Ready to buy a home? You don't know what you don't know

Real Estate Agent with Century 21 Redwood DC-SP98366576

So, you think you're ready to buy a home. Don't put that home owning cart in front of reality's horses. I have worked with hundreds of buyers in my career. One characteristic stands out above all others. The vast majority, if not all of the people I have helped have been worthy of the admonishment - "You don't know what you don't know.".

I will take the statement one step further, most would be buyers that have come across this post, will quickly move on. The "I have done my homework" ego demon will whisper to their subconscious "Move along, there is nothing to see here.". And that is unfortunate, because the quicker you dismiss good advice, the more likely you will make a mistake as you move forward.

Really, you don't know what you don't know.

If you are like the majority of home buyers, you did not begin the process because the news media shared some sort of housing information. As much as the National Association of Realtors would like to think they are prompting folks to get into the housing market, it just isn't the case. There is no amount of press or publicity that starts the "I think I will buy a home" thought process.

The first thing you have to understand is that people move for a variety of reasons. The list includes:

  • A desire to leave your parent's home and live on your own. (That's right, the desire to come and go as you please is a great motivator. At some point, privacy and freedom begin to outweigh home-cooked meals and free laundry service.)
  • You find someone who you wish to co-habitate with on a permanent basis.
  • You are offered a job in another city or area that is beyond sensible commuting range from where you now live.
  • One plus one suddenly equals three, four or more. (Babies arrive somewhere on every day of every week of every month of the year.)
  • You come to the end of your lease period in a rental property and are not happy with the increase in rent you must agree to for the next lease period.
  • You and your current co-habitant reach a point where the relationship has soured and both of you decide to part ways.

The list can go on and on. You may have already known some or all of the reasons listed. But, the list is just a list. It doesn't matter if you see what appears to be your reason. You see, you are unique regardless of the commonality you may share with others. You are not just one of many, you are one individual. Much is made about every piece of real estate is unique. OK, too little is made over the fact that all buyers get lumped into one slot and they are pretty much all the same. Not true, you are unique and deserve to be treated that way. No exceptions.

If you are considering buying a home and are still reading, there is hope. Possibly, if nothing else, you want to see where this is headed. Read on. Let me list some of the "lies" that permeate the market place. (I could do one of those silly true or false tests, but every one of the following is FALSE.)

  1. Interest rates offered by lenders are a good yardstick to use when choosing a mortgage company.
  2. Somebody elses good experience with a lender is a guarantee that you will be pleased with your experience with that lender.
  3. Internet based lenders are just as good as lenders with a local physical location.
  4. Bigger is better (i.e. Those big national firms and banks are better than smaller regional firms and banks.)
  5. It is o.k. to borrow as much as allowed because your income will go up and home prices will go up and you will grow into your house payment.
  6. Putting your purchase in the hands of the listing agent will save you time and money.
  7. All homes for sale, visible on internet web sites actually exist and are for sale.
  8. You can go see homes that interest you whenever it is convenient for you.
  9. What someone else paid for the home is relevant to amount you offer.
  10. Waiting for the "Spring Market" is best because more homes will be available.
  11. You can comfortably buy a home with no money down.
  12. Using a family member, friend or friend of a friend as your real estate agent is safe and prudent.
  13. If you see dozens upon dozens of homes, you will find the right house.
  14. Communicating timely with your agent is not that important.
  15. Blind trust is valid once you have selected a lender and/or real estate agent.

Oh, that's just the tip of the iceberg. It would take more pages to list all of the mis-truths and misconceptions that exist than were used when Guttenberg first printed the bible. You see, you are unique and that includes the fact that your personal mix of misconceptions sprinkled with a healthy dose of your other life experiences means you might just have another dozen or so mis-truths firmly planted in your grey matter. It happens.

I don't mean to dissuade you from proceeding. I just hope to impress upon you that buying a home is a great deal more than calling a lender, surfing the web, finding a real estate agent and driving around until you find that perfect place. Buying a home involves you, your personal or family network, a lender, a real estate agent, a home inspector, a pest inspector, an appraiser, other inspectors as needed, an underwriter, a closing coordinator, a title attorney, a title search firm, a survey firm and possibly others just to get you from where you are to the home you purchase. There are lots of moving parts. A home purchase is like a symphony orchestra presentation with your real estate agent acting as the leader. The operatic journey from your first notion "It's time" to the day "the fat lady sings" and you get the keys has an undercurrent score that must be followed note by note and in harmony.

It is so much more than appears on the surface. Think of a visit to the ocean. You see the waves and the tide coming in and leaving. That is not the ocean. You are only seeing the top of it. It is deeper and full of currents and rip tides. There is much more than meets the eye. Buying a home is similar.

You don't know what you don't know.

If you would like to just hear what the safe path might be or if you would like to have a guide on your journey that has successfully helped scores of others realize the dream of owning a home, I would welcome the chance to assist you. Long ago I developed a calendar for scheduling my time that always includes one open slot for a new buyer. That slot is yours for the taking, You can either email me at or give me a call at 301-509-5111. I promise that I will make you the priority you deserve to be and while you don't know what you don't know, I do know what you don't know and I will make sure you go through the process aware of every step and how each step will impact the final results.

You don't know what you don't know, call me.

John MacArthur

number 1 c21

1000 Pennsylvania Avenue SE

Washington, DC 20003

Business Phone: 202-546-0055
Business Fax: 202-546-0511



Comments (2)

Brenda Mayette
Miranda Real Estate Group, Inc. - Glenville, NY
Getting results w/ knowledge & know-how!

I have grown up hearing that advice, John! "You don't know what you don't know" is so very true and all of the "resources" available to buyers seems to create a false sense of knowledge.  The BEST resource is a knowledgable, credible, LOCAL real estate pro!  Great post!!

Feb 24, 2014 11:11 PM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Great list of Myth-understandings! You hit lots of things that buyers think they know but don't! Good Job

Feb 25, 2014 09:14 PM