Buying a house is the most expensive asset most people will purchase in their lifetime.
I have been a real estate agent for over two years and have come to the realization that there are at least 8 things I wish buyers were aware of.
#1. Learn the process. Some buyers are old pros at buying a house and they know the ropes but I have discovered most people do not know the process even if they have bought a house or two in their lifetime. The basic steps, give or take a few, are as follows: Find an agent, find a lender, find a house, apply for a loan, make an offer on a house, once offer is accepted then get a home inspection, negotiate the inspection, if you have a loan then you will wait for an appraisal to make sure the home is worth the price it is selling for, have a closing to sign papers, get the key and move in!
#2. Get pre-qualified for a loan: Unless you are a cash buyer then the first step in the process is to get pre-qualified for a loan. Find a lender and give them a call. A good lender can talk to you over the phone -get your personal information and look at your credit scores, debt to income ratio and tell you how much you qualify for. Once you are pre-qualified they should be able to write you a letter that you can give to your real estate agent. Your agent will use this letter to prove to other agents that you are a viable candidate to buy their seller’s house.
#3. Couples need to talk: If you are buying a house together with your significant other then you need to talk with one another about what both of you want in a house. I have shown many buyers who are not sure what they want. Decide on what criteria you want in a home before you go looking. This will save time for you and the agent and will eliminate you looking at houses that you are not even interested in. Talk to each other about things like — location, how many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want, do you want stairs or no stairs. etc. Talk before you go looking and narrow the search to meet your agreed upon criteria.
#4. Don’t Cheat on Your Agent: Agents are people too. Most agents are good hard working people trying to make a living. They will put a lot of time and effort and gas money showing you houses. They don’t get paid to show you houses. They don’t get paid till a house is bought and sold. So be loyal. Some agents will make you sign a form up front saying you will work with them exclusively. If you get an agent you don’t like, find another agent but don’t lead them on. Don’t work two or three agents at once. Find an agent and fully utilize them. If it is not working out then have an honest conversation and move on. Just don’t cheat on them.
#5. Expect to Negotiate: Most people hate negotiating. Be willing to negotiate price. It can be a hassle and some people get offended by the process. Some sellers do get offended at a price offered other than their listing price. Some buyers would rather pay the purchase price and be done with it. That is okay too. Just know that negotiating is part of the process and not just the price. You might end up negotiating for items to be fixed. Don’t take it personally. Think about it like this -everyone in the transaction is trying to get a good deal. The seller wants a good price for his house. The buyer wants a better price than the listed price. If you as a buyer reversed the role and became the seller you would want a fair price for your house too. You may not have to negotiate but just be prepared in case you do.
#6. Get a Home Inspection: Get a home inspection. Get a home inspection. Get a Home Inspection. Can’t say it enough. Once you make an offer on a house make sure you tell your agent that along with the offer you want a home inspection. Home inspections cost a 300 to 500 dollars in my part of the country. Getting the home inspected will tell you items that need to be fixed or replaced. After the inspection, you can negotiate with the seller what they will fix or not fix. If they refuse to fix certain items and the cost is too large then this may give you an out from the contract. There is usually a time frame for negotiations to be completed, so if you want out of the contract now is the time to do it. Note: Not all inspectors are the same. Get recommendations from your agent but also from anyone you know has recently bought a house. Make sure they are licensed and check out their website if they have one. Ask them questions of what they will and won’t inspect. In my area, some of the inspectors will not climb on the roof as it can be considered a liability. The only time you might not want an inspection is when you are buying a house As-Is; meaning you are buying it in whatever condition it is in. You could still get a house inspection for informational purposes to see what problems you are buying. Otherwise, get an inspection!
#7. Not All Agents are Created Equal: Not all agents are created equal. Some are good and some are bad. How do I find out which is which? First: Every agent is licensed in their state or several states to do business. There is a website in most states that you can check licenses for contractors, inspectors, real estate agents, etc. Usually, there is a listing of any violations or problems the agent may have had. Second: Ask around. Investigate. If I were shopping around for an agent I would look for a person with honesty and integrity. If you are new to the area then ask around before picking an agent. Find out who the locals recommend. Third: Ask them, how often they can show you houses. Some agents like myself are part-time. I usually don’t help more than one or two buyers at a time because showing houses takes a lot of time and I want to give my buyers quality and quantity time. A full-time agent might do better and they might not, depending on how many buyers they are working with already. Take your time and investigate!
#8: Buying a House Can Be Emotional: Buying a home can be an emotional event. Keep that in mind when you shopping for a house. Try to think logically when viewing a house and don’t get attached right away. This is probably the most expensive asset you will buy and it is wise to think and act carefully before you buy. Don’t jump into a contract right away. In fact, if you find a house you like, I suggest you go and view a few other houses just to make sure. Once you are convinced that you have found the house of your dreams try to keep your emotions in check until the closing. Once the key is in your hand celebrate all you want!!
I hope these suggestions help you in finding the house of your dreams!!