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Enzo’s Bistro – Billings Iconic Restaurant Gets New Owner…

Nicole King, owner, and broker of 41 Realty Group, visits Enzo’s Bistro, one of Billings, Montana’s most popular and iconic restaurants. She interviews Tyler Samson, Enzo’s new owner, to find out what he’s keeping the same, what he’s changing, and what his vision is for this beloved establishment. 

An Interview With Enzo’s Bistro New Owner Tyler Samson

Read on for a transcription of the interview with Nicole King and Typer Samson. 

Nicole: Tyler, congratulations, first, on purchasing this property.

Tyler: Thanks. 

Nicole: This is an iconic restaurant in the Billings area, and you’ve made some changes but you’re keeping things the same also. Tell us about us and then also give us a little backstory on how you got here.

Tyler: Ok, well, to make a long story short for how we arrived here in the short term anyways – I owned a bar outside of town. I live in Billings so I was commuting about an hour and a half round trip every day, and I’m also a commercial real estate broker by day for NAI business properties. So I wanted to do something different to shorten my commute at night so that I could make both things work really easily. 

And I had a conversation with James, the previous owner, I’ve know him for about 12 years now, we are good friends. And we had coffee about a year and a half ago and we had kind of started the conversation about me taking this over, and all the ideas starting coming about. And I got really excited and also kind of nervous, especially when COVID hit and we closed actually, at the very end of June on this. So there wasn’t really any game plan written for this, to deal with this, you know, so we’ve had to definitely make some adjustments. But, to be honest with our strong takeout presence and we are at about, about 65% capacity with the layout of the restaurant, keeping that six-foot distance rule. But you know with the takeout and that and I think just since we did a kind of a nice elegant remodel, and made some really nice changes, not only cosmetically but also to the menu, there’s been a lot of demand and a lot of people wanting to come check out the new changes, as well as, you know, the regulars who’ve been dining here for the last 22 years. So I think there’s a lot of excitement, you know, I’m very blessed because we’re actually doing about the same numbers as they were last year, even pre-COVID even with the reduced capacity. On a majority of the nights, we’re even surpassing sales, you know, from a year ago, which I’m very blessed, and yeah, we’re very fortunate for that.

Nicole: Absolutely. So you’ve been a chef in the Billings area for a long time?

Tyler: Not a chef actually. So I went to MSUB here when I was 21. I got into the restaurant industry working in, I started in a casino, just slinging beers and running that and then graduated into a few restaurants. My longest stent was with Walkers for eight years, I worked there through college, and then after college. About eight years ago I became a commercial sales agent with NAI business properties and I had a huge passion for both industries and I was trying to see how to make it work. I’ve actually kind of become one of the premier brokers for restaurants across Montana, so that’s kind of the niche I focus on.

Before this I had the Edgar Bar, and I had actually had that listed for the previous owners, and that’s how we kind of stumbled across it. I bought it with a partner and it was a very successful business, you know, I had that for almost four years before I did this. I’ve been in the restaurant industry for about 15 years, so I have a huge passion. But again, for me it’s also about being able to help other restaurants and casinos and bars, and you know, sell their businesses or have people buy them, so, you know, I handle both sides of the acquisition. It’s really fun.

Nicole: But you probably have great advice on how to be successful, also. 

Tyler: Yeah, it’s been great. I’ve definitely done some consulting with a lot of restaurants I’ve sold, you know, I’ve represented both buyers and sellers, you know, all across Montana for the last eight years. It’s just really exciting and I love being able to, you know, give my personal input and give advice, and, you know, being a commercial agent that owns, has owned a couple restaurants now, and successful ones, and kind of more iconic ones – it definitely helps my real estate career as well. Being able to get new listings where you know people are now coming to me, you know, to list or to help them buy, you know, liquor licenses, or beer and wine licenses, or full establishments too.

Nicole: Absolutely, so what is the top-selling dish here?

Tyler: Right now, anyways, is our Alaskan halibut. Until the end of October, we’re able to get it fresh, so we actually get it second-day air to us. It comes with a certificate on the box, we get it in whole, so we bone it and skin it in-house. Our chefs filet it out and they weigh them out, so you know it’s never been frozen, it’s easily our top seller.

Nicole: It sounds delicious. 

Tyler: It’s really good.

