If you’ve been following along with the First-Time Homebuyer Series, you have now heard from a financial advisor and a mortgage specialist. Now, that you have your financing ready, it is time to find a realtor!
1. The first thing I always tell clients whether they are buying their first home or their tenth home, is to always ask a professional. It never hurts to ask around to friends, family members and check reviews online to make sure the person or team you are working with is working in your best interest. A good real estate professional will advise you throughout the process, take a step by step approach, point out the good and the bad and negotiate the best deal for you.
Make sure to find a trusted real estate professional with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman. Some realtors are only looking for a transaction and others are looking to build a relationship.
Keep in mind, for you the buyer, the realtor will not cost you anything! The commission for the listing agent and the buyer agent are paid by the seller at closing.
2. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get the home search started. We like to get started by meeting the client and determining what they are looking for in a home. This may include the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, size of home, price range and especially the location.
More often than not, we actually start to narrow down what the client is looking for after seeing a few homes. Typically, there are wants and needs, so it really helps to distinguish the difference.
If you say “this home is perfect BUT”, then you know the home is not perfect.
Make sure you don’t settle on something that you are not going to be happy with because this is a huge purchase/investment. Once we get a better idea, we can start looking.
3. Your realtor most likely set up an automated search using your criteria to find homes that fit what you are looking for. With technology today, you will most likely also look on your own using sites such as Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia or Homes.com. Sometimes, there is a little bit of a delay from when the information hits these sites from the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), so some of the information may be incorrect.
In the current real estate environment, the supply of homes is very low and there are a lot of buyers currently looking. With that being said, if the homes are priced correctly they have been selling quickly, so make sure not to delay to see the home. Also, you definitely want to look at more than one home during this process, this way you can see what is available and you can compare the different styles and amenities to find what works best for you. Once again, make sure not to settle and try not to get frustrated if some of the nice houses are selling quickly.
4. Finally, the realtor actually is going stop talking and show me a house! I have found the optimum number of homes to look at one time is four-to-six. One coffee-filled day, I showed 15 homes to a couple and afterwards they were exhausted and barely remembered what they looked at. If you look at too many homes, you to start to forget about some of the houses in the middle and everyone starts to feel overwhelmed.
This is also an opportunity to look at good and bad things in each of the homes. Sometimes you can find obvious defects that the seller may or may not be willing to fix. Keep in mind, if you need to replace the roof, windows or HVAC system after you purchase the home, that will be a huge expense to you, the new homeowner.
If you are purchasing a home with someone else, it is very common for people to not agree on a home right away. This may convince you both to alter the list of wants and needs to find the perfect home for you both.
5. Love at first sight – you found the perfect home with everything you want and need. Let’s write an offer! This is where a good realtor will prove their worth as they introduce you and educate you on the many documents involved in the purchase process.
The most important is the purchase agreement, which contains the purchase price, closing time, items/appliances included and a few other items. Make sure to go over this document with your realtor to know exactly what you are signing. The other documents are the disclosures, in which the seller gives you information they know about the house, like whether there has been water damage, foundation issues and age of the roof.
After you submit the offer, the seller can accept, reject or counter the offer. Once you agree on the price then your realtor will send all of the documents to the title company and lender to get the process started. Typically, it will take 30-45 days to close on the house and get the keys to your new home.
Thank you for reading this far, unless you just skipped to the end. Stay tuned next week to hear back from our trusted financial advisor with more tips. Catch up on the rest of the “First-Time Homebuyers” series on our blog.