The real estate market for home buyers has been difficult. Difficult? Ah-em. It’s been downright atrocious. At this point we’re all familiar with the bidding wars, over-asking offers and skipping home inspections that are now commonplace in real estate.
With the recent interest rate hikes many are hoping the market will cool a little so buyers can catch a break from this madness.
I suspect the continuing low inventory in Maine will curb some of the anticipated relief coming from higher interest rates.
Not to be dismayed, however! With hard work and diligence, and being properly prepared, buying a home you love is still very very possible.
As a homebuyer entering the market, it’s important to be ready. So I thought I’d spend some time going over the best ways for home buyers to prepare to buy a home and cover some common questions and misconceptions about the process.
First things first: Find a Real Estate Agent.
Of course! Knowing I’m a real estate agent, you should’ve seen this one coming. Self-promotion aside, having an agent on the buying side will make the entire process easier for you.
A professional and experienced agent will be able to bring together all the following steps for you, directing and steering you in the right directions.
The best part about hiring an agent as a buyer is that your agent works for you FOR FREE. That’s right. Free! Your agent shares the commission from the listing agent, meaning the seller pays the buyer agent.
When it comes to buying a house, you want to make sure you have a reputable, and, ideally, a full time agent working for you. Ask a prospective agent for references. Every good agent has a boat-load of previous clients ready to share their great experiences working with them.
I say your agent should be full time because in today’s fast-paced market you want to be sure your agent is readily available for showings and writing up offers. You don’t want to worry about whether your needs will fit in with your agent’s busy schedule.
(Hint: if working in real estate isn’t their number one priority: your needs will not fit their schedule).
A full time agent is not only readily available to help you, but a full time agent spends their day checking the market for new listings and is always current on market trends. Keep this in mind when you’re preparing to buy a home.
Next is getting your Pre-approval. After finding an agent, you want to talk to a mortgage professional and get pre-approved for a mortgage. Knowing how much a lender is willing to loan to you is a key factor when you’re approaching the market to buy a house.
Where do you find a reputable and trustworthy mortgage person? If you’re following my steps so far, that means you have an agent. Ask them! Agents work hand-in-hand with mortgage brokers so they know best.
Your mortgage professional will be able to answer all the mysteries about what you can afford. Wondering how much money you need to put down when you’re buying your house? The pre-approval process will show you.
Wondering how much that beautiful cape down the street from your rental will cost you per month? Yep, your pre-approval will answer that one too!
Your mortgage professional will know about any programs you might qualify for, some of which offer a low down payment or even money toward your down payment.
They can also offer sound advice for improving your credit and other ways to increase your spending power for when you start the process of buying a home.
Once you’re ready to dive into the real estate market, consider this thought. I recommend my clients enter the market with an open mind. I know you’re buying a house and of course you want your dream home. But you’re entering a market where you’re not the only shopper and most of the homes you drive by aren’t for sale.
Not to kill your buzz. Buying a home is a very exciting experience, and it’s OK to have MUSTS and MUST NOTS, but you’d be wise to keep your lists short and less restrictive.
Part of the thrill of the home buying experience is stumbling upon the hidden gem. I’ve had clients fall head over heels for homes at showings they reluctantly agreed to go on.
Searching the market with an open mind just means you won’t have to adjust your expectations in the future and will keep you receptive to any new listing coming on the market.
Once you’ve found that special home and want to put in an offer, there are a couple more things to consider. Real estate offers aren’t simple. Along with the price you’re willing to pay, you have to consider other contingencies to include or exclude, such as an inspection period, a closing date, money back at closing, among others.
The intricacies of an offer are too long to go over in complete detail in a single blog post, but I do want to briefly mention home inspections. You should always include a home inspection in your offer. Previously, I’ve gone over why you should never skip one.
Having a home inspection in your offer will not necessarily kill the deal, and there are creative ways to make your inspection period look more appealing to sellers.
As you can see there’s a lot that goes into the home buying process. But please don’t be dismayed. The process certainly is exciting even if scary at times. I promise you that having a professional agent with you at every step will ease your anxieties and make the entire experience a breeze!
If you have any questions, or are interested in buying or selling real estate, please send me a message. I’d be happy to help!