Home-buyers' Guide to the Home-Buying Process
Every home-buyer needs a home-buyers' guide to the home-buying process. Home-buying can be confusing, even for those who have bought in the past. There is a process, and if you follow the process, it can be easy, and you can actually have fun buying your next home.
Home-buying process: Pick a Realtor
The first step in the home-buying process is to find a good Realtor, and let me emphasize this, find ONE Realtor. It is not unusual to have a home-buyer call our office to ask if we can show a property. The first thing I ask is, "Are you working with an agent?" Almost every time, the buyer will say, "No," and then he/she will tell me the appointment needs to be at a certain time because he/she has three showings prior to mine.
If a buyer is looking at three houses prior to looking at one with our office, that tells me there are other agents involved. What buyers may not understand is that real estate agents get paid when they sell and close a home purchase. They don't get paid to open doors. If a buyer is running three or four Realtors around, most of them will not get paid even though they will spend money and miss other opportunities while helping the client.
Buyers, interview agents prior to choosing one. Find one that will be a good match for your personality, time-frame and is attentive to your needs. Don't call a dozen offices and drag a dozen agents out into the field. You are legitimately wasting their time and resources when you do that. I'm sure buyers would not want others wasting their time and costing them money with no hope of compensation. It's not just a courtesy, it's the right thing to do. If you want an agent to put you first in the home-buying process, be loyal to them and let them do their job to help you.
Home-buying process: Listen to your Realtor
I'll have to admit, with the advent of the Internet, buyers can be more advanced today than a few decades ago. They can search for homes, financing and learn the how-to's of home-buying before they ever call an agent.
Even with the benefit of these Internet resources, there is no reason to ignore your agent's advice. An experienced agent can be your best resource for finding the right home. Your agent is going to do a few things right upfront in the relationship.
One, they are going to ask you to sign an agency agreement. That agreement allows the agent to share things with you that he/she couldn't do prior to the agreement. It makes the agent your advocate in all things related to your purchase. They're no longer working for a seller at that point (as long as they are not the listing agent). They are your agent, your advocate and your confidant. That agreement allows them to put your best interest first.
The second thing they are going to ask is that you get pre-approved for a loan. There is no sense in looking at homes if you don't know what you can spend. That pre-approval letter from a lender is your ticket to buy a home. You need it, and you need it before you start looking at houses. Please don't assume the agent is prying into your personal affairs when they ask you to get pre-approved prior to looking at homes. This is how the home-buying process works.
The third thing they are going to do is help you refine what it is that you want to buy. You need to have a wants, needs and desires list for a home purchase. You may want five bedrooms, three baths on five acres, but your budget may be more like three bedrooms and two baths on a quarter acre. An experienced agent will know that and can steer you in the right direction.
Your agent will know how far your resources will go when buying a home. In this same process, you will narrow down what type of house you buy. You may hate split-foyers, but you love ranchers. That's good to know right away because there is no sense in an agent setting up an automatic search for you that includes houses you will never look at.
As a part of the wants, needs and desires list, there may be things that get eliminated in the search. Your budget may not allow for a two car garage. That might be a desire and not a need. The budget may not allow for a basement. Here again, that might be a desire and not a need.
You may want a house that has gas heat. That is doable, but it will cut houses that meet your criteria that do not have gas heat. No problem if you understand that. There is always give and take in a home search. Sometimes, you can find a house that has everything on your list, but that is not guaranteed 100% of the time, and that is not the fault of your agent. It is just a fact of life. Of course, you can always build a new home and it can have everything on your list if you can afford it.
Home-buying process: Pick your level of communication
In our 24 hour news cycle and instant gratification society, communication has changed. Unless you turn all of your electronics off at some point everyday, people can get a hold of you. Your phone will be buzzing, your computer will be notifying you that an email awaits or a text continues to ding until you respond.
Not everyone wants to be that connected, but some do. When you find your Realtor, let him/her know how much communication you want and what kind works best for you. My clients span the spectrum of communication. I have many who want texts as soon as something happens, others are good with an email sometime during the day and a few that want a cellphone call. Let your agent know what works for you. They'll appreciate it and you'll get the communication you want.
Once you've worked your way through these three early stages of the home-buying process, you're on your way to a great adventure. When you are ready to pick your Realtor, give us a call at Cornerstone Business Group, Inc. We are you neighborhood real estate sales pros.