Congratulations! You have done probably the most difficult thing possible in today's real estate environment - prequalified to a mortgage loan. Since underwriters have swung the pendulum the other direction in terms of ease in qualifying, you should give yourself a pat on the back for passing this hurdle. Many potential homebuyers cannot pass the credit or income guidelines nowadays. As a realtor in Chandler, Arizona I see many pointers to pass along to buyers.
It's time to start a more formal version of your home search and choose the right realtor. I've no doubt that ever since you started talking about buying a home you've been online skimming websites to get an idea of what is on the market given your particulars. While this can provide a wealth of knowledge and information and give you a general idea of the market, you really need to progress to talking to a realtor for more specialized knowledge. Here's why: a realtor sees what is happening with homes day in and day out and will be able to give you a more specific take on what is takes to get a home into escrow these days.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when selecting a realtor
Buyer agent vs. listing agent
- most agents are stronger in/do more transactions on either the buyer's side or the seller's side. Choose an agent that is stronger with buyers. Buyers' agents tend to have better rapport with the agents that will most likely be listing the property you purchase, and may be able to get "inside information" from that specific agent as to how you need to structure your offer to get accepted.
Is the agent full-time?
While you may feel the tug/push from a family member to use uncle Bobby or a friend who works at a job from 9 - 5, generally this should be avoided. Full-time agents tend to be more serious about their career choice and have invested more time working with buyers and sellers, studying the market, and have a better overall "feel" of the market to provide you with the best advice possible. Your friend or family member will eventually get over you not using them, but will you ever get over possible mistakes that may be made if buying your dream home goes awry? Since this will most likely be the largest purchase of your lifetime you may consider employed the best professional for the job, just as you would any other facet of your life.
Is the agent well-connected?
This is important because often times you need access to services beyond just the realtor himself. There are about a half dozen businesses involved in a typical home purchase, from title to lender to home inspector to termite inspector to attorney (at times), and on and on, and this doesn't include any possible contractors that may be needed. Realtors that employ the "team approach" tend to be more resourceful & reliable vs. the lone wolf Realtor who has trouble making quality recommendations.
Does the agent call you back in a timely fashion and relay information as it's requested? Keep in mind the transaction is most likely going to go how your initial interaction goes, so if the agent is slow in responding to you before you start looking at homes, how well are they going to "pull it together" during the escrow all the way to closing? Look for consistency.
Where does the Realtor work/specialize in?
Realtors tend to work in certain areas. Be leery the Realtor that says "I work the whole valley". What that usually means is they can't keep themselves busy enough to specialize so they will take whatever they can get. Realtors that know certain areas/cities tend to be more valuable because they can answer questions about that area with authority.
Intuition can play a major role when selecting a Realtor, but have it backed up with facts and answers. Do you homework - ask the Realtor to supply 2-3 happy clients they have helped in the last several months and ask them as an objective 3rd party. Ask family or friends for recommendations and actually interview a few Realtors just like you would a job interview, and go with the best
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