Nicole: What is the time that has carried through from all the previous owners to now that people come back again and again and again?

Tyler: There’s definitely some staples. So when we looked at the menu, my kitchen is led by Alex Bean and Jason Marble, the three of us got together even before I had purchased this before the sale went final and just looked at the menu. We just looked at the menu and, you know, we didn’t want to change anything too drastic. So I would say it’s probably 20% new but 80% we kept the staples, like the veal piccata, the shrimp tempura pasta. Paul loves the vanilla bean creme brulee, he’s been in for that. My favorite is the portobello and mozzarella pasta with fresh pasta with a basil pesto. Everything’s served over a bit of marinara with mozzarella and then we do a grilled portobello cap. So we actually skewer the pasta and then garnish it with two grilled artichokes on top of the skewer, and then we also add some mixed greens in the mix of that and toss in a little bit of balsamic too. So there’s so many different flavor profiles going on, and it is a vegetarian dish but you can add chicken, beef, sausage, or shrimp to it too, so it’s been very popular. 

Nicole: That sounds delicious.

Tyler: So we kind of cater to every palette, you know, we have a lot of gluten-free options, some vegan options, a lot of vegetarian options. We’re doing a lot of steaks right now too, the last couple of weeks we’ve been running a hand-cut 15-ounce ribeye, and we do a homemade Atlantic crab bearnaise sauce over the top, so it’s kind of a nice surf-and-turf with a beautiful presentation. But we’ve been selling out of that almost every single night we feature it so it’s been awesome. 

Nicole: What type of remodeling have you done since you’ve been in here?

Tyler: Yeah, mostly cosmetic for now. We did all new carpet, upstairs and down, we painted the entire interior. Matt The Painter and his team did that, they are going to be doing the exterior here in the next week or two. We added this bar top in so there’s actually seating at the bar with new lighting. We put new lighting upstairs and then I was fortunate enough to get Kira Fercho to display her art here on the walls too, and that’s been amazing. Very stunning. Then I hired Ann Jackson to help with the interior design as well, just for some extra guidance.

Nicole: Ann did a great job. 

Tyler: Yeah, thank you. We wanted to keep it very elegant, keep it classic. We didn’t want modern at all, but yeah we just kind of brightened things up and it just needed kind of a facelift after 22 years, so it was a really fun process actually.

Nicole: So what’s the best way for people to get a hold of you do either order takeout, or to just come in?

Tyler: We’re kind of old-fashioned still, we like the phone call for the reservations, we still hand-write everything in on the reservation book. We don’t have a digital system just because it’s never failed in 22 years so why change it now? We do takeout orders over the phone as well, so usually, we allow a 30-45 minute time slot so that usually when that person walks in to get their to-go food, it literally was just boxed within 30 seconds. Or we’ll see them walk in and then fire and put everything together, so, you know, most of the people with the residential community that we’re surrounded by, you know, they’re home within just a few minutes so they’re still getting the food fresh.

We’re not doing any delivery options. Grubhub does have a small presence here, we don’t advertise with them just because of the quality of the food that we’re serving, we want to, you know, if we give it to a third-party courier that takes it out, we really have no control of how it’s handled and taken care of when it leaves here so we want it to be as fresh and hot as possible for the guests. 

Nicole: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that experience, where I order something, and 45 minutes later it’s at my door and it’s…not great anymore.

Tyler: Right, yeah. We take a lot of pride in what we do and you know, being this close to so many houses, a lot of people are coming from downtown or the heights, they get the food on the way home and they can go have dinner with their families. Or, you know, especially now with the bar and we added a beautiful chef’s table right in front of the kitchen. A lot of people can, you know, have a drink while they wait for their food as well, so it’s been really nice. With the limited seating, to add the bar seating and the chef’s table, you know, to add the extra seating has definitely helped us out. We had to get kind of creative, you know, just to get people in seats.

And then this spring we’re going to do a really nice, kind of a glamorous patio too. So it’ll be really fun, we’re excited about that. I was going to do it in July, but with all the COVID spiking across the nation, I was a little worried about doing that, putting the money and the work into that and then getting shut down, you know, and not being able to utilize it so we’ll do that for sure this spring.

And then, I can’t announce it right now, but we have a huge exciting announcement at the end of October and we’re going to have a big, kind fo a grand event as well that we’ll start advertising for.

