Karen Scopetski's Blog
It may be tempting to purchase your first home without the help of a real estate agent. If you want to risk not having professional help to buy your first house, you can, but you’ll be leaving a lot of benefits on the table and assuming all the risks.
The Benefits of Using a Buyer's Agent
- Expert negotiations – Professional agents know the market, costs and what you’re looking for. They can combine the three, plus other variables, to create a formula for negotiating within both your price and comfort levels.
- Full disclosure – A real estate expert knows what to ask regarding disclosures about the property. They’ll ask for items you may not even think of because of their experience. It’s not that the seller is intent on deceiving you, often they don’t know what to disclose either.
- Neighborhood specialist – Some agents choose to represent buyers in specific neighborhoods and can tell them about local facts such as planned road construction or rezoning issues that might have an impact on your decision to buy there (both for and against).
- Closing costs – Your buyer’s agent fights for the best deal for you, the buyer. Relying solely on the seller’s agent could end up costing thousands in extra charges.
- Lender recommendations – An experienced buyer’s agent knows which lenders tend to close on time and which ones might drag out the process. If you’re closely timing a move, your agent can help you avoid being bogged down with a slow underwriting process. They’ll have recent experience with rates, terms, appraisals and comparable sales.
- Making the offer – Real estate purchase offers have a lot of forms and papers that cover all sorts of things from contingencies to mold and asbestos mitigation. Your agent knows the right forms and what needs to go into your offer to both protect you and give you the best chance of having your offer accepted.
- Inspection referrals – having a home inspection protects buyers from unexpected repairs and required renovations once the deal completes. Your agent knows reliable inspectors that look for basement seepage, dry rot, hidden mold, damaged roofs, sewer line issues and a host of other things. You might not think to check the chimney, but your inspector will, saving you from a potential house fire or other issues down the line. A failure in a major system such as electrical wiring, HVAC, or plumbing can wreck your budget if you don’t know about it.
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As a homebuyer, you'll want to do everything possible to guarantee a quick, seamless homebuying journey. Because if you're not careful, you may be forced to deal with a nightmare homebuying experience.
Ultimately, there are many ways to ensure that you can avoid a nightmare homebuying experience, such as:
1. Narrow Your Home Search
Although you know that you want to buy a home, it pays to consider exactly what you'd like to find in your ideal residence. By doing so, you can narrow your home search and avoid the homebuying nightmare of pursuing residences that fail to meet your expectations.
Think about which features are must-haves for your new home, as well as which features you can afford to live without.
For example, if you require a home that is close to your office, you can search for houses near your workplace. On the other hand, if you want to live in a small town, you can remove city residences from your home search.
Establish priorities as you search for your dream house – you'll be glad you did. If you separate your home must-haves from your wants, you can simplify your home search and move one step closer to finding your ideal residence.
2. Get Your Finances in Order
How much can you afford to spend on a house? Create a homebuying budget, and you can avoid the risk of browsing available residences that fall outside your price range.
To determine how much money you have available for a home purchase, it often helps to meet with local banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can provide details about a variety of mortgage options and help you select a mortgage that corresponds to your finances.
Also, you should check your credit report before you buy a home. You are entitled to a free annual copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Take advantage of this perk, and you can learn your credit score and take steps to improve it prior to purchasing a house.
3. Hire an Experienced Real Estate Agent
An experienced real estate agent understands both the homebuyer's and home seller's perspectives. As such, this housing market professional can help you analyze a home seller's point of view and negotiate the best price on any home, at any time.
Typically, an experienced real estate agent will meet with you and learn about your homebuying goals. This housing market professional then will map out a homebuying journey, one that helps you streamline the process of acquiring your ideal house.
Let's not forget about the assistance that an experienced real estate agent can deliver throughout the homebuying journey, either. A real estate agent can provide expert insights into the housing market and help you make informed decisions, thereby reducing the risk of a nightmare homebuying experience.
Take the guesswork out of buying a home – use the aforementioned tips, and you can minimize the risk of a nightmare homebuying experience.
When it comes time to attend a home showing, it helps to be prepared. That way, you can check out a house from top to bottom and confirm that this house fits your needs.
Ultimately, there are several important steps that a homebuyer should take before attending a home showing, and these are:
1. Review the Home Listing
Reading a home listing often serves as a first opportunity to evaluate a house and determine whether it could be your dream residence. As such, you'll want to review the listing closely to verify your interest in a house.
Oftentimes, reading a home listing a few times is a good idea. This will enable you to analyze all aspects of the listing and ensure it is worth your time to visit a house in-person.
2. Create a Home Showing Checklist
Although a home listing likely provides lots of information about a house, there may be plenty of unanswered questions that you have about a residence. Fortunately, a home showing gives you the opportunity to ask questions and receive insights into a house that you won't be able to receive elsewhere. And if you craft a home showing checklist in advance, you'll be ready to get the information that you need to fully assess a residence.
Remember, there is no such thing as a "bad" question, particularly when it comes to evaluating a house. If you make a list of questions before a home showing, you'll be able to receive responses that can help you make an informed decision about whether to submit an offer on a house.
Don't forget to include different areas of a home in your home showing checklist, either. In most cases, you'll want to evaluate a house's roof, attic and other areas to determine whether costly, time-intensive repairs may be needed in the near future.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
Preparing for a home showing may prove to be difficult, particularly for a buyer who is attending a showing for the first time. If you consult with a real estate agent, however, you can get the help that you need to prepare for any home showing, at any time.
A real estate agent is a homebuying professional who understands the ins and outs of evaluating a residence. He or she can provide expert home showing preparation recommendations and serve as a guide throughout the showing itself.
Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent is happy to help you at each stage of the homebuying journey. If you have questions before or after a home showing, a real estate agent is ready to answer them. And if you want to submit an offer following a showing, this housing market professional can help you submit a competitive proposal at your convenience.
Don't wait to kick off your search for the perfect home. Instead, follow the aforementioned steps, and you can prepare for a home showing and move closer to acquiring your ideal residence.