So, thinking of buying a new place to live or something to invest in, are you? If you want your buying experience to be both fruitful and harmonious, there are a few things you should be aware of before you begin the process.
Whether you are a cash buyer or will be needing to take out a mortgage, the first thing you need to know is how much money you are going to invest in your new purchase when all is said and done. This is not a cut-and-dried question with a simple answer unless you are strictly an all-cash buyer. Therefore, either you and Jim or a mortgage lender and you need to have a frank discussion before you can really even logically begin your search. This is called the Prequalification step.
The next step is a natural progression after being prequalified. It is to continue working with your chosen lender until you are tentatively pre-approved to buy up to a certain amount. This is important because sellers (should) require a pre-approval letter to be submitted along with your offer to purchase. Consequently, please, do not hesitate to get started immediately, nor be taken aback nor offended if Jim asks for the name of your mortgage lender or insists that you contact one.
The following points touch upon this and other topics you should be aware of as you begin the process of looking for your next home:
- Houses belong to someone even when they are on the market. Owners have a right to know who is asking about their home – would you not want to know? When you contact a real estate agent to view his or her listing, be prepared to give some basic information – name, address, phone number, whether or not you are pre-approved for a mortgage, and if you are already working with a different REALTOR.
- If you are not pre-approved for a mortgage, don’t be offended if agents won’t show you properties; instead, ask who you can contact to get pre-approved. It’s a waste of everyone’s time, including yours, and agents have a responsibility to show homes only to qualified buyers. If you’re not ready to get pre-approved, then you are not ready to look at houses!
- If you go to an open house, be prepared to sign-in and give correct information. If you are already under contract with a buyer agent, make sure you write that on the sign-in sheet. If you don’t want the agent at house to contact you just write "please do not contact" next to your information. Refusing to sign-in is both rude and sets a tone of distrust – and, what if you really like the house? You’ve already gotten off on the wrong foot. Giving false information is never ok. Remember, you are in someone’s home!
- Houses are shown by appointment, so plan ahead. If someone is living there, they need some notice to pick up and get out – very few people can keep their house ready for visitors with a moment’s notice – can you? Even new construction is shown by appointment – there might be workers at the house, etc.
- Real estate agents have schedules, too. It is not realistic to call an agent or an office from in front of a house and expect an agent to come right out to meet you; especially if the agent you reach is not the listing agent. The responsible party must be contacted to get approval to view the home! Also, can you imagine calling your lawyer, dentist, hair-dresser, plumber, mechanic, financial planner, or anyone else … and expecting on the spot service!
- The best thing for you is to set up a meeting with an agent at his office (or other convenient location) so you can talk about your needs and get to know each other. Buying a home is a big investment and can take several months – do you not owe it to yourself to invest an hour upfront?
- Buying a home involves the whole family. So, although it is ok to bring your children along, you will certainly be able to focus better without them. Jim recommends bringing them on the second visit, when you feel that a certain property really appeals to you and will meet your needs. When you do bring them:
- Please make sure that they understand that they are visiting someone’s home.
- Please keep them by your side at all times, especially in new construction where things are unfinished and may be dangerous. It is for their safety and for the safety of the home-owners possessions – would you not feel awful if they broke something?
- Please do not let them play with the home-owners’ toys – they do not want strangers playing with their things and neither would your children want strangers playing with theirs.
- Treat the house with respect. Of course, you need to look in closets and cabinets, etc., but:
- Dresser drawers, medicine cabinets, and personal belongings are off limits.
- Please, never sit on someone’s bed.
- Please refrain from using the bathrooms – sellers know they give up some privacy when their homes are on the market; but again, put yourself in their shoes! However, when you must go, please leave the room as you found it!
- Relationships are about trust and mutual respect - loyalty matters. If you are under contract with a real estate agent, always contact that agent when you need information. People can get really impatient sometimes or they do not want to “bother” their agent; and so, they start calling offices or listing agents demanding information or pretending that they are going to be clients. Please, call your agent – he/she will call you back. If your agent does not return calls and give you the information you need then find another agent - hire Jim! If you cannot stop yourself from calling an office or listing agent directly, make sure that you disclose that you are working with an agent right away and that you would appreciate some information.
- Golden Rule/Common Sense – as with everything else, if you treat people (real estate agents) and property the way you want to be treated, the home-buying process will be efficient and the transaction will be a lot easier. If you are not sure what the protocol is, just ask – we are here to serve you!