You have reviewed your financials, considered your needs, consulted with your trusted advisors (mom, dad, siblings, best friend, coffee barista) and decided that the time has come to become a home owner.
Advice has been varied about how to make this happen. Some think that you should hit the pavement on Sundays and start going to Open Houses. Others think that you should spend a lot of time on-line figuring out what you want and searching for deals. Still others advise you to seek out a Realtor® and start the process with them doing the search.
For most people, all three of these suggestions are right!
Attending Sunday Open Houses can be a great way to see homes in neighborhoods that interest you. It can also be a great way to meet a Realtor® who is familiar with the area and the homes in your price range. You have an opportunity to personally interact with them and develop a rapport. Grab their business card on the way out and consider contacting them to see if they are an Accredited Buyer Representative.
Researching on-line can be a great tool to get started, but keep in mind that it has its limitations. Often the listings you see on line do not paint a complete picture of the home. It is also difficult to get a good feel of how the property is set within the neighborhood and the community. In researching agents, the internet is also a good place to start, but the information you find on line cannot replace the personal interview. As an agent who has created a significant on-line presence, I know that much of what is out there about me has been put on-line-- by me-- as part of my marketing.
Finding a trusted Realtor® is important, but most folks are unsure about how to undertake this task. Ask around. If you have a friend or family member who has recently bought or sold a house, ask them for a recommendation. Many Realtors® rely on referrals for a lot of their business. Because of this, the relationship that they create with each client is important and valued. A Realtor who does not bother to create the relationship is not going to get a positive referral.
Once you find a Realtor®, be sure to ask them questions about how they work. Some of these questions include:
- How do you communicate with clients and how often should I expect to hear from you?
- What is the process that we will follow to find my new house? How often will you be sending me new listings?
- Do you provide tools that I can use to do my own research?
- What if I buy a house where the commission is paid is less than the commission in the Buyer Agreement? How will this be handled?
- Will you review with me the pros and cons of buying a Short Sale? A foreclosure?
- Do you have access to resources for me during the process? Lenders? Home Inspectors? Contractors for post-closing improvements and repairs?
This list can be long or short, specific or general. It will be based on your experiences and background and things that you have heard from other purchasers. Before meeting with a Realtor® assemble your own, personal list and be prepared to ask these questions.
At the end of this meeting, you should have a good feeling about the level of trust you have in this potential partner. It is critical that you trust their judgment and their ethics--after all, they will be representing you in the negotiations for your new home. If you don't have a high level of trust, it is going to be difficult for you to feel like you got the best possible deal on your new home. If you trust this Realtor to act in your best interest, you will likely be more satisfied in the outcome.
Once you have identified a trusted Realtor®, you can begin the process of finding and buying your new home.
With a little luck and a lot of legwork, you will soon be in your new home!
For more information on buying a new house, please see my recent blogs:
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A GREAT Real Estate experience.
If I can help you, your friends or family buy or sell their next home in Northern Virginia, please let me know!
If you need help with a home outside of Northern Virginia, I have an extensive network of referral agents and will make sure you are working with the best!
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