, stock broker, brokers, online broker, brokerage, commodity broker, best broker, broker comparison, real estate broker, direct access broker, online brokers, discount stock brokers, cheapest online broker

chalet-style homes
Reminiscent of homes on alpine ski slopes, chalet style homes are rustic homes based on Swiss alpine cottages. They have a rectangular shape, big lofts, large windows, and steep gabled roofs.

clear title
This is a title that is free of legal questions regarding ownership of the property. It is also free of liens.

Also known as: clear title loans, salvage title, title company, title companies, clear title company

This is a reference to the meeting where all documents are signed regarding the sell or purchase of a property and money changes hands.

Also known as: closing costs, closing a sale, closings, escrow, closing sales

commercial properties
This is land or buildings that are used for the purpose of generating a profit. Commercial property includes medical centers, office buildings, industrial property, retail stores, shopping centers, warehouses, farm land, multifamily housing buildings, etc.

Most real estate agents earn commissions for the work that they do. The commissions are paid out of the charges paid by either the seller or buyer in the purchase transaction.

This is a large property complex that is divided into individual units. Each unit is owned by an individual who has a form of property ownership that includes a fractional interest in the common areas of complex.

Also known as: condominiums for rent, condos for sale, new condominiums, condominium sale, new condominium, condos for rent

This an agreement in which a borrower receives something that is of value in exchange for a promise to repay the lender by a specified date.

Also known as: credit report, free credit score, credit history, annual credit report, credit report free, free credit check, credit bureaus, credit agency, check credit score, check credit, credit score free, credit ratings, free credit report, credit agencies, credit bureau, online credit report, free credit scores, credit report agencies

This is an amount owed to another person or institution.

Also known as: freedom debt, debt consolidation, debt relief, debt consolidation loans, credit card debt, debt consolidation programs, debt help, credit debt, debt relief, debt reduction

This is the legal document the conveys the title to a property.

Also known as: land deeds, real estate deed, quick claim deed, deeds of trust, warranty deed, quit deed, deed transfer form, deed forms, reconveyance deed

This is an item of value, money, or documents that are deposited with a third party to be delivered upon the fulfillment of a condition. An example would be earnest money is deposited in escrow and then delivered to the seller when the transaction is closed.

Also known as: escrow agent, escrow services, in escrow, escrow service, online escrow, escrow real estate, escrow agents

green homes
Green homes are built using a process that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout the building’s life-cycle. This “green” process includes design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. The purpose of a “green” home is to reduce the overall impact of the home on the human health and natural environment.

Also known as: prefab green homes, green home design, green home building, green homes plans,, building a green home, green modular homes, green home products, green home construction, green home designs, green home plans, green home floor plans, affordable green homes

home equity line of credit
This is a mortgage loan that allows the borrower to obtain cash that is drawn against the equity of his home. There is usually a predetermined amount of money that can be obtained from a home equity line of credit.

Also known as: home equity lines of credit, home equity line of credit rate, home equity line of credit bad credit, home equity line of credit loans, home equity line credit, home equity line of credit calculator, home equity line, home equity line of credit rates, home equity lines, home equity line of credits, equity line of credit, home equity loan, equity line of credit rate

home inspection
This is a thorough inspection by a professional for the purpose of evaluating the structural and mechanical condition of a property.

Also known as: home inspection checklist, home inspection costs, home inspection list, cost of home inspection, home inspection cost, new home inspection, home inspection service

This is a term which, in real estate terms, refers to the institution making the loan to the buyer.

Also known as: private lenders, subprime lenders, subprime mortgage lenders, hard money lender, private money lenders, payday lenders, money lenders, loan lenders, private loan lenders, home lenders, home equity lender

This is a legal claim against a property. A lien must be paid off when the property is sold.

Also known as: lien release, property lien, definition lien, liens, real estate lien, lien on property, lien waiver

line of credit
This is an agreement by a financial institution to extend a certain amount of credit for a specified time to a borrower.

Also known as: personal line of credit, business line of credit, line of credit calculator, lines of credit, home equity line of credit, line of credit loans, line of credit rates, business lines of credit, equity line of credit, line of credit loan, unsecured personal line of credit, commercial line of credit, equity lines of credit

This is a sum of borrowed money, also called principal, that is typically repaid with interest.