Nicole: I want to get invited to that.

Tyler: Definitely, you’re on the list.

Nicole: Everybody heard, I get to be invited to the grand event. Is there anything else that you would like people to know?

Tyler: That’s about it, you know, it was very important for me to keep Enzo going and keep it in the community. Like you said, it’s an iconic restaurant and I wanted to be able to, you know, basically, enhance what was already here, keep it in the community. I didn’t want anybody else with a new concept coming in here or a startup, you know, it’s very important to respect the history and just try to enhance. Our biggest thing we teach, you know, is hospitality here, you know, we like to customize the experience for the guest. I always tell everybody, it’s what the guest remember the most is how we made them feel. When you compare that with amazing food, it’s just kind of a winning combination. Want to see more great interviews and videos around Billings, Montana? Subscribe to 41 Realty Group on YouTube today and never miss out on everything that is great about our town.

Get Pre-Approved 41 Realty Group Buyers

Why You Should Always Get Pre-Approved

Are you thinking about starting the process of buying a home? There’s a strong chance that at least one person has suggested that you get a mortgage pre-approval. There are many good reasons why it is a good idea to get pre-approved. 

Let’s dive into why this piece of paper is vital when it comes time to buy a home, especially if you’re a first-time buyer.

4 Reasons Why You Need To Get Pre-Approved

Before we get into some of the benefits that come when you get pre-approved for a mortgage, let’s first discuss what a pre-approval letter is.

A mortgage pre-approval letter from your lender assures you, your real estate agent, and sellers that you have the ability financially to complete any purchase of any home that meets the lender’s guidelines. This letter will also include a specific pre-approved interest rate, though it’s important to note that mortgage rates are variable. Mortgage lenders will consider the same factors they would consider for traditional mortgage approval, like your debt to income ratio and your credit score. The more your finances are in order, the more you’ll get pre-approved to borrow. 

Your pre-approval letter will show you what you can afford to spend and what your monthly payment might look like.

Some of the required documents you might need when applying for mortgage pre-approval are:

  • Pay stubs and W-2s
  • Bank, retirement, and investment account statements
  • Tax returns
  • Financial statements (if self-employed)
  • Letters of explanation for credit blemishes

Another thing to mention is that pre-approval is different from pre-qualification. Many lenders will issue “pre-qualification” letters, which ask you about your financials, but it doesn’t hold the same weight as a pre-approved letter. A pre-qualification can be useful as an estimate for how much you can afford, but a pre-approval gives you approval on a specific loan amount.

You’ll Know Exactly How Much House You Can Afford

The first significant benefit that comes when you get pre-approved is that you’ll know exactly how much house you can realistically afford before you even begin house hunting. Knowing this information narrows down your options and makes the selection process more efficient. Plus, it will save you the heartache of realizing the home you fell in love with doesn’t align with your budget.

It Makes You a More Serious/Attractive Buyer

You might know this already, but there are two types of markets: buyers’ markets and sellers’ markets. In a buyer’s market, inventory is high, but the demand is low, which means you might have more wiggle rooms in terms of the purchasing process. However, in a seller’s market, inventory is low, and more people need to buy homes, which means that buyers need any advantage they can to get ahead of the competition. 

Just like the oceans’ tide, these markets ebb and flow from season to season. If you’re trying to buy in a seller’s market, then having a mortgage pre-approval can set you apart as a serious buyer who has the funds to close the sale. 

Put yourself in the seller’s shoes. If two buyers are putting an offer in on your house, but only one has actually been approved for a loan for that offer, who do you think you should sell to? In almost every case, the buyer who has been pre-approved will get the house, as there is a lot less risk of the deal falling through due to lack of appropriate financing.

It Increases Your Negotiation Power

In addition to making you a more attractive buyer to sellers, you’re giving yourself more flexibility in bargaining and negotiations when you get pre-approved. Sellers know that a buyer who has already been qualified for the listing price or offer amount might be more willing to make compromises because the sale is a sure thing. 

A mortgage pre-approval can help you strengthen your buying position and may make it more likely that you get some other things you might ask for, like repairs, improvements, or even having the seller cover closing costs for you.

