Buying your first home can be a fun and exciting experience.
You get to pretend you are on HGTV and tour other people’s houses. You get to make your own decisions about your needs and wants. And you get to play the game of real estate negotiations!
For some, purchasing a home can be a simple, quick and easy process. However, for most, home buying can be complicated and long winded. A lot can happen during a contract period, and there are so many different personalities and interests involved that can muddy the waters. One day everything can seem smooth sailing, and the next something or someone can come up that could derail the entire transaction.
My first tip for you? Don’t go through it alone.
Hire a Real Estate Agent
Buying a home is so much more than looking at pretty houses. Sure you can look at homes by yourself. You can bring your family and friends to tag along and give their opinions. But you really want to have someone with you who will be able to point things out that you might not immediately notice. You want someone with you who will ask the questions that you wouldn’t think to ask. And most importantly you want someone who is experienced and will be able to negotiate for you on your behalf.
You may think that you can handle the home buying process on your own. But please remember, you will be signing over 30 pages of contractually binding documentation. You will be conducting inspections (hopefully) and negotiating terms on one of the most important investments of your lifetime. You should have someone looking out for your best interests so that you don’t make the worst decision of your lifetime.
Get pre-approved BEFORE looking at houses
Let’s pretend that you forget this step for just one second. Let’s pretend that you walk into an open house at a beautiful home that is listed for sale. Let’s pretend that it has the perfect layout, kitchen and all of the amenities you could ever want. You fall in love and then look at the price tag – $600,000.
When you finally call a mortgage lender to get pre-approved so that you can make an offer you will find out that not only is this home WAY outside of your price range, but you can’t afford the monthly payment.
This is what we like to call the ugly truth and a gut puncher experience. Not only are you probably feeling defeated, but you now have fallen in love with a home that you will never be able to afford. Nothing will ever measure up again.
So how do we avoid this circumstance? By getting pre-approved and finding out what you can comfortably afford BEFORE looking at any houses.
Don’t assume that buying a home will be easy
HGTV paints a very pretty picture of what home buying is like. They show the house hunting scenes. They show the decision making scenes over glasses of wine and cheese boards at the nice local restaurants. They show the scenes of families hearing that their offers were accepted, and all of the happiness that comes after it.
What they don’t show is everything in between. They don’t show all of the other showings involved in finding the right home. They don’t show the sleepless nights when you are waiting to hear back from your Agent about the offer you just submitted. They don’t show the process of conducting inspections and finding serious problems or DIY projects gone wrong. And most of all, they don’t show all of the paperwork and nuances that you have to go through for 30-60 days before you settle on your new home.
Home buying is a VERY involved process. And one of the first things I teach my first time home buyer clients is that home buying won’t necessarily be easy. It will be involved, stressful, and expensive. But that it will also be exciting, educational, AND at the end, you will have a beautiful home perfect for the next stage of your life!
Do your research BEFORE you hire your real estate professionals
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. There are tens of thousands of Real Estate Agents, Home Inspectors, Title Companies and Mortgage Lenders in just Maryland alone.
The average Real Estate Agent only sells 4 homes a year. Would you trust an attorney or surgeon that only saw 4 patients a year? I know I wouldn’t.
Just because your relative, best friend or best friends mom is a Real Estate Professional does NOT mean that you should automatically choose them to represent you.
Be sure to ask the right questions before you choose your professional. Some great questions include:
1. How many homes have you sold in the last year?
2. Do you have any reviews from past clients that I can read? Note – please make sure the reviews are recent.
3. Do you have a specialty or area that you know really well?
4. Do you have anyone you can go to if we encounter a situation you have never dealt with before?
5. Why should I choose you?
Last but not Least, Be patient
Buying a house can be a very lengthy process. Just because you want to be in your home next month doesn’t mean we can necessarily make that happen, especially if you are looking for something very specific. Finding the right home for you can take a while, sometimes even months. Once we find you that home you are looking at a contract period of around 30-60 days. And we never know what the sellers expectations or needs are until we ask. The sellers may still need to find and purchase their next home which could take some time.