Disclaimer: This post is from the point of view of one individual. It will not be definitive but will try to be comprehensive.
Where is the best place to start when beginning to buy a house? Pre-approval. Very few individuals have the cash to just buy a place outright. Whether you have bought a home before or are buying for the first time, pre-approval is the best place to start. It tells your agent that you are serious and lets you know exactly what price range you should be looking in. It also short cuts some of the process since you already have a lender. Nor do you need to just go to banks as lenders. There are many local mortgage companies that act as lenders. If you are new to the area and aren’t sure of lending options, your agent will have the inside knowledge to help you get pre-approved to look.
Let’s say you are pre-approved or you have just sold your old home and have money to put on a new home. Maybe you can buy a home outright. At this point the best plan of action is to decide what you may want in a home. How many bedrooms do you want or need? Do you want close neighbors or not? How far out of town do you want to live? If you had a home, do you want a bigger or smaller home? Is there a specific place you need to be close to, like work? Is there a school district that you like better than others? Maybe you are looking for land? Are you planning to build? If so you will want to consider things like perc tests, water, and electric access. Is the land in a place with restrictive covenants that require a specific kind of structure? How much land do you need for your purposes? Is the area safe? Is it in a flood plain? The more you have thought through what you are looking for the better.
At this point it is time to pick an agent. Choose wisely grasshopper. It is bad form to flip flop between agents. What this means is that once you have an agent it is expected that you will work with that agent only. As mentioned in a previous post, any agent can show any listing. You don’t need to go to that alternate agency to see their listings. Once you have chosen an agent, try to make appointments. When you are with them, they try to treat you like you are their only client. They have set that time aside specifically for you and your concerns. However your agent will have other clients and that is why it is good to make an appointment. They will try to do everything in their power to meet your needs but sometimes they can’t just drop what they are doing to race out the door to show you a home.
This is where patience is a virtue. We all know that there are hot listings that suddenly show up on the market and you just can’t wait to see that house. By all means call your agent right away. If they can, they will try to go right then but it isn’t always possible. Do NOT call an alternate agent if your agent can’t go right away. It’s rude and inconsiderate to both agents. Try to work with your agent. Sometimes another agent in the same office will be able to met you and show you the house or property.
At this point you may be smarting a little, you’re the customer. It should be all about you. It all comes down to the honey and vinegar principle. Your agent will invest a lot of time and energy in your property finding journey. Their job is to make sure that you get your property for the best value in a timely fashion while helping you navigate any pitfalls that may exist. They are there to help you think of the things that you may not know to ask or check. Their sincere desire is to make sure you find a home, not just a house. The key to the process is to make sure that you like and trust your agent. If you sincerely decide that your agent isn’t meeting your needs, be up front and tell them. This is a business arrangement and they will appreciate your honesty.
I hope that this has been informative. As always, let me know what you may think. Thanks.