Heather Estes

Visalia, CA

Female, 27

I am a full-time REALTOR® under the state of California. I specialize in home buyers and am passionate about sharing the importance for everyone (especially young people) to become credit worthy. Many see home-ownership as something unattainable, or something to do when their in their 30's, married and with kids. While it might be one of the most expensive purchases in our lifetime the process itself is not as daunting as it's made out to be. With the right information anyone can own a home!

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28 Questions


Last Answer on April 03, 2015

Best Rated

I have good credit and what i pay for rent is essentially what I would pay for a mortgage. But my household of 3 is a single income family and I can't save for a down payment. Are there any options?

Asked by Carlos about 10 years ago

Yes Carlos, you do have options! 

Various down payment assistance programs can help cover all but $1,000 worth of down payment and/or purchase expenses. You can also obtain a gift from an immediate relative, employer, or fiancée but $1,000 is the minimum contribution you must make.

If you are a veteran or married to a veteran, you may qualify for 100% financing. If you wish to purchase a home in rural areas, then the USDA offers lenders 100% financing to offer homebuyers.

Speak with a local lender in your area to find out what incentives or special programs are available to you. 

Thank you for the question! 

Does it hurt my credit when realtors pull repeated credit ratings when I'm house-shopping? I've gotten conflicting info on that. If so, can I just walk around with my credit report and give it to them instead of having them pull it again?

Asked by JIH123 about 10 years ago

Really good questions!

1. REALTORS® don’t have access to pull anyone’s credit.

2. Once a mortgage lender or auto lender pulls your credit, you have unlimited pulls from other similar sources for up to 2 weeks with no effect to your credit score.

3. After the 2 weeks, you have more pulls during the 3rd week and that only counts against you as one pull.

4. You CAN carry around a copy of your credit report to get prequalified elsewhere but the final lender will need to pull their own credit report.

Make sure the real estate agent you are working with is an actual REALTOR®, there is (supposed to be) a difference. Good agents are going to have prefered lenders that they have worked with in the past and continue to work with because they feel those lenders make deals happen. Some clients come to us already qualified by another lender. Sometimes they make great choices in lenders and sometimes they don't . If they don't we might have them get qualifed with a trusted lender as well and if you have good credit it shouldn't be an issue. Beware of who is pulling your credit and why before you approve such things. 

Hope these tips help!


What do you think of Redfin and is it a model that old-school real estate agents feel threatened by?

Asked by HBS about 10 years ago

I am going to be completely honest and say that I have never heard of Redfin until reading your question so yours took a little research!

From what I gather it seems like an innovative brokerage with the main concept of creating a financially stable environment for their agents in the hopes that their level of customer service will increase.

Here are my issues with it:

1. They pushed the concept that non commission based agents care more about clients than the traditional agent.

2. I listened to the agent testimonials and a few of them stated that since they now have a steady income they can be honest with their clients.

These observations bother me on a few different levels. When your pay is based on commission it motivates you that much more to work around the clock and do whatever it takes to make your client happy.

Traditional agents also get rewarded for having happy clients, but instead of a one-time bonus they get referrals, and those usually generate way more than any bonus check the Redfin agents are getting.

A good agent has to do all the things a Redfin agent does. We have to do what is in the best interest of our client every step of the way; it is part of being a Realtor and should not require monetary compensation in order to ensure it happens.

Personally, I don’t feel threatened by an agent who chose a salary instead of stick-to-it-ness and hard work. I think it would be a great way for a new agent to get their foot in the door or for an agent who has relocated to an unfamiliar market. It’s a different system and it works but I don’t see where their system would threaten the traditional brokerage.

The only real advantage is their client refund, where the Redfin brokerage gives a portion of their cut of the commission to the client. However, I have seen a few different agents and lenders give parts of their commission to their clients, or cover the cost of inspections just to ensure their client gets the house they want.

Bottom line: Interview your agent regardless of where they come from or what awards they have on their walls. Talk with them, find out what makes them tick and ask yourself if that is the kind of person you want to work with.

There are many Reators out there waiting for your business, make sure you give it to one that is truly and honestly going to work for you!

Thank you for the awesome question!

Have you heard of "staging" where a company basically sets your place up with high-end furniture to make it look awesome for prospective buyers, and do you think it works to elicit higher offers?

Asked by DK about 10 years ago

Yes, and it is something that I highly recommend. If there is a new housing development in your city go visit it. Ask to look at a newly constructed home, and then look at their model homes. You will then feel the difference. Suddenly the strange spaces you saw in the empty house make so much sense now that you see furniture there. Or if you've ever walked through a cluttered house (not messy, but cluttered) you might have had a difficult time feeling the true space of the home. When you're selling you don't want to make any part of your house seem smaller than it actually is!

Staging is a great way to allow people who may not be able to look past the things in your home, to see potential where they might not have before. This doesn't always require high end anything, sometimes all you need is someone to rearrange the things you already have. The goal is simply to make your home look attractive to as many buyers as possible.

When I show multiple homes many clients refer to each home not by the street name but by a memorable characteristic. For instance, I have heard, "The swimming pool house", "The fancy house", "The yard house", "The cat house", "The smelly house", "The broken fence house"...You don't want your home to be the smelly house or the cat house. Even if they absolutely love the smelly house that's definitely going to reflect in their offer when the husband turns to the wife and asks, "So honey, how much do we want to offer on the smelly house?" Catch my drift?

It doesn't need to cost a lot of money; it just takes a little effort. If you plan to sell your house discuss your options with your Realtor. They should have a contact they can refer you to.

For further reading:

Thank you for the question!


Are there any reliable indicators as to whether housing prices are going to rise or fall in the near term?

