Buying a home is a big decision and for most people it’s the largest single purchase of their lives so why wouldn’t you want to do a little research and find an experienced agent to help you?
When I went to buy a car I looked online and asked nearly everyone I knew what they knew about this car and that car… I even asked my trusted car mechanic what his thoughts were. And when I was about to purchase a new SMART TV I did the same thing – I sought out the people who had the most experience and would be able to help me answer questions and even ASK smarter questions… because you don’t know what you don’t know!
I know when you are first considering buying a home you start looking at homes online, you think about neighborhoods and of course schools and commuting options etc. I call this the information gathering stage. I find that if I can spend 30-40 minutes with my new clients going through the process of home buying and helping them understand what to expect we will have a much smoother experience. Over the years and through helping hundreds of clients, I run into a lot of the same questions and of course many similar issues come up during transactions.
Here are 3 things to do or to know before you start your home buying adventure.
1. Choose/hire an agent that you will serve you and your needs best!
There are thousands of agents out there – you need ONE! When you call the agent on the sign in the yard they represent the seller’s best interest. Keep in mind that a listing agent (the agent representing the seller) doesn’t protect your interests they simply pocket both sides of the commission. That means that you’re not saving money. A savvy realtor who works for you can protect your interests and guide you through the buying process – from negotiating a price to navigating home inspections. When you connect with an agent online (zillow) you are usually getting a rotating advertising agent – which may or may not be a good fit. To ensure a great experience, you should select and work exclusively with ONE agent that you like. Of course experience and knowledge of the market is essential so don’t be afraid to ask questions. I always meet with new clients for a 30-40 minute “coffee session” to introduce myself before seeing homes. This way we can meet and find out what you are looking for in an agent and in a new home. I can walk you through the transaction steps and give you tips and best practices so you are totally prepared!
2. Know your numbers!
Getting a strong pre-approval letter is just the start. You also need to know what I call the 3 Buckets of Money you are going to need to have and be prepared for in order to purchase. (I go over all of those in my “Coffee Session” ) It all starts with lining up with a strong mortgage partner who will look for solutions that meet your specific and long term needs. For some people it’s all about the interest rate and for others it’s all about the monthly payment and for others it’s all about the cash out of pocket it’s going to take to purchase a home. Everyone has different goals and needs, so you need to know your options. Having the mortgage question answered before you go house hunting will put you in the strongest negotiating position possible.
3. Don’t sweat the cosmetic stuff
We’ve all seen the HGTV shows and watched homes turn from trash to treasure in just 30 minutes. Not everyone has the same skills – believe me! And that’s ok. The fixer upper may not be your thing and I’m not saying that you should settle – I am totally committed to helping you LOVE WHERE YOU LIVE! But,you do need to decide up front on how much fixin’ up you are ready for and how much time and money you can budget to make it happen. Or perhaps you will decide to look at the ‘bones’ of the house and be ready to make it your own over time. Not everything needs an extreme makeover. There is a happy middle ground where most buyers fall. I tell clients to try not to look at the seller’s personal style (or even lack of). Don’t look at personal furnishings (even if you are inspired) and especially don’t be turned off by paint choices — these are all cosmetic. In other words….
There is no such thing as a 100% perfect house – and if there is it won’t be perfect for long! Walking through a typical home inspection will also help you familiarize yourself with what it means to be a home owner. It’s the job of the inspector to list even small items and give maintenance tips like where your AC filter is located and the electrical panel, as well as what may need repair now or in the future. Of course they will list the big ticket items like HVAC, foundation, roof, electrical etc or other major systems that may need further evaluation.
Unprepared home buyers are often frightened and even scared off by the inspection list. Unless you are buying a newly constructed home you should know – being a prepared home owner means getting to know the details of your home, what items need attention but not be afraid of them. If there are items you are not willing to do or we need more information about I am there to help negotiate and navigate those waters with you.
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