Now that you’ve obtained pre-approval for your mortgage, you are ready to begin searching for your dream home. Before you get started, it’s wise to make a list of your wants and needs. What’s the difference? Wants are things that you would like to have in a new house, but can survive without. Needs are things that you are not willing to compromise on.
Choosing where you want to live is another big decision when buying a house. Do you want to live in a neighborhood in town or would you rather locate in the suburbs? If you have children or are planning on starting a family, the school district you live in will be an important factor in your choice of neighborhoods.
All of these decisions point out the importance of determining your priorities from the beginning. Knowing what's most important to you in a home and location before you start window-shopping can save you loads of time. But remember, the "perfect" house is difficult to find. Decide where you are willing to compromise and where you're not.
Choosing a Realtor®
Most people who buy or sell a home use the services of a real estate agent. While you can purchase a home without a Realtor®, using one can simplify your search for the perfect home.
Here are some of the advantages to using a Realtor®.
Use MLS as a powerful search tool - About 90% of all homes for sale are listed on the MLS (multiple listing service) and a Realtor® has access to all of that information.
Help narrow your search - Give them your "wish list" and they will be able to narrow your search by zeroing in on the homes that meet your needs or, at least, come the closest. They know the area and its neighborhoods, and have access to all kinds of information.
Familiar with the community - Realtors® know real estate values, property taxes, utility costs, schools, municipal services, pending zoning changes, and more. If you have a question about any of these, your Relator® will find the answer for you.
Provide due diligence - Depending on the area, this may include inspections for termites, dry rot, asbestos, septic tank condition, faulty structure, etc. They will help you find qualified companies to carry out these inspections.
Help with transaction - Your Realtor® will help you through the complicated transaction including negotiation of the price. They will make sure that everything is ready for closing and will work with the mortgage company to set up appointments.
Real estate agents provide a very valuable service when buying or selling a home, but there are some very important points you need to remember. The agent that shows you prospective properties is, most likely, the seller's "fiduciary." This means the home is listed by them and they must act in the best interest of the seller, not you. That relationship becomes very important when you enter into the negotiating process.
For example, you've made no secret of your enthusiasm for a particular home, the agent is bound to communicate that to the seller. If, on the other hand, the seller has told the Realtor® how low they are willing to drop the price, the agent is under no obligation to tell you and will not offer the information. Who the agent represents though, is not as important as their business ethics. They are not out to cheat anyone and they hope your experience is positive so you will use their services in the future.
The very best way to find an agent is to ask your friends, relatives, neighbors, and co-workers. They may have first hand knowledge of Realtors® they've worked with in the past and can share their experience with you.