We’d like to present our very first guest blogger, Shannon Buss! Shannon has over 13 years of real estate experience and holds the ABR®, GREEN, and GRI designations. That means that she knows her stuff when it comes to working with homebuyers. We asked her to share some of her recommendations for those interested in buying a new home.
GET PRE-APPROVED YESTERDAY
There are several reasons why it is crucial to get pre-approved for your mortgage prior to looking at homes. Here are a few:
*If you work with a purchase price and fall in love with a home, you may not know what the monthly payment looks like. Add taxes and insurance with your loan officer so that you are comfortable
*If the home has multiple offers, you MUST have your financing nailed down in order to compete
*Certain loan programs require specific down payment amounts, repairs, inspections, etc. If you are unclear on what product you are approved for and don’t meet a requirement, it will delay your transaction
*You should know what your estimated closing costs are expected to be and calculate the expenses of your purchase so that there are no surprises
PEEL THE ONION
Work on your needs analysis and get detailed about what features you will consider and which are an absolute no. The one thing we can never replace in life is time. The clearer you get on your home shopping criteria, the less frustrating the process will be for you and your agent.
Buyer beware. Anything you say or do can be held against you. Hang on tight to your negotiating face and refrain from making positive or negative comments about the home. Too much enthusiasm may hurt you in negotiations. Also, offensive comments may cause the seller to have a bad taste in their mouth or feel hesitant about the sale. Best to keep comments to a minimum and take notes. In the age of Alexa and Sonos, assume that you are being recorded at all times. Your REALTOR® can always follow up and get you the answers or consult with you after you leave the property! Also, do NOT post anything about your transaction until AFTER the closing.
ASK QUALIFYING QUESTIONS
It’s not nosy to make sure that the conditions of the home and the motivation of the seller meet your criteria. You may need to rule out properties because the terms can’t be negotiated. For example:
*When is the seller able to close/move?
*What repairs are needed?
*Have there been any offers?
*How long has it been on the market?
*Is it a short sale?
*How much are taxes? Utilities? Insurance rates?
*Is there a homeowner’s association? What are the rules? Fees?
*Are there easements? Covenants and restrictions?
*Does the complex have reserves?
*What do the fees include?
*Is the complex approved for financing?
*What is the owner occupancy?
*Are pets allowed?
*What is it zoned for?
EXPLORE THE LIFESTYLE
The experience of owning a home is much more than owning a fireplace and a garage. Explore the neighborhood, schools, local community to make sure it is a fit for you. Visit at different times of the day. Talk to the neighbors. Interview parents with children in the school system. What will life feel like there?
REMEMBER YOU ARE A GUEST
It is not your home YET. Treat the home how you would like others to treat your own home. Leave animals and children behind if necessary. Try to limit distractions for yourself but also be mindful of the owner’s personal things. You aren’t shopping for furniture and clothing. Be respectful if the listing agent asks you to sign in. They are not being nosy. It is a safety measure for themselves and their client’s belongings.
ASK PERMISSION TO RECORD OR CLICK
You do need permission to photograph or record someone else’s home. This includes FaceTime and Skype, etc. These are very helpful in recapping your tours and sharing the homes with loved ones. In most states, it is regulated. The listing agent will appreciate your courtesy!
As elementary as it sounds, notes are important. You may end up on a marathon tour and the homes start blending together. A simple list of pros and cons will help you to assess what you have looked at. This is particularly helpful if you have more than one favorite.