Over the last few weeks I have had meetings with a number of first time buyers trying to break into this seller’s market. If we have heard this once, we have heard it a million times that buying a home is probably the biggest investment you will ever make. Not only are there short term ramifications but long term financial ones as well. When making any decision this big you should naturally talk with someone who is an expert in the field. Therefore, when buying a home, you can learn from the knowledge and skill of a local REALTOR® who is doing business and in my opinion lives, in the area of your home search. Here are some tips I put together:
Talk with your bank or mortgage company to help you determine what you can and can’t afford. Loan pre-approval not only helps you determine the home price you can afford, but also shows a seller that you are a genuine buyer not just a looker. Don’t save this step for last! You never know when the perfect home is going to come on the market, scrambling to find your mortgage agent to get pre approved immediately may not be an easy thing to do.
A seller isn’t going to call you to tell you their home is going up for sale. However, an experienced REALTOR® in your target search area can. Most sales are started with a buyer or REALTOR® finding a home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), but there are also sales that never go on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). A local experienced REALTOR® may hear or meet with a seller who has the perfect home for you. By working with this local REALTOR® you may be able to get into this home before it goes on the market. In a competitive market like this one any edge may help get you into your dream home.
Make a Plan
Even if you were going away for a long weekend you would sit down and plan some sort of itinerary right? Every important decision needs to be clearly thought out. Developing a home buying plan can help you focus on the important factors and organize the entire process. I’ve had a few buyers go through a showing with a chart giving scores to each important part of a home. This can help you keep the houses straight and while you may see a home that is perfect but too expensive first time through, when the price drops you can refer back to your notes and make an offer.
Need vs. Want
When shopping for a home, list the features (number of bedrooms or baths, a fireplace, open concept, etc.) that are most important to you. What are “deal breakers”? What can you live with? What can’t you live with? What do you need vs. what do you want? For example, you have decided that you NEED a 4 bedroom home and won’t even look at a home with only 3 bedrooms. OK. Have you thought that through though? Don’t confuse need with want. You may have 3 kids and need that 4th bedroom or you may want that 4th bedroom to use as only as an office. Could you use the den or basement for your office? So don’t necessarily eliminate 3 bedroom homes from your search. Most importantly, figure this out before you start looking. When deciding on which home to buy, establishing your “criteria” early on will save time shopping for inappropriate homes.
What About the Seller?
You are the buyer so who cares what the seller wants, right? Wrong. We are in a very competitive market and as a buyer you are likely to face competition for the house you want. If you want to get to the closing you should understand the reasons the seller bought the home and their reasons for selling. If you are able to determine this, you’ll be at a competitive advantage. Believe it or not, some sellers are less concerned about money than who is going to own the home that they built or did a ton of work on themselves. Maybe the seller needs a specific closing date or that they close and rent back to a buyer for a month until their home is ready for occupancy.
Make sure that not only everything is in writing on your contract but also that you have put in everything you want. If you are expecting the washer and dryer to stay with the house take a minute and write it in you offer…it can’t hurt as the seller has already included it. Also, make sure the contingencies you want are in there too. Planning on a home inspection? Are you getting a loan? Put a financing contingency in there as well. This is where your REALTOR® will help you.
If you are working with an experienced REALTOR® he/she should be able to answer all of your questions; if not they should know where to find the answers. Don’t think your question is too dumb. Ask it. We have probably heard it before. We don’t expect you to know how to buy a house even if you have bought one before. Ask us. We are happy to help. Thank you.
If you have any questions about this article, real estate in general or are looking to buy or sell a home please contact me, John McCarthy at Rowley Realty, 165 Main St., Rowley, MA 01969, Phone: 978 948-2758, Cell 978 835-2573 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org