You’ll Close Faster

On average, it can take about 50 days to close on your home. Several factors cause this timeline, and that includes mortgage approvals. If you already have your pre-approval in hand, you might be able to speed up the process so you can move into the home of your dreams earlier than you might have been able to otherwise. 

When you start the closing processing, securing finances is the first step. However, when you already have your mortgage pre-approval, financing is already squared away, and you can jump into the appraisal and inspection process. Especially when the seller wants to close sooner than later, having your pre-approval lender upfront is a beneficial advantage.

The Bottom Line To Get Pre-Approved

When you need to get pre-approved, the first thing to do is to determine who you want your lender to be. You can get a mortgage pre-approval from up to three different potential lenders, and it might be a good idea to do so. Getting approvals from multiple lenders allows you to compare rates and select the option with the best lending terms. 

Here’s some specific information in regards to your finances that your potential lender will ask you for:

First, they’ll need some personal information to run a credit check, like your social security number and proof of identity. They’ll also want to see proof of your income for the past two years, including all W-2s or alternate tax information and anything else they might need related to your source or sources of revenue. Lastly, you’ll need to provide any documentation relating to assets outside of your income, including investments, monetary gifts, and more.

Once you gather all of this info, the process to determine how large of a mortgage you qualify for can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on who you’re working with. Typically your mortgage pre-approval is valid for anywhere in your state from 60-90 days, which usually is enough time to search for and make an offer on a home. A general rule of thumb is not to make any significant changes to your finances between getting your mortgage pre-approval and buying your new home, as major purchases or taking on more debt will most likely invalidate your existing pre-approval amount. When you’re ready to start looking for your dream home, we can help! Give us a call, and we’ll refer you to our favorite lenders and give more tips to consider as a first-time homebuyer.

First Time Home Seller 41 Realty Group Sellers

Everything You Need To Know As A First-Time Home…

First time selling your home? Maybe you’re ready for more space, looking to downsize, or perhaps you simply want a new adventure in a new location. No matter the reason, we think it’s essential to be prepared for the entire sales process. Selling your home can be emotional and stressful, especially for first-time home sellers, as likely it’s your most significant investment. 

As a first-time seller, you have the advantage of having gone through the buying process. Now’s the time to spend your time prepping your home to look it’s best for potential buyers. Plus, depending on your plans, you may also have the extra pressure of selling your home and buying a new one at the same time. Let’s go over the entire process from top to bottom so that you feel a little more prepared before you sell.

Your Guide To Being A First-Time Home Seller

We think that having a basic understanding of the home-selling process can give you some peace of mind as you make your next move. Here’s a step-by-step guide that gives you everything you need as a first-time home seller.

1. Decide If You Should Sell Your Home Or Buy A New One First 

The first thing you should do is figure out when you’re buying your next home. Some people decide to sell first so they don’t have to worry about two mortgages at one time. We suggest talking to a real estate agent and look at your current housing market. In a buyer’s market, there’s a better chance that a seller will accept an offer on their home, even if it’s contingent on the sale of your current home. However, in a seller’s market, homeowners might not be keen on accepting a contingency that forces them to wait around.

We also suggest that you address your finances before getting too far into the process. Contact your current loan servicer to discuss your remaining mortgage balance so that you know how much equity you’ll have when you decide to sell. Learning this information will help you budget for any improvements you’ll need to make before listing. 

2. Choose The Right Agent

The next step is to find the right real estate agent to work with you during this process. The trick is to find someone who knows the area inside and out and is willing to work around your busy schedule. At 41 Realty Group, we have agents on our team that specialize in helping sellers and their unique needs. The right real estate agent will help you set the right price, negotiate offers, and give you the advice you need to sell your home for the best price.

Plus, real estate agents will be there every step of the way to help you navigate through any sticky situation that might come up. 

3. Set The Right Price 

A critical step in the home selling process is to set the right price. Both appraisers and real estate agents will give you an opinion based on comparable sales that occurred within the last 3-6 months in your specific neighborhood. They look at several factors, including the house’s age, square footage, location, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. 

Your agent will perform a comparative market analysis for you to recommend a price that is right for your home based on current market conditions. 

