Before venturing out to purchase real estate, whether it is vacant land or existing homes, get pre-qualified by the lender of your choosing. Nothing pains me more than to watch perspective buyers find exactly what they want, only to find out that they are not qualified for the purchase. Not to mention that, in this day and age, many sellers are requiring that an Offer To Purchase is accompanied by a pre-qualification letter.
Talk to a Mortgage Specialist
DO NOT GO IT ALONE, sit down and talk to a loan officer, whether it is at the bank where you do business already or with a company that specializes in home mortgage lending. When you have this sit down, be frank and honest, do not embellish on any of your financial details. The loan officer can only help you if they have the correct information. When you leave this meeting, you should be armed with the knowledge of knowing exactly where you stand. If you are capable of purchasing, you will have the number that you can spend, and if you are not capable of purchasing at the moment you should have the information and a step-by-step approach to get yourself to where you can buy. Keep in mind that during this initial conversation it is not necessary, nor should you give permission, for your credit history and other vital stats to be verified. Most loan officers will give the information you need to begin your search without verifying those details. If the mortgage broker or loan officer will not do this for you, find a different mortgage broker or loan officer.
Find a Buyer’s Agent
Your second hurdle to cross, is to find an experienced real estate agent, knowledgeable in the selected area’s real estate market, to represent you and help in your search. Speaking of search, your buyers agent must also be a member of the National Association of Realtors in order to have access to the MLS system. DO NOT GO IT ALONE! In this day and age of the internet, many buyers take it upon themselves to do all their own searching and investigating of the real estate market in an area. If you are just looking around a city or area to see what it has to offer, that’s great. If you are serious about buying a home, find a Realtor in that market and put them to work. Having a buyer’s agent in most scenarios costs you the buyer absolutely nothing and the seller of a listed property has their agent aggressively representing them. Remember that all listings in the Multiple Listing Service already have an agreed upon commission split between the Realtors involved in the transaction that is paid by the seller.
How Real Estate Agency Works
Here is how real estate agency works. A listed property that you have found on an area MLS search or through some other form of advertising has the commissions the real estate agents are to be paid already built into it. When that property is sold the listing agent and the buyer’s agent split this commission, which is paid by the seller of the property. The fee is already included and being paid out whether you have an agent representing you or not. Sometimes you and your agent look through what is currently listed without finding a suitable property. However, we still have the For Sale By Owners (FSBO’s) to go. In the event, you look at FSBO’s, having a buyer’s agent becomes even more beneficial because the seller is not under any obligation to disclose facts to you. While you may end up having to pay your real estate agents commission, he/she will earn every penny of it by making sure the price you pay is relative to the fair market pricing. They will assist in drafting the Offer To Purchase and Contract that protects you in the transaction, make sure all the appropriate home inspections are completed on time, help you hire an attorney to close the transaction and help you avoid all the stress.
Hiring a Real Estate Agent
• What should you look for in choosing a Realtor? That’s a legitimate question, and there are numerous answers that apply. First and foremost, make sure your real estate agent is a Realtor, because Realtors are held to a higher standard and a strict code of ethics and are the only real estate agents with access to the MLS.
• Secondly, find an agent that you communicate well with and that listens to what you are saying. You’ve all seen the commercial where the real estate agent keeps taking the clients to the same type of homes even though they have already expressed their desire to see something else. We all chuckle, but this happens. If the agent you are currently working with is not listening to you, find another agent. There are a lot of real estate agents in any market.
• Thirdly, and in a tie with second, find an honest agent. Does your agent tell you what they honestly think about a property? Both the good and the bad. Does your agent play devil’s advocate, or just sit there and try to talk you into a house you know is not right? While it may sometimes cost your agent the sale, they are working for you and are helping you find what you want. If they cannot objectively play this role, find another agent. This brings me to a extremely crucial point. DO NOT sign a Buyers Agency Agreement until you have spent a little bit of time with that real estate agent. They might tell you it is company policy or that they have to, but they do not and neither should you.
• Find an agent that brings more to the table than the ability to fill out a form. You will find that many real estate agents have extensive backgrounds in home construction, home inspections, home design, etc. These professionals are not only trained as real estate agents and can bring a wealth of knowledge to the table when considering your next home. There are many other answers to the question, but these I have mentioned are the most important.Tembusu Grand