So you are going to Buy a House....
A daunting task! It's like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, full of twists and turns, ups and downs, high and lows. That pretty much sums up buying a house. It will be the most fun you'll have planning your future and it will be the least amount of fun you have. Believe it or not it's all about education and a little luck and really knowing your gut. Most importantly of all, you really have to have a Realtor you can trust and you must be prepared to put yourself in their hands with all the confidence that they can get it done for you.
The hardest thing for buyers to do, whether it's their first purchase or not, is if they have selected the right Realtor you need to listen to them. Most clients today spend a alot of their spare time studying real estate on line. I always say to my clients it's about getting you educated so starting on the web is a good thing. The one thing you need to understand is that you are getting very one sided information. A good Realtor will turn that picture to 3 D. Your time and work on the Internet will eliminate allot of the running around and you will become an educated buyer. A Realtor spends all day every day studying the market, knowing the inventory, understanding what sells and what doesn't and really being educated about the legal issues with a purchase and how to be sure you are protected and buying the best home you can for the best price your can get.
I tell all my clients don't look on the Internet, read a newspaper or look at a real estate magazine until you have spoken to a Lender. Today more than ever this is critical. You have to find a lender that is knowledgeable, creative and is willing to work with you to get you the best mortgage possible for your situation in life. Once you have completed that process you will know exactly how much you can spend and what price point to begin looking at. Prices are negotiable so you can look for a house priced slightly higher than your lender will approve. Armed with a letter of approval, this will strengthen any offer you can make.
The biggest steps in your education is finding the neighborhood you where you want to live. There are lots of factors to consider in this decision. For most families the schools are important and of course the Internet can help with this. You may want to check the SAT scores for the schools in the neighborhood. Extra curricular activities for the kids. Does the area offer lots of youth sports and activities? What about freeway access for you - do you have a commute? How long will it take to get to the freeway from the house, and don't forget to check out where the local grocery stories and restaurants are in proximity to the area. There are a number of web sites that can help you find this information, including www.walkscore.com. If you don't have Internet access your Realtor can provide all this information for you.
When you finally identify a home you really like be sure to visit it more than once. I tell clients, visit on the weekend, during the week, during the day and early and evening hours. A neighborhood has a personality check out the one you are considering and see if the personality fits yours. I love to hear kids laugh and giggle so for me a home on a quiet street where the kids actually play in the street and laugh loud warms my heart but for many, especially those who work irregular hours or work at home this may just be noise. Be sure you know that before you make your offer.
Now that you've done the legwork the time with your Realtor can be extremely productive. You'll be able to focus on specific homes in a specific neighborhood. There is no magic or formula for buying a home. If this is not an investment property but it is your home keep that in mind. The house must 'speak to you'. I tell people that and they look at me like I'm crazy. But when the house is right, it is right! When you walk in the front door you will know. If you are looking and going from room to room saying this has to change or I hate that, move on it's not the right house. People always ask me how long does it take to find the right house and I tell them - it takes as long as it takes. Don't get frustrated, stay focused and keep your looking.
If you've done the pre work with the lender, your Realtor has helped you stay focused and educated, writing the offer will be easy. But for the next 30 to 45 days you'll go through some specific performance issues and last but not least get to write a check to Escrow for your down payment and sign all the loan documents that are necessary to make this house yours.
People tend to view Realtors as a necessary evil in the transaction. I believe the right Realtor can make all the difference to you in your search for a home. A Realtor will be the voice of reason, the level headed one and just as excited as you when you find the right house. To ensure you get the best service possible be sure you are represented by a Realtor, a member of the National Association of Realtors, where the Code of Ethics, educational requirements and professionalism are a way of life.
Happy House Hunting! If we can answer any of your questions or be of any help please don't hesitate to contact us.