4. Prepare Your Home To Sell

It’s probably no secret that there are many details to take care of before you officially list your home and show it to buyers. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Fix The Little Things

You know that to-do list you’ve had for years of all those little things you need to fix or replace? Now’s the time to do them. Maybe it’s a broken door handle, a faulty outlet, a sink that drips, etc. They might seem small to you, but potential buyers might attribute that to the house not being adequately maintained in the grand scheme of things. 

You might not need to do costly and extensive renovations. Though they will be impressed by the new countertops or new roof, they likely won’t want to pay more for those updates. 

Declutter And Clean

When showing, it’s vital to declutter and eliminate distractions that take away the buyer’s focus. Now is the perfect time to sell or toss anything that you aren’t planning on taking with you when you move. Clear out the closets and organize all of your storage areas. 

Once the clutter is all cleared away, the next step is a deep clean throughout the house. This is the time to scrub the baseboards, wipe the dust from ceiling fans, and get behind all those nooks and crannies you usually skip. 

Stage Your Home

Staging your house is a powerful tool that a first-time home seller should utilize when it’s time to sell. It can be as simple as cleaning well, removing extra clutter, and repainting a wall or two. Staging helps potential buyers look at your house like it’s already theirs. They will want to see details to help them imagine themselves living in this space. Try to make your home as comfortable and neutral as possible. 

Your real estate agent will help you find just the right placement of furniture, or even help you bring in rented pieces and decorations to freshen up your space. 

5. Market And Show Your Home 

Once you’ve prepared your home and made it fit for selling, your selling agent will start marketing your home to buyers. Marketing involves several different elements, all designed to paint your home to the best light and find the right people interested in buying. They’ll most likely start with professional photographs of your home to create an online profile. This listing will include all the details about your home that buyers will be looking for.

Your agent will also use the multiple listing service (MLS). The MLS is a private database that is used only by licensed agents to find homes for buyers. Your home will be listed on the MLS and syndicated to all popular home search websites. Agents will also put a sign in your front yard, perhaps use flyers and direct mail for marketing your home, using a video tour, and of course, share your property across their social media pages. 

Another marketing strategy is open houses. Your agent will give you tips on when the best time to host an open house is and what you can do to prepare for buyers coming in and out of your home.

6. Negotiate And Accept An Offer

Negotiating is a significant part of the home selling process. As a first-time home seller, you can expect your agent to work on your behalf to ensure your best interests are represented. They want you to save money and get the most for your house. 

When entering the negotiating phase, our advice is to have realistic expectations and remain flexible and open with your agent. They will help you set realistic pricing goals and tell you what buyers will be looking for and what offers they are likely to make. 

Especially if you’ve been on the market for a while, talk to your agent about what you can do to speed up the process without losing too much money. They’ll be your guide when it comes to handling all the tricky parts of this negotiation process and help create a win-win for you and the buyer.

7. The Closing Process

Did you accept an offer? Congrats! Now comes the official closing process. Here’s how it works:

First, you’ll prepare for the appraisal and inspection. A licensed appraiser will evaluate your home and make sure that the amount matches or is similar to the sale price. An inspection is ordered by the buyer to assess your home’s structure and systems. This is done to find out if there are any significant repairs needed. 

Frequently your listing agent will recommend having a pre-inspection before putting the home on the market so that no surprises come up that you might have to pay for later. If things do come up during the inspection, your real estate agent will help negotiate repairs and help you decide what you should do, whether it’s making repairs yourself or lower the house’s price.

The next step in the closing process is to get all your paperwork in order. Likely you’ve already filled out the listing agreement and the purchase agreement. Now your agent will work with the title company to get the rest of the documents squared away. This will include title work, property tax documents, property surveys, any plans and permits associated with your home, and your homeowner’s insurance information. 

As soon as all the terms of your purchase agreement are met, and the loan paperwork is ready to go, an escrow agent will deliver a settlement statement that details all the money transfers. On closing day, you’ll sign all the paperwork required to transfer ownership of your home officially.

8. Tie Up Loose Ends

Once you get through closing, you’re just about done with the entire process. We wanted to mention a few loose ends you’ll need to tie up. Don’t forget to change your address with the post office and cancel your homeowners’ insurance on the home you just sold. Now is also the time to close all accounts delivered to your home, like utilities or newspaper subscriptions. 

If you have any manuals that go with appliances in your home, leave them on the counter for the new owners. That’s it! You’re free to begin the next adventure in your life.

