It’s the beginning of a New Year. Did you make resolutions, goals and action plans, or intentions? Are you looking to buy or sell for the first time, or has it been several years since you’ve purchased or sold real estate?
My resolutions, then goal and action plans, and now intentions have evolved over the years, but what stays the same is my drive for constant and never-ending improvement in the usual categories of health/weight, business, relationships, and spirituality.
Real estate is a constantly changing filed. What was true or worked last year, month, or week might not be true or it might not work any longer this week. Not only laws, rules and regulations, but also economics and the tastes and desires of both sellers and buyers.
I love working with first-time home buyers-also included in that definition is someone who hasn’t purchased or sold in many (at least three) years.
My point here is to encourage first-time home buyers to be a sponge-to learn what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. My first recommendation is to use a full-time Realtor. What does this mean? It means you hire someone who is invested in making this a career-treats the profession and you with utmost respect and attention and communicates with a timely response. A Realtor will be constantly pursuing learning, not just getting the required credits in continuing education. A full-time agent has a list of trusted partners for you, and you should strongly consider using the lender, the inspector, and the title company that is recommended. Why? Because you will get the support and expertise you need to complete the transaction in a professional and speedy manner.
Secondly there are some really interesting details in the contracts you will be signing. Let your agent explain them to you. In Arizona the contracts are written and regularly reviewed and updated by a team of attorneys.
Third is patience. Buying or selling a house is a challenge on so many levels, it’s why you want a professional by your side. If you are a first-time home buyer you may have already started your search online (smart move!). It’s been my continual experience that you must be ready to make an offer and move on a property that has most of your must-haves. Even if a property has been on the market a little longer than some, as soon as you see it and like it, make an offer, because you will have immediate competition even though it doesn’t appear that anyone else has been attracted to it. Believe your agent when she tells you that it is in your best interest to use the internet to see what you like or don’t like, but don’t fall in love with the favorite until you confirm it is still active on the market. There is often a lag between the active and under contract and closed stages of a listing on internet sites that aren’t the local MLS (multiple listing service).
Fourth with first-time home buyers it is critical to start seeing the properties in person. There are all levels of photography associated with posted listings. Some houses will appear amazing and you when get there and it’s a total fixer upper. Others look so-so through a camera lens and when you walk through the front door it’s an amazing find. Be available to see properties when they come on the market, I know you have errands to run and friends to meet, but if you don’t see the property and make a decision it will guaranteed be taken by someone else. Again, the patience in house hunting is at play here. There might not be anything worth seeing for days and all of a sudden there will be three of them pop up in one day! It would be beneficial to have the floor plan, but few are available. A walk-through video tour is often available, though not the usual offering in a listing.
Fifth the devil is in the details when it comes to money. What’s a mortgage? It’s probably the largest amount of money you’ll ever request to borrow. It’s an agreement between you and a lender that allows you to borrow money to purchase a home. There are a few rules before you qualify for that loan.
You need a FICO score, you need debt (WHAT? Yes, it’s true, this is how you establish you are able to pay back a loan responsibly), you need regular income, and you need a trusted lender to guide you through the process of acquiring a mortgage. During the process of finding a home you’ll be asked to provide all types of financial documentation for the lender to be able to qualify you. It seems invasive, but again, it’s a very large amount of money. While you are in the process of applying for and receiving a loan it is best to listen to the advice of your lender on whether you should pay down or pay off any existing debt. Your lender will let you know whether or not you should apply for any credit during the process (unlikely that you would be told it’s okay to apply for credit even though you are so excited to buy furniture or appliances or patio furniture or pavers).
Sixth be realistic about what your budget will allow. If this is your first time buying a home, you should have some requirements-such as a special school zone, proximity to your place of work or place of recreation, number of minimum bedrooms and bathrooms, and yard size. Otherwise, flexibility is as critical as patience here. Paint is simple, landscaping is changeable, upgrades and remodels can come with time. Start to plan your move, have a deadline in mind, check into alternatives for movers and storage, and know your options for single family house to townhouse to condominiums.
These are some initial thoughts to get your started on your real estate investment. It is an investment in time and effort that will be rewarded and having a guide, Realtor, with you will make all the difference in making this journey a success.