Also known as: debt consolidation loan, loans, loan rates, personal loan, personal loans, financial loans, loan calculator, unsecured loan, loan amortization

modular homes
These are constructed of pre-made parts called modules that are transported from the factory to the building site.

power of attorney
This is a legal document that authorizes another individual to act on one’s behalf. A power of attorney can be limited in regard to authority or to a certain period of time. A power of attorney can also be granted complete authority.

Also known as: limited power of attorney, power attorney, power of attorney real estate, durable power of attorney form, special power of attorney form

This is the amount borrowed or remaining unpaid. The principal is the part of the monthly payment that actually reduces the remaining balance of a loan.

promissory note
This is a written promise to repay a specified amount over a specified time period.

Also known as: promissory note form, free promissory note form, secured promissory note, loan promissory note, promissory note sample

rental properties
These are properties that include lands, buildings, units, or rooms that are available for or being rented.

Also known as: private owners rental properties, rental properties management, rental property software, commercial rental properties, local rental properties

split-level homes
This is a style of house in which the floor levels are staggered. The main level of the house is halfway between the lower and upper floors. Usually the main level contains the normal living areas such as the living room, dining room, and kitchen. Two short sets of stairs connect the main level to the upper and lower levels. The upper level usually contains bedrooms and bathrooms while the lower level is the basement area and often has additional living areas that can include office space, a hobby area, a family room, laundry facilities, etc.

Victorian homes
Victorian homes are usually two story homes with steep roof pitches, turrets, and dormers. Typically a Victorian home has a large porch as well.

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Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ for Real Estate Agents in Your Area

Q: Why choose a Diamond Certified real estate sales agent?
A: Diamond Certified helps you choose a real estate agent with confidence by offering a list of top-rated local real estate agents who have passed the country’s most in-depth rating process. Only real estate sales agents rated Highest in Quality earn the prestigious Diamond Certified award. Most companies can’t pass the ratings. American Ratings Corporation also monitors every Diamond Certified company with ongoing research and ratings. And your purchase is backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. So you’ll feel confident choosing a Diamond Certified real estate sales agent.

Q: How do I know if a certain property is a good investment?
A: Your real estate sales agent should be able to help by providing plenty of information regarding property in the area from low end to high end. They can even provide historical information regarding how properties in the are have performed as well as an educated guess as to where they are going.

Q: How should I choose a realtor?
A: Ask about experience. Learn how many clients that real estate agent worked with in the last year or so and request permission to contact them.

Q: How can I maximize the value of my home?
A: There are several things that you can do to make a house more desirable for potential buyers. This is called staging. A good real estate agent will be able to help you stage your property in an effective manner.

Q: What about doing more extensive improvements?
A: Some improvements will pay for themselves when you sell the property. But this all depends. A knowledgeable real estate sales agent will be able to advise you.

Q: How can I build equity into my home besides making monthly mortgage payments?
A: Always try to send in a little extra. This extra amount will go directly to the principal of the loan rather than interest. Even $50.00 per month extra can build your equity quickly. It can also knock years off of your loan.

Q: If I want to purchase a home and I know the seller already has an agent, can I act as my own agent and negotiate a lower fee?
A: Most likely, you don’t have the knowledge needed to represent yourself. The seller pays the real estate commission rather than the buyer. The real estate commission is already set in the listing contract. It actually doesn’t cost you anything to have your own agent represent you because the seller is paying for it already.

Q: What is a housing ratio?
A: This is the percentage of your housing payment to your monthly gross income. Lenders use this ratio to determine how much money they will loan you.

Q: What is a spec house?
A: This is a home that was built without it being requested or ordered by a buyer. A spec house is not customized or built to a particular buyer’s tastes.

Q: What is an appraised value?
A: An appraised value is an opinion regarding a property’s fair market value based on an appraiser’s analysis and inspection of the property.

Q: What is an assessed value?
A: This is the public tax assessor value of a property. It is determined for the purpose of taxation.

Q: What is depreciation?
A: This is a decline in the value of property due to general wear and tear.

Q: Why should I use a real estate agent?
A: A real estate agent acts on your behalf by providing you with guidance and advice while helping you buy or sell a home. An agent will be able to provide you with current information in a fast changing market that will be critical to your success in either purchasing or selling a home.

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