Conclusion

Ready to get started? We can help! Give us a call at 41 Realty Group, and we’ll answer your questions, help you sell, and even help you find a new house. 

Click here to get started!

General Real Estate

Do You Know All These Billings Trivia? [VIDEO]

In this video, Nicole King, owner and broker of 41 Realty Group, went downtown and asked local Billings residents some trivia. Some they got right, some they didn’t. Do you think you can get all of this Billings trivia? Watch the video or keep reading to find out!

Most Montanans Will Know This Billings Trivia – Do You?

Let’s break it down by question and see if you know Billings as much as you think you do.

Questions #1 – What year was Billings founded?

People struggled with this question when Nicole asked local residents, but the answer is 1882.

It was first founded by the Northern Pacific Railroad on a site originally known as Clark’s Fork Bottom.

Question #2 – Where did Billings get its name?

Billings was named after Frederick Billings, the president of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and was established as a rail hub in 1882. 

Question #3 – How many people live in Billings?

As of 2020, the population of Billings, Montana, is 109,868. It is known as the largest city in Montana and the 282nd largest city in the US. Billings has a population density of 2,463 people per square mile, spanning over 45 miles. Billings is the only city in Montana with a population of more than 100,000.

Question #4 – What street does the West End start on?

Many people in the video guessed that the West End of Billings, Mt starts on 24th street, and anything west of that is considered the “West End.” However, this is still up for debate across town. 

What do you think?

Question #5 – What is the area before 19th street or the West End called? 

This is another Billings trivia question that is up for debate! Some people called it central, and some people called it midtown. Other people just answered that it was the area around their house! What do you think these areas should be called, and where do they start and end?

Question #6 – Do you know where Rehberg Ranch Is? Is it in the Heights or the West End?

If you watched the video, most people answered this question correctly. Rehberg Ranch is located in the Heights! Rehberg Ranch is one of Billings’ most desirable residential subdivisions. 

It’s a newer community named after AJ Rehberg, a man who staked a claim in the early 1900s on a high stretch of rimrock prairie land above Billings that is mostly hidden from the rest of the town.

Question #7 – Who is the current Mayor of Billings?

Only one person answered this one correctly, but Billings’s mayor is a man named Bill Cole. He was born and raised in Bozeman, MT, and graduated from Dartmouth College with a history degree. He then received his law degree from Columbia University School of Law in New York City. In 1991, he and his wife Anne Remmer Cole moved to Billings. 

His term ends in December of 2021.

Question #8 – What do you love most about Billings?

Some of the residents that Nicole interviewed answered similarly to one another, saying that Billings has always been their home, and the people are the best part of the town. Others said that they love everything that Billings has to offer surrounding the city, like hiking and fishing and the scenery. Another person said that the Billings music scene is what they love the most.

A lot of people love the blend of city and home-town vibes that Billings offers, as well as the ability to get away from the people when you need some open spaces. Another group of people said that the best part about Billings is that there is always something to do. There are always events and activities happening around town for the whole family to enjoy. 

Question #9 – What is one thing you would like to see added to our community?

When asked what they would like to see added to the community, the answers differed. One person said they would like to see more community-based events. Several people said they would like to see more diverse fast-food options like Chik-Fil-A and In-N-Out, while another said they would love to see more parks and areas for recreation. 

What do you think would benefit the Billings community? We’d love to hear your comments and see what you thought about this Billings trivia and whether answers differed from the video’s locals!

Billings Real Estate Agent 41 Realty Group General Real Estate

How To Choose The Right Billings Real Estate Agent

Thinking about buying or selling a home? Both of those processes can be an exciting experience and a life-changing one at that. Whether it’s the thrill of the house hunt and the possibility of a new life and growing family, or moving on to the next chapter, a new home is full of hopeful opportunities. The entire process can be enhanced by a good real estate agent who knows all the ins and outs of your market. However, we know that in Billings, MT, there are so many different brokerages and agents out there to choose from, which means that finding the right one is more of a challenge than even finding the perfect house. Especially since working with the right real estate agent who is both experienced and trustworthy can help you sell your home for the best price or find your dream home within your budget. When you’re looking for a Billings real estate agent, you’ve come to the right place.

To help you with the selection process, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you find the best real estate agent, no matter where you live.

