It's time for a little straight talk about real estate.
If you seriously want to buy your first home this year to take advantage of the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit, low interest rates and the great selection of available homes, then this blog post is for you.
I've met a few of you in the last couple of weeks who are going about this process the wrong way. You're wasting your time and you could be wasting money. You're scanning the Internet, driving past a sign or looking at ads. When you find a property that catches your eye, you might call and ask questions about it. Or you might just wander into an open house at the property.
But then what?
Do you talk to the home's listing agent knowing that he is working for the seller? Do you panic and start looking for someone to help you at the last minute, losing the window of opportunity to make an offer on the house when it goes to another buyer?
All is not lost. By just reversing the process, you can be in your new home in no time. You need to shop for a good real estate buyer's agent before you ever think of shopping for your new home.
A GOOD BUYER'S AGENT WILL...
...look out for your interests during the transaction. After all, the seller has an agent. Shouldn't you?
...meet with you before you ever set foot in a house that is listed for sale. Your conversation should be all about your needs and your wants in a new home and about creating a plan that will get you into home ownership with the least amount of hassle.
...ask a lot of questions and will listen -- really listen -- to what you have to say.
...never be too busy to answer questions.
...find homes that meet your needs and will make appointments for you to see the properties privately with no interruptions so you can carefully consider their merits.
...help you eliminate the homes that don't fit your criteria and focus on those that do.
...never try to "sell" you a house. But she will help you buy the house that you ultimately choose by managing the buying process and negotiating the best possible deal for you in the current market.
...communicate in a way that is best for you. Are you an e-mailer? Do you live on Facebook? How about Twitter tweets or texting. Test an agent by sending a message to see how quickly she or he responds. If it takes too long to hear back from them, move on to someone else.
...offer solid research to help you make a decision. She'll know what other homes in your target property's neighborhood have sold for in recent weeks and months. She'll be aware of external factors in the area -- both good and bad -- that might influence your decision. She'll know the target home's listing history and will go over the seller's disclosures with you.
...stay in close touch with your lender to make sure your pre-approval turns into a solid loan commitment that will allow your deal to close on time.
Choosing your agent before you choose your home will make the buying process less challenging and much more enjoyable and successful. Happy agent shopping!
About the Author: Nancy Milton, GRI, is a Realtor with the Just Ducky Homes team at Coldwell Banker Brown Realtors in Edwardsville, Illinois. She and Kristina Pratt help their customers buy and sell homes and investment properties in St. Louis' Illinois suburbs of Madison and St. Clair counties with special emphasis on real estate in the communities of Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Maryville, Collinsville and Troy. For more information, visit their web site at http://www.JustDuckyHomes.com or e-mail Nancy@JustDuckyHomes.com.