Most buyers in the market are usually ‘First-Timers’, and should be asking a lot of important questions in this ever changing market before making decisions on who to hire and what or where to purchase. It’s a huge decision for a new buyer to purchase a home, coupled with little knowledge to start with about the process. Considering that every market is different, as every type of sale is different, these nine basic questions are a great start to finding clarity of purpose, while taking the time to make educated choices and decisions.
Do I really need a Realtor®? The short answer is yes. You are making one of the biggest decisions of your life, and it’s very likely that this is your first time buying a home. Does it not make sense to hire a professional to help you do it if you truly don’t know what you’re doing? When you begin your journey of finding the right home, you are likely going to hear lots of advice from well-meaning family members or friends that simply do not know what the market is doing and what to expect. A Realtor® assists clients daily in their pursuit to buy and sell Real Estate – they know what to expect in the current market conditions now, and what to prepare for in the not too distant future.
If you go at it on your own to search for property, you are very likely to end up working with a Real Estate professional anyway. So would you rather hire an agent to represent your interests, or just call the agent on the sign that already has a relationship with the seller? The Better choice is clear, give me a call to learn more about the benefits of an experienced Buyers Agent.
Can you provide references for me? A quality agent that has mastered their skill set is what you want, so ask for their references. What should you do with said references? Call them, email them, ask them how the experience was working with their agent. Keep the conversation brief and cordial, don’t interrogate them. And keep in mind, you may likely be added to that reference list for other new clients. If the overall response from their references is favorable to the agent, be prepared to commit to that agent.
What is a property worth in today’s market that may work for me? That’s a great question! For starters, you can’t get anywhere without being prepared financially. So whether it’s a pre-approval for a loan that is needed, or if you are using cash to buy, your first step is planning how you intend to purchase your home. Once you know how much home you can afford, it’s time to sort out what you want, and sometimes what helps is learning what you don’t want. You should have some idea where you would like to live, and what you would like the home to have to cater to your needs and interests. Talk with your agent about what your preferences are, and look at options that are available. Look at homes to compare features, and take careful notes from what you learn. Figure out what you know you don’t want to help you move forward when you’re ready to make an educated decision.
Can I make offers on homes that are lower than their asking price? Of course you can. It’s an open market, and everything is negotiable in Real Estate. Every market is different, and it’s worth the time to spend with your agent to define what your market looks like so you know what to prepare for when you are ready to make that offer. Anyone can make a low offer just to see if it sticks – and it usually doesn’t. But a smart consumer that knows what they want, and how to go about negotiating the purchase will be more likely to achieve success.
How flexible should a seller be on price and terms? This depends on the seller’s perception and motivation to sell. It also depends on how effective the communication is between the seller and their agent. Not all agents are equal - some agents are effective leaders that educate their clients, while earning their trust to navigate through their market. Other agents only enable sellers to make choices about selling their home that have no bearing or influence on what is happening in the current market. The most common mistake agents make is to allow sellers to overprice their home.
What should I know about short sales? The term ‘short sale’ can be misleading to consumers that don’t understand them. When a home owner needs to sell their home, and the home does not hold enough fair market value to cover the mortgage amount owed and the cost of closing escrow, the owner can attempt to sell the home ‘short’. It’s situations like this that are all the more reason to have a professional guiding you through the process if you choose to pursue a short sale. You should know how many liens are on the subject property, who is negotiating with the owner’s lien holder (Is the seller’s agent doing this? Is the agent experienced with negotiating short sales?), how are repairs going to be handled if the appraiser for your loan adds conditions to the sale, and many other questions to be concerned with.
What should I know about foreclosure homes? If you want to go to the public auction and never have before, I recommend that you pay attention to the auctions being advertised in the local newspaper and show up to witness how auctions work. If you have access to immediate cash to invest in purchasing a foreclosure, this may be a good venture for you. Otherwise, you can look for ‘REO’ (Bank Owned) homes available on the open market through your local MLS. To purchase an ‘REO’, it may require special addendums or a bidding process online through your professional. There are lots of things to consider about purchasing an ‘REO’ that are similar in nature to a ‘short sale’. Both homes are or were ‘distressed’, which means abandonment, neglect, the possibility of excessive repairs, and a host of other issues.
How do I know if there’s something wrong with a house I like? Before committing to a purchase, do a visual inspection of the home, inside and out. Look under the eaves, the siding, the foundation, and the roof. Do you see something out of place, cracked, or damaged? Does the roof material look clean and defined, or does it appear worn with corners curling? Looking inside the home, how do the walls and ceiling look? Do you see any excessive patches, or different texture patterns in the drywall? Is there any discolored drywall around the ceiling? Look at the cabinet doors and drawers in the kitchen and bathrooms, do they look straight and neat? Do the floors appear to be level? Are there any strange creaks or sounds when you walk through the home? Usually a 5-10 minute ‘poke around’ will help you in your decision to make an offer and commit to paying for a professional inspection.
What out of pocket costs should I anticipate up front for buying a home? Aside from how you plan on paying for a home (Cash, loan with down payment, etc.), you will need money for an inspection, an appraisal, additional inspections for specific purposes (lead based paint, further inspections recommended by you inspector, etc.) and anything else that you may have agreed upon with the home seller. Ask your agent for a referral list of home inspectors, and contact them for rates and availability.
Are you in the market to buy, and are not committed to an agent? I have over 17 years of experience in Residential Real Estate, we should meet soon and discuss your plans for the near future. Let’s love your new home together!
Reach me at Ed@EdKunkelRealEstate.com or call (360) 789-4708