Simple Tips To Help You Choose The Best Billings Real Estate Agent

Here are a few tips to help you choose the best Billings real estate agent to help you buy, sell, and even fix and flip.

Start By Looking For Referrals In Your Own Network

The first thing you should do when looking for the right Billings real estate agent is to ask around. Ask friends and family members who they’ve worked with and trusted in the past. Use your network to find out who had amazing experiences. You’ll want to work with someone who has worked with people who are in the same situation as you. Specifically, first-time buyers’ needs are different from those of frequent buyers or homeowners looking to downsize.

We suggest looking for Realtors with a capital R. This specific title means that they are National Association of Realtors (NAR) members. Loosely speaking, this means they have formally agreed to abide by the NAR’s code of ethics. Some Realtors and agents also have specific certifications to show they’ve completed additional training. 

Once you’ve found a name or two of local agents and brokers, the next step is to examine their online presence. Look at their social profiles, their website, and how they promote their current listings. It is also helpful to look at online reviews, but be cautious. One or two negative reviews are normal for successful agents, but if more than 50% of their reviews are unhelpful experiences, that might be a red flag.

Look For Signs Or Open Houses

If you aren’t really excited about digging online for agent profiles, check out your local market in person. Drive or walk around your neighborhood or the neighborhood you want to be in and look for repeat agent names on signs. If you’re seeing the same name or brokerage name time and time again, it most likely is because they care about their business and want to be recognized as an asset to their community. 

Another way you can get to know an agent is to visit open houses. Get a feel for them in person and see how well they are selling another home and interacting with potential buyers. This is a great way to get a feel for their personality and see how they work.

Ask The Right Questions 

When you’re interviewing or getting to know your potential new agent, make sure you are asking the right questions. Find out how long they have been working in real estate, whether they work primarily with buyers or sellers, and how many active clients they have at a time. 

Ask if they are a part of a team, their specialty, and their marketing strategy for both buying and selling. Working with a brokerage is usually a great bet because you’ll have a team of knowledgeable agents and brokers to handle any issues and questions that come up.

Set Clear and Realistic Expectations

When picking an agent to help you buy and sell, you must set your communication preferences and let your agent know your expectations. Usually, the greatest complaint regarding any Billings real estate agent is that they aren’t communicating well. Make sure you are on the same page with your agent from the get-go. Ask them what their expectations are for you as the buyer or seller and ask them how often they will contact you. Maybe your agent prefers email while you prefer phone calls. This might not make for a great client-agent relationship. Similarly, if you’re looking for weekly updates and have a lot of questions, and your agent isn’t great at answering the phone, then you might want to look for someone who is a better fit.

We also think that it’s important you clarify your motivation and goals. If you’re on a strict timeline or have wishlist items that can’t be broken, make sure you’re communicating that with your agent. Layout everything you’re expecting right away so your agent knows all of your expectations. 

At the end of the day, you want to agree with your agent on all the important details. A great agent relationship starts with clearly defined expectations and communication strategies.

Go With Your Gut

We know that when it comes to choosing the right agent, an agent’s ability to make the process smooth and easy is just as important as experience and knowledge. You want to feel mutual trust and comfortability with your agent, as often the closing process can get a little complex.

At the end of the day, you should go with your gut. Finding the right agent is a little like dating; you’ll know if you have chemistry right away. It’s about personality fit just as much as finding someone who knows their stuff.

The Bottom Line When It Comes To Finding A Billings Real Estate Agent

When it comes to finding the right real estate agent, the bottom line is to shop around and do your research. You want someone you connect with, someone you trust, someone who knows the industry and has a large network and inventory on their side at the end of the day. 

Have questions about real estate? We’d love to help. Reach out to us today to discuss your goals.

First Time Home Buyer 41 Realty Group Buyers

Everything You Need To Know As A First-Time Home…

If anyone knows how difficult being a first-time home buyer can be, it’s us. There are so many steps, tasks to complete, requirements, and documents to fill out. Many people looking to buy are anxious about the process because, more often than not, this is the biggest financial decision they will ever have to make. However, we want to encourage first-timers not to be afraid of the process and enjoy some of the advantages of buying for the first time. 

To make this process a little easier and clear up some of the mystery, we’ve compiled a brief overview of what to expect from the buying process. Hopefully, these tips will help ease some of your worries and make life a little easier before buying your first home.