Asked by GaryT about 10 years ago

Thank you for the great question Gary! 

While this topic can be debated in either direction, there is evidence to support the continuing increase in the housing market. Over the last two years, there has been a 11.4% increase in the annual median sale price. There has been an increase of 8.6% in the number of home purchases over the same period. Unfortunately the real estate industry is a slave to the economy that it is nearly impossible to accurately indicate what the near or far future will have in store. However, based on the current indications, now is a prime time to purchase a home, as interest rates are still low and prices are still affordable. This market uniquely presents a situation where it is also beneficial to sell a home, with the decrease in unemployment and desire for more people to own their own home at an affordable rate.

Today’s economy seems to be on the mend. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment rates have dropped to 6.3% so far this year. Additionally, employment projections have also been made up to the year 2022 and indicate employment growth. Most importantly, the subprime lending catastrophe is also, for the most part, behind us. Most home loans require a credit score of 640 or higher, protecting us from mistakes of the early 2000’s where financing an applicant with bad credit was far less scrutinized.

With our economy safely on the mend and mortgage issues handled, the market is mostly predicted to increase.  However, there are arguments that we are headed for another crash. An example of an interesting debate can be found here:


I hope this brings some insight to your question! 





When realtors claim that they "have several interested buyers", is it almost always just a high pressure sales tactic?

Asked by judeinlaw about 10 years ago


Most definitely not! But does it happen? All the time! This is a good opportunity to broach the difference between an agent and a REALTOR®. I found the best laymen’s terms explanation comes from Charlottesville,

"Not All Agents Are REALTORS®, and the Difference Is Meaningful.

As a prerequisite to selling real estate, a person must be licensed by the state in which they work, either as an agent/salesperson or as a broker. Before a license is issued, minimum standards for education, examinations and experience, which are determined on a state by state basis, must be met. After receiving a real estate license, most agents go on to join their local board or association of REALTORS® and the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, the world's largest professional trade association. They can then call themselves REALTORS®.

The term "REALTOR®" is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics (which in many cases goes beyond state law). In most areas, it is the REALTOR® who shares information on the homes they are marketing, through a Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Working with a REALTOR® who belongs to a MLS will give you access to the greatest number of homes.

Using an Agent and the Obligations that Are Owed to You
An agent is bound by certain legal obligations. Traditionally, these common-law obligations are to:

Put the client's interests above anyone else's
Keep the client's information confidential
Obey the client's lawful instructions
Report to the client anything that would be useful
Account to the client for any money involved
NOTE: A REALTOR® is held to an even higher standard of conduct under the NAR's Code of Ethics. In recent years, state laws have been passed setting up various duties for different types of agents. As you start working with a REALTOR®, ask for a clear explanation of your state's current regulations, so that you will know where you stand on these important matters."

Honesty is one of those things we are supposed to uphold most of us do, but I'd be lying if I told you every REALTOR® was honest and good. Shiesty people are everywhere. Make sure you interview your agent and when it comes to believing the claims of other agents you just have to feel confident in your offer.

Making an offer on a property you love is exciting but also super nerve racking! This is why when my clients are deciding on an offer price, I tell them to pick a price (terms) that make them happy if they get it and happy if they don't. This is the best policy to avoid regret. Just ask yourself if you missed out on a deal by $5k if you would be okay with that if no is your answer increase the price by another $5k until you've reached the most you would be willing to pay. This way if you don't get it you won't be mad, you'll just say, "There was a better offer? They got taken, I wouldn't have paid a dime more!" Also keep in mind that price is not the only factor that goes into making an offer. Sellers might be more interested in a shorter escrow then more money. Find out as much about the seller as possible, find out what a good deal to them would be and write it up from there.

Thank you for the awesome question!




Why do realtors include pictures of themselves on, well, everything? (business cards, billboards, etc?) I understand that it's a "people" business, but headshots seem to be disproportionately present in realty relative to other industries. Thanks!

Asked by Jason T. about 10 years ago

Thank you for the question Jason!

Doesn’t it seem like everyone you know knows someone in real estate? That's because everyone does! So how do we make sure you think of us when it comes time to buy or sell and not Joe's friend who's in the business? We put our faces and names everywhere!!!! We want you to recognize us in the store and on the street. We do whatever is marketable. Which for some agents isn't their face; some have a really marketable or catchy name which they use to stick in the forefront of your mind. We find what works and go with it! There are no rules or regulations on how (or if we should) market our faces, and believe you me I have seen some pretty “interesting” marketing photos. But as crazy as they are, guess what? I remember them, and that's the key.

As far as our headshot exposure being disproportionate to other industries I agree. Some of us actually go to school and obtain a degree in real estate or have enough clout within our community that we don’t need to market our faces. Just like doctors don’t plaster their faces on shopping carts and bus stops. But at the same time you usually don’t get in your doctor’s vehicle and drive from office to office do you? When you’re about to spend some time with an individual it subconsciously helps to know they don’t look like they are going to do you any bodily harm.

Some clients come into lobby of our office and stare at the business card wall until they find a face they like. They don’t realize they’re doing it but they are. None of those people ever pick up a card without a face. Ever.

Think of it like speed dating. Looks are the first to be weighed in. If you find a candidate attractive it opens you up to hear what they have to say and after some simple conversation you make deeper, more meaningful judgments about them. If they don’t look attractive it’s that much more difficult for them to prove they also happen to be nice/interesting people.

No one cares what their doctor looks like as long as they know what medications to give you and make you feel better. You don’t want to make a deep connection with your doctor, you want to get cured and get out. You and your agent on the other hand, are going to get to know each other really well, and hopefully build a lasting work relationship with.