Searching for a home: Where to Start?
This is a question that clients often ask. They are not even sure of the town they are interested in and it all seems overwhelming.
First off, you need to decide on HOW you are going to pay for your new property. If it is CASH, then you already know what the top dollar amount can be. If it is going to be FINANCED, you need to begin by contacting a mortgage lender and getting a preapproval letter. This will give you that top dollar amount that you need to know BEFORE you begin your search. (It is a waste of time to start looking at homes and later find out you can't possibly afford that home you just fell in love with!)
Secondly, you probably have some basic idea of the geographic area you would consider living in. Here in Pinellas County, people often search in several towns such as Dunedin, Palm Harbor and Crystal Beach, since they flow into each other and are relatively close in distance. So you can tell your Realtor that you are interested in towns x, y and z.
We now have price and approximate location. Next we need to know the BASIC MUST HAVES. Not what you would ideally love to have but what you MUST have. Minimum number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, garage or not, etc.
How about short sales and bank owned properties? Should they be included in the search? Most people, but not everybody, know that short sales are anything BUT short! They can take a year or longer here in Florida. As for bank owned properties, MANY have had the owner's frustrations taken out on the property..........damaged walls, broken windows, appliances removed........Should they be included in the search or not?
What I like to do from this point on is to set up a search for my client and let them explore what is available in that price range. Rather than MY picking out which properties they are going to see, I let the client pick out the property. This is what I would want to do if I was the buyer!
Once I have a list of what my buyer wants to see, we can go out and physically begin our search. This first time out helps ME get an idea of properties I can suggest in the future. Nothing clarifies what your clients want like physically going out with them and seeing a few properties.
It is vital that you work together, as a team. If the buyer thinks they like a home or neighborhood, I always suggest that they go back and drive the neighborhood on the weekend, in the evening and during the day. THEY need to know it is a neighborhood they would like to live in and this can help make that decision.
Searching for a home can be overwhelming, so start with a Realtor who can guide you through the process!