By Amy Nguyen
Being Financially Ready
At the start of you journey, it’s important to first make sure you can afford a home. This might require you to get some documentation in order and shop around for a lender that best can serve you. You’ll want to have money saved for a down payment, inspections, moving, and a credit score that can help you qualify for a loan. This can be done before you find an agent, or in tandem.
Finding the Right Real Estate Agent
It’s important to find an agent to represent you. It needs to be someone you can trust, work well with, and have confidence in their skillset. Working in the Greater Puget Sound region, I’ve come across many agents at all different levels; make sure you have an agent that has taken the time to really know and understand the contracts—I can’t stress that enough. It’s a good idea to shop around to find the right agent, but once you find them COMMIT. An expert agent will put committed buyers first.
This step is vital. If you are working with the right agent you won’t have to worry about losing your earnest money. Their job is to protect you. They should know how to use the contracts to protect you.
Basic Market Understanding
Understand how the market works. A basic concept I like to explain to my clients three different factors which John L. Scott has labeled as “Condition,” “Location,” and “Price”. As a buyer you can choose two (Condition/Location/Price) and the market will determine the third. For example, if you want a home in excellent condition and a prime location the prices of the homes will be much greater. Or, if location and price are most important (great location and a conservative price) you will be looking at homes in poorer condition.
Price and Offers
The two biggest misconceptions I run into with buyers both involve price. In the Greater Puget Sound area, we find a lot of multiple offer situations. Automatically, everyone assumes that the highest price offer will win. While it plays a big role there is so much more to an offer than just price, the average contract has 45 pieces of negotiation.
The next issue is almost the opposite. All the time buyers like to say, “Do you think they’d accept maybe $ ________?” with a lowball offer. While I’m all for getting a great deal there are two things to consider here: 1) if you were the seller and have your home listed at this price, would you accept that offer? 2) What do the sellers really want? Number 2 really brings it back to your agent, never send in a blind offer! Maybe the sellers would accept a lower price if they get a rent-back, or a short closing, etc. An agent’s job is to work with the listing agent to meet the needs of both Buyer and Seller.
It’s Not Over Once You Hit Mutual or Even Once You Get Through Inspection
You are in contract with a seller, congratulations! However, it’s not over yet. Inspections, appraisal, closing……There’s still a ways to go. Now is the time to be diligent. Every contract is riddled with deadlines. You and your agent must now really work together. If something isn’t to your liking, work with your agent. There job is to protect you.
What NOT to Do with Your Money
Throughout this whole process, keep your financials in place. Do NOT buy a new car, switch jobs, make large deposits without talking to your lender, spend your savings/down payment, mess with your bank accounts, etc. Doing these things will prevent you from qualifying for a loan.
Take the Final Walkthrough
Take the final walkthrough. Please, if you can take the final walkthrough. This is something I learned as a child after my own parents’ experiences. Take the final walkthrough.