Most people don’t buy a home every day — it’s a once-or-twice-a-decade activity for many of us as opposed to a day-in-day-out activity.
So when you start getting serious about buying, whether it’s your first home or your fourth, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed pretty quickly. Searching for a home is easier now, but when every buyer has access to the same technology and resources, it’s tough to stand out in a crowd of showings, bids and contracts.
And there’s a lot more to the journey than just finding the home: You need to figure out financing, negotiate on price and possibly request repairs or make concessions, get the home appraised and inspected, and make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed by the time you sit down at the closing table to sign your name on a stack of paperwork.
That’s why a real estate professional can be an indispensable resource for buyers — we manage home sale transactions every day, and I guide my buyer’s through the journey, ushering them from “I Think I Want To Buy A House” to the happy day of “I’m A Homeowner!”
Here are just a few of the ways I can help smooth your home buying path.
GETTING PRE-APPROVED BY A LENDER
Instead of paying rent to the owner of your residence every month, as a homeowner, you’ll be paying back a bank for the money you borrowed to buy your own place.
But before you get there, you need to find that bank and secure that loan. Where do you start that process?
A real estate professional is one good place — we work with an array of local loan officers representing different lenders, and depending on whether you’re a veteran, your down payment size, your credit score, and a number of other factors, we know which lenders (and loan officers) might be the best fit for you.
The right loan officer will explain your financing options and help you drill down to the real nitty-gritty, like the size of the monthly mortgage payment that’s affordable on your current income, what you should expect in terms of closing costs, and whether the down payment amount you’ve saved is going to cut it.
We can also explain what to expect during the mortgage loan application process, what you should know about transferring money during the sale, why it’s important to review certain documents like your settlement statement for inaccuracies that last week of closing to be sure it’s all correct.
CHOOSING A HOME
Many buyers think that they don’t need an agent’s help finding a home. They know what they want, and they know how to search the internet — what’s the point of hiring an agent?
Here’s the thing: You might not need any assistance when you’re picking out a car, but there is no consumer report that exists for the specific home you’re about to spend 30 years paying off.
What if a new project is proposed that will affect your quality of life in your new home? Good real estate agents keep apprised of what’s happening in the communities they serve and can guide you.
What about the schools? What about the amenities? How do homes in that area hold their value — can you expect this investment to appreciate in the next few years, and by how much?
Cars come off an assembly line; homes do not. Whether it’s the condition of the home or the neighborhood around it, you don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised once you move in.
A real estate professional has seen other buyers make mistakes (and find gems) and can help you find a home that you still love two or three (or ten!) years down the road.
MAKING AN OFFER
This can be one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the process for buyers. Because even if you love the home and are making an offer at the very top of your budget … there is no guarantee that the seller will think it’s worth accepting. You could wind up starting all over again on the home search process.
Real estate professionals can help you do more than make an unsophisticated stab in the dark when it comes to offers — they can show you data that will help you understand whether you’re likely to be underbidding or overbidding, for example, such as the recent sales prices of similar homes nearby, the price-per-square-foot range in the neighborhood, and much more.
This is really where the home sales rubber meets the road. If your offer is high for the market, the seller may leap at it … but you’ll always wonder if you could have gotten a better deal. And if your offer is low, you should understand that so you won’t feel offended or put-out if the seller comes back with a counter-offer.
You did it! You found a home you love at a price you can afford, the seller accepted the offer, and now all you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the closing process. Right?
OK, that’s not exactly true. Even the simplest real estate sale involves quite a few mandated hoops that must be jumped through — like the inspection, the appraisal, title review, and more.
In some states, a title company manages the closing process; in others, a lawyer is involved. But the negotiation isn’t over yet, not by a long shot.
What happens if the inspector finds an issue with the home that must be addressed before the sale is legal? Who will pay for those repairs — you or the seller?
And what can you expect in terms of finalizing the loan and the loan documents that have to be reviewed? What should you look for during the final walk-through?
I can lay out a roadmap from offer acceptance to keys-in-hand and make sure you’re staying on track … which can feel like a lifesaver to a buyer drowning in details.