Yes, It Is The Fun Part!
It is so easy to be mesmerized by the prospect of shopping for your house. It's an exciting time in your life. You've made the decision to finally make the move, down the street, to the Poconos, across the country, or wherever. And these days the availability of information makes it seem like self-service real estate is a no-brainer. Why contact pesky real estate agents when all of the info is right there on your computer? There are home listings available in every corner of the internet, so why do you need to bother with an agent? Many potential home purchasers decide they'll call an agent in after they find the houses they want to see, usually the day before they are ready to make the trip to look, or even the day of.
Stop Looking For Homes
Yes, that's what I said. Stop looking for houses. Despite what you may think as you scour the inventory of property listings for the perfect home, finding 'the house' is the easiest part of the entire process. The hard parts, and there are many of them, are not immediately discernable from your current idealistic vantage point. The home buying process is a complex one and you'll need the guidance of a trusted real estate agent.
Sure, you say, of course I want to promote the importance of using a real estate agent, I am one after all. To that I say this, something I say to every potential home buying client I meet:
Home Buyers Tell Their Stories
Twice in the past couple weeks I had very similar conversations with two different home shoppers. Both of these buyers shopped online for houses and then called an agent when they were ready to 'come up'. Both ended up unhappy, citing mistrust, sales tactics they didn't appreciate, poor service and more, as reasons why they were now calling me. The first experience taught them to take some time to properly vet some real estate agents before committing to an appointment this time around. Fortunately, neither one got too far in before realizing they needed more than just an agent to 'let them in' to houses. One went so far as to make an offer with the agent they called by 'accident', but quickly surmised the need to get out of the contract and find quality representation in order to ensure their interests were served. These people quickly learned that Trust is a major factor in a real estate transaction.
My Best Home Buying Advice?
- Find an agent you relate to, one that you feel you can trust, and hire them to be your buyer's agent. The process is too long, involved and stressful to not have confidence in your agent.
- Contact your Buyer's Agent well in advance of your anticipated arrival for your home shopping trip. Do not assume they will be able to make themselves available because you are ready, and you don't want to decide which agent to use based on who isn't busy when you happen to be ready. Especially here in our area, certain times (like weekends, for instance) are in high demand for appointment scheduling, and most good agents are not available at the last minute. And even if they are, there is lots of preparation to be done in advance of 'touring a buyer', so please give plenty of notice.
- If you have specific concerns or fears about the home buying process, bring them up at your first meeting. Heard rumors about the tricks agents pull on people to get them to buy or other horror stories? Bring them up. A good agent has probably heard it all before and will be able to address them, without being offended. Airing these concerns up front allows you to concentrate on your goal of homeownership and will make you that much more comfortable when issues come up and your agent needs to advise you.
First thing's first. The house will come.