Your Go-To Guide As A First-Time Home Buyer

Thinking of buying your first home? Here’s everything you need to know to get started. 

First Things First – Get Pre Approval 

All first-time home buyers feel both the exhilaration and the fear that comes with buying a home for the first time, and it’s no surprise you’re here looking for tips. Our first piece of advice? Shopping for a home, no matter your budget, without getting preapproved for a mortgage is a big mistake. 

Getting preapproved before you even start looking for a home can help you in a variety of ways. First, it ensures that you have the financial ability to purchase a home, and also makes sure that you know how much you can actually afford. In addition, it lets real estate agents know that you are serious about buying a house.

Shopping for a home before you get approved runs the risk of finding homes that you love that aren’t in your price range. This means you find a way to buy a house you really can’t afford or every other house you look at is a disappointment. Instead of getting your hopes up, start by evaluating your finances and talking to a mortgage lender. Then create a list of must-haves and deal-breakers for the home that you want, so that when you get that pre-approval letter, you’ll know where to start looking.

Consider The Costs of Home Ownership

Like we mentioned above, it pays to know the state of your finances before you really start to look for houses. Any first-time home buyer needs to consider the true costs of homeownership. For example, your down payment requirement will depend on the type of mortgage you choose and the lender. Many lenders offer first time home buyer loans that allow as little as 3% down. But even a small down payment can be challenging to save for. A 3% down payment on a $300,000 home is still $9,000. 

Another thing that a lot of people don’t consider is the closing costs. There are the fees and expenses that come with finalizing the mortgage, and they can range from 2% to 5% of the loan amount. Sometimes you can ask the seller to pay a portion of these closing costs and shop around for some of those other expenses that come up. Some other expenses might include having the home appraised, getting a home inspection, running a title search, private mortgage insurance, and other surveys. Ask your real estate agent for all of the ins and outs when it comes to closing costs.

Don’t forget any immediate move-in expenses! You’ll want to make sure you have some funds after moving in for home repairs, upgrades, and any new furnishings you might want. 

Choose The Right Real Estate Agent

Another important aspect to consider when you are a first-time home buyer is to make sure you choose the right agent. The right agent will be able to meet all of your needs and guide you through the entire process. 

Make sure you have a connection and mutual trust with your agent. Get referrals from your friends and family and ask them about their experience. Then ask your potential real estate agent about their process for first-time home buyers.

Pick The Right Type Of House And Neighborhood

With the help of your agent, the next step is to find the right house in the right neighborhood. Think about your long term needs and whether you need a starter home or a forever home. If you’re thinking about starting a family or expanding your current one, then it might make sense to buy a home with a little extra room. 

You’ll also want to weigh the pros and cons of different home types, and knowing your lifestyle and budget will help you. Though condos and townhomes are more affordable, sharing walls and having neighbors close by means less privacy. Maybe you’ve found the perfect neighborhood but can’t afford a move-in ready home, in which case a fixer-upper might be your best bet. 

Whatever you choose, make sure you check out the neighborhood thoroughly. It might even be a good idea to test out the commute from your home to your workplace or your children’s schools.

Make An Offer and Close On Your Home

When it’s time to make an offer, your real estate agent will help you decide how much is fair to offer for the house, along with any conditions you might want to ask for. Your agent will contact the seller’s agent and do all of the negotiating for you. Offers and counteroffers will be handled until ultimately, an agreement is reached. Once you reach an agreement, you will then make a good-faith deposition, and the process will then transition into escrow. Escrow is the short period of time during which the seller takes the house off the market with the expectation that you will buy it – provided you don’t find any issues with the house during the inspection.

Once you reach an agreement, and there are no serious problems with the inspection, you are ready to close! Closing is the process of signing a ton of paperwork in a very short time period, and your Realtor will help you make sure everything goes smoothly. 

Let 41 Realty Group Help You Find The Perfect Home

First-time home buyers shouldn’t be afraid of the complex process because you’ll have a real estate agent on your side to help you with every step of the way. Hopefully, you have a better idea of what to expect so that when you’re ready for this fun and life-changing commitment, you’ll be ready. At 41 Realty Group, you’ll find a team of agents who love helping others make Billings their home. Give us a call or contact us online to let us help you start this process.