So, you’ve decided it’s time to begin the hunt for a new home? That’s great news! You’re about to embark on an amazing journey for you and your family. New neighborhood means new neighbors, meeting new friends, maybe a new school for the kids… There will be new places to explore like restaurants, shops, all kinds of local points of interest… This is such an exciting time!
Did you know that the average modern family moves into a new home once every 13 years? Pride in Home Ownership is still held in very high regard. Of course there are tax benefits, equity and security advantages once renting becomes a thing of the past. In addition, there are so many intangible benefits that your entire family will certainly enjoy.
It can be a tricky thing to get the right home at the best price possible though. Considering that this purchase is something most folks do only one or two times in their lives, it would be very wise to consult a professional to help you through the entire process. Don’t go it alone without representation. While it’s fun to surf around online looking at home buying choices, when it comes down to looking at these options closely and seriously, it’s time to get all the facts in order and much of that information is not going to be found online.
With so many facets tied to a real estate transaction, it’s important to hire a professional. There’s a good reason professional Realtors are required by law to hold a license to assist the public in all of these transactions.
A committed, hard-working Realtor will oversee all of the intimate details on your behalf, every step of the way, and typically, it’s the Seller who pays their commission. If you thought you had a serious illness, would you self-diagnose by way of Google or Web M.D. – without ever consulting a medically trained doctor? I wouldn’t think so. Of course, buying home is not a matter of life and death, but it is something to be very cautious about. You don’t want to miss a so called “minor detail” or misunderstand a “simple clause” that ends up being a huge problem, and turns your purchase and your family upside down.
- So how should you proceed?
After you’ve scoured the Internet looking at homes online, do yourself a favor and hire a professional Realtor that is familiar with the area you’re looking to purchase in. Show them you’re loyal and serious. Make sure they have current copy of your pre-approval letter from your lender, and sign a contract with the agent to find you a home and negotiate on your behalf. Laws vary from state to state with regards to who’s is representing who during a transaction so it’s important that you know what’s going on. Making sure that an agent is representing you is often called a Buyer Agency Agreement or a Buyer/Broker Agreement. With your permission, they will represent your interests through the entire process and not the sellers.
By the way, obtaining a pre-approval letter can usually be done at any bank or (lender) you choose but often times, professional Realtors have a few business associates on hand that come especially recommended and provide a top-tier level of service. They insist on making sure all of the behind-the-scenes work is handled swiftly and carefully on your behalf. You don’t want any surprises, at any point along the way during your home purchasing process. An agent comes in very handy at this point!
- How do you find the right agent?
That’s a great question! Some people ask their friends or family members about their home buying experience. Referrals in this business play a major part, and Realtors pride themselves on receiving them. It’s one of the highest compliments they could receive! Open houses are a good place to seek out an agent as well because usually there is a little time to chat as well as notice how they interact with others (not knowing of course) that you’re considering them to help you find your new home. Notice their communication skills and appearance. How do they carry themselves? Does their style fit with yours? Truthfully, it’s not too hard to instinctively pick up on the fact that someone you’re considering hiring is honest, hard-working, passionate, kind, professional, and knowledgeable in the area that you are looking to buy in.
The fact is that most agents are very friendly, composed and charismatic. Their livelihood depends on it. That doesn’t mean it’s all for show either. The lengths a professional Realtor usually goes to during a transaction to keep your trust, keep you smiling, and for a chance at earning an eventual commission means they love helping families and they are committed to the job. It’s a very unique job indeed.
- Make sure you get along well with your agent.
This sounds obvious but really be certain that they understand your wish list, as well as your needs list. You’re probably going to spend a fair amount of time together home shopping and remember, it’s supposed to be FUN!
In many cases, walking into a home you’ve absolutely fallen in LOVE with and can picture your family growing within those walls can be exhilarating! Let the agent shoulder the less glamorous side, or perhaps stressful side of all the information gathering, and paperwork. That’s a huge part of their job, so let them do it!
If you feel that qualifications from the agent’s previous clients is something you want, most Realtors are very comfortable furnishing you with a short list of satisfied clients that they’ve helped in the recent past. Simply give them a call, or send them an email if it makes you feel more confident in your choice. Sharing testimonials is a very common practice nowadays.
- Another helpful tip about a local agent:
Realtors that can really focus on a certain area are typically very knowledgeable about the market value of that area. It’s very common that some homes are worth more than others in the same exact area, not only due to square footage, upgrades, age of the home, and condition, but where the home is located. What is that home near? A good example might be that the home is on an especially quiet, well-kept street that has a fee associated with that, or maybe it has some waterfront instead of being located next to a busy intersection without a noise ordinance. This is important to know as you’ll want all the facts you can get about the area where you and your family will be living soon.
Another thing to consider is making sure you are comfortable with any association fees and/or annual charges. These are very commonplace these days. It’s a good thing. It helps keep the property value’s up by enforcing certain regulations about how the subdivision looks and what can or can’t take place there. It’s not about control. It’s about sustaining a level of quality and enjoyment, and certainly provides protection for everyone’s family, as well as their investment – their home!
An agent can also help you navigate through what is “value” and what might be “perceived value” on an individual basis. A good example of this is say the home you want is on a beautiful street, among other gorgeous and charming homes and right near a luxury golf course BUT you have to pay high premiums to an HOA annually (and in most cases monthly too) mainly because of the golf course – and you don’t enjoy golfing. That’s an example of perceived value. Of course you might want to consider a different area.
- Never be afraid to ask questions.
Buying a home still remains one of the single most important decisions you’ll ever make. So in essence, if there’s something about the area you don’t like, or it doesn’t fit with your lifestyle, ask your agent about other possibilities that might accommodate you more appropriately. It’s illegal for a Realtor to steer anyone in one direction or another, but Realtors will arm you with all the information you’ll need to make the right decision with regards to where you really want to be living, and you can begin or resume the search at that time. Sometimes searches change a little bit once you actually begin looking at homes and neighborhoods in person vs simply online.
- An agent can be a wealth of information.
Realtors who really know their area can be a great resource when you’re chatting about all the new local points of interest you’ll probably be taking advantage of while living there.
Another great feature of a professional Realtor is that they normally furnish you with a list of tried and true, dependable resources to help you after you’ve moved into your new home. Reputations are very fragile things and for any vendor to remain on a recommended list of professionals, will call for a level of quality work, integrity and kindness that must match your expectations every time. Realtors are extremely picky about who they recommend to you. It’s their reputation on the line here as well.
Now granted, you don’t have to hire any of these company’s on the list, and you always have you’re your choices (and Google) but it’s fantastic to have list of reputable resources already pre-screened and ready for you to contact should you choose to!
- A final thought about a modern-day, professional agent.
A truly professional Realtor is so much more than someone taking you around, showing you a few homes and taking you to lunch, simply to earn a commission. It is a very tough job to maintain and balance effectively.
There are so many facets to this business, especially in the current times we live in, there are frequent changes in legal issues and regulations, processes to follow, continuing education, broker, insurances and impact fees. In addition, the reality of the consistent hard work that attaches itself to each and every transaction, today’s successful Realtors are very much in it to win it – for you.